Do you really NEED high performance? Why?
Shouldn´t the logical choice come down to practical, day-to-day application and use?
In our case, but maybe not yours´, we need a light, rowable, tough dinghy - three very important criteria. This means something that can be left on the rocks or a barnacle-encrusted jetty to smash away for a day without a problem; something that 2 people can lift
and carry for 100 m across the mud flats when the tide goes out; something that won´t be blown away when the outboard
dies because you can actually row it against a 20 knot
breeze; something that can be flipped in the surf and then be recovered and rowed without outside assistance.
Straight away, for these reasons, inflatables are out. You still want an inflatable
? Ok, get your handheld VHF
, flares, etc ready, because you WILL need outside help at some point. In the Bahamas
, I rescued 3 inflatables in just one day with our dink. No other inflatable
dinghy even offered to help. To date, this is my record
for daily rescues and I don´t think I will ever beat it unless we go back to the Bahamas
, to RIB central.
If we were really into our image and were always in a hurry, we would probably think about SPEED and our APPEARANCE, especially "herself" standing up in the bow holding onto the painter, tits thrust forward, spine straight, while scooting across the bay at 15 knots. If we only cruise
in the BVIs or the Whitsundays with mooring
balls and/or dinghy docks everywhere, ok, we would go for a RIB. Maybe that is you. So go for it!
But what is left for OUR typical use of dinghies over the next few years?
Either aluminium (the infamous tinny), timber, plastic (PE/PP) or FG. In the end we went with plastic. Note that we really made an effort to find a decent tinny in the USA and actually drove 400 km in a hire car trying to find a decent one. Was just not possible. A jon-boat is not my idea of a tinny....
So we ended up with an ex-demo model WaterTender 9.4 (US$450 from West Marine) which has a tri-hull, is VERY stable, rows well and takes a good bashing on rocks, reefs
and 3rd world wharves without a problem. Our other dinghy is a used WalkerBay 10 (US$700) which has the sailing gear
, rows even better than the WaterTender, can be bashed about, but is NOT stable. Lots of fun though and easy to flip! So the WaterTender is our day-to-day dinghy.
We normally row one of the two. Why? Generally we are not in a hurry, since we try to plan ahead, and our distances to shore are fairly short - 0.8 m draft
for the main boat means we are often close to the beach. Sometimes there is no need to drop a dinghy from the davits
because we can wade or swim ashore. However, if the distance, the sheer number of passengers or the hurry-hurry-hurry context changes, ok, we put on the 3.5 HP outboard
and scream away at 2 - 5 knots, sometimes even with the WaterTender towing the WalkerBay with the speed and grace of a thousand, thundering tortoises. We have motored the WaterTender for 6 miles each way in a 1 m chop, which takes time, care, additional fuel
, etc. But if you are always in a hurry, WTF are you doing cruising? You might as well go back to the rat race
that you are supposedly trying to escape from....
You want to increase the radius of your dinghy explorations? Well, just be patient, get really fit by rowing or change to a small draft
boat so you can get in close, get up those rivers, etc. When we meet cruisers who have a dinghy with a 25 HP outboard and also express supposed pleasure at "getting away from the corporate rat race
mentality" or "getting in tune with nature", we give each other a look, nod politely and wonder WTF they are on about with such hypocrisy. Obviously they still haven´t made the switch or are hampered by an umbilical cord attached to the Bahamas, BVIs, Whitsundays, their mother, their public image, their employer, whatever. This probably includes most of you, because most cruisers have inflatables with big outboards - ie. anything > 5 HP. Haha!! SORRY for being so direct!!!! Please enlighten us, not just on the practical aspects, but also the philosophical and mental ones.
If you only have a couple of months to cruise
each year and you need to check your email
at each port and your main boat has a draft of 2 m so you are usually anchored well out.... well, hey, get the RIB and the big outboard. You have got stuff to do and you need speed, baby!
But longterm it is easier to change the mental attitude, depart a few minutes earlier and still get there, instead of worrying about the rubber damage, UV damage, hurting your back with a big outboard, ferrying fuel
back and forth, etc etc.
Or maybe it is us who are the crazy ones.....probably is, hey? Because majority and democracy rule
, not logic and common sense?