"Correct" side to sit in a dinghy? - SailNet Community

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Old 06-08-2011
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"Correct" side to sit in a dinghy?

Hi, the other day a friend of mine, gave me a hard time because I sat on the starboard side of my dinghy (Zoom, 8.6 ft). I sit on that side because I am lefty, and it feels much more comfortable to grab the tiller of the engine with my left arm. Also, the gear switch is facing the starboard side, so I can reach it and see it directly.

My friend gave me first a bad look about sitting on the starboard side. Then he told me that the correct way was was to sit on the port side (even when it was much harder to change the gears). He said that I will have "problems in the future" if I sit on the starboard side, but he didn't explain what kind of problems. He said that "if I would know what I am doing, I would be sitting on the port side, not on the starboard".

I couldn't find anything online about the "correct" side to sit on a dinghy. Another friend told me that I should sit wherever I feel more comfortable.

Is there a right side to sit on an inflatable Zodiac 8.6ft with a Tohatsu engine?

Thanks for your comments.

Gus

Last edited by Gusnyc; 06-08-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 06-08-2011
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You should sit wherever you're the most comfortable and have the most control, I would think.
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Old 06-08-2011
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I am used to rigid dinghies and runabouts with single outboard, not so much inflatables where you're sitting on the inflatable "rail" on either side.

Only difference I can see besides accessability of the shift lever, is prop rotation and torque. A right-hand prop motor (I think most outboards are righties?) will want to turn to port with little force but turning motor and boat to stbd takes more force. This same prop side-force and rotational torque will heel you to port, I'd think. If so, sitting on the starboard side would seem better, it keeps you on the "high" side.

Unless I have this all backwards ;-) It's easier to tell if you're in the boat than at a keyboard, then you can feel the forces.

Me, I tend to sit on the middle of the midships thwart directly ahead of the motor in order to not heel the boat and not bury the stern with my weight , so the question of which 'side' doesn't really present itself.

Last edited by nolatom; 06-08-2011 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 06-08-2011
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Ask your friend to explain why every inflatable with a wheel and remote throttle is starboard oriented, unless it is a center console. The ask him to show you an example, just one, of a port-oriented dinghy. Then ask him to shut up.
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Old 06-08-2011
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Never heard of this. Sounds more like telling your buddy to run to the hardware store for a gallon of stripe paint or a left-handed screwdriver. Back when I was becoming an engineer, the joke was telling the noobs that you needed a gallon of grid-leak bias.
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Old 06-08-2011
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It is the side where you feel the safest and have the most control of your dink.
But you want to believe him. I have a couple of cans of Relative bearing grease I can sell you.
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Old 06-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boasun View Post
It is the side where you feel the safest and have the most control of your dink.
But you want to believe him. I have a couple of cans of Relative bearing grease I can sell you.
Yeah, but in an emergency there's no substitute for Danger Bearing Grease...
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Old 06-08-2011
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Gus,

Your buddy is a moron.

respectfully, dave
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Old 06-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boasun View Post
It is the side where you feel the safest and have the most control of your dink.
But you want to believe him. I have a couple of cans of Relative bearing grease I can sell you.
Believe me Boasun when I say that I don't want to believe him. He made me feel so ignorant about this (and everything else) for a whole weekend to the point of becoming traumatic.

I am a newbie in the sailing world, I've been having training with captains since last year (plus the ASA plus the Power Squadron). I don't feel that I am "experienced", but I can definitely handle my boat. Everything I did was wrong for him, including this dinghy situation.

Another remarks were: "You can never have the halyard too tense" (in a furling mast). "The west and east channel of Roosevelt Island (NYC, East River) are the same, it doesn't matter which one you take", etc, etc, etc.

I feel vindicated.
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Old 06-08-2011
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All depend on which way the prop is turning and the amount of 'torque' produced by the engine.
A right handed prop (turns clockwise when looked at from the stern) can 'twist' the boat due to it torque so that the portside of the boat will be higher than the.starboard side .... IF the there is enough 'torque' being generate to do this. A boat with a right handed prop will typically have the 'steering on the starboard to compensate for this torque. To correct for this 'torque' one sits on the starboard side to keep the boat 'level' ... or the mfg. puts the steering wheel on the portside or 'left' side. .... and vice versa with a left handed prop - one that turns counter clockwise when looking from the stern .... steering wheel goes on the starboard side or 'right' side.

.... and this is the reason why some steering wheels are on the left side or right side of a high speed power boat - torque being generated by the prop ... and the wheel is positioned so that the weight/mass of the 'steerer' helps to keep the boat level (with respect to athwartship level).

On a dinghy there certainly isnt sufficient engine torque to make a difference ... so sit anywhere you want to and based on your 'comfort', etc.

Your friend is probably an obsessive 'control freak' and a rigid 'rule follower' ... but doesnt know 'why'. ;-)

Last edited by RichH; 06-08-2011 at 02:48 PM.
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