I have a few other random questions that I haven't found the answer to:
- Most boats I've looked at online seem to have a head, although some seem to have those portable chemical toilets. I'm assuming that a proper head is preferable, but how does one typically empty the holding tank?
First, as a fellow BC-er let me welcome you to the forum!
In BC a holding tank can be emptied either at a pumpout station, or by emptying the tank overboard if a) the boat is so equipped, and b) you are sufficiently away from any shore (I believe it's 3 NM(?)..) This makes it difficult to legally do so anywhere in the Gulf Islands or Desolation... essentially you need to be part way across Juan de Fuca or Georgia Strait. Still, this is really the most practical setup. Also, many popular anchorages have recently been designated 'no discharge zone' - technically voluntary - but people are beginning to get the message. Many older boats that may not have a holding tank are/should be getting retrofitted.
- Some boats come with a dingy, but what is the preferred option for stowing it? Lashing it to the deck looks like it might make the deck cramped on a boat that size. What about towing it? How much would that slow me down?
Dinghy stowage is a matter choice, influenced by the type and size. Small inflatables are often 'roll-up' versions. It's a bit of a chore but really only takes about 5 minutes to stow them, maybe 10 minutes to pump up and deploy. The package for a 8 footer is about a foot square and 3-4 feet long.
On a 25-27 footer you may get such an inflatable stowed upside down on the foredeck, but if you don't have a headsail furler it will interfere with sailhandling, and will most certainly interfere with dock line handling and anchoring.
Towing dinghies is certainly do-able, with certain precautions.. we never tow with an engine attached, nor in strong crosswinds. In especially large seas towing can be problematic too, of course. Island cruising it is rarely a problem although some dinghies can tend to fill with splash and spray and get heavy - even end up swamping (REALLLY SLOOOOWWW!
) It is possible to leave the drain plug open to get rid of the water, but you must remember to put it back in when stopped.
Some hard dinghies can be towed easily, or stowed but they will be harder on the deck and the boat, generally heavier to deal with. A reasonable compromise (but less stable) option would be the plastic Walker Bay style.
We use small (10 foot) kayaks almost exclusively unless we have guests, then we deploy our roll-up. Everyone makes their own choices here, as in so many other aspects of boating.