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Old 05-07-2022, 10:37   #1
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Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I have a 26' Thunderbird, and I'm looking for a dinghy for when we cruise on it. We're Puget Sound based, and being such a small boat, I'm looking at light weight airfloor inflatables, like the Takacat T260S or some of the V-bottom boats like the Newport Seascape or Saturn etc.

For those of you who own a similar air floor dinghy, how often do you actually stow it? Is it practical to expect it to actually be stowable? Or will I eventually give up on that idea and just tow it everywhere? (no space on my little deck unless I'm motoring. I only have 8' between my mast and forestay.
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Old 06-07-2022, 12:14   #2
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

My boat is not much bigger than yours and our solution is a large tube white water inflatable kayak with a drop stitch inflatable floor. We have had it for 10 years and have no regrets. There are other brands out there but ours is the Sea Eagle 420X, 14'. It is big, it'll hold all 4 of us (rated for 855 lbs.) and paddles well even into a headwind. It is MUCH faster than rowing a dinghy with a transom. (In your case I'd get the 12 footer I think.) We roll it up and lash it on the foredeck when it is time to go. In your case I think I'd rig up eyes on the cabin top just ahead of the main hatch and behind the boom vang to lash it there since you have a hatch in the foredeck.
It tows like a surfboard and I have towed it in calm water with no wind, but better to not tow any dinghy IMO if there is any chance it'll get swamped or blown over. I will say though that my daughter has an inflatable paddle board and I have been amazed how versatile that has been too!
If you know for sure you will have an outboard for the dinghy then, yes, go for one with a transom. But if not (and really, dealing with a little outboard and gas for it on a 26' boat can be a hassle,) then I highly recommend the kayak option.
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Old 06-07-2022, 13:55   #3
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I used to have a Saturn, and it worked ok, easy to deploy and store, and planed and drove well. A small electric pump powered by a lithium battery inflated it in less than 10 minutes. I never towed it. With a bigger boat than you I would sometimes stow it on the foredeck inflated, but usually it was packed in it's bag, also on the foredeck. However, it fell apart (literally) after 2 seasons in the tropics. It burst at a seam between the front chamber and a side chamber and sank out from under me.

So I would say yes on an inflatable floor, but get an Achilles or something, not a Saturn. I now have the Achilles Fiberglass hull with folding transom, which I stow deflated in it's bag on the foredeck, but I doubt you have room for that.
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Old 06-07-2022, 14:31   #4
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

Another option is a foldboat. It disassembles flat, so could be stowed alonside the cabin (you'd have to mount a couple of eye bolts or something to secure it).

Round tube inflatables are stable, and way more comfortable to swim from (imo), but where you are, the water is cold, so that may not be a consideration. We had one Achilles inflatable, hypalon, a long time ago. At that time, the quality was good. However, rowing them is not the best "pulling boat".

Possibly a small nesting dinghy could be worked out, a bit of a project. A friend of ours made a small plywood dinghy that fits aft of the mast, under the boom, on a
Vertue 24. They painted it high visibility orange.

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Old 06-07-2022, 14:52   #5
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Another option is a foldboat. It disassembles flat, so could be stowed alonside the cabin (you'd have to mount a couple of eye bolts or something to secure it).
Ann

I have a 12' FoldaBote on my 26' sailboat, and it's pretty easy to set-up and tear down. I have it in a stanchion mounted, outboard set of paddle board holders, along with my inflated pb, and I have no issues on the protected lake waters I'm currently in, but I'll turn the holders inboard for any serious cruising.
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Old 06-07-2022, 19:42   #6
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I would definitely say it is worth it. If you have time to go out for weeks, or even long weekends - the benefits of being able to paddle to shore at the various islands and parks is well worth it. It can also save you a lot of money in regards to docking fees - the option to anchor out and row ashore for groceries and visit town.

I have a bigger boat now and an aluminum RIB, but years ago I had an Islander 30 with a roll up inflatable. Exactly how often we deployed it and stored it kind of depended on what we were doing. And the weather. One peril of towing the roll up models is that by definition they do not have much weight and can flip upside down in rougher weather. A few years ago I borrowed a friend's roll up for my current boat since I was going offshore and needed something I could store below. It actually flipped upside down during a storm while I was at anchor in Anacortes!
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Old 06-07-2022, 20:36   #7
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I always keep at least an inflatable SUP on board. IMO, a “dinghy” of some sort is a safety item. If you’ve run aground or had to anchor out in cold water and need fuel or an engine part and you don’t have one…. Well, BTDT. Won’t do it again.

I had both an inflatable SUP and an inflatable kayak, and in my selling out/paring down process, I’ve sold the kayak and kept the SUP. Maybe one of those new kayaks with drop-stitch construction would be worth considering.
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:57   #8
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

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Originally Posted by noexit View Post
I have a 26' Thunderbird, and I'm looking for a dinghy for when we cruise on it. We're Puget Sound based, and being such a small boat, I'm looking at light weight airfloor inflatables, like the Takacat T260S or some of the V-bottom boats like the Newport Seascape or Saturn etc.

For those of you who own a similar air floor dinghy, how often do you actually stow it? Is it practical to expect it to actually be stowable? Or will I eventually give up on that idea and just tow it everywhere? (no space on my little deck unless I'm motoring. I only have 8' between my mast and forestay.
Hi , yes I own a takacat the smallest version and a 4 stroke Yamaha you would not have a problem stowing this item the heavier part is the outboard
This dingy is a stable little vessel I made a custom seat since the seat that came with the boat did not work for me
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:10   #9
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

Yes it's practical to stow an air floor or rollup style. Friends of mine used a rollup Avon from Seattle to New Zealand and it was fine. I hear today's air floors are better, but they chose a rollup with floor slats to do away with any floor leakage issues.

You do not want to tow a dingy in many circumstances. A short protected day run to the next island is fine, but anything in exposed water can be an issue.
Inflatables will flip over when towed for sure, even (especially?) with the motor still attached. I've seen it happen several times. (not actually 'seen' but it happened to nearby boats.
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Old 07-07-2022, 09:14   #10
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I have a Chameleon nesting dinghy that I recently finished building. I am presently without a cruising boat as I have sold my Hunter H26 and am shopping for my next boat.


I've had the Chameleon out in various conditions on lakes and rivers here and am pleased with it. It stows in a little over 5'. While I have not yet towed it, they are designed for towing and reportedly tow better than inflatables.
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Old 07-07-2022, 13:10   #11
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I’ve heard good things about Kaboat.
They’re a very narrow inflatable that row well despite being an inflatable.

https://saturnrafts.com/saturn-kaboats/
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Old 09-07-2022, 02:00   #12
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I also own a takacat, stable & light, I'd recommend it... also have a Sea Eagle 12'ft inflatable kayak..it's pretty good but getting in & out of it from the boat is an issue stability wise , especially for the better half...
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Old 09-07-2022, 15:20   #13
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

Another thing that appeals about the Takacat and related dinghys, is that they seem to have relatively mid to high HP ratings for engines. My boat has a 8hp in a well, and I don't really want to have to carry a second outboard for the dinghy. So something than can handle a 8hp engine is desirable, unless I go completely engineless.

One thing that does NOT appeal about the Takacat and cheaper dinghys, is the longevity if I don't pack and stow after use. It sounds like people have issues with them falling apart after a couple seasons if they leave them out.
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Old 09-07-2022, 15:40   #14
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

I really think a small hard dinghy would serve you well, with a metal strake on the bottom to take the gaff from the stones ashore. put it under the boom. Anything that is a fabric has a hard time standing up to oysters and stone. Hypalon costs more and lasts better than most pvc.

There are other dinghy threads on CF, you could try a CF Custom Google search, under the Search button, if interested.

Most people don't find a little rowing onerous. one of our friends chose a nesting dinghy on purpose. His breaks down into two separate boats (his & hers) or is useable as an easily driven longer boat. He rows for his health.

Personally, i would not want to be shifting the o/b from the mother boat to a dinghy and back all the time. First time it gets rolly it will be a handful.

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Old 14-07-2022, 04:47   #15
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Re: Stowable dinghy? Worth it?

An old Avon 8-9' hypalon dinghy in good shape would work well. You can stow it deflated, perhaps lash it to your stern on its side, or tow it in calm waters. They are quite light, perhaps 60lb. They will flip, though, when towed in any kind of turbulence. I've done all these things. It can take a small outboard and a rigid (plywood/slat) floor. Rowing it is not great, except for a short distance.
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