Re: Hard vs Soft
Lin and Larry Pardey have an interesting chapter in one of their books on the hard dink/lifeboat kit. They have an inflatable collar around theirs and a canopy for protection from the elements. It's easy to build positive flotation and sealed compartments for survival gear into a hard dinghy. With a sailing rig, chart and a handheld compass, you become your own rescuer as you can head to the nearest land. Personally, I'd rather put my trust in a modified hard dinghy/lifeboat that I can visually inspect every time I use it than something that pops out of a canister (which may not inflate, may inflate upside down, may rip or come apart and may be impossible to board with wet clothes, may drift by land as I helplessly wait to be rescued).
Happycamper, the Chameleon has a design weight of 80lbs if I'm not mistaken. I'm going to build mine with thinner, but better, ply to get the weight down even further. Even at 80lbs it is the weight of an inflatable dink of similar length.