Re: Dinghy Talk
Our dink is our car. It is our means of transportation to the market, the doctor or anywhere else including snorkeling and visiting friends. It needs to be stable (even if you aren't), seaworthy to a point (I'd rather hop into our dinghy, with a full tank of gas, than our life raft if necessary, sailing here in the West Indies) and it needs to be tough. The last thing you want to have is a dinghy that you worry about all the time.
Our Zodiac Classic, Mark 2 is seven years old and not one leak. It gets tied (OK, chained) to wooden, concrete and even stainless steel (F de F, Martinique) docks and never had a problem. We do not have a RIB, ours is completely deflatable and we can stow it below should the weather deteriorate. It is only 10 feet long with the aloy floor boards it can carry 2 55 gallon drums if we need to ferry fuel, for instance or 4 adults and gear on a plane.
Underway, we always stow it on the foredeck, even though we have davits. We use the davits each night at anchor, but we know it is completely secure on deck when sailing.
I have had inflatables since the early 70's and have found that for longevity they must be kept fully inflated, basketball firm and as light as possible, when tied to a dock.
The inflatables are much easier to get into from the water and sometimes the run to shore or snorkeling for that matter, can be over a mile across a rather nasty stretch of water, some other things to consider. Also, think "bumper cars" with friends on a hot summer day!
It may be a big chunk of change to start off, but over time a safe, comfortable dink is worth every penny.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.