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Going to be doing a lot of towing, starting tomorrow. I'm leaning toward leaving the engine on the dinghy in calm water, using two floating lines from my two stern cleats to one point on the dinghy. A ring mounted below the tubes on the bow. I'll probably keep it really snugged up to my boat. I can remove the engine and mount it in my stern when thins get rough. AND when they get rougher still, I'll pull the whole dinghy.

What do you think about my plan, and what do you guys do?
I forget what size engine you have, but anything more than the smallest OB is gonna increase the drag of your tender considerably... Just one more of those factors that wind up contributing to people sailing less, and motoring more, in marginal sailing conditions...

Your plan of waiting until it starts to get "rough" to remove the motor, or bringing the dinghy aboard if it gets "rougher still", is NOT a good plan, at all. No need to ask me how I know this :) On a boat the size of yours, depending on the size of the engine, could be a good way to have either the motor, or yourself, wind up in the water. Never, EVER tow a dink with the engine mounted unless you are absolutely certain your trip will be completed in benign conditions, or are sailing in protected waters where you can easily find refuge where you can sort things out... Sure, it's a PITA to remove the engine every time you move, or bring the dink aboard for all but the shortest trips, but it's almost invariably the right thing to do... The conundrum of whether to Tow, or Not to Tow, is one of the best arguments in favor of modest, easily managed size and weight when it comes to tenders and OB motors. And I'm afraid many cruisers wind up often doing the less seamanlike thing, simply because their motors are of a size not easy to manage, and it's simply too much of a PITA to do the right thing :)

I put a snubber in my tow line to minimize the snatching loads that can be put upon the tow ring. Many inflatables have a pair of rings each side of the bow, you can distribute the loads, and minimize yawing a bit, by using those instead...

Whenever I tow my inflatable, I always use a secondary back-up tether fixed to a hard point... Probably the most secure way to tow an inflatable is with a line or pair of lines made fast to the transom, then taken forward underneath the boat (taking care to minimize chafe at the bottom edge of the transom), and then run through the tow ring(s). If your tender should ever capsize while underway, there's a very good chance the drag will become so massive that a tow ring glued onto the tubes will be torn free, and then the recovery of a capsized dinghy can become a difficult proposition...

Most RIBs have a thru-bolted padeye near the bow that is by far the best point on which to fix a towline. If yous lacks one, and you're planning on doing much towing, I'd suggest you add one. It will also be the best lifting point for bringing your tender back on deck...
 

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I spent a lot of my evenings rowing around anchoring grounds and had a lot of nice conversations with other sailors that would have been impossible had my outboard been going.
yeah, it's a pity to see that aspect of cruising disappearing from the scene, the only place I still see it done routinely seems to be Maine. Great way to meet people, simply meandering about a harbor or anchorage by rowing, rather than under power...

I don't like rowing inflatables. I've been curious about RIBs, but haven't tried one. I'm not sure that I get the advantage of a RIB over a rigid dinghy, it seems like the 8' RIBs out there are heavier than rigid dinghies and have the disadvantages of a rigid dinghy (storage is hard) and of an inflatable (they can deflate). I do get the advantage of an inflatable, they pack down small. I used one on my 25' boat for that reason.
You might be surprised how decently some RIBs can be rowed. The key is to use 'real' oars and good oarlocks, as opposed to the crap some inflatables are fitted with. I hate those hinge pin oarlocks that are common, they're virtually worthless, and you can't feather the oars... The Avon style oarlocks are the only way to go, in my view...

I've cruised with just about every kind of tender over the years... As much as I like rowing, and admire small boats that row well, hard dinks for the sort of sailing I do represent way too much drama, are just not a good solution at all. I did one winter trip South several years ago with a Spindrift nesting dinghy, a wonderful little boat... But I quickly came to hate dealing with the hassle of stowing it on the foredeck... At the Miami boat show in February of that year, I bought an Avon Lite RIB, and it has turned out to be the best all-around tender I've ever used, nothing else comes close...

RIBs with a folding transom like the Avon Lite are a great compromise. The folding transom makes all the difference, permitting it to be stowed as a pretty low-profile package on deck, I'm really surprised every manufacturer doesn't offer a folding transom model... They must be noticing the percentage of small sailing yachts now sporting davits, I suppose... :)

 

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What is the drama of rigid dinghies that you are referring to?

I don't quite understand the benefits over a rigid dinghy, but I'm glad that you like yours. Sometime I'll have to try rowing one.
I just found mine to be far more unwieldy when deploying and retrieving. Much greater risk of doing at least cosmetic damage to the topsides, deck, or the dink itself... Lose control, and drop a 75 lb Spindrift on your deck, you're gonna hurt something, and hard dinghies and Awlgripped topsides often do not a favorable match make... In fairness, much of my frustration with my Spindrift was with the fact it was a nesting dinghy. I know there are those out there who love theirs, but I found dealing with the constant assembly and disassembly an incredible PITA after time, which resulted in my towing it more often, and sometimes in marginal conditions... I find an inflatable so much easier, and more 'forgiving', to bring back aboard, and deflate and re-inflate...

I still use mine from time to time in local waters, but only when I'm alone... Although she love the 'look' of the Spindrift, my GF hates the damn thing :) The Avon is SO much more stable, and a far drier ride, in comparison to the Spindrift, she would be soaking wet after any ride even in a light chop...

'Interior volume' is almost meaningless when comparing inflatables to rigid tenders. You usually sit on the tubes of an inflatable under power, after all... whenever going ashore with a bicycle, or bringing provisions back to the boat, my inflatable comfortably accommodates far more stuff than the hard dink. No comparison regarding stability, one can step on the tubes of the Avon when climbing back aboard, if I tried standing on the gunwale of my Spindrift, I'm going for a swim... And, although I built a lot of floatation into my nesting dinghy, in the event it ever became swamped, I'd be in far more danger than if in the inflatable... Finally, when cruising places like the Bahamas, where one does a lot of swimming or diving/snorkeling from your tender, I've yet to figure out how one gets back into a hard dink from the water - while alone and without someone holding down the opposite side to stabilize it - without half-sinking it, or coming away with a few bruises...

Re TQA's comments about crappy oars and oarlocks on some inflatables, Tom Zydler had a piece in CW recently about modifying Avon-style oarlocks to make them more suitable for 'real' rowing...

How To Modify Dinghy Oarlocks | Cruising World



I love to cite sailors like Tom and Nancy Zydler when countering the popular perception that cruisers really need an SUV-style tender if they're really gonna be 'going places'...

Last I heard, the Zydlers plan to be rowing their tender to and from their boat in freakin' Greenland this summer... :)

Tom and Nancy Zydler interview: Skills most needed for offshore sailing - Ocean Navigator - March/April 2003
 

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I think you all are missing an important point with the powered inflatables. In a pinch, they can be hipped up to the mother ship and used as emergency power. I have pushed a 65' gaff ketch, all be it slowly, several miles to the dock with a 10'6" Avon inflatable and a 5 hp Seagull motor. I have no doubt that should I need to move my Pearson, if the engine isn't working, my Zodiac and 15 hp Johnson will get the job done. Please don't come back saying that it will never work in a gale; in a gale the boat will sail anywhere necessary, but when there's no wind, the the inflatable will do the job just fine.
Well, I believe you may be overlooking an important point, as well:

The OP is sailing a 26' boat... :)

True, having the ability to hip-tow the mother ship might be nice, someday... However, in the almost 18 years I've owned my present boat, a circumstance where that has either been necessary, or practical, has yet to arise... So, for me, I'm not feeling compelled to make the tradeoff of having to carry a bigger engine, more gasoline, adding a dedicated motor hoist to lift the damn thing from the dink, having a target much more attractive to thieves than my puny Honda that nobody wants, and so on.... based upon the extremely remote possibility I might have to use my tender in such a fashion, someday... Others' mileage will vary, as always...

For those wanting a definitive answer as to what sort of dinghy they should have in a particular area, just take a stroll down several dinghy docks in that area. As in anything else there are always the odd balls, but at the dinghy dock you will see what most people are using.
Hmmm, I don't know about that... If I based my own decisions upon what most other folks out there were doing, first thing I'd need to do before taking my own boat south again, would be to add a full cockpit enclosure... :)
 

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You board from the stern. The boat is inherently more roll-stable this way and the leverage of the weight of the bow keeps it from tipping up too far. Granted, getting back in an inflatable is easier, but the method is worth pointing out from a safety perspective. It works very well, but it's not necessarily intuitive. If you have an outboard, it gets in the way a bit, but the prop or cavitation plate provide a step and the rest provides hand-holds.

MedSailor
That was my original plan, I even had a rigid boarding ladder suited to the task. Unfortunately, on my Spindrift, it was all but impossible unless the motor was off the boat, the far better option was to flop over the side, then start bailing the thing out...

Only cruising ground here on the East Coast where I see many folks still using hard dinghies, is up in Maine, and into the Canadian Maritimes... I suspect if the water up there was warmer, and more sailors were swimming and snorkeling from their tenders, that percentage would be lower... For anyone who enjoys going in the water from their dinghy, seems to me a hard dink is a serious liability in the tropics, and I rarely see them in my own trips down south... And whenever I do, it almost invariably seems to be one of those Walker Bay tenders, that has been fitted with the inflatable tubes...

Florida Keys might be one exception, some of the liveaboard locals down there are using all manner of 'tenders'... :)

 

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Gee Jon, I am so very sorry. I didn't realize that you were the only person on this thread (web site?) and that no one other than you would have any interest in an opinion someone with 3 times more experience than you
(as a professional, no less), might offer.
Though hipping a 10' inflatable alongside a 26' boat may be a bit of overkill, it just could save any boat, once the idea is on the table. But since you disapprove so heartily, I'll retract the suggestion, just in case someone other than you is actually reading this thread. Pretty much the same goes for checking out dinghy docks. I certainly wouldn't want them to get any suggestions from anyone other than you.
Once again, I am so very sorry for posting on your thread (or existing in your world, I guess).
Guess you must have missed my "Others' mileage will vary, as always..." disclaimer...

"Three times more experience", huh? Hmmm, I wouldn't be so sure about that...

Especially, if the total number of miles put behind a variety of transoms is used as the Dick Measuring Stick... :) Hell, even a dumbass like me can rack up a fair number of miles, running at this sort of speed...

:)

 

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I believe this is international and not just relating to Australia but as far as I am aware Avon no longer produce the fold down transom boat that JE has. However since the takeover of Avon by Zodiac, Zodiac themselves now offer a fold down transom in two sizes. I'm guessing its basically the Avon in Zodiac colours.

How do Achilles compare to Zodiac ?
Apologies for not responding to this sooner...

Achilles makes a nice boat, my only issue with them are the chintzy oars/oarlocks...

Stephan Lance of Defender rates them highly... Stephan should know, Defender sells more inflatable boats than any other vendor in North America... Sounds like Achilles has a proprietary fabric which is now the closest to Dupont's now discontinued Hypalon, which a couple of other brands are now using... Interesting, how many inflatable brands are now coming out of China, and out of the same factory:

Hi Rick. Happy to help

Let me give you my down and dirty.

The inflatable boat biz is changing. Lots of players, many using each other's fabrics......some even building at the same factory.

Lots of new players coming to the US market. Some Korean production (not so great), some Chinese production (depends which factory is doing the building) and some from Croatia (Grand & Brig).

With Avon gone, I feel that Achilles has moved into the #1 spot from a service/quality/value perspective.
AB is doing better, but you really have to want an AB to pay for what they cost today.
Novurania bought Nautica's assets and I hope that leads to some smaller RIBs, but too soon to say. My all-time favorite RIB was the NU 320TR.
Mercury uses Achilles fabric on their CSM-Hypalon boats.
Zodiac Cadet RIBs in CSM-Hypalon are now being built with Achilles fabric.
Defender RIBs are also built with Achilles fabric (but I like a matte finish, so I went with that over the gloss used by others).
The above three brands are all built at the same factory now.....the best one in China. I have sold about 5000 boats that came out of that factory.
Lots of confidence in their ability and continue to find them excelling at what they do.

Lots of new players that are offering RIBs from the Pacific Rim, but few have a service network. Most do not have liability insurance and most are brands that will not likely be around for support when you need it.

West Marine. I understand that Zodiac and West are going down separate paths (that is all I will write here). West will go with another Vendor for their inflatable boats, probably the South Korean one that they have use for a couple of their existing models.

Caribe. The old Caribe boats may not be available in the US. Old distributor went with a line out of Korea (Highfield). Though they look nice on the showroom floor, I have owned and sold painted aluminum RIBs in the past......and simply put, cannot suggest that anyone buy one uless they like peeling paint. AB is now offering most of their RIB model in an unpainted aluminum and that is the way to go for an aluminum hull. Though, as stated above, be prepared to pay for it.

If you want to discuss over the phone, feel free to give me a shout.

To me, the best value in a lightweight RIB is my Defender boat (but, hell yeah, I am partial and I have a horse in the race).

Best value for a flat deck RIB with bow locker is the Achilles HB series, hands down.

New Zodiac Cadet RIBs and Mercury RIBs with flat decks are nice, but wayyy too heavy.

Happy Holidays to you all.

Stephan Lance

Hi Rick. Happy to help
 
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