Should I Drag Along the Dinghy? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 26 Old 08-18-2016 Thread Starter
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Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

Looking for some opinions here - I'm leaving Saturday morning for a 2 week sailing trip around lake Erie and I'm debating whether or not to bring my 9' inflatible Avon dinghy with a small outboard (just bought it a couple of days ago) . I don't have davits on my boat, a 27 Catalina, and I would have to tow the dinghy. I've never towed one before and I have no idea how much it will slow me down. I'm also concerned if marinas will give me a hard time having it tied off to my boat when docked. It might be more trouble than it is worth to take. Any thoughts on this?
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post #2 of 26 Old 08-18-2016
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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

It will slow you down some, but it's a pretty common practice on every single bareboat I've ever chartered. The bigger issue is it will limit sailing in any seriously rough weather, as you could flip it, but you'll probably want to avoid that anyway. Get a very good tow line, not just a thin painter.

The marina issue is a crap shoot. In my experience some will not allow it, others will not (call ahead?). Probably depends on room. One thing I hate in a marina, is when docked alongside a long pier, spaced apart, one guy jams his dinghy between two boats, leaving no room to maneuver in/out. Worse, they don't tie it closely enough to keep it from being blown into neighbors.

Of course, in a marina, you have no need for the dink. I assume you'll also be anchoring out too? Getting into a slip, while towing a dinghy can be a bit of a pain. It always needs to be tied closely, do you don't run the prop over the tow line. Going bow in, while towing from behind is no issue, until you need to abort and back up. The dink wants to slip to the side of the boat, which may not be where you want it. Backing in, requires moving the tow line to the bow or mid-ship first. Same abort issues. Then, you have to get out later.

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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

I do some times leave my dinghy behind for short cruises if I know I'm going to be staying at dock in marinas, which I usually do. 2 weeks is a long time though. Your route might help. I'm assuming you're starting in the Cleveland area. If you're heading West towards Erie and Buffalo, I don't see what good a dinghy would do you. If you're heading to Sundusky, Pelee or Long Point Bay, then anchoring might be an option you want to consider, you certainly can't beach a Catalina 27.

Have you considered deflating the Dinghy and carrying it deflated on your fore deck? Then if you really need it you can pump it up. If you do that you might want to consider bringing a 12 volt pump, pumping up a 9' Avon by hand could be a chore.
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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

I often hoist my 9 foot hard dinghy up the fore deck for longer or offshore passages. It sits forward of the mast extending across the forward hatch and somewhat over the forward deck. Maybe yours will fit there as well. The biggest down side is it blocks forward vision a bit, I have to look around it. If I leave it up there at the dock or anchor I lift the bow up with a halyard so I can open the forward hatch. It also makes a great rain guard, I can have the hatch open in heavy rain and not get wet.
If you tow it take the motor off and pull the drain plug. You shouldn't have any trouble in light to moderate conditions, and as said above if its too rough to tow you won't want to be out there anyway. Make sure you pull it right up tight to the boat before maneuvering in reverse. I bent a prop shaft forgetting to do that once.
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post #5 of 26 Old 08-18-2016
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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

Originally Posted by cdsnyder83 View Post
...inflatable Avon dinghy...
Yes, dragging a dinghy slows sailing a significant amount. Especially in lighter air. In heavy air not so much, but is a serious problem if it flips over.

But what I want to know is: What are you going to do with the time you save by not deflating and inflating it for passages?

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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

Our dink is our car, our lifeline to shore and the single most important bit of gear not actually built into the boat. That said, our situations are way different, but I still wouldn't suggest towing your dink.
I know the weather on those lakes can change quickly and not necessarily for the better, and if it does it would be too late to pull it out of the water.
Even partially deflated on the foredeck would be preferable to towing, IMO. If you intend to spend your nights in marinas, why bother with the dink at all?
Either way, enjoy the cruise.
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post #7 of 26 Old 08-18-2016 Thread Starter
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De-flate the inflatable.... that is a fine idea! It is kind of a pain in the ass to do so, but I suppose that will be my best option. I tried to put it on my deck inflated, but it is a little to big. I'll hang the outboard on the stern on my sailboat.

Great input, thanks guys (and gals)!
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post #8 of 26 Old 08-18-2016
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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

Tow it!

Tilt the OB
Speed reduction is minimal.
Increased fun is huuuggge.

If a marina doesn't like your dink (why wouldn't they?) tell them to shove their fee where the sun don't shine and go to the next marina. Or anchor out.


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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

There's probably not a wrong answer. For one of our trips we towed a dinghy like yours on Lake Michigan. Had our two cats along on that trip, and it turned out the boy cat loved to ride in the dinghy when we got to our destination. Saw me rowing it, and had to get in. Later, I put the 4 horse on and putted back and forth across the stern of the big boat where he was, and he was beside himself. I motored up to the boat and he hopped in. Loved it. I digress. And, my wife and I enjoyed going for dinghy rides once we were settled into our slip. Go exploring, etc..

It does tend to add another dimension to the trip, but it also adds a fair amount of hassle factor. You'll be messing with the towline, because you want to adjust it so it rides on the downhill side of your stern wave, and the distance to the stern wave changes with your speed. And, you want to have a plan to keep the towline from getting in your prop when you're maneuvering around the marina. And, if you get a big following sea, and it's starts raining hard, and the dinghy's filling with get the picture.

Here's a thought. Maybe skip it for a two week trip, and give it a try on your next weekend trip.

HOWEVER: if you find yourself either want to, or having to anchor out, a dinghy is a necessity. Unless you're Jesus.

Have fun on your trip!
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post #10 of 26 Old 08-18-2016
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Re: Should I Drag Along the Dinghy?

YES tow it... it can be a life boat and it can get you to shore when you anchor...
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