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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tender Test

My lovely wife and I have been sailing around for three years without a dinghy for our sailboat. There's a few good reasons for that.

First of all, our sailboat is only 19 feet long. Where does one put a dinghy?

We really haven't needed one until now. With the swing keel raised, our sailboat only draws a foot. In non-tidal waters it can be beached. Sometimes I'll drop an anchor off on the way in. That way I'll have something to pull on if it gets a bit stuck. No problems so far.

A lot of our cruising has been in Florida waters. The tides are small. It's easy to anchor close to shore and wade in. The water's warm. Again, not a big problem.

Sometimes we stay at marinas. No need for a tender when at the docks.

However, we plan on sailing in waters with higher tides, colder waters, and sometimes dirtier waters. Wading is not a good choice. Some places don't allow boats anchored so close to shore.

Anchoring or using a mooring is cheaper than staying at a marina. Our funds are limited, after all.

One solution to not having room on-board for a dinghy is to tow one. Plenty of sailboats do that. I might be willing to try it but my lovely wife is firmly against it. We are partners in this so I'm respecting her wishes.

What we have compromised on is an inflatable. However, both of us are not keen on having another motor to feed and maintain. That pretty much leaves rowing or paddling. Most inflatable dingies row badly. That's why people go with motors. In the end, we are decided on a large, heavy duty, inflatable kayak.

I grew up paddling canoes and kayaks, so I'm comfortable and good at it. Being able to see where you are going is a big plus. We spent some time with a couple who successfully used an inflatable tandem kayak on a 20 foot Flicka. They were very happy with theirs.

Once the boat comes in we are going to put it to the test. The company I picked has a generous return policy, so it doesn't work for us, back it goes.

Expect follow up photos.



  1. Sixbear i wish you the best of luck with the inflable.I would lean more toward a towed dingy as it would offer storage room for water,food and bulky items on longer trips.

    1. The small sailboat I'm building now would work great for that, I think.

  2. Replies
    1. Order has been shipped. Boat's on its way.

  3. They are a good compromise. I think it depends on the model and how easy they are to inflate in a limited space. My inflatable canoe was awkward to inflate and would have been a pain. Looking forward to the photos too!

    1. Might have to do some "boat yoga" to get it inflated. I decided to go with a more expensive and tougher model. We shall see if it was worth it.

  4. I think you know what I'd say about the subject.
    Remember that you have a doggy with very sharp claws...
    We too started out with an inflatable kayak, ended up giving it away to some Bahamian children later on.
    Settled on towing the dink, and yes we had our share of problems with this...
    The greatest one being to always remember to take up slack on the painter, else big problem. Though you use an outboard so fouling the prop is quite a bit less an issue as with an inboard such as we had.
    Always trade offs to deal with.
    Just keep in mind that inflatables can be considered a throw away item and you will !
    Whereas a hard dink is for ever...

    1. Sometimes it's better to go down the long road rather than fight with the lovely wife.

      In the mean time, it should be fun to play with.

  5. How about a Portaboat ? One of those folding kayaks. Here is a link to it.

    You've probably already considered them, but just in case, or for others who haven't.

    Good call on respecting your wife's wishes, I wish I remembered that advice more often, lol. Would save a lot of arguments - er discussions :^).

    Good luck.

    1. Looked at them. Bit long to store on the boat. Price is high. Seen some older ones in really bad shape. Not sure if they just fall apart all at once at a certain age.

      If the wife ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.