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  #1  
Old 11-15-2010
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Dinghy Types; Need Advice

I posted a question recently about Chartplotters, and one accurately characterized that I have money to spend but do not know what I need. I have the same situation here with a dinghy.

Here's my situation and I'm looking for advice as to what design(s) may serve me best. I am less concerned now with brands and models, my query deals more with design-types (size / capacity, hard / inflatable, hard-floor / roll-up floor / inflatable floor, etc.).

Hinterhoeller HR28, moored in a Casco Bay Maine area with water-taxi service. Will be doing mostly close-in coastal weekending; sailing out to an anchorage for a night or two and back to the mooring field. A possible 1-week summer cruise is also possible. We do not expect more than 4 onboard for any overnights. So our use will be mostly exploring anchorage locales and ferrying into towns / villages. I'll be pushing it with a 2.2 HP 2-stroke (ol' Reliable)... I know I'll be putting and not screaming around the bay.

The vast majority of other boats in Casco Bay have inflatables, which probably tells me something. But I'd like to learn from the experiences of others, also taking into consideration my own sailing patterns described above. Things like:

1. What did you buy, and why?
2. What do you like / not like about it?
3. Would you buy same if you had a do-over?
4. If not, what would you get, and why?
5. How practical is it to stow an inflatable and inflate / empty it at each use? I have huge aft and under-cockpit storage areas (but a small cabin for a 28 footer.)
6. What are the relative hazards towing an inflatable versus a hard dinghy?
7. Any other pearls of wisdom you'd care to share.

Thanks
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Old 11-15-2010
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hriehl,
I balked at the cost of an inflatable two years ago, and built my onw dinghy. It was a fun project, and I get compliments on her, but she is tender. So tender, that she is virtually unboardable from our dock, as the gunwale of the dinghy is almost 2' lower than the dock, and because she is light, she is impossible to load from the swim ladder. But, she tows like a dream. I originally used an Eska 3 hp OB for propulsion but quickly abandoned this approach- the starting pull was longer than the beam of the boat coupleed with a lack of neutral, made for some hair raising departures. So, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, and ditch the Eska and use a trolling motor for propulsion- My thinking was the battery would add some needed ballast and better weight distribution, with no starting drama. It sort a worked, but created a new problem- the battery took up much needed legroom, making here a solo-only boat with cramped cargo space. It was also just a tad long to hang from the davits on our boat- "Chirp" is 7'6" LOA, and our transom is only 6'9" wide.

So, I decided to buy an inflatable. Found a Rubber Duck that fit our needs, and was much cheaper than others I had seen. We decided to keep it simple, with a roll-up slatted floor, making it easier to stow. It takes less than 10 minutes to unroll her and fill her with the supplied footpump, but we haven't stowed "Quack" that often. She cruises around the marina just fine under electric power, but, with her short length, light weight and lack of keel, she can get a little squirrely in windy/ choppy conditions. The cargo capacity is superior to our hard dinghy, and the inflatable is MUCH easier to board, and leave. It tows well, tracks well with a bridle, but appears to drag a little more than our hard dinghy does. It definitely does NOT row as well as a hard dinghy.
Deflating/inflating and stowing is easy from a dock, but it can be a pain in the neck with a narrowish boat like an HR28, especially when you are using a gas outboard. You have to remove the outboard, stow the outboard, drag the inflatable onboard, curse as you realize it is bigger than the cockpit, deflate, squish it down to get all of the air out and make it as small as the bag it originally came in, pack it into a lazarette which is always 2" too narrow... just tow it, or stow it on the foredeck. Also, the bigger the boat, the more weight . For open water use, as a mooring taxi, you would likely want a boat much larger than the 6.5' model we bought- one of the reasons we chose the model we did was that it came in at about the same weight as our hard dinghy- 48 lbs. or thereabout. add three feet to the length, and a hard floor for example, and you double the weight- that can be difficult to wrestle on board.
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I have owned four tenders and still have three of them:

11'4"Avon RIB with a 25HP Tohatsu 2 stroke, steering, seat, elect start.-Got this when I was chartering al ot to keep the kids interested in sailing. Typically used it with with boats in the 37'-45' range. Great fun, fast 30+knots, very stable towed well. Rows poorly

9' Avon inflatable with a wood floor. Hated it. Very "mushy" bottom. Had concers that it could flip when being towed. Used it with a 5HP Mercury 4 stroke. Felt like it would swamp easily.

10'2" West Marine / Avon RIB- Very similar to the other Avon, just not as fast. Used it with the same 5HP Mercury as the soft wood bottom Avon.

9' Dyer Dhow Sailing / Rowing Dinghy - Used with out a motor. Tows OK, wanders a little. Never used it in heavy weather. Would not expect it to tow as well as RIB in heavy weather. Sails better with two than one. Two can sit in huill on oppisite side of boat and is pretty well balanced. When sailing with one, you kind of need to kneel in the middle to keep it balanced. Not vey stable at least as compared ith the RIB.

I have given some thought to selling the Dyer and getting a Portland Pudgy. It looks like they combine a lot of the advantages of inflatables and hard dinghies. Stable (so they say), row, motor or sail. More or less indestructable maintence free hull. A little expensive. Hamilton Marine is selling them again. The Portland store had some on display the last time I was there.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Rigid vs inflatable RIB dinghy for international cruising
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Old 11-15-2010
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I have a small (7'6") Achilles inflatable with a 2hp Yamaha. Tows well, well made (its hypalon, not PVC), not fast and a bit wet in any kind of waves, but I love it. The 22 lb engine is easy to get in and out of the dinghy and I can store the defalted dinghy below when not cruising. A little larger dinghy would be nice when I have guests aboard when cruising, but then I would need a larger outboard. I'm happy with what I have now and would probably replace it with something similar when the time comes.
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