Here's my experience with dinghies over three and a half years of cruising a 38 ft. ketch
back in the 70's. Started off in the south of England
with a cute little cold molded 8 ft sailing dink that came with the boat; it stowed on a pair of stern davits
- but the boat was too fragile, the davits too heavy, and the dinghy could no longer be stored after the davits were removed to allow for a Gunning wind vane
. Sold it and bought an 8 ft Avon
"Redstart" for a replacement. Got to Barbados
18 months later, rather tired of the saggy bath tub Avon
("wear your seaboots!"), and bought a Mirror dinghy, which we stored on the fore deck
. Not the best place but OK in the Caribbean
. It was a blast to sail, yet as a dink it was a failure - proven by our stepping right thru the quarter inch ply bottom several times. Pretty much ruined, we gave it away in Martinique
. I did become a fan of the sliding gunter, however. Still, we kept the Avon, and carried on for another year until fetching up in New Zealand
, still without a solid dinghy. As we stayed here for 6 months, on the hook, we bought a used 12 ft open run-about, and installed the 2 Hp short-shaft Seagull we had started with back in blimey. This was very nice, and gave us quite a range. We sold the "shore boat" just before sailing north in April.
But just before we sailed, we discovered love - a 7.5 foot riveted aluminum pram. Despite its tiny size, it rowed and powered nicely. Easy to pull up on the beach, and remarkably stable. It too stored on the foredeck - not the best spot, again - but a lot more convenient than the much heavier 10 ft. Mirror dinghy had been. So . . .
In four quick remarks, here is my summary -
(1) Three and a half years living with a center cockpit ketch
put me off center cockpits for ever, mainly because that configuration makes reasonable dinghy storage
(2) I vowed I would never, ever have a boat that could not store a rigid dinghy on deck
, inverted, and abaft the main mast
(unless a schooner, of course). Aft cockpit
ketches are ideal in this, at least in the 32 to 45 foot range of boat most of us voyagers sail.
(3) Not to be forgotten, the black Avon "Redstart" was a very useful boat - a second dinghy, a load carrier when used as a towed barge, a work platform around the topsides, fair under power with the Seagull, and a great little dive boat.
(4) In my cruising, the ideal dinghy has turned out to be riveted aluminum! Light, tough, and maintenance
free. Lovely things. And highly recommended.
Here's hoping this little reminiscence is useful,