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Old 22-08-2017, 18:40   #1
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Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

I am looking for some advice from those of you who have experience with the ICW. I am taking my Cape Dory 26 from Annapolis to Charlotte Harbor, FL in October and I am in the final stages of planning and provisioning for the trip.This will be my first foray on the ICW and one of the things I am trying determine is if I really need to take my inflatable dinghy with me. I plan to anchor out most nights and stay overnight at a marina every third day or so. No doubt a dinghy would prove useful, but on the other hand it would take up a lot of room on my foredeck and the dinghy and its 3.5 hp outboard would add a significant amount of weight for a boat of this size. So, if it is simply one of those "nice to have" things instead of a real necessity, I am inclined to leave it at home. Anyway, I would appreciate any guidance you could offer on the subject. Thanks in advance!
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Old 22-08-2017, 18:47   #2
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

My opinion would be yes, it is necessary. Not only for access to shore when you're anchored, but in the event you run up on the mud you can use the dinghy to take out the kedge and pull yourself off.
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Old 22-08-2017, 18:55   #3
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

It's not needed and I usually keep my dinghy deflated going down the ditch. If you have dogs that need to get to shore, that's another story. When deflated it helps with visibility over the cabin top and working for. There are also many free docks to checkout. Think my first paid dockage was in Fla.
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Old 22-08-2017, 19:30   #4
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

Needed - no... desireable - yes. As per the reasons Sailmonkey stated. I think we did the ICW once and never used the dinghy the whole trip but only because we stayed in marinas and free docks in places we wanted to stop and visit.

We have used the dinghy to drop a kedge several times instead of waiting for Sea Tow. It's faster and easier just to get ourselves off - like 15 minutes. It's almost all mud and sand up and down the ICW (with a few notable exceptions) so you are usually fine kedging yourself.
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Old 22-08-2017, 19:43   #5
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

Tow it, You're going to be motoring anyway.
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Old 22-08-2017, 20:13   #6
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

Don't tow it, you'll add two days to your trip. You have a small boat, don't make it slower. 99,9% of the ICW is marsh and private property, you can't land a dinghy. If you want to go ashore, go to a dock.
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Old 22-08-2017, 20:32   #7
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

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Don't tow it, you'll add two days to your trip. You have a small boat, don't make it slower. 99,9% of the ICW is marsh and private property, you can't land a dinghy. If you want to go ashore, go to a dock.
Toronto-Florida 20 times, found hundreds of place to take my dog ashore in the dink. Free docks are often full and most are day docks only.
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:16   #8
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

My vote would be no. handy to have? Sure. But you have a small boat. Compromises must be made. It will constantly be in the way and a general pia.
You can motor right up to any dock and sail up to many. As for kedging your way off, at three and a half foot draft you should be able to stay out of trouble, and if you hit, you can walk your kedge out or even push it off. If the bottom is firm enough to stick you, It's probably firm enough to walk on. If you really screw up, maybe you'll have to wait on a tide or use your tow service.
I'd leave it. But that's me.
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:21   #9
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

We took nearly the identical trip last year. I made sure to have a dinghy based on what I read. The only time we used it was when the kids wanted to screw around in it. Absolutely fun! Absolutely unnecessary.
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:29   #10
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

There was a discussion on this topic once on another forum and a lot of people claimed that you couldn't cruise without a dinghy. That's BS of course but the herd mentality kicked in and I was shamed for my opinion.

No, you don't need a dinghy to travel the AICW. My wife, puppy and I recently cruised from Charleston, SC to Florida, across the Okeechobee Waterway to the west coast and back and never once inflated our dinghy or brought the outboard down from the flybridge. That was about 1400 NM. My wife is not fond of the dinghy because she finds it difficult to get in and out of it. The puppy loves it.

Now if you're the type who likes to anchor and take the dinghy to a park or beach, you will want to take it along. You might want to have it at your destination, I don't know.
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:34   #11
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

I've got a 37 Tartan which I've taken up and down the "ditch" a half dozen times now. I've carried an inflatable (deflated) and have yet to use it. That being said, you'll probably use it frequently down in Florida, so you may as well take it with you, even though it does take up valuable space.
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:35   #12
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

Hmmm....run out of gas or shear pins, get a bad batch of gas, need to kedge off, need to get ashore?

Not necessary, but, things happen......Exxon Valdez!!
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Old 23-08-2017, 08:47   #13
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

Maine to Vero Beach our dinghy was on the davits. Once in Vero it becomes our taxi to restaurants, groceries, and the beach. We can adapt either way. Enjoy the trip.


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Old 23-08-2017, 08:58   #14
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

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Hmmm....run out of gas or shear pins, get a bad batch of gas, need to kedge off, need to get ashore?

Not necessary, but, things happen......Exxon Valdez!!
TowBoatUS $150 per year. Don't leave the dock without it.
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Old 23-08-2017, 09:07   #15
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Re: Is a dinghy a necessity for the ICW?

With the number of times we ran aground, a dinghy is a necessity unless you like swimming an anchor out to kedge off. The Boat US tow insurance is a good deal but waiting for half a day for them to break free to tow you off is a pain. An anchor rigged so you can get at it instantly and a dinghy to row it out are must haves for me.
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