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Old 20-08-2015, 22:59   #1
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How to choose the right dinghy?

After 5 years living aboard and cruising my views on boat related items have changed. Some things have been brilliant, some have failed miserably.

One thing I have never really decided upon is the right dinghy.

Our present one has imploded in the sun. We are currently in Greece which as been hotter than a Miss World competition in a sauna. The glue on the dinghy just gave up totally and in effect it fell to pieces all in two days.

We need a new dinghy but still I am not sure what features are best.

A decent sized dinghy allows a decent sized engine which allows planing and using it over longer distances and in bigger seas. This means getting the dingy and engine on and off the boat is a pain because of the weight.

Hyperlon is no doubt the best material for sun but the costs is 3x that of a pvc dinghy. A pvc dinghy really needs chaps to prevent UV degradation but this just adds to the cost.

Our old dingy had one of those hard blow up floors but most places we pulled it ashore were stones so a rigid bottom would be better but storage is harder.

So, is there a right choice and what has worked for you?
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Old 20-08-2015, 23:18   #2
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

We have an air deck hypalon Mercury dinghy. Frankly I would never but a Mercury product again.

There are some buying decisions I leave up to her. We went to the Miami Boat Show a year ago. We got to see all of the dinghies side by side. She decided we will buy an AB. It was very easy to see why they are the first choice of many. The workmanship was so superior. I mean, it was no contest.


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Old 20-08-2015, 23:22   #3
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

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Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
We have an air deck hypalon Mercury dinghy. Frankly I would never but a Mercury product again.

There are some buying decisions I leave up to her. We went to the Miami Boat Show a year ago. We got to see all of the dinghies side by side. She decided we will buy an AB. It was very easy to see why they are the first choice of many. The workmanship was so superior. I mean, it was no contest.


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Mercury are supposed to be one of the better makes. AB are certainly good but way out of our price range.
If I sent my wife to pick one she would pick on colour alone.
How did you pick one?
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Old 20-08-2015, 23:56   #4
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Nostradamus,

Our, boat is 46' overall. We have a 3.5 m. RIB, of which the hull is aluminum. It just barely fits disinflated between our inner forestay and the mast. (NB: Getting this bit right required delivery of the dinghy to us, contingent upon it fitting, because no one knows how much room they take up disinflated.) With this dinghy, we use a Yamaha 15 hp 2 cycle o/b.

For us, our dinghy serves as a pickup truck: we haul loads of provisions, laundry, and *whatever* in it. We also use it for exploring. For the last 28 yrs. or so, we've been advocates of the biggest, most competent dinghy one can reasonably store on deck for passages. We like leaving the "mother boat" somewhere safe and exploring by dinghy.

If your usage is similar to ours (especially as to seeking offshore snorkeling spots), it may be time to bite the bullet and buy the best dinghy cum motor that you can afford. Even if you buy hypalon, be aware, it comes in different grades, and its weight is higher if it is the better grade.

If you buy a RIB, some of them can be re-tubed. Ours is on its 3rd set of tubes. [incidentally, the larger the tubes, the better your laundry stays dry). This newest set of tubes is PVC from West Germany, manufactured in China, and we made a set of chaps for it the first and 2nd week after it was re-tubed. Even if I were to buy hypalon for tubes, due to the variable thickness/quality of what you buy, I would cover hypalon, too, with dark fabric (to absorb the most UV). We used Weather Max, for chafe resistance; however, Sunbrella or another acrylic canvas might be better. More info in the CF Sewing Group under dinghy chaps. See also the Sail Rite site for pre-manufacture instructions. The thin hypalon just wears quicker than the good old stuff, but other friends of ours bought a used hypalon Caribe, and had chaps made for it, about 4 yrs into their use of it, and by golly, it looks great, when the chaps are off for repair 4 more years into its continued full time use! Good on Caribe!

It is a huge bite, financially. However, it is unlikely to get cheaper. Maybe it would help you to consider that you will be buying at the bottom of the market as it as present. Ten years from now, if you follow the advice above, that dinghy will have another 5 yrs. in it, anyway, unless something really bad happens.

Cheers, and good luck with it. Truly this (imho) is a time to bite the money bullet and get something good that will last.

Ann
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Old 21-08-2015, 00:06   #5
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

My advice would be 2 part
1... Choose a quality performance and seakeeping Rib and size the engine per manufacturer's recommendation

2....Be proactive in looking after it

this is a good primer
More than just hot air Boat News, Review & Advice - boatpoint.com.au

Stargazer came with an Aquapros 3.2m RIB with Yamaha 15hp Enduro and after 17 years of tropical use I cannot fault the PO's choice

Planes easy, even with dive gear, fairly dry in semi displacement if rough and still good.

By being proactive I mean
Make velcroed sunbrella covers for Tubes
Armor All Tubes once a year
Avoid beaching if you can and use a good foldable anchor to hold off and poly line to retrieve, thus keeping it from chaffing on the beach
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Old 21-08-2015, 00:11   #6
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nostrodamus View Post
Hyperlon is no doubt the best material for sun but the costs is 3x that of a pvc dinghy. A pvc dinghy really needs chaps to prevent UV degradation but this just adds to the cost.

Actually HYPALON is about the 6th best dinghy material for UV resistance, though you are correct that it is somewhat better than PVC.

IN approximately descending order would be:

Aluminum
Wood
Fiberglass including both polyester and epoxy versions
Polyethylene
ABS

There are plenty of dinghies out there using one or more of the above materials.

What are the limitations that make you feel you have to have an inflatable?


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Old 21-08-2015, 01:05   #7
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Actually HYPALON is about the 6th best dinghy material for UV resistance, though you are correct that it is somewhat better than PVC.

IN approximately descending order would be:

Aluminum
Wood
Fiberglass including both polyester and epoxy versions
Polyethylene
ABS

There are plenty of dinghies out there using one or more of the above materials.

What are the limitations that make you feel you have to have an inflatable?


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When we are in a cruising ground where we do not sail too far each day we put the dinghy in davits behind the boat. Obviously weight is an issue but we also sail long passages where I do not like the dinghy to be in davits so it needs to be on the deck secure and out of the way. For us a inflatable works.
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Old 21-08-2015, 01:17   #8
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Nostradamus,

Our, boat is 46' overall. We have a 3.5 m. RIB, of which the hull is aluminum. It just barely fits disinflated between our inner forestay and the mast. (NB: Getting this bit right required delivery of the dinghy to us, contingent upon it fitting, because no one knows how much room they take up disinflated.) With this dinghy, we use a Yamaha 15 hp 2 cycle o/b.

For us, our dinghy serves as a pickup truck: we haul loads of provisions, laundry, and *whatever* in it. We also use it for exploring. For the last 28 yrs. or so, we've been advocates of the biggest, most competent dinghy one can reasonably store on deck for passages. We like leaving the "mother boat" somewhere safe and exploring by dinghy.

If your usage is similar to ours (especially as to seeking offshore snorkeling spots), it may be time to bite the bullet and buy the best dinghy cum motor that you can afford. Even if you buy hypalon, be aware, it comes in different grades, and its weight is higher if it is the better grade.

If you buy a RIB, some of them can be re-tubed. Ours is on its 3rd set of tubes. [incidentally, the larger the tubes, the better your laundry stays dry). This newest set of tubes is PVC from West Germany, manufactured in China, and we made a set of chaps for it the first and 2nd week after it was re-tubed. Even if I were to buy hypalon for tubes, due to the variable thickness/quality of what you buy, I would cover hypalon, too, with dark fabric (to absorb the most UV). We used Weather Max, for chafe resistance; however, Sunbrella or another acrylic canvas might be better. More info in the CF Sewing Group under dinghy chaps. See also the Sail Rite site for pre-manufacture instructions. The thin hypalon just wears quicker than the good old stuff, but other friends of ours bought a used hypalon Caribe, and had chaps made for it, about 4 yrs into their use of it, and by golly, it looks great, when the chaps are off for repair 4 more years into its continued full time use! Good on Caribe!

It is a huge bite, financially. However, it is unlikely to get cheaper. Maybe it would help you to consider that you will be buying at the bottom of the market as it as present. Ten years from now, if you follow the advice above, that dinghy will have another 5 yrs. in it, anyway, unless something really bad happens.

Cheers, and good luck with it. Truly this (imho) is a time to bite the money bullet and get something good that will last.

Ann
Ann, thank you so much and there is some brilliant advice in there although I would need a far smaller tender.

What I would like to see is manufacturers putting plans and measurements on there respective sites to make your own chaps. This would save a lot of problems because measuring for them seems to be one of the hardest parts.
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Old 21-08-2015, 01:50   #9
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

It is not really that hard for someone to make the covers/chaps
Glue a solid line of Velcro along the edge of the rubbing strake on outside tube and then fix that before stretching over tubes to a glued on Velcro line on inside close to the floor seam
Cutouts for handles etc and many will add a zippered cover at bow area for shade/spray protection of gas tank and shore stuff.

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Old 21-08-2015, 04:20   #10
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nostrodamus View Post
When we are in a cruising ground where we do not sail too far each day we put the dinghy in davits behind the boat. Obviously weight is an issue but we also sail long passages where I do not like the dinghy to be in davits so it needs to be on the deck secure and out of the way. For us a inflatable works.
I've found an RIB with a folding transom to be far and away the best all-around solution for me... Mine is an Avon Lite, no longer made, unfortunately... Not sure if Zodiac has taken up the slack, but Achilles makes a nice looking model with a folding transom, and in a material closest to the now discontinued Hypalon... Only downside to Achilles, among others, is the essentially worthless pin style oars and oarlocks, they're a joke for any serious rowing... I'd replace them with the molded Avon style, where you can use real oars... Presuming you might be one of those dinosaurs who might still actually ROW your tender on occasion, that is... ;-)

The advantage to a folding transom is huge in terms of deck stowage, makes for much lower profile, it's the only way I can carry a hard bottom inflatable on a boat as small as mine...
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Old 21-08-2015, 05:16   #11
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Light weight
Easily stowed
Stable
Durable
Easily rowed
Fast under power
Large weight/volume capacity

I often hear the words, "Everything is a compromise" among cruisers and the dinghy choice is a classic example.

I'd like a light aluminum shell, but Nancie wants to be able to step in the gunnel without a flip. So, we like the RBI and we use a Caribe 9L. We selected a 6hp 4-stroke that I can hoist aboard with my mizzen boom & halyard. I'm never able to load ourselves, two bicycles, laundry and groceries in the dinghy at one trip, but I've never needed more than two. I can't row my dinghy well, but I can get on a plane if I'm alone and without cargo.

We've selected the RBI with the stability and large cargo capacity as the main advantages. Were moderately successful with speed, durability and stowing (big, strong davits); we could do better with weight even though we have the single floor model and were giving up rowing.
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Old 21-08-2015, 05:31   #12
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

This is a very contentious discussion given the fact that there is not a catch all type of dinghy.

We have been through 3 dinghies and two engines in the past two years trying to find the right fit.

The first dinghy was 11' with a roll up floor but it was way too underpowered when using out 6hp Suzuki.

The second dinghy was a 9' with a roll up floor that did better with the 6 hp but would not plane so we bought a 9.9 and it would plane with two people.

The third (current) dinghy is a 10' RIB and it is head and shoulders above everything else. It will plane with two adults and one kid but we have two kids so we can displace enough water to get around 8kts. Every once and a while we can get on plane.

Each of these boats worked well at various times but our situations were constantly changing. Recently we ran our dinghy all over the Abacos and could have really used a 15hp to get us up on plane to travel fast. The Sea of Abaco got really choppy one day and we were a wet mess getting back to the boat after a 7nm one way excursion.
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Old 21-08-2015, 06:17   #13
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
This is a very contentious discussion given the fact that there is not a catch all type of dinghy.

We have been through 3 dinghies and two engines in the past two years trying to find the right fit.

The first dinghy was 11' with a roll up floor but it was way too underpowered when using out 6hp Suzuki.

The second dinghy was a 9' with a roll up floor that did better with the 6 hp but would not plane so we bought a 9.9 and it would plane with two people.

The third (current) dinghy is a 10' RIB and it is head and shoulders above everything else. It will plane with two adults and one kid but we have two kids so we can displace enough water to get around 8kts. Every once and a while we can get on plane.

Each of these boats worked well at various times but our situations were constantly changing. Recently we ran our dinghy all over the Abacos and could have really used a 15hp to get us up on plane to travel fast. The Sea of Abaco got really choppy one day and we were a wet mess getting back to the boat after a 7nm one way excursion.
K9 Medic,
The reason for the post is to get valuable information from people like you who have been through the process of finding what is and what is not suitable.
Incidentally we fitted those wings to or 8hp outboard and it reached the plane quicker and was far more manoeuvrable.
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Old 21-08-2015, 06:54   #14
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post

What are the limitations that make you feel you have to have an inflatable?


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For me it's stability and the ability to sit on the soft tubes, plus it does get smaller when deflated, but the major advantage for me is stability.
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Old 21-08-2015, 07:01   #15
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Re: How to choose the right dinghy?

What are they like to right if they flip? Not that I'm suggesting this happens often, but if it did...
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