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kwaltersmi 01-24-2010 08:54 PM

Opinions on Avon Redstart dinghy
Anyone have any experience with Avon dinghies, specifically the Redstart?

Looks like the selling point is lightweight (41 lbs) and the ability to roll this dinghy up easily into a small package because of the lack of a solid transom and hull/floor. However, I wonder how well they'll tow without a hard bottom or inflatable keel. I think if we had one we'd occasionally deflate and stow it, but I'm guessing we'd primarily tow it.

JohnRPollard 01-25-2010 08:38 AM

Hi Kevin,

We used a similar model extensively in the Med aboard the boat I crewed on. For some reason I thought it was called the "Redcrest", but I could be mistaken.

We only towed it for short hops. Anything longer than 30 n.m. or so we would deflate it and stow it -- which is to say, most of the time. With practice, and the big manual foot pump that comes with it, we were able to get it set-up and ready to go fairly quickly. Same with deflating and stowing.

We would row that dinghy for shorter distances in smaller anchorages. It rowed okay. For longer distances, we'd affix the motor mount and had a little British Seagull putt putt that pushed it along. Not quickly, though. With that fabric floor, I would say there's no planing in these no matter how much hp you added. My guess is 2 hp gets this to "hull speed" and anything more would be wasted unless you have huge currents.

Once while towing (I was not aboard at the time) in heavier seas/air, the dinghy lifted off, spun around a few times, and the painter separated. It went tumbling downwind faster than the owner could maneuver to recover it. The owner did replace it with the same model -- so that says something I guess.

Ignore the next two paragraphs if you're not interested in "commentary".:)

All that said, and having perused your "big trip" itinerary and knowing a bit about what it is like to sail with young kids.... I'm not sure this is the style dinghy I would want for the sort of family sailing I and you do. The extra step of needing to inflate/deflate is something I wanted to avoid when sailing with my family. There's just so much else going on, that eliminating steps like that can make the outings more enjoyable.

Also, as you probably know, I'm a big proponent of teaching kids to row and sail in little dinghies at anchor. If you ask my kids today, they will tell you this is the aspect of cruising they enjoy most -- getting out on their own and exploring in the dinghies. In my opinion, hard rowing/sailing dinghies offer much better options for kids (and towing).

sailingdog 01-25-2010 09:32 AM

While no personal experience with said dinghy, believe it is the kind that Webb Chiles used for many years and has a good reputation among most sailors that have used them.

TQA 01-25-2010 10:16 AM

They are wet in a chop and inclined to flip over in a wind. In the UK I have seen people tow them with the nose out of the water and hard up against the top of the transom so only the stern is in the water.

But they are well made long lasting and light. It is possible to replace the slats in the floor with a three piece ply folding floor which makes it MUCH nicer to use.

kwaltersmi 01-25-2010 11:01 AM


Originally Posted by JohnRPollard (Post 563412)
I thought it was called the "Redcrest", but I could be mistaken.

The Redcrest is the 9' version of Avon's dinghy, the 8' version is called the Redstart.

We do have a hard/rigid rowing dinghy now (Sandpiper 8), but it's small and very tippy. It does tow easily and the girls enjoy paddling it around in the marina. I was just think of getting something a bit more stable for our cruise, but still small and light enough to throw on deck or stow below when crossing Lake Michigan (~50-60 miles).

My parents have a "spare" 10' Zodiac RIB we can borrow for the cruise, but I don't think it will be easy to lift or stow on deck, if it even fits. It's also 2 times the weight of our Sandpiper and even more so than a Redstart (41lbs). Like I mentioned, I think we'll be towing most of the time, but I'd like the option of storing on deck or below for crossings.

Hmmm. More to ponder! Thanks, as always, for the input!

bloodhunter 01-25-2010 11:48 AM

Have had an elderly RedCrest for seven + years now and find her quite stable though wet in a chop. She came with a motor mount and have a 4hp outboard. Rowing an inflatable with no keel can be very interesting in any kind of a wind.
She lives in her bag on the cabin top just in front of our life raft. When we anchor I inflate her (using a 12v inflator for 90 pct and the footpump for the rest). It takes some time, but the whole point of our cruising is we're not in a hurry. She's relatively light so when she's inflated I just drop her over the side (first cleating the painter).
The outboard lives on the stern rail and I have a block and tackle arrangement to lower the engine slowly to the dinghy.
We bought the inflatable because my boat is not suitable for davits, and a solid (or inflated) dinghy takes up too much room on the deck. I don't like towing a dinghy in any kind of open water -- too easy for it to flip or get filled with water. We got the RedCrest because we wanted a 4-person boat (we have a large family).
I've found the RedCrest to be very well made and she's given us no problems in the time we've had her. She's easy to get into as you can stand on the fat side pontoons (or whatever the inflatable part is called) without even coming close to turning her over.
I have thought about fabricating a floor for her out of thin plywood probably in three pieces but have not gotten around to it yet.
One other thing if you are going to keep you inflatable deflated, the inflator is most useful for getting the air completely out when you want to roll her up and put her away.

JohnRPollard 01-25-2010 12:59 PM


Originally Posted by kwaltersmi (Post 563455)
The Redcrest is the 9' version of Avon's dinghy, the 8' version is called the Redstart.

Yeah, it must have been the Redcrest -- we used to put 4 guys in it routinely, sometimes 5 even (protected waters).

asdf38 06-06-2013 10:37 PM

Re: Opinions on Avon Redstart dinghy
I just picked up a redcrest and a Johnson Seahorse 2hp for $400 on craigslist. Both are in fair to good shape. Engine started and ran with no problem. Boat has no patches but is obviously a bit old. But hey, this setup is close to $2k new.

I bought a ryobi cordless inflator which is perfect for inflating it at the side of the lake (on the boat I have a 12V inflator).

Just commenting that I thought this would fit in my cockpit locker because of the lack of transom and rigid floor- it won't, or if it did it would be really tight and difficult. I don't know what other 26' boats are like but it just isn't gona fit in mine. Of course I can stuff it in the V birth but there is just no place it's going to properly stow.

My sevylor fishhunter on the other hand takes up almost no space.

Not that big a deal, I have a lake 500' from the house this can be used on and I'm happy with the engine.

Alex W 06-07-2013 10:38 AM

Re: Opinions on Avon Redstart dinghy
I have the Achillies LT-3+, which is very similar. I haven't used it yet though, because I've taken a liking to my hard dinghy. My Dyer Dhow Midget fits nicely onto the foredeck of my Pearson 28-2 and still leaves enough room to work around it. It's also easy to tow.

On my Catalina 25 I kept a small deflated dinghy under the dinette's table. We mostly ate outside when cruising and this worked out pretty well for storage. Otherwise it went into the deep back of the quarterberth. The Catalina 25 has a massive lazarette for a 25' boat, but the dinghy couldn't fit through the access door.

I have inflated the Achillies to inspect it and it went pretty quickly (5 minutes?) with the foot pump.

asdf38 06-07-2013 10:43 AM

Re: Opinions on Avon Redstart dinghy
I'd like to hear how that works for you because I noticed the LT-2 is the smallest hypalon on and 2' shorter than my redcrest, as well as newer and with a more compact looking motor mount (mine is a big hunk of lumber). They claim it stows to 9" wide.

I'm still sort of hoping that there is a hypalon out there that's just small enough to work for me. The old redcrest is probably not it.

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