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Old 26-10-2020, 10:19   #1
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Dinghies - How small is too small?

I am about to leave on a roughly year-long trip, down the ICW and then hopefully through some of the Caribbean and back, and I need a dinghy. The trick here is that I would prefer not to shell out on davits and my boat is only 30 feet (so minimal room to store on deck). I am looking at a used one that is only a bit more than 6 feet long, from Bombard. It claims to fit 2 people, max 4 hp outboard, and max weight of 450 pounds, and it would fit on my foredeck, whereas even an 8 foot dinghy would be quite a hassle up there (and under the boom lowers my visibility too much). My question is - is 6 feet too small? I am a small and lightweight person and I'll be traveling solo or with only one other crew, but my concern is more stability and running supplies between shore and a mooring/anchorage. I don't mind taking extra trips or getting splashed sometimes, my standards for that aren't super high - but is it safe? Will I be legitimately uncomfortable running jerry cans if there's a breeze in the harbor?
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Old 26-10-2020, 10:30   #2
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

On a 30ft boat the smaller the better but obviously big enough to do the job.
If solo, consider being able to handle it , sometimes in less than perfect conditions.
But of course it depends, some folks simply cannot go without standing in their 8 ft dink with the 15 hp zipping about the anchorage.
I prefer a windvane, no davits and a dink and motor I can handle myself, but perhaps thats just me. But I am never in a rush when on the water....hence a sailboat.
Oh, one other point, in the islands they LOVE the bigger motors, basically they never steal a 4 or 6.

I would not hesitate to run a 6 on it either.

A lot of folks will say different.

Just answering the OP, not interested in argueing or dealing with the trolls.
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Old 26-10-2020, 10:49   #3
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

But of course it depends, some folks simply cannot go without standing in their 8 ft dink with the 15 hp zipping about the anchorage.

Oh, one other point, in the islands they LOVE the bigger motors, basically they never steal a 4 or 6.

Both of these are very true - I am definitely not the kind of person who needs to be running around the anchorage in the dink, and the anti-theft properties of a tiny boat are certainly appealing!
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Old 26-10-2020, 11:25   #4
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KelseyB View Post
...My question is - is 6 feet too small? ...
I would buy a little second hand timber dink. If not already fitted I'd add a stern wheel, rope or similar rubbing strakes and and metal strakes along the hull. Weigh about the same as a rib.
  • Advantages are many:
  • They're cheap, stable and row well.
  • More importantly they take the knocks, and you'll have plenty getting it on and off the deck of your boat, bumping concrete jetties, dragging up the beach etc.
  • They also tow well.
  • A 3-4hp outboard can push them along nicely (with far less splash than a rib).
  • Much less likely to be stolen.
  • Easier to move about on land.
  • Never have a puncture.
  • The worst the sun and rain do is fade the paint.
  • Good, solid cleats.
  • Many have a little storage compartment for fuel, a little anchor, a few tools etc, having a boat hook is very handy too.
One last thought, be able to easily rig up a block and tackle on the mother ship; makes for so much less hassle and accidents.
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Old 26-10-2020, 11:38   #5
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

How about a nesting dinghy? It would allow you to have that 8' and be a smaller footprint on deck w/a decent carrying capacity. We have a 5 hp on ours now, but we have run a 4hp and worked fine for 2 people.

Some people like portabotes. We had one on a 31 and it was ok. Biggest issue I had was storage of seats and transom while folded.
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Old 26-10-2020, 11:44   #6
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

I hadn't considered the nesting option - but a quick search told me they're very expensive when new... anywhere you know of that you can find them used or cheaper? Preferably in the Annapolis area?
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:07   #7
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

Found ours on CL, but they do sell plans for a do it yourself build.

Ours is a Spindrift 10'. There are other designs out there if you do a search.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:21   #8
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

If you like to swim and snorkel from the dingy, you will find that an inflatable is much easier to board from the water.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:24   #9
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

For the ICW you can get away with about anything. For the Caribbean you need something that can run against a bit more current. On our previous boat (monohull) we had an Apex 8' with a roll up floor and a 5 HP Honda. That was a pretty reasonable setup for a boat without davits. We stored the dingy on the foredeck inflated sometimes but if headed for an offshore passage would deflate and roll it up. It took up a lot less space on deck that way and made sail handling on the foredeck much easier. That boat and motor would plane with one aboard but simply would not with 2. Still, we made multiple-mile runs in it in significant chop. It was a wetter ride and significantly slower than a RIB running on a plane, but it got the job done. Could carry 4 in flat water.

We have friends with a 36' monohull that have an inflatable with inflatable drop-stitch floor. It rode very well and was very compact when deflated. If I remember he ran 8 HP. If buying a non-RIB inflatable I'd look hard at those.

If you are going to be storing on deck I'd consider an outboard lift and rail mounted outboard storage bracket. The lift is much less obtrusive than davits and can make getting the engine transferred between the boat and dingy MUCH easier, particularly in choppy conditions.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:27   #10
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

Dinghies deflate and go below deck. Get a roll up that takes a 10hp.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:40   #11
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

I cruised double-handed with a 6-foot fiberglass pram. It was fine, once I learned to row. For one person 6' is opulent. It's all about technique.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:44   #12
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

Quote:
Originally Posted by misssherry View Post
If you like to swim and snorkel from the dingy, you will find that an inflatable is much easier to board from the water.
This is a very good point, thank you!
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:48   #13
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

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Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
If you are going to be storing on deck I'd consider an outboard lift and rail mounted outboard storage bracket. The lift is much less obtrusive than davits and can make getting the engine transferred between the boat and dingy MUCH easier, particularly in choppy conditions.
Yea I am definitely going to make myself a bracket, that's no question. In terms of a lift, I haven't decided on that yet; the boat really isn't that tall and even if I get 5 or 6 hp, which is arguably too much, I don't foresee having trouble lifting it. (The other trick is everything I install has to be drilled and tapped through the steel hull, and I'm quite reluctant to drill any holes I may want to close in the future because then I have to get a welder)
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:50   #14
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
Dinghies deflate and go below deck. Get a roll up that takes a 10hp.
I will definitely be deflating for passages, but for quick hops or for 4 hours of motoring down the ICW it would be nice to be avoid the deflate/inflate hassle, which is why I think having the ability to store on deck is important (thus my question about the size, because I have no practically no room), even if I don't do it all the time
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Old 26-10-2020, 17:28   #15
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Re: Dinghies - How small is too small?

Our boat is 25ft.


Our dinghies were always 7 and 8ft.


I prefer the 8ft dinghy. I also strongly prefer dinghies with the biggest available tube diameter.


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