Choose a sailboat dinghy wisely don't do what we did!

Our Dinghy after learning many hard lessons

The sailboat dinghy is what gets you from the boat to the dock or beach. The choice of a dinghy and the outboard motor to propel it are crucial. We made every mistake in the book...you won't have to.

Here's what we did (the mistakes) and why we did it.

We purchased a dinghy from West Marine that you could roll up into a bag. It had an inflatable hull and weighed about 100 pounds. I'm sure there is a place for this product but it's not in the Caribbean. We used it for a season brought it back and sold it. We lost $400 on the difference we paid for it and sold it used.

The primary reason this was a bad move was you want a dinghy with a hard bottom so it can get up on plane.

You go faster and you and everybody on board stays dryer and happier.

WestMarine.com

The happy sailboat cruiser, his dinghy is on a plane

This picture shows a dinghy on plane, it is riding out of the water...no waves splashing against the boat and on its occupants.

When you get ready to go ashore, put on your collared shirt, and cotton dress the last thing you want to do is get wet. If the sailboat dinghy doesn't plane, you get wet...this does not improve your mood...cotton does not dry readily...you sit all night in wet clothes...trust me you don't want this...do I have to explain further?

The second and third mistake I made (no we on this one it was my bad) was the choice of the outboard. 

I was told you want something light enough that you could carry. I chose a 5 hp Nissan with an internal tank...big mistake...So it weighed 44 pounds and was easy to carry. It couldn't get the boat on plane...not enough power...the internal tank didn't hold but a gallon, not enough range.

The third mistake I made was buying a 10 HP motor, after the 5HP...that is still not enough power. You can barely plane with 10 HP, 2 people in a hard bottom sailboat dinghy. there will be times when you want to go a mile or more in your dinghy. the longer it takes the wetter you get, etc.

The solution, get a hard bottom dinghy with a 15HP motor

All I would have to have done was observe what was tied up at the dinghy docks in the Islands...what do you see...hard bottom dinghies with 15 HP motors.

The most popular brand is the Caribe 10 or 12 foot dinghy and the motor of choice seemed to be a 15 HP Yamaha.

After 3 years I finally got it right.

You do it right from the start, get a hard bottom dinghy and 15HP motor.

Because the dingy and motor weighs about 220 pounds you need sailboat dinghy davits.

Here is the rear of Shadowtime with the block and tackle hanging down. You haul the boat up with these lines. You have eyebolts drilled into the dinghy body to make lifting a breeze. My petite wife and I hauled the dinghy up every night. If you don't the wave action makes noise and disturbs your peace. Not bad but you retired to be as calm as possible, right?

Another reason to have davits is for passage making. 

You can drag the dinghy behind the boat. Two things wrong with that plan.

One, a knot could slip and you loose the whole ball of wax. I sold the 5 HP motor to a young guy who lost his dinghy, motor, etc coming over from Europe. 2 couples in their 20s, crossed the Atlantic in a 24 footer with low freeboard. That's another story, youth is wasted on the young!

Two, it slows you down maybe 10%, on a passage...doesn't sound like much but remember when on passage you should only count on 120 nautical miles a day...10% can a be big deal.

You are smart, you put dinghy davits on your boat...right

Happy guests in the sailboat dinghy

Look at these happy guests in our dinghy.

The dinghy is easy to use if you pay attention. Note that the passenger has the lines in her hand.

Easy to get ready to tie up to the boat or dock.

Disaster will happen if you do not hold onto this line called the dinghy painter...painter?

I have no clue why it's called a painter...it will go underneath the dinghy and wrap itself around the propeller shaft.

When that happens you stop quickly...you may get wet...you may use bad language...hold on to the dinghy painter at all times.

So to truly enjoy living aboard a sailboat you will want to choose your outboard motor and sailboat dinghy very carefully...now you know what to do.

To return to Living aboard a sailboat from sailboat dinghy.