Just another Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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Like any boat there are compromises...
Inflatables provide stability, carrying capacity and don't bash up your topsides when tied alongside. But they don't row worth a darn in any kind of breeze and are extremely allergic to oyster beds and sharp rock beaches.
Hard dinghies (and there are some beauties) row well, tow well as long as you have an effective drain plug so that spray doesn't eventually fill them up under tow. They can handle any beach, but are a nuisance alongside at night.
I heartily recommend a sailing dinghy if there are kids involved - start them early. Of course there are few inflatables available but plenty of Sabots, optis, plus the pretty ones that will fill the bill.
Though the Walker Bays are "plastic", they do seem to satisfy the largest number of desirables, especially with equipped with the inflatable add-on and/or the sailing rig.
One more thought: last year we bought two 9.5 foot plastic kayaks. We carried them strapped outside the stanchions and lifelines alongside the cockpit. We spent 8 straight weeks cruising the BC coast including Barkley Sound. We used the kayaks so often that the only time our 3hp motor came off the rail and went on our 8' zodiac was the 4 days we had a family of 4 along with us. They are stable, fun, beach proof and good exercise to boot!