Tow dinghy

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rsvpasap
Engineer
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:05 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Tow dinghy

Post by rsvpasap »

I previously had an inflatable. The best things about it were that it towed easily off the stern quarter, you could deflate it and stow it, or partially deflate it and put it on the bow of the sailboat. The bad things were that it not good for rowing and it couldn't survive the rocks and shells on the beaches. I patched it numerous times and eventually gave up.

A few years ago I got a Walker Bay and my experiences leave me convinced I will always have hard sided dinghies from here on in. The good things about it are that I rigged up a system to attach the stern quarter of the dinghy to the stern of the 26X so it is easy to transfer people and supplies between the boats through the sailboat transom. The dinghy is made of a type of very tough plastic and stands up well to the beaches (I added folding wheels). It tows extremely well. It is 8 ft and fits on the bow of the 26x, although I have only ever done that once. I prefer to row whenever possible and it rows well. The seats are filled with foam so it does not sink even when totally filled with water. Walker Bays are no longer manufactured, but they are widely available used. West Marine now sells a very similar boats from other manufacturers.

I'm underway off and on year round and it rains a lot in my location in the winter, so the dinghy often collects water. I finally just bought a submersible pump (less than $100) which empties the dinghy in just a few minutes.

The only negative issue I'm aware of is that some people say they think small hard-sided dinghies are tippy. They're definitely tippier than inflatables, but I have not found it to be a problem and have been fine in a wide range of conditions. If you frequently have passengers you probably would like to have a 10 ft version. Inflatable flotation rings are available from third party vendors, essentially turning the dinghy into a RIB whenever you need it to be. People create all sorts of DIY flotation (fenders, pool noodles, etc).

Finally, for longer excursions, I power it with a Newport 55 lb trolling motor and a 200 AH lifepo4 battery which gives me a range of about 12 miles at 3.5 knots. It would work well with a 2 HP gasoline motor, but I motor it infrequently and prefer the simplicity and dependability of the electric.

In my experience, the seals have no preference and like to climb into either type when you're at anchor.

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