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Old 20-03-2018, 15:53   #1
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How to choose a dinghy

Hello I have a 34ft sailboat and am trying to decide whether I should get a 9ft or 11ft dinghy.

It'll be towed from behind as neither one will fit on the deck.

My primary usage is to go from boat to shore when anchoring or tooling around the marina. Possibly carrying camping gear to stay on islands and such. My wife and I will be the primary users.

What would you choose and why?

Cheers!
- Caolan.
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Old 20-03-2018, 15:56   #2
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

Oh it'll be inflatable.
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Old 20-03-2018, 15:57   #3
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

If you are towing anyway bigger.
Probably tow better and will be more usable.
And if towing anyway a hard dinghy doesn't deflate.
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Old 20-03-2018, 16:25   #4
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simi 60 View Post
If you are towing anyway bigger.
Probably tow better and will be more usable.
And if towing anyway a hard dinghy doesn't deflate.
It still has to be stowable - you can't tow a dinghy in all weather/sea conditions. And on a 34ft boat, smaller inflatable is the best way to make it stowable.

9ft
Pro: lighter and smaller to stow when not towed.
Con: probably max load of 3 pers and max of about 6HP motor

11ft:
Con: heavier and larger to stow.
Pro: probably max load of 4 pax and 10-15HP.

The "Possibly carrying camping gear to stay on islands and such." would suggest the longer option.
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Old 20-03-2018, 16:49   #5
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

I dislike towing at the best of times. My choice was/is a portabote. I first bought the one I have (a 10-footer) when I had my 34-foot ketch. Stored folded on the side deck, with the seats down below. It tows easy, rows easy, carries a large load.
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Old 21-03-2018, 09:13   #6
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I dislike towing at the best of times. My choice was/is a portabote. I first bought the one I have (a 10-footer) when I had my 34-foot ketch. Stored folded on the side deck, with the seats down below. It tows easy, rows easy, carries a large load.
I've had an 11 foot Zodiac RIB on a 41 foot steel cutter. It was nice. But it was also heavy and I had a davit arm snap. Now we have an 10 foot Portabote and an 11 foot nesting dinghy. The Portabote rows or takes a small motor (the 2 HP Honda air-cooled) while the nesting dinghy rows, motors or has a serviceable sail rig. Having two tenders suits us. To hell with davits.

As a note, we will also have a life raft for offshore.
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Old 21-03-2018, 09:34   #7
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

I sail the same area you are I think. I'm on a 30' and 100% singlehand/solo, been averaging 2500 miles for two years. Not a lot of miles but starting sailing at 60 has been the best thing of my life. I anchor out 100% when I'm cruising, all coastal. I started with a 10 aluminum dink, fail. I next bought a 9' inflatable with air floor, I could pull it on deck lash it down, but hated using it, they suck in the water frankly. I next tried a Campion 9', kind of boxy little tri hull thing, ugly. It works perfect for me. I've been in some nasty stuff a few times towing it, never a problem and does not take much water. I always stow 2.5hp on pushpit. My last time out I got beat up on the Haro Strait, Full Circle got beat up and broke engine mounts, cracked stern tube, but the ugly little hard dink was right there. Hauling the boat in Port Townsend in two weeks for a new stern tube and bottom paint, Ugly will get some of that high dollar 67% copper, she's a keeper!
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Old 21-03-2018, 09:46   #8
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

We've got an Avon 3.4 with an inflatable floor. We like the larger size as it's safer & carries more people & stuff. The high pressure inflatable floor works really well & makes it easier to get on board & roll up.
I agree that you need to be able to get it on the boat when heading offshore or in storms. If you've never seen your inflatable lift up out of the water & start windmilling behind you I can tell you it's quite a sight.
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Old 21-03-2018, 10:15   #9
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I've had an 11 foot Zodiac RIB on a 41 foot steel cutter. It was nice. But it was also heavy and I had a davit arm snap. Now we have an 10 foot Portabote and an 11 foot nesting dinghy. The Portabote rows or takes a small motor (the 2 HP Honda air-cooled) while the nesting dinghy rows, motors or has a serviceable sail rig. Having two tenders suits us. To hell with davits.
Nice combination. I use a 3.5 hp Tohatsu with our bote. At 1/2 throttle it goes for a long time on one little tank of gas. It will easily plane the bote with one (heavy ) person on board. Two if the conditions are flat. But we tend to row most of the time.

We also carry two inflatable kayaks which we use when we’re anchored for longer periods. As you say, it’s good to have two options.

I’ve never had davits. They're handy when everything is easy. No way would I want a dingy swinging from them in heavy wind/seas though. Almost as bad as dragging a dingy.
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Old 21-03-2018, 10:34   #10
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

My vote is also for the ‘bote’. Got an 8’ with a 3.5 Nissan pusher. Easy storage on deck folded against the stantions or even below deck. Can’t do either with a balloon boat. ⚓️
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Old 21-03-2018, 10:45   #11
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

As others have said you really need to be able to do something with your dingy other than tow it for occasions when the weather does not cooperate.

If you venture offshore even in good weather towing can be very hard on a non-RIB inflatable as there is no hard-point to attach a tow line. We have ripped off the tow-ring on our roll-up inflatable while towing in light winds but in ~4' swell. The dingy kept surfing down the swell face faster than the mothership and then getting a nasty yank when the tow line came tight. Now we only tow in protected waters and good weather.
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Old 21-03-2018, 11:13   #12
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

For the San Juans I recommend a good fiberglass skiff that motors, rows, sails and skulls well. You can always cut it in half and glass in a couple of bulkheads so it can nest one half inside the other on deck. I've had go-fast ribs and plywood prams and everything in between but now have a ten foot glass, fake lapstrake sailing dink and could not be more pleased. Light and easy to haul up and down the barnacle covered beaches by one's self. A 2-hp outboard for the longer hauls or for setting out a second anchor etc.
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Old 21-03-2018, 11:26   #13
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

How to choose was the question, I recommend eenie meenie minie mo, but there are 3 other ways to choose things. Although none as accurate as eenie meenie minie mo.
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Old 21-03-2018, 11:42   #14
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

I've been kicking around down here for 15 years. Bigger is alway better in my books. I carry an 11' foot inflatable with a Yamie 15. That 15 is my auxiliary diesel. And I use it as a tug boat to push the sailboat off the sand bores, it's saved me many times. Try that with a 2hp. I tow the inflatable backwards with the outboard attached. Got two fittings on the inflatable's transom and lift it from the water with davits. Let the nose drag. Works great.

And if you want to visit the reefs, do a little fishing, an inflatable will get you through those 6-foot swells. Leave the Port-a-Potty folding dingies on the mainland where they belong. You won't be sorry!

Bry
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Old 21-03-2018, 12:09   #15
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Re: How to choose a dinghy

Hi, Caolan,

We've had many dinghies, over the years. Before we left the States, Jim had a pretty little hard sailing/rowing dinghy, but it was stolen. Jim replaced it with a hypalon Achilles, 8 ft. When we got our first Insatiable (36'), she came with a 13 foot at the time 11 yr old hypalon Zodiac, wood floor, 15 hp Johnson. We decided to try out the Zodiac before selling it on. We rowed it ashore in the Channel islands, rolled up in the little dinghy, with the floorboards and the pump, put it together, rowed it back to the big boat, used a halyard and a sling to lift the motor onto the transom, and proceeded to discover that sometimes, fast is fun! We kept that old Zodiac, and it served us till is was 15 yrs. old, and we have stayed with large inflatables ever since. We also gripe to each other about how awfully they row. We tandem row them, and like to do it, for the quiet. I guess what I like best has been their stability. We like having a powerful motor, we used to use it to help people who got in trouble, in dinghies of various kinds. We could use it safely in up to about 25 knots, and used it for exploration, leaving the mother boat where it would be safe, ranging usually not more than 5 mi. away, but of course there were longer journeys.

I explain all of this, because there are so many different ways to make the decision, and I think this is best done by trial and error. I've ridden in a few hard dinghies, and they're tippier, unless catamaran or trimaran hulled. I think having a sailing dinghy would be fun. I've been in a Tinker (hypalon, but with a sailing option, a dinghy/liferaft), sailing. I like our big inflatables. You have to learn how to roll up the skin as compactly as possible, and we used to lash the "elephant skin" roll in front of the dodger. The timber bits, and their side channels, we found places for, below. So, I think you could make an airfloor type work. The problem with the airfloors is that they are very vulnerable to gasoline/pre-mix damage when you're putting fuel in the o/b.

Now, we've had a RIB for the last 15 yrs. I like it better than soft inflatables. The thing is, you can make a soft inflatable work for you. I don't know if you swim much from your boat, but snorkeling from a portabote was way more uncomfortable for me for entering the boat from the water than with an inflatable.

So, at the end of the day, you flip a coin, and give something a try, see how it works out, and then, you may try something else, if you are not happy with the first choice.

Good luck on your choice, there's so much to chose from.

Ann
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