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Old 11-07-2014, 16:31   #46
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

I disagree with those who tout Achilles. Their inflatables must be at least 4-5 years old. Since Achilles moved their production to China ... beware. I purchased a LEX88 2 years ago. Four warranty claims on the thing right out of the box. Within 1.5 years all plywood items on the boat -- the "upgraded" varnished floor, and worse yet the transom -- had turned to mush. To their credit, Achilles USA gave me a full refund despite the wood elements technically being out of warranty (leaving me with no reliable transport from yacht to shore in a remote area of the Pacific). Achilles USA refused to sell another inflatable to me, a full-time cruiser in the tropics, because they "would not be able to support the warranty." In other words, expected warranty problems with their current line.

Those of you lucky to have a 16-year-old Achilles: hold on to it. Stay away from the new ones.
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Old 11-07-2014, 16:51   #47
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

TodoVelaMexico - I think you need to ask the opinions of those who have purchased new dinghies recently. The lucky cruisers with 10- or 20-year-old "keepers" are just making me jealous. Which manufacturers are making a good quality boat right now?
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Old 11-07-2014, 22:07   #48
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

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Originally Posted by Alii View Post

Those of you lucky to have a 16-year-old Achilles: hold on to it. Stay away from the new ones.
Wow, that's sad to hear! I've been a huge achilles fan for 30+ years. A friend still has one dating back to the 1990's. I wonder if Defender is providing service for new achilles.


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Old 11-07-2014, 23:15   #49
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

Defender's handling of these problems with the Achilles was AAA+++ but Defender can't change the sub-standard materials and poor production standards used in China. Purchasing an inflatable (or almost any marine product) through Defender is the best insurance, in my view. Their customer service, including after-sale support, is the best.
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Old 11-07-2014, 23:47   #50
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

The Swift/Highfield inflatables made in Queensland, AUS are awesome. I don't know of a USA distributor, but it may well be worth having one shipped from AUS, or Faithful Marine in Hong Kong. I've made chaps for about a dozen of these beautiful little boats, hope to own one myself soon.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:20   #51
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Solid or Inflatable?

I have recently started looking at replacing my 1994 Seaworthy RIB for a larger one. the Seaworthy still holds air all year long and is PVC. She is not the prettiest girl at the dance but she can still boogaloo.

I haven't read all of the replies, but most of them anyway.
Does anyone here actually use a dinghy for fun or am I the only one?
We are full time live-aboard cruisers. Up until recently it was by sail, now we are inland on lakes and rivers in a powerboat.

We have always used our dinks for exploring and gunkholing. We like speed so we can cover a lot of territory in a day. My latest gem is a 12' Saturn inflatable. Yesterday we took it out for our first day trip up the river. We absolutely loved the bigger size and width and ability to plane with the 2 of us at a little above 1/2 throttle with a 9.8HP.

Reasons we love inflatables:
Light weight for davits - my 12' Saturn soft bottom - 110 Lbs.
High load and passenger capacity - my 12' is spec'd for 5 people
can bump the mothership all day long with no damage to either
The real biggie: STABILITY !!!
Reasonably dry ride
Can be rolled up and stored easily - my new soft bottom, not the RIB.
We take the family and friends for rides all of the time. Most people not
used to boats don't know how to shift their body weight getting into and
out of a dink and this could be dangerous. It's almost impossible to tip an
inflatable
FUN!!! Most people like playing in the dink more than my Mainship 36.
I haven't tried pulling a skier, but I'm sure I can.


The Downside:
Can't BBQ in the dink.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:34   #52
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

I was glad to see someone mention the Saturn since I'm considering that brand. My former dinghy was an Archilles and it was still going strong after 25 years, but was getting a little long in the tooth. The type of dinghy depends on how the boat will be used and now I need one that will be very portable and used very little so PCV is acceptable as is an air floor. The Archilles had a wood floor and while I could plane with only a 5 hp Nissan with me at 200 and the wife at 120, it was difficult to assemble it on deck. Not sure how small of an outboard could plane that saturn air floor and still unsure if the saturn is a good boat for my use.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:59   #53
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

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............. Not sure how small of an outboard could plane that saturn air floor and still unsure if the saturn is a good boat for my use.
My 9.8 Tohatsu on the 12' Saturn will plane my 220 lb fat ass at just below 1/2 throttle. Throw in my 120 Lb admiral and we get into a plane at slightly above 1/2 throttle, then we can throttle back a little. How much or how little HP will be required to plane should be based on the size of boat and should be on the dealers website boatstogo.com. I was actually looking at the Azzurri models which seam to be well thought out and they come with Velcro-on pontoon covers to protect from the sun. The quality of workmanship in the construction is more of a factor than the bells and whistles.

As for quality, I cant say for sure, but here is some info:
I just bought the boat. It is a 2004 year model. The boat is in perfect condition and the amount of cleaning it required told me that it had a reasonable amount of use. After cleaning up, it looks like new. The seems and joints appear to be well done. There are no air leaks and the double layer under the pontoons is really bad ass. The bottom appears to be really tough stuff. I was thinking of buying new and went on several boating forums asking about Saturns and did not get any replys at all. Then this used one came up and I jumped on it.

I would be very comfortable buying a new one. Just keep in mind that I only have mine for a week so far, but if anything were to go wrong, I'd know it by now.

Best of luck in whatever you buy.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:38   #54
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

Thanks for the input Tony. With that Achilles and 5 hp Nissan it took every bit of effort to get it up on plane. In fact I remember Nissan sending me another prop with a different pitch since the stock prop was not able to plane it. Also I was able to row the boat against 15 knot headwinds, but that was 20 years ago and not sure if I could do that today. The oar sockets were well made and I would want that in any new boat that I end up getting. I suspect that an air floor boat would be harder to row than the wood floor even if both had inflatable keels.
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Old 12-07-2014, 08:18   #55
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

My AB 10'6" with 25hp Yamaha...fast and steady
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:03   #56
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

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......I suspect that an air floor boat would be harder to row than the wood floor even if both had inflatable keels.
I don't know about that. There will definitely be more longitudinal stiffness with a wood floor but I'm not sure of how much a difference it would make.
Generally, most air floor dinks from the various manufacturers recommend around 9 PSI for the air floor. THAT IS ALOT of air pressure. It wasn't until I bought a Mercury Marine around 2004 that I had a pressure gage on the pump. I never realized how much pressure 3 PSI actually was. That was the recommended PSI for the tubes. They felt like they were tight as a basketball. So 9 PSI in the air floor is really stiff.

BTW, coming from the experts, one of the main problems with inflatables is that people keep the air pressure. too low. That makes the joints and seams too flexible and really works them. Without that tidbit, I would have thought over-inflation was the culprit. BTW, Saturns have an over-inflation safety valve in the main tubes.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:32   #57
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

I owned a 10 ft Zodiac on Cape Cod for many years. Then I ran an Avon RIB up and down the lower Essequibo River for several months. And for the past two years we've owned a West Marine 11.5 ft. RIB that came with the boat. We live in the tropics full time.

If I was going to be selling RIBs to the cruising crowd, I'd pick Caribe because they recognize the brand. Zodiac, right or wrong, will not sell well because "everybody knows about their problems in the tropics".

My next dinghy will not be an RIB. They all leak eventually. Shipping the right glue is problematic. They are stable, yes, but take up a lot of room and have little interior room themselves. They are difficult to row, and sail lousy. Foldaboat is looking pretty interesting, though.
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Old 12-07-2014, 10:10   #58
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

Porta Bote. Our 8' works well for us as it can be folded and stowed easily while under way. Has enough of a keel that it can be oared or planes easily with a low power motor.


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Old 12-07-2014, 10:39   #59
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

I have had a number of dinks over 28 years including Avon, Achillies and AquaPro. First ones were pretty basic and the last 2 AquaPros are alum ribs of hypalon.

AquaPro screwed up and licensed their design to a Chinese maker. My first was from the NZ factory and was super... it was stolen. The 2nd was from China and is a nightmare... the aluminum is a problem for paint adhering. They claim it is from electric based corrosion. Didn't happen to the first one so I conclude it was poor pain prep. Not much can be done (economically). There were some leaks on delivery which required patches... but once done the boat does not leak. The hand hold and glued on bits are working loose. I simply am trying to extend its useful life and it's impossible to stop the degradation from sub standard manufacturing. The design is super and I think AquaPro cancelled the license agreement after too many complaints from me and others.

I'd recommend the NZ made boat in a heart beat. But how to determine that is the key... the Chinese put a NZ plaque of origin on their boats... shameless really.

Caribe seem to be good boats as well as AB...
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Old 12-07-2014, 14:40   #60
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Re: Your Opinion - Best Dinghy?

1. Best is probably Avon, but they are no longer sold in the U.S.
2. I have a Walker Bay Odyssey 270 air floor (hypalon).

Pros: (1) it's very light and will deflate easily and store in a bag that I can actually pick up without mechanical aids (2) it planes fairly easily with a Tohatsu 6hp 4-stroke that I can also pick up and carry (55 lbs). (3) handles well. (4) built in davit lifting points.

Cons: It's a little small. I probably should have gotten the 310. (2) It leaked a little where the floor met the transom (manufacturing defect). But the dealer fixed it immediately under warranty and I've had no problems since.

If I were cruising in areas with a lot of coral and/or rocky beaches I would have opted for a dinghy with an aluminum floor.
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