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  #1  
Old 06-15-2013
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Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

... not as a tender. Rather, for exploring, exercise, etc.

Okay, so I scored an RU 260 off craigslist. It came with dock wheels, which are amazingly useful. Also, a custom cover and tow rope. I jury rigged a rear view mirror (bicycle mirror), wind vane, and streamers (so big boats can see me). Here's a pic of the way I have it set up.



I've been rowing almost every day since I picked it up a week ago. I did not plan to get a motor, as I am using it to a) exercise and b) explore. The thing is, a couple of days ago, I got caught in a strong current, and this had me re-thinking the motor bit. I rowed about 5.7 miles that day. Though, most of it was leisurely rowing, the current really taxed me.

So... I've been investigating potential motor solutions.

Since I wash it down and store it on the dock every night, the motor would have to be reasonably light. This led me to researching an electric motor, as I would still only use it if I got caught in a bind. Thing is, the batteries weigh a ton. Over exaggeration, I know. But you hopefully get my point. The other thing is, that is additional weight I would be rowing around. Oh and. I am not interested in "planing" the dink. That is, the motor would be for situations where I find myself in a bind, like the other day.

I've also considered the little Nissan 2.5 motors, or something similar. They have more power, but then, I'd have to deal with the gas. Again, weight becomes a factor. Esp lugging the thing on/off the dink. Yes, I could use a halyard, but the extra hassle makes taking it out less fun, iykwim.

I have considered just painting the bottom with anti-fouling paint for inflatables and just leaving it in the water over the summer, as I have plenty of room behind my boat in my slip. But I am not sure how to deal with covering it to protect against UV. My custom cover is designed for storing it on the hard.

Oh and, aside. Speaking of UV. I admittedly don't get it. If I'm out rowing all day, it's getting lots of UV rays. So, perhaps coating it with UV protectant might be a good idea?

My other concern is the fact that motors tend to get stolen. Yes, I could put a motor lock on it. But again, it increases the usage hassle. Plus, the motor could increase the possibility of the whole dink getting stolen. Of course, I have a lock for the dink, too. But again, extra hassle.

So, here's my Q. For those who have/use dinks for just puttering around, is a motor worth the effort/cost? If not, how do you deal with those rare binds? Any/all ideas, opinions, etc. welcomed.
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Old 06-15-2013
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

I'm not sure where you are located but here in the pnw we have lots of current, so a motor is almost mandatory. A little 4hp motor with an integrated tank only weights about 40lbs. It can be hung on your stern rail, no problem.
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Old 06-15-2013
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

I'm in the alameda estuary. There is some current but for the most part, not enough to pose a problem. 40lbs, isn't bad. What brands? I've been googling, reading forums about light weight motors. Trying to do my homework. lol
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

I have a Honda 4hp, 4 stroke with an integrated tank, 38lbs. It's quiet, no mixing of oil and it starts easily. It pushes our 6' Booth dinghy along at a scary pace.

Oh and it has neutral but no reverse. Some have no gearbox at all.
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Last edited by Dog Ship; 06-15-2013 at 01:28 AM.
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

San Fransisco, beautiful city. It reminds me of my home town Nanaimo, except bigger.
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

I really like the SF bay area. While rowing around, to my dismay, most of the docks are private. So, I've been making contact with the managers to see if I can dock my dinghy during my exploring trips. For example, going to starbucks via my dinghy, as opposed to walking to one down the street, appeals to me. Or, stopping by the little german restaurant across from coast guard island on my way home as opposed to walking to a local deli.

Oh, btw, speaking of coast guard island. Almost every time I'm out, I run into (figure of speech) a couple of coast guard zodiac (?) boats zipping around. Anyway, today, they passed very close, and much to my surprise? They had huge freaking machine guns mounted on the bow. o.O

Btw, and back to the subject. I should have mentioned... I am looking at picking up a small sailboat (laser, open bic, rs tera, or something similar) as well. As I really want to get out and learn how to sail. lol. The dinghy is really my puttering around explorer and exercise boat and the sailboat will be my learning how to sail and getting plenty wet boat. lol.
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

As a Canadian, I will keep my opinions about the bow mounted 50 caliber machine gun to myself.
As far as a choice of sailboat to learn on, I would recommend a Lazer or something similar. I taught myself how to sail on a Lazer some 40 plus years ago and I still have fond memories of hull number 114.
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

4 hp Tahatsu. 52 lbs. first one which has integral tank or can hook external tank to it. Quiet
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

I applaud you. My inflatable doesn't row for sh*t. One of the oarlocks slips, the other one doesn't, so I end up with different length oars and going round in circles. After 1 attempt rowing I bought a 2.5hp Suzuki, weighs about 35lbs, wouldn't go without.
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Re: Motor vs Rowing inflatable dinghy...

My oar locks have a ring that I tighten down to make them stay in place. I wasn't sure what setting I should have them, so I have tried out different configs. I've also been watching the scullers practice (i know, different type boats), so that has helped a lot.

What I have found interesting/counter intuitive, is that it's actually easier to row upwind against the tide. When rowing down wind with the tide, my dink wants to turn sideways, so I have to do a 1 stroke left, 2-3 strokes right, or vice versa, to keep the dink going in the direction I want to go. This really slows me down.

When I have a good rhythm going, I am making btwn 2-3 mph (per my gps) as opposed to 1.5 mph downwind, with the current. When I hit that heavy current snag in the bottleneck, I was rowing at least twice as hard just to stay in the same place. o.O Since I don't want to do that again, in addition to dealing with the dredging vessels that are docked and and sometimes moving in and out of that area, I won't be going down there any time in the near or distant future. Motor or no.

Btw, and another thought. During my research, some have mentioned getting longer oars. Based upon this calculation, I would need 8' oars. I have been browsing oars and the longest I could find at the marine shops were 5', which, in light of this guy's comment, can't say I'm surprised.. By expanding my search however, I was able to find these. Though, I still want to do more shopping around, comparison price, design, etcetera.

And finally, here's an interesting article about the perils of rowing an inflatable dink. Imho, the author makes some relevant points. Though, I admittedly enjoy rowing around the estuary. Go figure. lol
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