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Old 15-08-2008, 19:40   #1
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Dinghy Adventures Part 2.

Before you get too excited... This is not as good of a story. No girls, no big build up, and not much payoff. Honestly, I don't know why you are even going to read it!

So, after learning that the hard dinghy and electric outboard would probably not constitute a cruising solution I turned my eyes back to Craigslist looking for inflatables. On one hand I was seriously bummed that I had to spend money on a dinghy... On the other hand I read Neal Stephenson's ZODIAC and *freaking loved it* so there was a bit of a thrill...

Anyway, it seems like the availability of inflatables is really inconsistent. For a long time there were none but when I started looking I found a lot. I took this for granted and stalled a bit looking for that perfect deal. Suddenly, they were all gone. For about three days there were none. Oh, I should clarify that my price range for the boat and motor was just a hair over 1k... There could have been a million at 1,500+ So I start getting scared! Maybe cruising season is starting and people snapped them up and there will be no more until next year!

I bought the first one that was posted after that. It is a Zodiac 310 Zoom. A few years old but seemingly in good condition. No motor. Then I started looking for a motor and found a 10HP Mercury for 600 bucks. It was pretty old though.. 1982 or something... It was about an hour away from me but the owner said he comes to San Francisco every 10 days and that he was coming tomorrow and if I wanted the engine let him know and he could bring it. I told hi 600 was a little high for a motor that was coming up on 30 years.

His response was to tell me that 600 was a good price ESPECIALLY because it would cost him 70 dollars in gas to delivery it! What???? I told him I could drive all the way to his location and back for 50 dollars and if he was coming to San Francisco ANYWAY why would his gas be relevant to the price? At this point, and this is truly awesome, he offered to bring the motor all the way to Redwood City for me- but he would require a 100 dollar deposit in PayPal first!

Some people are just f*&%ing disgusting. Just telling the story makes me want to go and disappear him. Anyway.

So the day all this is happening a guy posted an offbrand inflatable with an 8hp motor for 750. It was even further away but I just wanted to have a motor and move on. The motor ran okay, the dinghy was okay, he dropped the price, I got a good deal. Done.

The off brand boat was similar to the Zodiac 340 although it did not have the same feeling of quality that the 310 did. Sort of like comparing a top of the line Kia to a bottom of the line Acura. Anyway, I tried the 8hp motor on both boat with a big passanger (I am pretty large myself) and it wouldn't plane either boat but the experience made me pretty sure I wanted to keep the 310.

I started looking for a larger motor and was eyeballing a 15hp Mercury. The Zodiac is rated for up to 10hp but I thought it would probably be okay- especially since I'd heard the 9.9 motors are really 13hp... While I was trying to decide if I wanted to do this a dockmate came over to see my growing collection of dinghies (I was up to 3 at this point) and told me he just put a 15hp Mercury on his Zodiac and I was welcome to take it for a spin! Awesome!

The difference was... pronounced.

So I went and bought the 15hp Mercury. Its a 1996 model and while not light by any means I can lift it with one hand. I wish it had a handle right on top so I could actually mount/dismount it one handed though.

I gave the 8hp a final test without a passanger and it was able to plane, barely, with just me. At WOT I was able to do 13.5knots according to my GPS.

Then I hooked up the Mercury and wasted an hour pulling my arm off before deciding I'd better take a break before I hurt myself. I cooled my head for a bit then cracked out the tools. It turns out the "freshly rebuilt carburator" was probably rebuilt by a retarded monkey. Which is to say, somebody with about my skill level. I was able to make some adjustments and get it running.

Note: I am disgustingly proud of myself for that.

Anyway, with the large motor, and without an extension to let me sit further forward, there is a lot of weight in the back. As you throttle up it wheelies and digs in until about 8.5knots and... man, it feels like you are 90' up there... Anyway, then the front end drops down and the speed ROCKETS up to 18.5 before I lose my nerve and throttle down.

I am sure it can go quite a bit faster but I think the inflatable keel was underinflated, maybe the tubes too, because the whole boat seemed to be flexing and wobbling an inappropriate amount.

I puttered around Pete's Harbor for a bit looking at the interesting boats then headed for home. After idle plus ten to 15 percent power for 30 minutes or so it did not want to throttle up. It died over and over until I got just the right combination of roll on, roll off, roll back on to get up to say idle plus 30%. Then it was mostly fine until I got to my harbor and it was pretty touch and go until I got to my dock. It actually died before I could get it into the slip and I had to paddle in.

Now I need to get an "all you ever needed to know about 2 stroke outboards but were afraid to ask" sort of book. I am open to recommendations.

Oh! Guy in the slip across from me is buying the off-brand and the 8hp motor. Woot!

"It is never too late to be who you might have been." -George Eliot
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Old 19-08-2008, 07:29   #2
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Quite a read Jack and it sounds like you are getting the dinghy situation sorted.

So you buy 3 dinghy's to pick one. Just be glad you didn't have to buy 3 boats to find the one you want - LOL.

Post some specifics on the engine issues (maybe a new thread) and I am sure all the engineers will come running.

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Old 19-08-2008, 07:38   #3
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[quote=Jack Long;194364] As you throttle up it wheelies and digs in until about 8.5knots and... man, it feels like you are 90' up there... Anyway, then the front end drops down and the speed ROCKETS up to 18.5 before I lose my nerve and throttle down.

The "wheelie" effect can be fixed by getting stabilzer fins and attaching them to the cavitation plate on the outboard. Takes about 20 minutes to do and makes the ride MUCH more stable. There are several brands on the market.
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Old 19-08-2008, 07:52   #4
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Get a piece of pvc. Split the end, and put it over your throttle. You can now sit forward.

As far as getting the motor off, and on the boat. On my Columbia 30 I put a block on the end of the boom. Took the line forward to another block as the base of a stanchion, and then used the winch to raise, and lower the motor
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