Originally Posted by carlylelk
We're planning on anchoring
most of the time. The boat is self-sufficient enough to make that comfortable. We'll be in the Caribbean
for five years, then maybe the Med.
If you plan to anchor
most of the time, then you will use the dinghy intensively.
Choice of dinghy (like so many things on board) is a hard tradeoff between different considerations. Only you can decide what's more, and what's less important. And there are many, many choices.
You could stick to your roll-up and maximize stowability. Then you won't have to worry about the dinghy when you're on passage
. No windage, no problem of it being in the way, no risk of having it washed away or breaking loose, etc., etc.
This is a choice which a lot of long distance sailors make. I spent some time on a Swan 90, in fact, which had a roughly 9' roll-up. Because the owner just did not want to mar the lines of the boat with ugly davits, or inhibit the performance in any way. Although a boat that size could easily ship a RIB on deck some where.
If you use your dinghy intensively, especially in the Caribbean where you will often have long dinghy rides, then choosing, on the contrary, a RIB has huge advantages. Now you have a hard floor which makes it much easier to carry loads, plus you can plane and make good speed when you're trying to make miles. Much more stable in rougher weather
. No risk of rubbing a hole in it by running it up a beach.
A RIB is the choice of most cruisers, probably, other than those with very small boats. But to HAVE a RIB, you have to pay the price
. Namely -- you can't roll it up, so it has to live either on deck, or in davits.
A good sized (say 3.4 meters) RIB in davits is a completely viable, and common solution for a boat your size. If you rig it right it will be ok even in rough weather
. Upside: Dinghy always ready and can be launched or retrieved with minimal effort and in seconds, and takes up no deck space. Those are pretty strong arguments. Downside -- windage, ugly, adds to length. Some risk of getting pooped in a really extreme storm. Davits may work loose or crack with repeated stress.
If you go for a RIB but don't want davits, then you have to find space on deck. Do you have it? I couldn't find it on my somewhat larger boat than yours (54' on deck and 16' beam). I might have had space on the afterdeck but for the location of the backstay. Maybe your boat is different.
OR, you can go with a RIB with a folding transom, and store that on deck. There are 10' RIBS (like the Avon
Lite) which fold up to about the size of a surfboard. You won't be able to get that into a lazarette, but most boats of 50' + can find space on deck somewhere.
I've been through all of this myself recently. When I bought my boat, it had an 11' Avon
RIB with 25 horsepower Mariner outboard
. It was wheel
steered with center console. This heavy RIB lived in heavy, electric
davits. I used it like this for six years. Upside: This dinghy was a proper little motorboat, capable of carrying a load of more than half a ton, and planing with five people on board. It could pull a waterskier. And could be used for delightful excursions. With the electric
davits, it could be lifted or launched in moments.
Downside: the davits malfunctioned frequently and I spent an inordinate amount of time fixing them. I started to do a lot of long distance passage
making, and in rough weather the davits would work lose, and cracked once or twice. Looked like total s***t, spoiling the lines of the boat, creating windage, and weight hung out over the transom. I eventually go tired of it (after the fourth North Sea crossing), and ditched both the davits, and, reluctantly, the dinghy.
I replaced it with an Avon Lite 310 folding RIB, with an 8hp motor. I installed lighter, non-powered davits, but on passage, the RIB lives on the foredeck in its surfboard mode. I have to remove the outboard
in any case, which adds to launch/retrieval time. Downsides: much less comfortable without wheel steering
, not as fast, less load carrying capacity (but still nearly half a ton), much less seaworthy
. Longer time to launch or retrieve -- especially if inflating or deflating is involved. But upside - nothing hanging over the transom on passage; no more torture with constant davit repairs
So there you are -- two different compromises, out of my actual real experience. Only you can decide what the right compromise is for you. But I'm happy, so far, with the last compromise. Mostly because dealing with my old electric davits and being dependent on them was a real torture. If they had been reliable, I might not have minded the other compromises so much. So far I don't mind the extra launch/retrieve time, because I am no longer dependent (whee!) on the davits. So far I'm feeling liberated. YMMV!