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Dinghy's are like cookies, all depends on your taste. We started with a hardshell 7ft but it was really only good for 1 person. Since moved up to a Zodiac Cadet 9.5ft, 880lbs capacity, inflatable keel and a hard floor. Weights about 90 lbs, tows fairly well but needs to be assembled on the dock, otherwise 1 cannot snap the floorboards into place. Didn't realize that until after 1st use, on the upside it is very comfortable to have the solid floor, the downside is it must be assembled prior to leaving, I like my foredeck clear so we always tow it. As for the foot pump, it works much better than I anticipated, only takes about 5 mins to inflate. A hard bottom Zodiac would be nice but didn't want the weight or storage issues. The ones with the roll-up floor is the best option for space constraints and can be dealt with on board if needed but they lack any kind of keel and while okay around the marina, they lack directionality, tried one once and it would not go in a straight line, hence the reason we opted for the inflatable keel.
Be careful of off-name boats (WM...) inferior materials and attachments. We were tempted by the WM version as it is "exactly" the same and a LOT cheaper, except of course for things like the seats, oarlock re-inforcements, oars, attachments..... We also had the option of several used boats, but at the end of the day felt it was better to toss a few hundred more to have a boat that hadn't been repaired. Of the 4 available used, all had repairs, some really well done, some not and all the prices were close. (at the time the repaired Zod's were about the same as the WM new)
As to propulsion, there is another thread on the same subject that covers the gamut.
We started with the Honda 2hp and quickly traded up to a Yamaha 2.5hp as it had neutral, which for us, was a big deal. The other big consideration is weight. We always remove the motor and stow it on the pushpit. (if I have to cut the boat loose, at least I only have to replace the dink) At 34lbs, the Yamy is about as heavy as I want to deal with. I also made up a coated steel cable tether so that I ALWAYS have it tied to the big boat whenever it isn't secured to the dink. It is a bit of a pain but much better than going diving.
The yamy has an integral 1L tank, we have the non-spill 1 Gal WM fuel container which works surprising well and expands our range considerably.
With 2 adults on board, a bit of gear it burns about 1L/hour.
Hope it helps.
Last edited by jjns; 01-07-2009 at 10:38 AM.