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Duck401k 01-07-2009 09:50 AM

Dinghy Advice
We have a 34 foot sailboat and will this summer do many overnight trips, thus we need a dinghy. Last year was our first year w/ the boat and all trips were day trips. I am thinking inflatable with very compact storage and inflate when needed. You see the manual foot pumps that come w/ these boats but are they really effective to inflate a dinghy ? do I need an inflatable floor or hard floor? Also will need a smal outboard that is gas and engine in one unit. Any suggestions ? Is there a used market for these..I do not see many on the internet or craig's.

We sail the Chesapeake and need some input. Hopefully the dink will hold 3 people and be easy to store and inflate...any help or input would be appreciated...Thanks

JohnRPollard 01-07-2009 10:09 AM

In your case, given that you will be sailing in the Chesapeake, I would be focussing on a dinghy that could be easily towed behind, or occasionally stored on the foredeck for longer trips. Inflatables are okay for this, but hardshell dinghies usually do better for towing.

Inflating and deflating a dinghy every time you arrive at a destination can be a real nuisance, especially when you are daysailing/overnighting (it's not as big a deal if you are making longer passages and then staying put for days or weeks at a stretch). I know very few inflatable owners on the Chesapeake that are constantly inflating/deflating. Most are storing the dinghy in davits or on the foredeck.

Others may feel differently, but we have never needed an outboard in our years of cruising the Chesapeake. Rowing and sailing has always served well enough. But we use a hardshell dinghy, which tows and rows easily and sets up quickly for sailing. Without the weight of an outboard and gas, you could easily manage with an 8' pram or dinghy.

Good luck! You'll get lots of differing opinions here!

jjns 01-07-2009 10:32 AM

Dinghy's are like cookies, all depends on your taste. We started with a hardshell 7ft but it was really only good for 1 person. Since moved up to a Zodiac Cadet 9.5ft, 880lbs capacity, inflatable keel and a hard floor. Weights about 90 lbs, tows fairly well but needs to be assembled on the dock, otherwise 1 cannot snap the floorboards into place. Didn't realize that until after 1st use, on the upside it is very comfortable to have the solid floor, the downside is it must be assembled prior to leaving, I like my foredeck clear so we always tow it. As for the foot pump, it works much better than I anticipated, only takes about 5 mins to inflate. A hard bottom Zodiac would be nice but didn't want the weight or storage issues. The ones with the roll-up floor is the best option for space constraints and can be dealt with on board if needed but they lack any kind of keel and while okay around the marina, they lack directionality, tried one once and it would not go in a straight line, hence the reason we opted for the inflatable keel.
Be careful of off-name boats (WM...) inferior materials and attachments. We were tempted by the WM version as it is "exactly" the same and a LOT cheaper, except of course for things like the seats, oarlock re-inforcements, oars, attachments..... We also had the option of several used boats, but at the end of the day felt it was better to toss a few hundred more to have a boat that hadn't been repaired. Of the 4 available used, all had repairs, some really well done, some not and all the prices were close. (at the time the repaired Zod's were about the same as the WM new)
As to propulsion, there is another thread on the same subject that covers the gamut.
We started with the Honda 2hp and quickly traded up to a Yamaha 2.5hp as it had neutral, which for us, was a big deal. The other big consideration is weight. We always remove the motor and stow it on the pushpit. (if I have to cut the boat loose, at least I only have to replace the dink) At 34lbs, the Yamy is about as heavy as I want to deal with. I also made up a coated steel cable tether so that I ALWAYS have it tied to the big boat whenever it isn't secured to the dink. It is a bit of a pain but much better than going diving.
The yamy has an integral 1L tank, we have the non-spill 1 Gal WM fuel container which works surprising well and expands our range considerably.
With 2 adults on board, a bit of gear it burns about 1L/hour.
Hope it helps.

petegingras 01-07-2009 11:20 AM


What no interest in the wooden sailing dinghy? Good it’s only useful a couple of times a season.

I’ve had owned an all wooden, all fiberglass, RIB (inflatable with fiberglass bottom), and currently a ZodiacŪ inflatable (inflatable keel), and wooden floorboard inserts. I seriously looked at the inflatable floor and was dissatisfied with the amount of space you loose in the sole of the dinghy (as the floor inflates it rises and you seem to loose 2-3 inches of depth in the dinghy sole, therefore I opted to wooden slates and about 20 lbs of weight that they added.

I believe the a 9 foot dinghy is ample for 4 people and light enough for 1 person to bring up and down, or in and out of the water.

Propulsion…do you want to plane your dinghy or just motor to the dock? If it’s the former 8 HP 4 stroke minimum, if it’s the latter 3.3 HP 2 stroke max. 2 stokes will need more TLC than the 4 stroke, but they’re lighter and will offer the engine mounted tank you desire.

Before you buy take some time to comb the lee shores of the bay for any runaway tenders.

painkiller 01-07-2009 03:21 PM


I have a 34-foot boat on Chesapeake Bay (a Beneteau 343) and I have an Achilles LSI104 (10'4") inflatable with an air floor. The 10HP Bravo bellows pump that came with it pumps the boat up in about 10 minutes. I keep the dink stowed in a cockpit locker then lug it up on deck to inflate and launch it.

Overall, it works out pretty well for me. Lugging the 90lb rolled-up dinghy is not much fun, but I prefer it over having davits.

I power the Achilles with a 6HP Tohatsu that works well. It won't put the boat up on plane with two adults on board, but that's not really a priority for me. I'm going to play around with the outboard tilt (trim??) setting this spring to see if that changes anything. The Tohatsu uses an external fuel tank. We do a lot of exploring with the dink, so I'd personally be concerned about range with an internal tank. However, I've never owned an OB with an internal tank, so I have no actual data to judge by.

Another nice thing is that we take the Achilles with us on vacation and the roll-up airfloor boat stows easily in the car. No trailer necessary.

Duck401k 01-07-2009 07:46 PM

Dinghy advice
Thanks that is all really good info and will be very helpful as I look around....I hope to be able to store the Dink in one of the aft lockers and the small engine on the rail. Thanks for taking the time to answer...

HerbDB 01-07-2009 07:58 PM

Most marinas have dingy storage racks for slipholders. Before we had davits, we would inflate the dingy at the begining of the season and store it on a rack when not needed. We did not lug it around for day sails, but would tow it behind if we were anchoring out.

sailaway21 01-07-2009 08:35 PM

Don't buy an inflatable if you plan on rowing it.

mwil203434 01-07-2009 08:59 PM

We too were looking for the same thing in terms of dingy and space was big option since we only have a 27'er that we do weekends on around the bay. Ended up going with the $799 West Marine inflatable, we got it $100 bucks off for the floor model. Its been great so far, we roll/unroll it on the foredeck and toss it right off the side as it is only 50lbs. when we're done it rolls up and stows away in the quarterberth. Typically we get it out once we reach an anchorage, tow it the rest of the weekend and roll it back up when we get back to the marina.

we originally were going to row it until we realized that was a terrible idea, not only for means of maintaining sanity, but also safety. This was a realization while rowing back to the boat after the wind picked up quite significantly after spending the afternoon ashore in rock hall (special thanks to a fellow dingy-er for lending a ride). A few days later "invested" in a 3.5 hp which put-puts it along just fine for our purposes.

if you're just looking for something to jump back and forth to shore I'd highly recommend. its not a high pressure floor but if you aren't going to plane and not going more than a few hundred yards at a clip, who cares. you can stand up, etc just fine on the slats. if rowing save yourself the frustration and go hard dingy.

chef2sail 01-07-2009 09:39 PM

We bought a 10 foot walker bay lasts year with inflatable hard floor. A cinch to inflate. Larger tubes than most. Built to last with 6 d rings sewn in. It was the first year WB made inflatable rigid floor, but their quality in other style dingys convinced us to buy it. Defender haad it on sale under $1000 To it we added a 4 hp 4 cycle Tahatsu which has the option of internal tank or external connection. Save your sanity and buy a high pressure Bravo inflator with rechargeable battert. Inflates the dingy in 5 minutes so its easy if you wish to store it.

This year we added Garheauer 36 inch davits ( my wife and installed them on a 100 degreee july day and used every curse word in Websters and created new ones). The best thing we added to our boat in years.

Because of the ease of using the davits we used the dingy most weekends as there was no hassel just dropping in and firing up the engine and taking a cruise in it. Beacuse of its ease we got great use of the dingy. I would highly recommend the 4 hpTahatsu (same as Nissan). The external 3 gallon tank let us really roam in the dingy without ever woprring about emptying the .59 gallon tank.


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