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  #1  
Old 03-05-2011
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Sailing Dinghy or Hiigh-Speed RIB?

My wife and I are departing in a few weeks for a Caribbean cruise that will likely extend into a year or more of sailing and living aboard. We have 3 kids on a 40 foot sailboat.

The dilema is that we don't have room to carry 2 dinghies and must decide on one of them for a trip. Any experienced advice on which dinghy would be the most practical in the real cruising world would be very much appreciated.

The Dinghies:

11 foot Avon RIB with 25 hp Yamaha outboard. The raft is from the mid 1990's as well as the engine. Engine runs great and is reliable. The raft is good for its age. I had the valves replaced the sponsons inspected. Engine was professionally serviced. It's fast and stable and I can probably fit it on the foredeck.

Other dinghy:

13 foot solid hull sailing dinghy by Snark. Foam core with cordeit shell (like a plastic garbage can). It has a jib and main, sails well, is flat and stable, and has a Honda 2hp 4-stroke outboard that moves it along at about 10mph. Can't fit this one on deck. It's heavy and slow but has the option of rowing, sailing, and/or motoring. Plus it's unsinkable. Because of solar array and a steering windvane we would have to tow this dinghy the entire trip. No davits.

Our primary concern is reliability and ease of use with kids. We like the ability of the RIB to plane out and cover long distances fast with the whole family plus supplies. But we also like the 'life-boat' capabilities of the sailing dink with option of sailing if we don't have access to gasoline for whatever reason. Not too mention dinghy field trips for the kids and local cruises from our mooring or anchorage.

All opinions are very welcome. We are torn between these two boats. The losing dinghy will likely be sold to help finance the voyage. Thanks!

GL
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Old 03-05-2011
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I think you need a dinghy that you can, at least when advisable, store on deck. in the gaps between islands you can run into considerable seas and solid breezes once you're down in the leewards and windwards and I can't imagine being happy towing a heavy, largish dinghy at those times.

Also on occasion you'll be needing to land in some considerable surf where some HP will be critical, on top of that in many areas the run to customs from an anchorage can be considerable.

On some islands you can utilize the network of 'boat boys' for some of these requirements, but I don't think that's something you want to rely on.

We've done the chain from St Maarten to Grenada - I cannot recall off the top of my head very many cruisers who had sailing dinghies on moderate sized boats.

Maybe another option for you would be to sell both and look into something that might try to do both - eg some of the Walker Bays that can be rigged for sailing but will be shorter and may fit aboard more easily. However the ability to deflate and minimize the on-deck size of a RIB is an advantage too.

As much as I like the idea of a sailing dinghy, esp with kids aboard, if you cant' take both I'd opt for the RIB.
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Old 03-05-2011
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While a sailing dinghy would be cool, I have to agree with Faster on this.

A 9 ft Titan RIB was one of the first purchases that we made after buying our boat. Stability and cargo capacity were the deciding factors.

Walker Bays are fun boats, but not as stable as a RIB. Our sailing co-op used them as tenders for several years, but moved towards RIBs as members made it clear that stability when boarding was very important to them. You can buy the tube kits for them, but that makes them almost as expensive as a RIB. For a few extra $'s you may as well get the real thing.
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You'll get in plenty of lively sailing with the large boat. Nice as sailing dingies are...in theory...in the Caribbean you'll find a big, fast, comfortable dingy much more useful. The kids will want to dingy fast to get ashore to snorkle, shop, etc. Sometimes you have to travel relatively long distances.

Problem with the older Avons is the tube size (diameter)...much too small. They're wet as can be in anything except benign conditions...not often seen in the Caribbean. Larger tubes are a must....Caribes, ABs, etc. Stay away from Zodiaks....big maintenance problem.

FWIW (after cruising the Eastern Caribbean intermittently with kids of all ages over past 40+ years or so),

Bill
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Old 03-05-2011
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It is not possible to tow a large dinghy throughout the Caribbean without the serious possibility of loosing it but I think that the most important consideration is that the 25 hp can move and maneuver the sailboat in an emergency.

Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorksailor View Post
It is not possible to tow a large dinghy throughout the Caribbean without the serious possibility of loosing it but I think that the most important consideration is that the 25 hp can move and maneuver the sailboat in an emergency.

Phil
True.. but the 25 hp will be a bit of a bear to handle (esp. in a rolling anchorage) on those occasions that you'll want to put the boat on deck and need to stow the motor. Also a 25 is pretty big for the typical stern rail mounting on a 40 footer..
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All great points. I guess I just needed a kick in the pants away from the sailing dinghy. I suppose we can bring along the smaller outboard for convenience if it's a situation where mounting the 25 HP would be impractical. Thanks for the pragmatic insight. Looks like we'll be taking the RIB.

GL
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I wont comment one which to buy, sail or RIB, but...before you buy an Avon look at some others...Achilles (we own a 2010), AB, Walker Bay to name a few. Our previous one was a Avon and I hated it, the Achilles is a better boat hands down. The oar lock for one on the Avon are ridiculous, their rub rails fail like no other, and and and...
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....their rub rails fail like no other, and and and...
and they're now owned by Groupe Zodiac! 'Nuff said :-)

Bill
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Sounds to me like you have 2 different versions of the wrong dingy.

A 9'-10' hypalon roll up with a 5-8 HP seems like a better fit on your deck and the engine would still be heavy by my standards but much easier to deal with than a 25 hp motor.
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