Hi fellow Searunners!
Some thoughts about dinghies, strictly for those still in the decision making process. I've built & tried a number of hard dinks before we resorted to our light wt RIB
First off: The sterncastle roof is great for a large opening hatch
panel, and proper traveler. (MUCH better than "A" frame sheets). Jim only put his dinghy up there, because being an "A frame" 31, the wings had no decks to put one on. Otherwise, the wing deck is a great place for your dinghy.
There are a lot of dinghy compromises! The BEST rowing dinks are light, long, narrow, hard to stow, TIPPY, and terrible dive boats. Also, dinghy docks often require boarding over the bow, which is another negative of this type.
Next is "pretty good" rowing designs, like the Danny Greene "Little Bits" nesting dinghy that I built. It was VERY light, easy to row, but still TIPPY and a poor dive boat.
Later I tried a super fast, light, foam core
planing dinghy. It was less tippy, and an OK dive boat "with a bow deck to climb over", but Mariam had a hard time helping to turn it over once on deck. Also, it was a poor row boat, and WET under way.
11 years ago we switched to a single
floor, light wt AB RIB
. We will NOT go back to hard dinghies! Our RIB will get two people on plane with an 8 HP motor
, is a great dive boat, cushioned when coming along side Delphys, VERY stable when boarding, REALLY dry, and easy to get on the dock
over the bow. It is also seaworthy
enough that I have gone on 10 mile forays to another harbor, in 6' seas! (I would however, limit rowing it to a couple of hundred feet).
Now I don't contend that these issues apply to "everyone". Some cruisers don't go far in the dinghy, dive from it, board it over the bow, etc. AND they still love to row!
HOWEVER, IF the previously mentioned issues matter to you, this solved
the problem for us. The weight of these RIBs comes down every year. Our 9' 6" dinghy was 119 pounds in '00, now they can be bought at around 80 pounds!
There WAS a learning
curve, and problems to solve. The padded tube "stern wing roller" makes it a cinch to load or unload, except that on the 34, the wing is too narrow. We now load and unload with the tubes HALF inflated. We have 4 sail ties through the side hand holds to pull the sides together tightly and make it narrow. It will support my weight fine this way, when I am in it "in the water" to finish pumping it up. I can pull it up or launch it, by myself, easily!
On deck, it sits upright in a padded cradle
that I made of Starboard. IF it is a day hop, a single
bow painter tie down is sufficient. If it is a ROUGH crossing, we deflate it completely and use the custom "cinch strap" that we made, as well as tie it down securely to the folding pad eyes on deck. If it will be a long stay, storms are around, or we want maximum security
, we put on the custom Sunbrella cover as well.
THIS way, we are ready for huge, deck sweeping waves! We have even ridden out hurricanes with this arrangement, and it IS secure.
To quickly inflate (to 50%) or deflate, we have a small power inflater, and we have the option of using the end of the boom to tackle down the 56 pound motor
, which sits on a bracket on the ama floor. (I usually just muscle it onto the dinghy).
The boat is really "USED" after 11 years, but I expect it has a lot of life left in it. The uglier the better regarding theft! The RIB is extremely repairable, even in the field, and none of the dozen or so patches have ever failed. It is no less repairable than my hard dinghies were.
For us, the pluses really outweighed the minuses!
Hope this is of use...
BTW... For exercise when cruising, besides hours per day of diving
, we use the inflatable kayak
in the ama on the other side. It doesn't hurt my multiply injured back, like rowing now does.