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Old 05-03-2015, 16:25   #1
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Kayak or Dinghy?

Just bought a sailboat (Island Packet 31) which came without a dinghy.

Would like some viewpoints on whether I should buy a dinghy or a small kayak.

I plan on doing mostly singlehanded and near coastal sailing around Pensacola, and would primarily use the dinghy for shore excursions. I've looked at small inflatable dinghies (4 people max) with 2.5HP outboard. I could deflate it completely and store it in lazarette for occasional use. OR I could go with a small kayak that could be stored on the lifelines. I'm not particularly excited about storing something topsides for windage issues as well chafing and tacking a big genoa.

What do you sailors think? Any recommendations on type of dinghy/Kayak?


Pensacola FL

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Old 05-03-2015, 16:52   #2
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

I would vote for the dink. I have used a wooden floor roll up with success, and some of the inflatable floor models look pretty good for your type of use, and are lighter than my roll up.

We have a catamaran with a nice, stable swim platform across the stern and low. Even so, it is a leap of faith to slide over into the kayak. I have a folding Pakboat Puffin, with inflation along the sides, and it is still tricky. My spouse has a rotomolded sit on top, and has trouble, too. After one trip to Cuttyhunk where we tried this out, the kayaks are relegated to fun and we'll stick with a dink for transportation (we will probably tow the kayaks ashore with the dink and launch them from shore next time. We caught some nice black sea bass for dinner from the kayaks on that trip, so they definitely are fun)

I used to have a Pearson 27 and once kayaked out to it on its mooring when I was having dinghy issues. Got out there and then realized there really was no way for me to get aboard without jumping out and swimming to the ladder. Not what I was dressed for.

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Old 05-03-2015, 18:53   #3
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

We have both. Either one can get you ashore. The kayak may be more fun to paddle and explore. But it will be harder to get on and off the IP from the Kayak. No comparison when it comes to carrying groceries, laundry, jerry jugs etc. The dinghy wins.

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Old 05-03-2015, 19:06   #4
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

First, get a dinghy. You'll want it for groceries, plus it's lots easier to get from the dinghy into the IP (and vice versa) than from the kayak. If you're mostly doing near-coastal cruising you can tow the dinghy when underway.

Second, get a quality inflatable kayak. You can easily stow that in a lazarette, and it doesn't take long to inflate when you want to paddle around.
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Old 06-03-2015, 05:40   #5
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Twayne.
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:21   #6
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

I was happy with my inflatable kayak, but have a lot of punctures from seashells. Then I get a regular kayak, too wet and almost impossible to get back onboard in rough weather.
I have a Walker Bay plastic dinghy now and I love it!!
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:28   #7
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?


* I can't imagine inflating a dingy and mounting a motor every time unless I was paid to.
* I kayak is more fun, nearly as fast, and carries enough for a single person.
* Boarding a kayak from a boat required skill and some athleticism, but with practice and focus on basic principles, it is not an act of faith. I've never gotten wet boarding and you do NOT have to go for a swim (hint: the feet stay in the exact center of the kayak as you stand or sit--balance).

Yes, it requires some skill. So does sailing.
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:49   #8
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

Right now I'm considering getting an inflatable kayak for exploring small coves here in the Chesapeake. I think that I should be able to board it from the sailboat without taking a swim. I want something that can be easily taken off the boat when not in use and the inflatable Kayak will be more portable(lighter) than an inflatable dingy. Plus it should row(paddle) better since I'm not getting a motor. It all depends on how you use it and if I was out cruising again needing groceries then a dingy with motor would be best.
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Old 06-03-2015, 07:02   #9
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

Looks like the majority recommends the dinghy option. The wooden floor rollup sounds good. I'm still fascinated by the kayak option, especially if I can deflate it. I plan on borrowing one to try out once things start to warm up down here. Too many arctic blasts making their way down here. I live in Florida, for Pete's sake, well - almost Florida.
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Old 06-03-2015, 08:21   #10
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

For your purposes a good hard kayak would probably be best. You likely won't be hauling lots of groceries and the kayak is light and simple to launch and retrieve. after starting out with a series of dinghys, I used nothing but a kayak for decades of coastal cruising.

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Old 06-03-2015, 08:25   #11
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

For casually sightseeing around a marina efficiently....a kayak. For hauling people and stuff...a dinghy.

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Old 06-03-2015, 08:30   #12
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

Option c. A small canoe. I kept a 14' along the life lines on my G30. It didn't interfere with sailing at all. Inflating a dinghy every time you use it will mean you won't use it.

On my 35 I have a dinghy+ outboard (in davits), a 14' canoe and an 8' kayak. The canoe gets by far the most use.

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Old 06-03-2015, 10:09   #13
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

While a hard kayak will paddle better than an inflatable one, I think the hard kayak would be harder to board from the sailboat. I'm looking at an inflatable kayak that shows a person sanding up in it.(sea eagle)
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:17   #14
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

If you decide to go the kayak route I HIGHLY recommend staying away from inflatables. Try an ORU Kayak instead - astonishingly well made and stable, fast to assemble and much more stowable. Best of all they go together more quickly that an inflatable. I have one of these and love, love, love it!

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Old 06-03-2015, 10:43   #15
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Re: Kayak or Dinghy?

Inflatable anything: I wouldn't plan on delfating it after every journey. The vast majority of cruisers leave them inflated on a semi-permanent basis. Deflating them only when they will not be used for longer periods (boat in storage for a few months, on long passages).

If you just want to mess around, a kayak makes a lot of sense. If you want a practical vehilce to transport people or goods, a dingy makes more sense.

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