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Old 16-04-2010, 11:17   #1
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New Dinghy - Reality Check ?

We bought our first sailboat at the end of last sailing season in Vancouver - a CT34 (the "Brass Monkey") and the time has come to purchase a dinghy. Simply put, I'm torn, so rather than go (further) insane reading the same websites over and over again, I'm hoping to tap into everyone's collective wisdom...

As I realize all dinghys have pros and cons, and in some ways this is going to come down to how those features line up with my usage, perhaps let me start by giving some context:

The boat: The CT34 has a club foot boom, so as far as I can tell, there's going to be very, very limited space on deck for a dinghy. She's also a canoe stern, so davits aren't really an option.

How we use it: We do mostly day sailing around Vancouver, but certainly several overnights per season, and often at least 2 or 3 multi-day cruises. We plan on going farther afield this year - San Juans, Vancouver Island, etc., likely for about a week at a time.

The "cargo": myself (abt 175 lbs), my wife (what? do you think I'm crazy?), our 2-year-old son, and, very occasionally, our border collie.

Facilities: We have room in our slip to keep the dinghy stored if necessary, and there's even a small dinghy area where I might be able to grab a seperate spot.

So, as far I can tell, this means either something that can be completely collapsed (or deflated) for stowage below, or I just bite the bullet and acknowledge that I'll simply be towing wherever I go.

I'm very, very willing to forego an outboard in favor of rowing (this would be my preference, actually), but it would be nice to have at least a mounting option for a small motor down the line. We live just across from a place called Granville Island, which has a market, etc., so it would nice to just walk down, row across the water and grab some groceries...

I've secretly fallen in love with the Fatty Knees (Edey and Duff: Fatty Knees, Specs) ... she's a rigid design, obviously, but from what I can tell is pretty bullet-proof and will row really well (I likely wouldn't get the sailing rig). Besides, the design is wonderfully traditional and actually looks not unlike the boat itself.

So, I suppose I need a reality check from those with the hard experience. Is a rigid dinghy (which would mean always towing) just completely impractical? Are there inflatables that can row as well? And if anyone has any experience with the Fatty Knees design itself, I'd be really grateful if you could share both the good and the bad.

Thanks in advance, everyone!

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Old 16-04-2010, 11:50   #2
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I think, considering the limited deckspace of your boat, an inflatable dinghy would be the way to go.

Inflatable boats Quality affordable Delphinus Dinghy

I would not really want to have to tow a rigid hulled dinghy around everywhere I went. That would be impractical in bad weather and a nuisance at other times. The boats of your class that I have seen, if they have an auxiliary craft at all, usually have it stowed length wise on the cabin before the mast instead of athwartship. Although not perhaps as pleasing to the eye, an inflatable takes up a lot less space.

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Old 16-04-2010, 11:51   #3
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I'd suggest you check . These are common on the East Coast and, though I've never been in one, people with them speak well of them. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 16-04-2010, 11:57   #4
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One blog I follow has great things to say about the Port-a-boat.

I really like the Fatty Knees too, and have read great things about it. I like what Lin & Larry Pardey say in their "Cost Conscious Cruiser" book, basically that it is their dinghy of choice, and with some added flotation and a sun-shelter it can be a self-rescue life raft too.
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Old 16-04-2010, 12:24   #5
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Maybe a nesting dinghy would work for you?

We'be been considering the NN10...

NestingLite Dinghies

At 10 feet assembled, I bet it would row very nicely.
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Old 16-04-2010, 15:02   #6
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2.2 person inflatable, 2 hp outboard...

The problems with inflatables are that they deflate, degrade, are expensive, are difficult to lock and are bulky in all types of storage.

The problems with rigid dinghies is that they're either heavy or unstable, very difficult to climb into from the water and damage the expensive paint on friends' boats.

With no davits and a family a three person inflatable is the only way to go. That's why they're in all the photos you see of cruising boats.

Add a small outboard and you'll be in cruising heaven.
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Old 16-04-2010, 21:10   #7
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G'Day RSM,

The cruiser's quandry: the best dinghy is a BIG dinghy, but it won't fir on the bloody boat... where to compromise?

First, the hard dinghy that demands towing always: eventually you will get caught out in some bad wx, and from sad experience, I reckon that the chances of your Fatty Knees or whatever surviving a tow through, say 30+ knot winds and 6-10 foot chop are slim to none. Even with added folatation it will eventually contrive to fill with water. Thus swamped, even if floating upright, the towing loads become huge, and something will break. Goodbye dinghy...

So, some sort of collapsable affair seems required. Inflatables, especially smaller ones and doubly especially air-floor or slat-floor models, row really badly. They combine a poor rowing position, lousy oars (far too short), flacid hulls which limit the amount of power you can deliver to the oars, high drag and poor directional stability. So, the practicality of whipping across the bay for some grog isn't very attractive. Adding a small o/b remedies this, but at costs, both fiscal and esthetic, which you don't seem enthusiastic about.

The fold-a-boat concept works for some, but friends of ours who had one said that they rowed poorly (compared to a proper hard dinghy) and were a PITA to assemble on deck and to stow when folded up (they were on a Golden Hind 30).

So, there is one other way you might approach the problem: getiing rid of the club footed foresail and opening up the foredeck as a storage spot. IMO, club jibs/staysails are a poor shipmate. They compromise sail shape, are in the way all the time and are a serious hazard on the foredeck flailing about. They don't call them "clubs" for nothing! A chat with your favorite sailmaker might convince you to make the change, quite possibly using the same sail slightly recut.

Then the option of stowing the hard dink on deck when neccessary becomes a reality.

For Ann and I, the inflatable with a outboard big enough to plane it has always been the preferred choice, but I'm ready to admit that there are other ways to go!

Good luck with the decision, and Cheers

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Lake Macquarie, NSW, Oz
Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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Old 16-04-2010, 21:23   #8
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I'm not sure you understand the realities of the sailing world. Just have a look around and see what the other folks have. Have they all got 8 foot dinghys? Get a 10 footer. Are they fully stoked with their 2.5PH? Get a 15HP and invite them to go exploring with you.

Sailing is a social sport. Being even with them is loserville. Go for the jugular with bigger, faster and with a ....steering wheel!!!!

Good luck
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Old 17-04-2010, 00:50   #9
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Had the same problem

Our yacht Gallivant while not the same design has it own issues. We end up with a Small Rib 2.60 m and 5hp 2 stroke. Were to put it well photos show the end result.

In the end its up to you.
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Old 17-04-2010, 03:38   #10
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Portland Pudgy

We had a couple of inflatables....they leaked. We also have limited deck space but wanted a reliable, safe dinghy. We checked out the Portland Pudgy. You can row it, motor it [we use a 3.5 two stroke] or sail it. It has a mast/sail combo that fits into the gunnels. It holds 4 adults. Check out their web site. We tow it easily.

A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, he said, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again.

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Old 17-04-2010, 06:29   #11
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I really think having a small dinghy that you have to tow and can not get on deck is asking for trouble. My 8-foot Mercury inflatable will fit forward of the mast, fully inflated and still allow me to get into my anchor locker (On a 30-foot boat)

A little rigid dink will likely row much better than an inflatable. I don't use one because I need to snorkel on and off it, so need more stability. Probably not an issue where you live.

As for an inflatable, I'm reasonably happy with the Mercury I have though the tubes are a bit small, so it's often a wet ride. What I do like compared to previous dinghys is that the oars attach to the boat with via a bolted pintle. A big problem I've had with pervious small inflatable dinghys is poor oar locks which allow the oar to jump off when really cranking on it. I made a new floorboard with a keel that really improves both rowing and motoring characteristics.

My concern with a small inflatable, is they do not row well, this can be especially problematic if your cruising ground has strong currents. (though again, a keel helps)

Why are you opposed to an outboard by the way? I have a little 3hp for mine which makes all the difference. I keep it on a mount on the stern pulpit.

Another option to consider if you have tow people who know how to paddle is an inflatable hypalon or PVC canoe. They perform much better than a short dinghy. Some have optional rowing rigs.
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Old 17-04-2010, 07:56   #12
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Thanks to everyone! I'm always amazed at how helpful and collegial this forum is... hopefully, one day, I'll be able to return the favour to someone else when I'm no longer the greenest guy in here... could be a while.

I'm convinced - having something I cannot store onboard is eventually going to come back to bite me ... the weather in the Georgia Straight can turn pretty quickly. So, an inflatable it will be, with an outboard of some TBD size that is small enough that I can hopefully lift onto the stern pulpit without three friends, a crane and an engineering degree.

Everything's a trade-off at the end of the day and I can live with the loss of row-ability and aesthetics in favour the safety, portability and stability of the inflatable.

I'm off to the local shops today to pick the brains of the local salts and measure out the foredeck.

Any thoughts on the Achilles LSI? There are a couple of used ones available in the city, and the specs look impressive. On to the next yawning cavern of ignorance - what engine, 2-stroke vs. 4-stroke, horsepower, stern mounting, etc... Time for a small engine course, as well, I expect...

Thanks again!
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Old 17-04-2010, 08:33   #13
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Engine choice will depend on what the dinghy can handle, what you want to manhandle and whether or not you want to plane.

I went with a 3hp Mercury, because it was the same basic weight and size as the 2 HP. It's convenient to get on and off without a lifting davit, light on the rail and does not create too much weight at the back of my small dinghy which is why I did not go with something larger. When I'm alone it will plane in the right conditions, (After adding flooring with a keel)

For maintenance, I only know how to check and replace the plugs, change the zinc and the shear pin, all of which I learned from the manual. I just take all my outboards in from time to time to get serviced. However, I do think the more you can do on your own when cruising, the better.

Get the appropriate patch kit if you get an inflatable.

I find that with a smaller dink and smaller outboard, I can not tow it in some of the seas I could tow a RIB in. With a small cruiser, it's not just about the dinghy either, the drag on my boat is notable.

Hopefully someone else will come along that can address your question about the Achilles.

All the best.

- Dave Z.
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Old 17-04-2010, 10:27   #14
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with two of you, a child and a dog, you are definitely going to want a 10 ft dingy. In your waters going in the water is a life/safety event. If you are doing summer occassional cruises (sounds likely?) then towing may be an option. An inflatable will be much more stable/foolproof getting in and out of the dingy with your load. However, in your (our) area, the beaches are littered with barnacles and oysters etc. It would be best to have a RIB to protect the bottom....although I did it for years with a soft bottom...taking care. The hard dingy is going to row much better...actually make that :dont try to row an inflatable. You could just buy a 10 or 12 ft alum boat for $250 and if the worst case scenario is you have to "cut her free" in unlikely summer heavy weather..what the heck! Your decision, just adding some comments for you to make it... good luck!
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Old 17-04-2010, 15:19   #15
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Tupperware Ranger, our used Walker Bay 8 with oars, cost $400 in nearly pristene condition...drag it up on the rocks , drop a 35# anchor into it from 6' accidentally, use it for a giant ice/beer keeper at a beach party it wont mind, nooo problem mon...

Add a new rib kit for better stability, you can tow, climb in, row and motor...nooo problem mon!

Total cost (I think these days)=$1400 for poly 1600 for hypalon

I got a used pair of 8' oars and it rows even better

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dinghy, fatty knees, tender

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