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Old 10-03-2015, 11:27   #1
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Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

After mooring in Garrison Bight and having a an hour and a half long row each way from the boat, I've gained a lot of respect from the other cruisers in the mooring field, and also a bad case of blisters on me bum (hint, a throwable cushion works well as a bench pad - and I finally know why I wore those ridiculous spandex unisuits all those years).

My current setup is a 10+ foot long Avon Hypalon inflatable. It rows well for an inflatable, with stout oarlocks and thick oars, but is still a barge, and its ergonomics suck. I've delayed getting an outboard to get around FL registration requirements, and because I used to do this for 20-30 hours/week and like the exercise. So I've sort of got the worst of all possible worlds. I've read the dinghy threads, but didn't find any hard speed data for man versus machine, so here's my question: if headed into 15-20 knot winds, a 1 knot current, and two foot waves (the situation in Garrison Bight), would you rather have:

1) An overly large inflatable with a 2.3 hp air-cooled motor?
2) A Portabote with upgraded oar locks and oars?
3) A hard dinghy made for rowing/sailing?
4) A kayak?
5) A carbon fiber Resolute racing shell, 7 other rowers, and a coxswain?
6) An overly large inflatable and a kind stranger with a tow line?

I'm evaluating the choices on dryness and speed, so please do let me know which you think would be the fastest, dryest ride. Not concerned with storage or guests so much as it's mostly just me. I'll probably keep the inflatable no matter what just in case I have a big provisioning run or guests aboard. But it weighs a ton, beats hell out of my lifelines coming up, and takes up the entire foredeck, which is unsafe, so I'll either deflate it and stow it or tow it behind in the future. Thanks for your wisdom!

-John Henry
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:35   #2
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

I feel like I've split the difference with my TAKACAT "Lite" dinghy. I find it fairly easy to row, and it goes just fine with my ancient 2hp OB. Light, easy to board, stable.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:46   #3
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Oooh, interesting. I'm looking at them now; I may not have the foredeck space on the 28' though as my now pinches rapidly.


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Old 10-03-2015, 11:59   #4
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

If you can stow it I assume that means it has an inflatable floor, which makes it the worst rowing of all the inflatables. Honestly I'm impressed that you can make any headway in it in the conditions that you mention.

The kayak would no doubt be the fastest and wettest. The driest would be...hard to say. Hard dinghy can be just as wet as inflatables in those conditions, particularly when you're rowing. Also sounds like you don't want a hard dinghy because of the storage issue.

If I were you I would keep the inflatable you have and get a used 4 hp two-stroke. I would also create a swing pole for bringing the dinghy aboard. One end attaches to the mast, the other to the halyard and it holds the dinghy away from the boat as you winch it up, then you just swing it over the lifelines and lower it. You can make one out of either a small old spinnaker pole, cutting it down, or just MacGyver one up out of PVC tubing.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:11   #5
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Hi Suijin, thanks for the thoughts! It is "stowable" but it takes work. It has a 1/2 inch thick wood floor in three panels, reinforced with aluminum ridges. It's very hardy. About 1.5 miles over an hour and a half is tough to call headway though - it was a real slog

I like your idea of a swing pole. I was using my whisker pole to carry weight to heel the boat over to escape a grounding yesterday, and I thought that I might be able to use it on the dinghy, but it is probably too long and the PVC approach would be best. The other issue is that the only way the dinghy fits is if I haul it so it's vertical at the mast, flip it upside down, and then lower it so its transom is touching the mast. So I could try to swing it on deck, but I'd still need to repeat a little bit of blistering acrobatics. I'm side-tied at a family friend's now, so have the time to experiment after provisioning, and I'll see how she works! Thanks for your thoughts and I can't wait to try them out! Luckily used outboards are plentiful in Florida, so if I need to buy one I can do so relatively quickly, and then just not attach it to the dinghy until I'm out of the state.
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Old 10-03-2015, 19:01   #6
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

If there is enough space on your decks, or if you can tow, I would always go for a fine rowing shell. Outboards break down. Outboard make your bum fat. Outboards are noisy and stink.

BUT, if you cannot, just get an outboard.

b.
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Old 10-03-2015, 19:14   #7
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Hey John,
Have you considered a inflatable SUP? Paddleboards got my attention this winter when we used one in the swells and waves. They can be paddled from three different positions (really 4 if you want to lay down), surf and row really well, are pretty fast and the inflatable ones can store really easily. They can also be fitted with straps for cargo.
I am getting a few for mine. Just to handy not to have.
BTW- a small inflatable RIB rows better than an all around rubber boat. But my first choice in your situation would be a SUP or kayak.
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Old 10-03-2015, 20:42   #8
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

I'm rowing a dinghy now. Mainly because of budget. And space.
I'm in a 23ft sailboat and its actually my first time rowing a dinghy.
I've known for years that my left and right hand coordination is lacking. But I know it better now that I'm rowing this dinghy. Got it for a couple hundred at Cabelas It works. I try to anchor as close to shore as possible though. It is a work out though. But I can use a little work out since I've been spending most of my time sitting in a boat.



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Old 10-03-2015, 20:45   #9
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Hiya Newt,
I'm actually Dan, John Henry was a steel driving man.
I did consider the SUP, but I had a chance to try a friend's rigid one, and could not get it to speed or feel entirely stable. I think you may be right that a kayak will probably be the best, immediate solution.


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Old 13-03-2015, 19:23   #10
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

You've already answered your question... I can't believe you rowed an hour and half one way.. are you training for the Olympics? Or trying to loose weight? Get on Craig's list immediately and get a 5-10hp for a couple hundred

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Old 13-03-2015, 19:36   #11
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

In my pre-crusing life I was a paddler.

My view is you should decide if you want to power your tender by human power or motor and buy a craft with that in mind.

Short, squat dinghies designed to operate under motorized power are generally horribly inefficient to row or paddle. If you want to engineless, buy a craft designed to be rowed or paddled, not powered.

When I delivered by boat from the BVIs back to the U.S., it didn't make sense to have motorized tender (I'm not towing a dingy across the mono passage) so I took an inflatable kayak. It was astronomically easier to power than tenders designed to operate under power and was much easier to bring up on deck and stow as well.

If you want to use an outboard as your primarily means or propulsion then buy a tender designed with that in mind.
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Old 13-03-2015, 21:42   #12
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
I like your idea of a swing pole. I was using my whisker pole to carry weight to heel the boat over to escape a grounding yesterday, and I thought that I might be able to use it on the dinghy, but it is probably too long and the PVC approach would be best. The other issue is that the only way the dinghy fits is if I haul it so it's vertical at the mast, flip it upside down, and then lower it so its transom is touching the mast. So I could try to swing it on deck, but I'd still need to repeat a little bit of blistering acrobatics.
I store my RIB on the front of my cabin top exactly like you do. When I bring it on deck I actually haul it up by the bow harness so it's vertical. Swing it over the lifelines and position it in front of the mast and with keel aft, then lower it. It comes down and lays flat in place with no wrestling required.
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Old 13-03-2015, 22:08   #13
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Kayak would be a far more efficient paddling machine. For long term, I'd get a portabote or a solid dingy with a small outboard. In benign conditions you can row. When the wind kicks up, use the engine. Rowing any inflatable is an exercise in frustration. They simply aren't meant to be rowed any real distance.
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Old 14-03-2015, 06:13   #14
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

I now have a line on a cheap outboard, a cheap portabote, and a cheap kayak. Decisions, decisions!

I do so love rowing a decent boat though. Definitely have the worst of all choices right now with the rowable inflatable.


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Old 14-03-2015, 06:18   #15
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Re: Buy outboard or buy better-rowing dinghy?

Suijin, can you explain your process a bit more for the engineering-challenged?
As I understand, you pole it out with the Pvc pipe which is roughly 5' long, attaching the line to the bow ring. You then lift it vertically and rotate it on deck, at which point the open part of the dinghy is facing the mast. What's the easy way to then unclip it, bring it against the mast, and spin it 180 degrees? The other thing I wrestle with is once I get it to the mast, the wind starts to try to blow it side to side, then I have to force it back. I've started just hauling heavily on the block and clearing it off, then with the dinghy spinning freely, using some light line to secure it in place before I lower it. But if there is a faster way ...


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