Topic: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

I've recently bought a Contessa (# 331) and as I get her set for the summer, I've been wondering about what other owners do regarding a dinghy when they take a trip. Who, if anyone, recommends tying down a small dinghy foreward of the mast? That's really the only space for it, but it would make changing sails difficult.

Peter

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Hi Peter, Welcome to the forum. I get by with a small kayak which I stack and tie between the stanchions and the cabin outer wall. The short whitewater kayaks with a relatively flat bottom provide good stability to get in and out of the sailboat.

...)))) May the wind fill your sails and the sun shine in your face cool

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

331 is a good boat, as I recall. One of the finer examples out there. I am sure you'l enjoy her. I cannot tell you how much I miss #322.

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

There is a clever set of stanchions I saw on eBay a while back.  L-shaped brackets that attach outboard of the existing lifeline stanchions.  It would allow a kayak or folding boat to travel outboard of the lifelines.

Christopher

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Hi Peter,

I have #312 and a 7.5' inflatable dinghy... Which is interesting when you think about the less than 7.5" cockpit in which you need to inflate it while at anchor!  HA!  We have a 4hp Mariner engine that is in fantastic condition, mostly because it sees very little usage.

Here's what we found...
1.  There is not enough room on the fore deck to store it while inflated if you are using a deck sweeper 155% genoa.  Beyond that, it is too much effort to haul and launch it from the foredeck.
2.  The 4hp engine is plenty powerful, but too heavy for what it is worth.  It is awkward to mount on our traveller beam and the weight is too far after for good balance.  It is a nuisance to launch and retrieve each evening and carrying 2-stroke mixed gas on our diesel boat is nothing but hassle.  I hate having gas onboard and will be selling it to whomever wants a good, clean, almost-new engine as soon as I can.  It did come in handy for some longer haul's and exploration... I much prefer to keep it simple and row but might buy a Torqueedo for those longer treks.
3.  Inflating a 7.5' dinghy in the cockpit takes a thought out, practiced approach.  It can be done extremely quickly by my wife and I in the cockpit, all while keeping control of our dog... it took us a few attempts to get the steps down, but works well.
4.  Large waves on Lake Erie were hitting our quarter and 'floated' our Life Buoy off it's hook on the stern quarter of our boat!  I can't imagine what would have happened if we had a dinghy or kayak hanging back there.  I'd keep whatever I can inboard and downlow.  For all but the extremely short trips, our dinghy lives uninflated down below... often it starts on the port berth, but ends up on the cabin floor, or if the wife complains it goes up in the v-berth, but I don't like the weight that far forward.
5.  A 7.5' dinghy is about as small as I would want to go if you are a cruising couple with dog and expect to get groceries and run-about.  If you want smaller, go to a kayak system, either small or inflatable and (as above) keep it inboard of the lifelines.

Hope that helps.
J.

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Jordan

Thanks for the suggestion. As I've been mulling these things over, I've decided pretty much not to go with a hard dinghy on the foredeck. For the reason you give re. genoa as well as the added difficulty of changing sails. I'm thinking of buying a two person inflatable kayak and keeping it below. That seems to be the simplest and cheapest solution. Take care.

Peter

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Good day Peter!

I had about the same conclusion -- an inflatable kayak instead of an inflatable boat since one could then make-do without the outboard motor. 

The only other option which I consider feasible is a Porta-Bote, hung from the lifelines like a weather cloth near the cockpit.  The Porta-Bote is simple and tough, and might be slightly less hassle to launch than the inflatable kayak. 

BTW, I bought plans for a FlipTail through http://www.woodenwidget.com/.  Same idea as a Porta-Bote but prettier and hopefully a bit cheaper.

The stanchions I mentioned above are in the Garelick catalog and are made for carrying kayaks.

Christopher

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Christopher

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I don't know if I would want to hang one of those portabotes from the stanchions or lines as the side decks on Co. 26 are so narrow and because the thing is so ugly and because in a really rough blow the thing might get swept off.

After I made my initial post, I discovered that buried back under another topic is a thread on this same subject: clearly it's a concern for anyone who has recently bought a bought of this size for the first time.

PG

9 (edited by Virago Deb 2012-04-27 18:08:17)

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Hi Peter,

I put a post up about this just recently, but it was on the tail end of an old thread.  I'm in the process of building a tiny folding dinghy called an Origami.  I bought the plans from the same guy Christopher bought his from (Wooden Widget). Wooden Widget has a variety of very clever plans for folding dinghies or ones that you can break apart and nest halves one atop the other.  Anyway, the Origami is 6 feet long and about 3 feet wide when open.   It folds flat to a depth of about 6 inches so my plan is to keep it stored in the v-berth either layed flat or on edge along a wall (it's only 18 inches from keel to gunwhale).  I know this doesn't solve your immediate needs, but it's a good solution if you have the space to build a tiny boat.

For the past few years I've used a small sit-on-top kayak, an Ocean Kayak "Yakboard" as a dinghy that I store on edge on the deck.  It's been fun but it has a few drawbacks - one always gets a wet bum which sucks if the water is cold or you want to go to another boat for cocktails and you don't want to be sitting in a puddle.  It takes up valuable deck space, and it is no good for carrying stuff around.  The folding dinghy I can store below deck, I can stay dry when paddling, and it has a remarkable load capacity well over 300 lbs.

Back to the Yakboard:  It's advantages are that it is fairly short at 8', it is shallow so that it  is narrow when on edge, and it is very, very stable.  It's designed to use as a swim/scuba platform as well as a surf toy, so it is meant to be stable enough to climb back aboard from in the water.  This stability also means it's easy to get on and off from Virago - many small kayaks will dump you in a heart beat.  It's rotomolded plastic so I can bounce it off the rocks around here and all it does is scuff a bit.  I won't tow a dinghy of any sort any distance but for the short hops where I've towed the Yak, it has tracked brilliantly because it has a definite keel and two hard chines.  And it is effortless to tow - no loss of boat speed.

Christopher, I'd like to trade notes with you once your Fliptail is built to see how the two boats compare.  I bought my plans just before the Fliptail was introduced, but I think I would have chosen the Origami anyway - but I like the Fliptail!  I'd be really curious about your end results.  I'm at the stage where all the components are cut out and the keel, stem and stern assembly is complete , now I'm getting ready for paint and final assembly.  It's been easy to do so far even with my basic woodworking skills and I'm really looking forward to launch day.

Just had some more random thoughts about the Yakboard...another advantage of it is that it is a sealed unit so it has its own buoyancy - it can't get swamped and fill with water on deck.  Also, it has a slightly rockered shape so it actually wraps around the forward part of the cabin top quite neatly.  And it is shallow enough that the stern end of it jams in between the cabin top and the shrouds - all of this means that I actually lash it to the hand rail on the cabin top, not the stanchions, which I think is more secure.  It's not a bad way to go all things considered.

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Been towing an Avon 310 (with rigid bottom boards) most everywhere for the last 5 years.   Its flipped twice in bad weather (English Channel, F7-F8) and both times was recovered by lying to and boathooking the grab-robe along the tube to flip it back.   

I tow it on a long line, typically a boats length behind, but can let out up to 100 feet if sailing downwind in surfing conditions so it surfs alongside rather than into the cockpit!   Overtaking is discouraged by a funnel drogue on the tow line at the attachment to the dinghy's towing bridle (a stainless screw carabiner).   

It does of course cause extra drag but this can be minimised by adjusting the tow till it is just bow down on the forward face of the second hump in your wake. That makes around 1/3 of a knot difference at 4 to 5 knots.

I stow it fully inflated across the foredeck in marinas etc. but ONLY if leaving the boat overnight or longer or if they object to it being moored astern or between the bow and the pontoon.

I generally don't deflate it as assembling it on board is a real PITA + as I don't carry a life raft, I want it ready to use at all times.

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

I bought a used Port-a-Bote for $500 at a boat consignment store in Pensacola.New ones cost $1,100 or so at the time. It is 10 feet six inches long and plenty stable. Folded upright with seats and oars in it, it fits neatly between the doghouse and the shrouds and never fills up with water. I drop the safety lines and pull it crosswise on the fore deck. my fastest assembly time is 12 minutes. I shove it off into the water and hand it around to the stern where I have a 3&1/2 hp Nissan outboard mounted on the stern pulpit (pushpit).
The hull has enough "V" in it to row well. I use 8 foot oars and the boat has mounts for oarlocks. The 3&1/2 won't plane it but four knots under power beats rowing a long way.

The cutworms are in the hollyhocks, again!

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

Good quality folding boats are very nice, but as you point out not cheap - even used. 

I did a deal (barter) that cost me about $75 for my Avon,  spent the same again on gear for it and used the Seagull outboard I already had (also about $75) so my tender cost me under $250 in total.

Re: hard dinghy vs. inflatible

I went with a pair of West Marine inflatable kayaks instead of a double (wait for them to go on sale, a real deal), as I mostly singlehand but my wife might take the train and meet me in the Thousand Islands for a day or two.  They come in a valise and two of them will tuck up forward between the vee berth and the overhead.  You can pass one up through the forward hatch and inflate it in under ten minutes.  They are stable enough to step down into and up out of, and paddle surprisingly well--way better than any inflatable dinghy ever rowed.  I don't like the idea of filling the side deck between the cabin and the shrouds because it's already hard enough trying to get forward around the dodger without adding another obstacle forward.  I always come home from cruise with bruises on my thighs from the lifelines.