Originally Posted by Stumble
To me this breaks down into a few separate issues. The first is
1) where you are going to store any dinghy. Of any type. If you want to put it on the bow, there are some real hurdles you have to address to do this reasonably well. First is how to get it out of the water. The normal answer here is to use a spinnaker halyard and winch to pull it up, swing it onto the deck, and then manhandle it into a set of fixed chocks mounted to the bow. Even wi a small light boat this is not an easy operation, and is almost impossible to do in strong winds, without a significant number of hands. Yes it is possible and I have done it, but it is a pain.
The other option is to flip the boat over and put it on the bow. This is more secure as sea, doesn't require the chocks, and makes visibility a bit better looking forward. However flipping over the boat is a pretty big time commitment, and a real PITA.
The other option is to store it under the boom... I have never done this so I won't comment except to say it just looks like a good idea.
Finally you can put whatever boat you buy on a davit system on the back. This is probably the most expensive option, since these davits run about $1,000. But once they are there you just grab a line with multiple purchase blocks on it, and pull the boat out of the water. No work, no real loads, no fighting with it. And it takes about a minute to pull my dinghy out of the water. This means you can do it every night, so you don't need bottom paint, and don't have to worry about it getting stolen. In addition, if something goes wrong in the middle of the night the dinghy is already stowed for sea, or can be dropped in the water in moments to help out.
Once the storage solution is decided on, then you have to decide what dinghy you want. I have used them all, and have cruised with them all, and I have determined for me when I would use one versus the other.
1) for a boat that lives at the dock, will be provisioned at the dock,, and just needs to put people ashore to go drinking, the cheapest option available. This is the weekender boat that leaves on Friday night and return to port on Sunday.
2) If the dinghy is oing to be used for anything else, I would always buy a hard bottom. Both for the speed, and the durability. And the longer you are crusing the more important a hard bottom and speed is. Everyone thinks of beaches as pretty sand flats that taper gently into the sea. And if you happen to be in destin that's pretty much true. But I have pulled dinghys up on everything from shale to rocks to coral, mud, sea grass, logs, pieces of junk beaches that are destined to rip, scratch, and tear anything they get there hands on. Adding a soft inflatable bottom to the mix is just asking for trouble, and a ripped open dinghy.
And yes I recognize that people have and do use pretty much everything as dinghys. Heck I saw a yacht with a 40' Hatteras onboard as a dinghy. And I have seen boats that swim ashore, and use intertubes, all sorts of things. But just because something can be pressed into service doesn't mean it is the best tool for the job.
For me the extra money spent on a boat I can rely on, and will have for years is a easy decision. Because going from a boat that plans on using a dinghy to get to shore, back to a swim aboard (I did this thanks to a ripped out bottom) really sucks.