A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-02-2012 Thread Starter
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A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

So I'm new to all this, but I've recently gotten quite interested in dinghies (weird eh?), and I have a few questions about dinghies themselves and the loading and unloading of dinghies.

Firstly, what are the general rule of thumbs for weight capacity? I was kind of wondering what the general rule is for dinghy size in proportion to capacity. Is it all dependant on design or can something like "100 lbs per ft of LOA" be applied? I am wondering if a smaller dinghy (~9-10'?) could handle heavy loads of up to 600-800 lbs... Just curious what kind of weight these things can take.

Second, how does one load and unload a dinghy if stored on deck? Let's say you have a 10' dinghy on board that is flipped over. Does one simply just flip the boat over, snap on the halyard, raise it, and lower it into the drink?

Third, what kind of weight can a halyard take? For onboard-stored dinghies, I hear that using a halyard suspended from the top of the mast is the easiest way to load and unload a dinghy. Though what if I have a heavy dinghy? Assuming the rope is of a very strong grade (over 1000 lb line?), what kind of mass can one load and unload via a halyard?

And lastly, how does one balance a dinghy while loading and unloading it? I've never done the procedure before, and I somehow imagine that if a gust of wind came by while the dinghy was suspended and being lifted, that the whole dinghy would be rocked to a side and make handling the boat very difficult. Is this a correct assumption?

Thank you for all answers! I hope my questions are possible to answer I appreciate everything!
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-02-2012
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

.... manufacturers specifications will give carrying capacity. Obviously variable depending on type of dinghy and construction.

.... smaller dinghys flip over manually and yes the halyard to hoist and drop. From what I've seen people with ribs seem to store them on deck hull down so flipping is not an issue. Pretty easy to manually flip an average sized plastic or inflatable.

.... how long is a piece of string ? How much can a Koala Bear ? From my experience I've never had a problem with a halyard lifting a dinghy on keel boats from 24' and up.

.... practice. you create a sling that is attached is such a way as to keep the thing vaguely level as you raise and/or lower though yes you do need to take care in high wind conditions. Usually however simply hanging onto the painter gives sufficient control.

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post #3 of 8 Old 10-02-2012
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

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Originally Posted by Ogele View Post
So I'm new to all this, but I've recently gotten quite interested in dinghies (weird eh?), and I have a few questions about dinghies themselves and the loading and unloading of dinghies.

Firstly, what are the general rule of thumbs for weight capacity? I was kind of wondering what the general rule is for dinghy size in proportion to capacity. Is it all dependant on design or can something like "100 lbs per ft of LOA" be applied? I am wondering if a smaller dinghy (~9-10'?) could handle heavy loads of up to 600-800 lbs... Just curious what kind of weight these things can take.
Depends entirely on the type of dinghy... RIB / PortaBote / Fatty Knees / other... I have a West Marine SB275 Inflatable - it is 9' long, and has a capacity of 683 lbs. According to WM it weighs 68 lbs (I'd say closer to 80)
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Second, how does one load and unload a dinghy if stored on deck? Let's say you have a 10' dinghy on board that is flipped over. Does one simply just flip the boat over, snap on the halyard, raise it, and lower it into the drink?
While it's not light, I can lift my dinghy over the lifelines without using a halyard. I drop it on the stern, and manage it's entry into the water so that the bottom is on the bottom...

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Third, what kind of weight can a halyard take? For onboard-stored dinghies, I hear that using a halyard suspended from the top of the mast is the easiest way to load and unload a dinghy. Though what if I have a heavy dinghy? Assuming the rope is of a very strong grade (over 1000 lb line?), what kind of mass can one load and unload via a halyard?
According to NE Ropes, 5mm (the smallest they make) Sta-Set will support 1400lbs... Unless it is a steel dinghy, I don't see that the weight of the dinghy will be a problem for the line. It may be a problem for you, but that's another matter...
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And lastly, how does one balance a dinghy while loading and unloading it? I've never done the procedure before, and I somehow imagine that if a gust of wind came by while the dinghy was suspended and being lifted, that the whole dinghy would be rocked to a side and make handling the boat very difficult. Is this a correct assumption?
TIE THE PAINTER OFF (DAMHIK), pick the dink up, and chuck it in. If it lands upside down, flip it over.
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Thank you for all answers! I hope my questions are possible to answer I appreciate everything!
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

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.... manufacturers specifications will give carrying capacity. Obviously variable depending on type of dinghy and construction.

Ah true. I guess in a way that's better as my ideal dinghy would be small with good weight capabilities. Speed isnt so much of value to me.

.... smaller dinghys flip over manually and yes the halyard to hoist and drop. From what I've seen people with ribs seem to store them on deck hull down so flipping is not an issue. Pretty easy to manually flip an average sized plastic or inflatable.

Good to hear that flipping isnt too hard. RIBs aren't really my preferred dinghy, I like me some wood, FG or metal more, but I'm not too picky.

.... how long is a piece of string ? How much can a Koala Bear ? From my experience I've never had a problem with a halyard lifting a dinghy on keel boats from 24' and up.

A string is either too short, long enough, or too long. A koala bear can can a lot.

Good to know that you've never had any problems. The main reason I'm so particular about weight is because the dinghy obviously needs to be able to carry a few people + supplies/groceries/etc. And the halyard needs to be able to ATLEAST haul the dinghy and it's motor, but the more the merrier.


.... practice. you create a sling that is attached is such a way as to keep the thing vaguely level as you raise and/or lower though yes you do need to take care in high wind conditions. Usually however simply hanging onto the painter gives sufficient control.

Painter. Good to know; will note. Thank you.
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Depends entirely on the type of dinghy... RIB / PortaBote / Fatty Knees / other... I have a West Marine SB275 Inflatable - it is 9' long, and has a capacity of 683 lbs. According to WM it weighs 68 lbs (I'd say closer to 80) 9' and almost 700 lbs? Not too bad at all. And it only weighs 80? Heck, that's great news!

While it's not light, I can lift my dinghy over the lifelines without using a halyard. I drop it on the stern, and manage it's entry into the water so that the bottom is on the bottom...

I like the idea of halyard lifting a bit more... Carrying and unloading a big dinghy by hand would be awkward for me.


According to NE Ropes, 5mm (the smallest they make) Sta-Set will support 1400lbs... Unless it is a steel dinghy, I don't see that the weight of the dinghy will be a problem for the line. It may be a problem for you, but that's another matter...

Aha 1400lbs is quite overkill. I wasnt so worried about the line itself holding up, but moreso everything else related to the line. Though I guess the mast would be more than strong enough to handle anything that could be tied to it within reason. It does handle strong winds after all...

TIE THE PAINTER OFF (DAMHIK), pick the dink up, and chuck it in. If it lands upside down, flip it over.

Seems easy enough.

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Thanks for all the answers!
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

I have a 135 pound RIB that we store and transport on deck. The previous owner made modifications to the boat to allow it to tilt side to side easily to work around the stern seats with his davits. This feature makes it a lot easier for as well. We lift the dink from the water level with a spare halyard, then once it clears the lifelines, its very easy to tip onto its side then lower to lay upside down on the deck. Launching the process is reversed.

If I was super motivated I could rig a couple of blocks and use the electric capstan in the anchor locker to do the lifting but using the halyard directly to a winch doesn't require any extra set up time.

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post #6 of 8 Old 10-02-2012
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

I carry my 140 lb rib on the foredeck on passage. Lift it using the painter and a halyard to a mast winch. Crank it up and flip it when near vertical so the tubes are against the topsides. Keep carnking till it clears the lifelines then drop it on the foredeck.

Easy with 2 people and doable on my own even in 15 knts.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-02-2012
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

We have been storing our 125 lb rib upside down on the foredeck for 3 years. Same procedure as TQA, only I don't think I would do it alone. Wind doesn't bother me but if it is rough it can be a PITA, and somewhat dangerous. Recently my wife got a halyard wrap on the winch with the dink swinging above the deck. I tied it off as best I could to keep it from doing any damage and went back to the cockpit to free the wrap. Most of the time it is uneventful and pretty easy. But I just put on davits. One person can do it now. I would still put it on the deck for a long passage however. Storing the dink on the foredeck is a pain when you just want to go day sailing.

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post #8 of 8 Old 10-05-2012
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Re: A Couple Simple Questions Regarding Dinghies

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Good to hear that flipping isnt too hard. RIBs aren't really my preferred dinghy, I like me some wood, FG or metal more, but I'm not too picky.
MOST of the loading/unloading tips above are for inflatable dinghies. rigid dinghies can be more difficult, and both cause more damage and get damaged themselves if they get dropped, slammed around by the wind while strung up on the halyard, etc. They also have MUCH lower capacity, generally about half a similar sized inflatable.

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Good to know that you've never had any problems. The main reason I'm so particular about weight is because the dinghy obviously needs to be able to carry a few people + supplies/groceries/etc. And the halyard needs to be able to ATLEAST haul the dinghy and it's motor, but the more the merrier.
Woah! You have to ship the motor first. No way you want to pull it out (or drop it in) with the motor attached. That would get ugly in a hurry.

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