Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Gloucester, Mass. USA
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I guess it depends much on your intended cruising grounds. I use a hard skiff, a Sumner 9-footer. Much of my cruising is in Maine where the barnacle incrusted rocky coast would rip a “blow-up-doll” apart in no time! She’s stable in rough water and handles herself well in the breakers of a lee beach. Incidentally, she was the only hard skiff to meet the CG requirements of a life raft! She rows well and handles a duce-and-a-half nicely when I don’t want to row that far. I’ve given her hard use, gunk-holing for 12 years now and she’s still going strong. I doubt many inflatables can beat that for value!
But if you’ve got to keep up to the stuffed polo shirts with the cargo shorts, docksiders and baseball caps with the perfect curves at the yacht club, then an inflatable may be for you. I can’t give you much advice on them as I don’t have much experience with them. What I do have wasn’t very good. They hold a lot of weight yea, but they aren’t very stable and don’t row very well. Because of their light weight, it seems the wind and seas tend to knock them around quite a bit.
Many companies in Maine make beautiful hard skiffs that can turn eyes at any marina! As for length, I think that no more then 1/3 the towing sailboat’s length is fine. Any more and its weight and drag become an issue to the mother-boat’s handling and performance.
"Who would go to sea for pleasure
would go to hell for pastime."