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Old 30-03-2016, 12:24   #1
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Dinghy Floor Types

I need to buy a dinghy and Defender sells 3 floor types, air, slat and plywood in the cheap ones. ( $1,000 or less.) First off, I will need to store it in the rear locker when not in use so 75 lbs will be as much as I can handle. Its going to be used for short trips to shore and fishing around the anchorage. My outboard needs to be light also, I'm thinking 4 or 5 Hp will be the maximum.

Any advice on witch is best would greatly appreciated.


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Old 30-03-2016, 12:26   #2
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Re: dinghy floor types

I would go for the plywood floor type. slats and the air floor ( to me) feel more like toys than real dinghy's

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Old 30-03-2016, 12:50   #3
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Re: dinghy floor types

Too bad you don't have storage. We love our AB rigid. The removable floors are a pain.
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Old 30-03-2016, 12:54   #4
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Re: dinghy floor types

I have a el-cheapo WM slat floor dink.

The slat floor is easier to store than the ply floor (i.e. you don't need to take the floor out to roll up the dink)

It's alright to get in and out, not nearly as nice as a plywood floor or a RIB.
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Old 30-03-2016, 12:56   #5
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Re: dinghy floor types

The slat dinghies have all the directional steering of a novice skier on their first time out. We have a 2.6m and regret buying it. The previous dinghy was a Suzumar 2.3m with an inflatable floor and keel which lasted 25 years so worth buying a decent make. Easy to inflate and deflate into a small bag. The plywood or aluminium floor models I am not so sure about. We had a larger Zodiac which took a while to assemble even with a team.

As for engines, there is a 3.5hp 2 stroke engine from Merc, Mariner Tohasu and Johnson etc which has a good power to weight ratio. I can lift ours with one hand whilst holding on to the yacht to get it back on board. Sadly they are no longer available in the UK for recreational use so when ours dies we might have a problem.

On a 32ft yacht you need to keep the weight down so go small and high quality.

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Old 30-03-2016, 13:32   #6
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Where are you going to be using your new dinghy? ?
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Old 30-03-2016, 13:54   #7
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
Where are you going to be using your new dinghy? ?
Mostly in the Keys for the summer then the Bahamas in the fall next year. I budgeted $400 a month for transit dockage because I don't plan on ferrying supply's to the boat.

By the sound of the advice above, this is going to be a matter of picking among bad and worst.

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Old 30-03-2016, 14:29   #8
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Dinghy Floor Types

The air floor with inflatable keel is not a bad choice. The directional stability is greatly enhanced and it stows more compactly than plywood sections. A true RIB may be a better dinghy but not at the cost of stow-ability for your needs.

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Old 30-03-2016, 16:09   #9
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

I think the worst downside to the air floor dinghies is their vulnerability when fuel accidentally gets spilled in them. The mix does something bad to the PVC., and pretty soon gets bubbles. There is no good way to repair the airfloor that we discovered. In fact, we gave away that dinghy to a school group where they were going to make a plywood floor for it.

Driftwoods, if you're handy with tools, perhaps build a nesting dinghy that will fit on your foredeck? Or, even, just a small dinghy. I'm sure it could be done, friend of ours built one that fits on the foredeck of a 24 ft. Vertue. A decent rowing dinghy can easily be used to ferry water jugs ashore, and groceries back to the boat, and eliminate the need for an outboard motor, thus keeping costs down, and not having to deal with carrying gasoline, either. Depending on the plans you build from, some of the nesters break down into two separate small boats, so you can go different places, one to market, the other to get water, etc., or, used together with a small outboard, will really travel well, although our friends with this prefer to row, for health.

Finally, perhaps a Foldbote might suit. Not my cup of tea (I like the ease of entry to inflatables from the water), but they do have a following here on CF. One person I remember has one is Mike O Reilly, you could PM him about them.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 30-03-2016, 16:14   #10
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Aluminum is better than plywood, I found the wood got slippery and require a lot of maintenance. Love my aluminium floor but it is heavier.

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Old 30-03-2016, 16:39   #11
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Given that you're in FL you should go with CSM material (Hypalon) not PVC. I'd go with air floor. Lighter. Also get an electric pump. (Not a cheap one.)

The Suzuki 2.5 and Honda 2.3 are the lightest gas OBs you'll find in the US. Use with TruFuel ($35 for six quarts on Amazon) and you won't have any fuel-related problems. TruFuel appears expensive but those little engines won't use much and it'll save on headaches and repairs.

I use a AIRHEAD AHP-12HP High Pressure Air Pump 12 Volt and it works well.
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Old 30-03-2016, 16:42   #12
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Choosing an Inflatable Dinghy | West Marine

We have a 10'-2" Zodiac air floor. Store it on our foredeck with a cover. Most folks will suggest bigger is better, because once you buy a smaller one you'll soon find out, even with your described use.
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Old 30-03-2016, 16:45   #13
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

The riged ply floor is the best performing of the 3. But takes more time to setup and tear down. Your call. Achilles is superior.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 31-03-2016, 03:31   #14
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

Given your storage situation: high pressure air floor, inflatable keel, Hypalon. Since it will really no-kidding roll-up, you can probably get the largest you can afford. (We had two big dogs -- Pyrenees and Golden -- to shuttle back and forth.) Throw a beach towel on the sole if you like.

It won't plane great with only a small outboard, but it'll track reasonably well at displacement speeds and it'll be more than adequate in the water for tender use.

We had a hinged, roll-up hard floor; pain in the neck to open and close on board. Difficult to get into its bag for storage.

Insertable slats, I'd imagine even more pain. Larger floor panels, we could never have done it. And this with a relatively large (powerboat) cockpit, not like that you've got.

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Old 31-03-2016, 04:05   #15
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Re: Dinghy Floor Types

For what its worth, the best inflatable we ever had was a 9'8" West Marine Hypalon boat with a 3-section plywood floor and an inflatable keel. It was light enough to handle easily, the floors made it rigid enough to take a 6hp outboard with which it would plane and the inflatable keel gave it reasonably good directional stability. One could also row it reasonably well.

Not knowing any better but following the "bigger is better" dictum, when our old boat gave up the ghost after 15 years I bought a 310 Zodiac High Pressure Floor dinghy. It has proven much larger than we need (for 3 people and a 35# dog), it needs a larger/heavier/more costly engine, doesn't plane worth a darn (even with a 15hp engine with dole fins), despite an inflatable keel has poor directional stability; and, can't be rowed worth a darn even with longer two part oars than those included with the boat. Bigger than one actually really needs isn't better, just a pain in the neck. Think about it...

"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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