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  #1  
Old 06-13-2007
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Dinghy - High-Pressure Inflatable Floor

I am just in the process of determining what type of dinghy I will buy.

Intended usage is on Chesapeake Bay during short term (weekend cruising).

I have a 30í boat.

I have read thru all the old threads I could find about dinghies and cannot find the info I am looking for, hence the new thread.

I do not want an RIB (I think) because of limited space on foredeck. Right now I am looking at the following West Marine dinghies:

1. RU 3-Person Rollup Boat - $1,049.00
2. HP4 High-Pressure Inflatable Floor Sportboat $1,799.00
3. 4 Person Sportboat - SB4 Sportboat - $1,399.00

I am especially interested in pros and cons for alternative 2 and 3 as per above.

To the point:

It seems to me that it might be nice to have the High Pressure inflatable floor boat and not having to deal with floorboards? Is it worth an additional $400?

For the Outboard I am thinking Merc 3.5HP.

Thankful for and advice and opinion.
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Old 06-13-2007
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I have an Avon R280HP high pressure inflatable floor and love it. We can't put as large a motor on it as a RIB, but we can also easily store it away and it weighs a lot less. I have heard mixed reviews of the West Marine dinghies. They are made by Avon and Zodiac, but not to the same level of quality from what I understand. We had a Johnson 3.5HP on it which worked OK (for slow putt-putting around) but now we're upgrading to a 6HP Merc.
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Old 06-13-2007
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I have an HP floor on my Avon. It works well, although the valve is poorly designed and inclined to leak slowly. I'm not sure it takes up less room than a roll-up floorboard - I've never seen the floorboard version rolled up. The inflatable floor rolled up is about four inches thick.

I agree with Labatt about the power issue. My dinghy is rated for 8 hp with the inflatable floor, but an 8 hp motor is a pretty heavy beast to hoist onto the back rail. I've traded the 8 in on a 5 hp Mercury (the lightest 5 hp available) and am more than satisfied.
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Old 06-13-2007
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Good question. Dinks are a tough subject. I have had 4 (I think) so far and have not found the perfect one yet. The RIB is by far the most useful, durable, fun and easy to tow. If you are going to bring it along for short cruising in the bay than towing is a reasonable option.

All you need to do is inflate a dink once on deck and you will realize how difficult it is. Inflatable floor is a cool idea as it saves weight, but if you deflate it it is just more to inflate and beaching can cause damage. Tinker is another option.

Whatever you get I doubt it will be your last, so you might go cheaper with used.

Some questions you might want to answer for yourself.

Do you want to park the boat at anchor and go touring in the dink? - get a RIB and a big engine.

Do you plan on multi day passages offshore on a 30 footer? - go small roll-up and small engine.

Do you plan on running around the home harbor with your dink and plan on keeping at your boat? Get the RIB setup OR get a sailing dink, walker bay or Fatty knees.

Engines are a whole other subject, but I see a use for 2 for me, a lighter weight 5-6 hp and a 15hp cruiser.
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Old 06-13-2007
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We have a 10' Avon inflatable bottom that we leave on the davits...love it. Currently with a 2 hp Honda.

Before you buy from Worst Marine, check out Inflatable Experts and Maritime Solutions, both in Annapolis...theres also a Avon dealer. Definitely get hypalon material.

Heres a link to some used boats from MS...
Maritime Solutions Inc (Annapolis, MD)

Oh yea...and forget the wood slat floor boards, you will hate it

Buying used you may have enough to buy a davit?
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Last edited by T37Chef; 06-13-2007 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 06-13-2007
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Another consideration is the material used. Hypalon is much more durable and UV resistant than PVC. I believe most, if not all, of the West Marine inflatables are PVC. I have a small Achilles with a wood floor which I tow behind my 30 foot Cal when cruising. I love the Achilles, but putting the wood floor together is a bit of a pain. The wood floor however is definitely sturdy once put together and the inflatable keel makes for a boat the handles better than a rollup.
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I asked this same question a while back and what I got was the HP floors are the best soft floor out there but not near as good as a RIB. Id have to say without having owned a HP yet, it HAS to be better to deal with than wooden floorboards. Those I have owned.
A coat of UV paint when new will make a PVC boat last much longer I would think. Less money/weight than Hypalon, just not as durable.
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Old 06-13-2007
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My suggestionn would be to focus less on inflatables and more on hard dinghies. For weekend cruising on the Chesapeake, on a 30' boat, your best option is to tow. Otherwise you will be spending an inordinate amount of time loading the inflatable on/off deck and/or inflating/deflating it. Towing an inflatable is a pretty poor option due to drag and tracking.

Of the common hard dinghies (Fatty Knees, Trinka, Dyer, Gig Harbor, Walker Bay, etc), my least favorite is the Walker Bay (wobbly) and my preference goes to the Dyer (flat bottom -very stable). Most of these offer a sailrig option, which if you have kids is the only way to go (the sailrig is fun for adults too). Also, with a hard dinghy you can skip the outboard and just row.

If you have the time, you might also consider building your own dinghy. Chesapeake Light Craft (in Annapolis) offers two very nice tenders as kits, the 8' Eastport Pram and the 11.5' Passagemaker Dinghy. For most purposes the Eastport Pram is more than adequate. We needed a larger sailing/expedition dinghy for our family so we built the Passagemaker. I cannot commend either of these dinghies highly enough. Links to both below.

http://www.clcboats.com/boats/eastportpram.php

http://www.clcboats.com/boats/passagemakerdinghy.php
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Old 06-13-2007
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We have had both(RIB & HP floor) and the HP air floor is the only way to go IMHO. The RIB will plane better but will require a bigger, and heavier, engine to do so. They are also heavier to hoist on deck and then you have to be careful when setting them down or turning them over because of the hard hull on your gelcoat. Ours is an 11' and one person can pull it up over the lifelines with ease. We have a Mercury hypalon which was rated highest by Practical Sailor. After a year of use we love it and would never go back to a RIB.
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Anybody ever try one of these?
Porta-Bote Dinghy
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