To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Playing with my Dinghy

For the last -- I don't know precisely -- year, maybe two years, our dinghy has been sitting in the gravel parking lot, or over on the dinghy rack with other lost or abandoned dinghies. The lost dinghy collection is one of those forlorn marina things. Deflated inflatables. Puddles of dead leaves and rain water in the bottoms of boats. Random parts in random places.

Red Ranger's trusted companion, Scout, belongs in the stern davits. Not on a rack somewhere. But, in order to do that, we have several problems to solve.

Since we've been at this marina (starting December '09) the rack of lost dinghies has been moved at least three times. Initially, ours was stored upright -- collecting snow all winter. I drained her -- a painful exercise. Water is heavy and she was way up on top. Even after siphoning the water out, she was still too heavy to lift.

Then they moved the rack. And moved it again. The issue isn't finding her -- the rack's obvious -- but Problem #1 is transporting her. Empty and dry she weighs close to a hundred pounds. Actually very light for a 10' dinghy, but a bit much to carry.

The Air Keel

Before we move her around, however, we really need to patch the Achilles "air keel". It was messy and ultimately unsuccessful. "It's always darkest..." just before you give up on the stupid thing. Problem #2 is to patch the keel.

Who knows how important this "air keel" feature is? It seems sensible, but, on the other hand, cheap dinghies don't have it. Since I don't think I can fix it, I think I have to learn to ignore it.

The Engine Tilt

Inflatable dinghies are famously difficult to row. But we have a nice 8hp Nissan/Tohatsu engine. We oiled and greased it. We changed the zinc. We took her out and drove her around in June.

While the motor totally works, Problem #3 is the tilt lever. The cheap metal tilt lock lever had rusted clean through. It broke off in my hand.

In salt water, tilting the motor up is the only way to prevent having algae and barnacles growing on your propellor. Question. How often will we be leaving the dinghy in the water? We have davits. We have a bracket for storing the motor. I don't think we have too much to worry about.

And -- bonus -- I saw someone a few weeks ago pull up to the dinghy dock. They tilted their motor forward, and tossed a hunk of rope over it to hold it up. Ahh. Their tilt lock probably rusted through, also. A short hunk of rope is a cheap solution. Very seamanlike, also.


When hanging from the davits, you need some kind of harness around the dinghy. The stern is easy -- you can easily drill a couple of holes in the transom, attach some shackles and rig a sturdy cable.

The forward end is not quite so simple. The dinghy has eyes and loops molded into it. Problem #4 is that the position of the davits -- and the dinghy cover -- don't really match the dinghy very well at all. The davits are 66" apart and that's a random spot in the dinghy.

This leads to a fairly complex little harness that puts an eye for lifting a little forward of one set of D-rings and a little aft of another set of D-rings. Sigh.

If I had my way, I'd move the davits about 4" closer together so that the davits matched the dinghy perfectly -- and I'd have a cover made which fit the new location for the davits.


The easy way to move her is to deflate her. So problem #1 is solved by letting the air out, stacking her floor boards, seats and oars in a cart, horsing the big floppy rubber bag into the cart, and wheeling her to Red Ranger.

Yes, it's cumbersome. But it's much easier to resolve any remaining problems while standing on the dock.


It appears that the cover has to go on while you're still in the water. There's only so much you can do leaning over the lifelines and yanking on fabric.

I don't think that the davits -- or the dinghy -- can take the weight of a person rolling around messing with the cover.

Also, it's not clear how you get the motor off the dinghy and onto the rail. You can't carry it up the ladder -- that's dangerous. I supposed we might be able to rig a line from the mizzen boom.

Because of the way the cover zippers are aligned, the dinghy's stern points to starboard, but the motor is on the port rail. That seems awkward.

Maybe the dinghy can handle the weight of the motor lying the the floorboards. If so, maybe the best approach is to lift the motor off the transom and set it in the dinghy. After hoisting the dingy, it might be easy and safe to drag the motor out of the dinghy.

There are yet more problems to solve.