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Old 22-11-2011, 10:57   #1
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Dinghy Selection

hey folks,

we're away, we left Vancouver Canada in September and now we're in San Francisco and headed south from here.

Currently we have two dinghies, both in need of major assistance. Our 'Porta-Bote' folding 11' rowing dinghy has served well, but all three seats are now broken and the transom board is rotting. It's a couple of days of work to rebuild it all, but I won't have access to plywood for another month or so yet.

Our other dinghy is a 10' hard-bottom Zodiac RIB, about 12 years old, made of PVC. As I'm betting you can guess, it's starting to fall apart at the seams! I can probably repair it to the point where it will last another year or so, but I'm starting to think it's a lost cause, the transom is starting to fall out...

The only *strong* link in our dinghy chain is our motor - a nearly-new 8hp Yamaha two-stroke that has been well maintained and runs like a top.

As I see it, we have three options:

- let the Zodiac die. the Porta-Bote can be repaired and upgraded for pretty cheap, just the investment in time and space to do so. She'll need new oars, but she rows well and stows well for offshore passages. Downside is that she has a max motor rating of 2hp, so the Yamaha would remain useless.

- replace the zodiac with a new or nearly-new hypalon inflatable, something that will last the next ten years without (much) worry. the question then becomes - Zodiac? AB? Achilles? Avon? who makes the best-handling small rigid hull dinghy? I've been leaning towards the AB Ultralight aluminum hulls, but they're awfully expensive, and at that price I sure don't want to have it stolen overnight!

- replace the zodiac with a small fiberglass dinghy of some type - something that will support an 8hp motor, big enough for groceries and a bike, good handling, lightweight, etc etc. I don't know very much about fiberglass dinghies - what models are you using, and what do you like or dislike about them?

Thanks in advance, any opinions help!

"Analogies are dangerous, Amanda, because life is like a sandcastle."

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Old 23-11-2011, 06:06   #2
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Re: Dinghy Selection

my 15 yr old avon rib is still air leaks and (knock knock) the glass is still strong..we like a rib since we use a 15 hp merc and have a need for speed since we frequently dive far from the boat.. also easier to pull yourself back into it from the water..

for a tri, i would recommend a used glass dink..big enuf to hold crew and supplies , be able to handle an 8 hp motor and lite enuf to hoist aboard the tri...

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Old 23-11-2011, 06:22   #3
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Re: Dinghy Selection

Short term, the Port-a-boat sounds like the answer.

After that? why not build your own dink?! A squillion designs out there. Could even make something with a "Walker Bay" style inflatable collar. (a RIB Hybrid).

Or simply keep an eye out for an Avon - from a broke sailor........
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Old 23-11-2011, 07:48   #4
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Re: Dinghy Selection

We have an old Avon rib that has served us well.
My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Old 23-11-2011, 08:34   #5
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Re: Dinghy Selection

If you dive/snorkle/spearfish, it's hard to beat an inflatable dinghy. So much easier, maybe only possible kind of dinghy to board from the water. I'm not a big fan of motors and would encourage you to look at a smaller one that can be rowed when the need arizes and it will. Like the rubber oarlocks on the Avons after years and hundreds of miles rowing with them. You should be able to find something in decent condition at a good price in the Bay Area. Got mine there. Whatever kind you get, they all are pretty good, get a Hypalon dinghy. They can last for decades with minimal care.

I'd also look for a sailing dink. My Montgomery 8' is a joy to row and sailing it around th marinas has been a great way to go 'dock walking'. With the sailing set up, can cover a lot of distance effortlessly though it's pretty much a single person dinghy when you sail it. Possibly a 10' sailing dinghy would be better for sailing with a partner.

If it's relatively easy to fix the port a boat, fix it and take it as a back up. Dinghies just love to go walkabout and it's not because they get stolen.
Peter O.
'Ae'a Pearson 35
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Old 23-11-2011, 12:18   #6
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Re: Dinghy Selection

With a Trimaran, please consider a Livingston 9 or 10 with the 8hp. They plane like a Banshee and relatively inexpensive to buy used. the Bay Area you're in should have a few on craigslist. I have the 8ft and am in the process now of making it a nesting dink because of stowage restrictions. I run a 6hp on mine and it's scary fast.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
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Old 29-11-2011, 06:11   #7
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Re: Dinghy Selection

Might look at Rigid Boats
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Old 29-11-2011, 06:16   #8
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Re: Dinghy Selection

a small boston whaler or Carolina skiff won't sink carries a lot and an 8 hp should push her adequate..


"When the bow be in the trees we'll be running out of seas"
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