I was looking at the pricess at Defender and it looks like the Tohatsu is much less expensive than the Yamaha, and the Honda is slightly more expensive. Are they pretty much created equal, or is this another case of getting what you pay for?
Anyone have preferences? Which one did you choose and how has it been for you?
Circling back on this, we chose a 11'6" Achilles RIB with a 20hp Tohatsu.
We actually sailed to within 2 miles of Defender and took a taxi to their store. We paid someone $50 to put the dinghy and engine in the back of his pickup to take it the 2 miles back to the shore. And then after unwrapping and inflating and installing and putting oil and gas in, we paid somone else with a pickup $20 to take the garbage away. I made multiple trips to get everyone to our sailboat, because we had a limited number of life vests with us. That was ok, since I needed to follow the break-in procedure of running at X% power for Y minutes. The trips back and forth gave me the chance to do the early break in steps well.
1) We needed the hard bottom becuase we always are dragging her up onto the beach over rocks, shells etc. Unless you are pulling up to mud or a dinghy dock all the time, I can't imaging having a soft bottom, unless weight and storage space are a problem.
2) We needed a boat that would hold all 6 of us. That was important to me -- no going back to get the other people left on shore. With little kids, to do otherwise would be chosing from less than desirable options of which kids to leave on shore, espcially when perhaps I'm away for the day, or the older ones aren't there. If memory serves, it has over 1600 pounds of useful load on the plackard. Even as my kids grow, I'll still be able to take all of us.
3) The 20 hp Tohatsu is the same engine as their 15 hp, only with a different carburator. For a difference of $300, we get 25% more hp. Turns out it's needed to get our crew up on plane. In Martha's Vineyard, we took the dinghy to a beach 3 miles from the boat and planed almost the whole way there. And that was with coolers, beach chairs, etc. We've also done a little tubing behind the dinghy - lots of fun.
Total cost was pretty high, but cheap due to Defender's sale. (They gave it to us at sales price even though we were a few days early.) I consider this a long term investment. Defender charged me sales tax which they say they will refund after I send them the proper form -- they will refund it because I bought the boat and engine together ans so . Registering in NY state, they only charged me sales tax on the boat, not the engine. When buying a dinghy and engine, make sure the receipt breaks out the two costs, so the state can charge you tax on only the engine.
I did pull it up onto our davits once, so it works. Of course, I had the engine off. That probably is the only downside, with that size dinghy and engine combination you need to take the engine off for trips, at leas twith my davits/ A 117 pounds, the engine is a little heavy, but by using one davit as a hoist I got it onto our swim platform and then from there it was simple lift of a few inches to get it onto the engine storage board that's mounted on the rails.
All in all, I'm very happy with the purchase, even if it emptied my wallet a bunch -- long term investment, long term investment (keep saying it to yourself). The utility of having a dinghy is so far superior to the old method of using our kayak and an old windsurf board to move people and supplies aboard. And that's not even mentioning the grandparents and other elderly friends, who really couldn't visit without our first going to a dock.
Finally, my son and I took our dinghy surfing. We put the surfboards in and I dropped him off at a couple breaks along the coast. I didn't feel comfortable leaving the dinghy at anchor in deep water or pulling it up onto shore with the wave conditions, so I didn't surf that time.
All in all, it's great to have a good dinghy. Thanks for all the help and feedback on what to buy