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  #1  
Old 01-18-2010
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Managing the dinghy, suggestions requested

Hi all,
This is sort of an odd post, but I thought perhaps the experience from you SailNet members might have a few ideas for our particular situation. The boat's on the hard for the winter, so this seems like a good time to pose a question looking for ideas come spring.

Some background:
We have a Sabre 34, and an Avon inflatable with removable flooring (the white plastic one with 6-8" sections that rolls up) with the inflatable V-bottom. It's about 10'. We also have a Mercury 6HP outboard which lives on the stern rail.

While in the water, our boat is kept at a dock in our community, so there's no boat yard or additional facilities other than our slip. Our boat sits stern-in at the slip. We live in the community, so our home isn't very far. There are no dinghy racks at our dock. There is a boat ramp, but it's across the creek a ways. There is a floating dinghy dock at our dock, but it's not really intended to have boats "kept" there. Though I haven't asked the dockmaster if we can do this, since it would mean the boat is in the water 100% of the time.

We sail on weekends, and usually for a "cruise" every summer for a couple weeks. On our weekend sails, dealing with the dinghy can be time-consuming during our departure and arrival.

Here's what currently happens:
We keep the dinghy on the foredeck upside down. When we get ready to leave the slip, we hoist the dinghy using the spinnaker halyard, and put it in the water at the bow. After we leave the slip, we move the dinghy towline to the stern and go.

When we come back at the end of the weekend, we take out all the gear from the dinghy, and hoist it back onto the foredeck.

While there's nothing inherently wrong with this system, it's pretty time-consuming, and the dinghy isn't light. We're trying to make an effort to make our departure and arrival procedures shorter, so we can enjoy more time on the water. It's a lot of work to do as we've been doing, and can often be a source of aggravation. That said, we do like having the dinghy with us, and often use it over the course of our weekends.

The Question:
Soooooo....we're looking for suggestions on how we could better manage the dinghy. Perhaps it's a difference in storage, or something we haven't thought of? I realize there are lighter, smaller dinghies out there, but for now, we'd like to make the most of the one we have. It's been a good dinghy and a new one is not in the budget.

Any suggestions or ideas? Should we try leaving it in the water (assuming the dock rules would let us do this at the dinghy dock)? Other?

Like I said, kind of a weird, very specific to us, question. But you never know who out there will have an idea!
Thanks for your help!
-J
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Old 01-18-2010
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Hi Josruiz,

I have the same vessel, It sounds like you don't want to do this....
But, when I travel, I just keep the Dinghy (deflated, on the fordeck just in front of the mast. ) When I get where I'm going, I just inflate it on deck and toss it over the side...bring it, back to the stern and set the outboard.

Generally, I don't like towing the dink. It doesn't take long to inflate.

Probably not what you wanted to hear, but that's what I do.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Interesting problem.
Heres my solutions:
1. Install davits and dock bow in.
2. Uh...


Let me see if I have this straight. You keep the dinghy on the foredeck when the boat is idle. When you come down to the boat, part of your open-up procedure is to clip the halyard to the dinghy and winch the dinghy off the deck and into the water. And part of your closing up procedure is to clip the halyard to the dinghy and winch the dinghy out of the water and onto the deck. So, basically, any other solution is going to save you ten minutes at open-up and ten minutes at close-up?
How about this- Improve your time and task management. When you open up, while someone stows provisions, you splash the dinghy. when you close up, while someone cleans out the icebox, and gathers up the laundry and garbage, you haul out the dinghy. A no time wasted, no cost added solution.
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Old 01-18-2010
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So, others in your marina don't have a dinghy? How do they handle their's?

Oh, I know...you don't need a smaller dinghy, you need a power winch.
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Old 01-18-2010
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How often do you use the dinghy? If it's not used that often you could try keeping it deflated (either on the boat, in a dockbox or even in your garage at home) and just pump it up for your longer summer cruises.

While in our home port, we keep our rigid hull dinghy (Sandpiper 8) in a vacant slip next to us. Many others in our marina rent a floating jetski ramp to keep their dinghy on. I realize neither of those solutions will work in your situation, but I wanted to give you some perspective.
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Old 01-18-2010
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I don't think leaving it in the water at the dinghy dock would be a good long-term solution. The bottom would get covered with growth, and there's a lot more wear and tear bouncing around at the dinghy dock.

If you are determined to stick with this dinghy, and your goal is to eliminate the hassle of retrieving/hoisting/securing/launching/etc each time you visit the boat, then davits do seem like the obvious answer.

Alternatively, if you'd consider another dinghy, you might be able to find a different solution. Hard dinghies will have similar load carrying capability, but in a much smaller footprint on deck. If you choose carefully, you could probably find one that can remain on deck without causing too much obstruction, where it would simply remain until needed. Another option is a smaller inflatable that can be deflated/inflated as needed, and stowed in a cockpit locker otherwise.

Definitely a bit of a conundrum, though, due to the limitations of your docking arrangement.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Wow, I ran out for a quick grocery run, and so many replies already--thanks! I'll try to respond/answer what I can...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
...when I travel, I just keep the Dinghy (deflated, on the fordeck just in front of the mast. ) When I get where I'm going, I just inflate it on deck and toss it over the side...bring it, back to the stern and set the outboard.
Hi Tempest, certainly a possibility, though since we do tend to use the dinghy, it's nice to leave it inflated and ready to go. However, still not a bad idea. Do you also have an outboard? Where do you keep the gas tank/can? When we tow in good conditions, ours is in the dinghy, which we couldn't do if we left it deflated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bljones View Post
Interesting problem.
Heres my solutions:
1. Install davits and dock bow in.
2. Uh...

...So, basically, any other solution is going to save you ten minutes at open-up and ten minutes at close-up?
How about this- Improve your time and task management. When you open up, while someone stows provisions, you splash the dinghy...
We may one day end up with davits, but not yet on the To Do list. Your suggestion about time management is already pretty much how we do it, though parts of the task need two people. Just to be clear, this isn't the horrible to deal with, just a pain. There are worse things in life of course. But if we can find a better solution than the one we have, well, that would be "one less thing".

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmhead View Post
So, others in your marina don't have a dinghy? How do they handle their's?
You'd think so, right? Our particular dock only has powerboats besides us, and none of them have dinghies. Other docks have sailboats, but they also have different set-ups and usage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
How often do you use the dinghy?
We use it most weekends--not every, but most.
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Old 01-18-2010
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Do you have fixed or floating docks? I've seen folks with fixed docks use a trailer winch and some simple blocks to create lift beneath the fixed dock. Of course this also requires clearance between the dock and the water, which may not be possible if you have low docks or a wide tidal range.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
I don't think leaving it in the water at the dinghy dock would be a good long-term solution. The bottom would get covered with growth, and there's a lot more wear and tear bouncing around at the dinghy dock.

If you are determined to stick with this dinghy, and your goal is to eliminate the hassle of retrieving/hoisting/securing/launching/etc each time you visit the boat, then davits do seem like the obvious answer.

Alternatively, if you'd consider another dinghy, you might be able to find a different solution. Hard dinghies will have similar load carrying capability, but in a much smaller footprint on deck. If you choose carefully, you could probably find one that can remain on deck without causing too much obstruction, where it would simply remain until needed. Another option is a smaller inflatable that can be deflated/inflated as needed, and stowed in a cockpit locker otherwise.

Definitely a bit of a conundrum, though, due to the limitations of your docking arrangement.
Thanks for the input, JRP. Yeah, davits would probably be the way to go for folks like us who like to use the dinghy a lot, and want to make the up/down/storage easier. I think for our size boat, we'd probably still need a lighter/smaller dinghy for that. The Sabre 34 doesn't have a lot of "footprint" at the transom end to support a lot of weight at the stern.

It's not so much that we're determined to keep this dinghy as much as we don't have it in the budget to replace it at this time. And of the other gear we'd like to buy, most of it we do not have at all, so replacing a working dinghy is much lower on the list than other stuff.

That said, I kind of like the idea of a high-pressure air floor dinghy, smaller and lighter than ours, that we keep rolled up on board. That, or a nice hardshell sailing dinghy on davits. Of course, either of these options violate our objective above....not to spend money on a dinghy for the time being!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
Do you have fixed or floating docks? I've seen folks with fixed docks use a trailer winch and some simple blocks to create lift beneath the fixed dock. Of course this also requires clearance between the dock and the water, which may not be possible if you have low docks or a wide tidal range.

It's fixed, but there's no clearance to speak of. I should mention that we might be able to get use of an empty slip. Would still be in the water all the time, but would eliminate the problems of rubbing on the dock. I guess we could but anti-fouling paint on the bottom, but would still require a light scrub-down frequently, I'd think.
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