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The post the I wrote titled the Single-handed Cruising Couple drew a lot of feedback. For those not familiar with that post, it voiced my opinion that both halves of a cruising couple should be able to handle the primary functions on a boat. One such duty which we believe should be included in that list is operating the vessel’s tender.

It might surprise you how many (relatively new) couples we have come across where only the male half is comfortable operating the dinghy. Starting the outboard engine, raising and lowering it and landing the dinghy on the beach are all skills which both parties need to be able to do. Although when we’re both in the dinghy I do operate the engine in most cases, Rebecca is perfectly capable of doing it herself and often takes it out alone when she’s running errands, etc.

Tip: ALWAYS have the kill switch attached to you, ESPECIALLY when in the dinghy by yourself!

Having the above-mentioned skill gives a great deal of freedom to both halves of the couple, each being able to function independently without needing to be ferried around to other boats or to shore. That does bring up a separate issue though, that being when one party takes the dinghy to go somewhere, the other half of the couple is somewhat stranded on the boat. This is where Rebecca’s birthday present, her new kayak, has a practical usage. In addition to allowing one of us to explore the coastline and reefs, it also provides a method of transport when the other half of the ZTC crew is off somewhere else. If you’ve even been marooned on a boat, you’ll know how valuable this is.

And speaking of alternate methods of transport, Rebecca and I now have in our possession two like-new folding bikes. I have written about the subject of bikes on board before and it was only a lack of money that was keeping us from investing in a pair of them. Some time ago I noticed that a couple in Puerto Rico had listed two bikes that they were selling on Desperate Sailors (sadly, this website is no longer online). The bikes sounded good, the price was right but sadly they were a bit too far away. The other day we were happily surprised to see that same ad posted in the Grenada Cruisers Facebook Page. Needless to say, we contacted them right away. They told us that the bikes had only been used twice and when we inspected them, they looked that way to us too. We were able to pick them up for almost half what they sell for in West Marine!

It wasn’t until yesterday that we were both able to get out on the new bikes and test them out and I’m happy to report that they functioned great. We were able to travel to the hardware store, Budget Marine and the shopping mall in far less time than we could have done so on foot. I think they’re going to be a great addition for us.

West Marine folding bikes. The Blue one is a Jetty Express II and the Red one is a Port Runner II. We bought them off a couple of cruisers who had only used them twice and got what I think is a great deal!

22 Comments

  1. Mike, that is great. I love biking myself and that would seem to be the best way to get around on shore and get some good exercise. I’ve read where alot of cruisers don’t use them because they take up too much space. The bikes you have look pretty compact. How hard is it to get them in and out of the dinghy and do they take up most of the space in the dinghy?

    • The two bikes are not all that heavy. The two of them and Rebecca and I took up pretty much all the room in our 8.5′ dinghy. We were still able to get up on plane though, making the trip to shore quick and dry.

  2. Love the folding bikes … not only will they save time, but they’re fun too!

  3. Hi guys. There were several times when I lived on my boat that having a bicycle would have been a big help. I used to work for a company called Bike Friday in Eugene, Oregon. They have the best folding bike in that it goes into a suitcase. It’s high end, the cream of the crop of folding bikes. They are spendy, that’s for sure but they fold and ride better than all other bikes. Again, I stress these are high end bikes but for portabilitiy, they can’t be beat. I’m not working for them anymore, I’ve moved on to other things but I have one of these bikes and they are great. Here’s the link to their website. http://www.bikefriday.com/ It sure beats walking on shore. And these are a great way to get some exercise though you’ve got to watch out for those knuckleheads on the road that hate bicyclists and try to scare you or run you off the road. There’s idiots everywhere and more every day.

  4. They are great bikes. Just a suggestion :make sure you get any salt water spray off from dinghy to land trip. Clean well and use an anti corrosive to keep in the great shape and if they didn’t come with complete storage covers take the time to make some. Even the salt air can be a problem. Ours don’t look as good as yours do anymore, but they still work and ride well and for all the reasons you have stated are a great investment!

  5. Coming from small-town Ontario, I understand the need for having 2 cars. Or even better, a dingy and a kayak. Being stranded without a vehicle can be a pain.
    The women in my sailing club have also noticed the number of “male-dominated” activities like dingy-driving, fixing mechanical issues, and even helming. They actually have women-only events to ensure that they get enough experience to be comfortable.

    Enjoy the bikes, i’m sure they’ll be worth their weight in gold.

  6. I just finished reading a book made on the basis of the blog of this group of ladies from Gothenburg, Sweden. They made their way over the Atlantic (via ARC 2009) and back from Cuba.
    http://sailingcantare.blogspot.fi/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00:00:00%2B01:00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00:00:00%2B01:00&max-results=9

    “Where is the real captain?” have they heard often:
    http://www.adlibris.com/fi/product.aspx?isbn=9113034057&lang=fi

    That book enforces believe in capability of sailing and taking care of some repairs on my own.
    My hubby laughs that I’m so eager to take all kinds of courses, but we don’t have quite many nautical miles under our belts yet. I’m proud to have been able to take our boat to dock myself :). It is potential material to shoot to Funniest homevideos me entering our dinghy. Afraid of some outboard – not.

    Then there is this side that (at least some) men like to show off in some “manly stuff” and await the female part to praise them for that ;). E.g. One should not be too swift to set fire in the fireplace, but let the “caveman” do that.

  7. Be prepared to watch your new bikes rust before your very eyes.

  8. Ok – guitar, kayak and BIKES! It seems you two have aquired the most fun and useful cruising accessories now.
    Enjoy!

  9. congrats on yer find!

  10. One of the saddest events I have read about is having the tender operator losing control of the dink, falling overboard and then being injured by the prop, followed by the passenger (aka – wife/SO) ALSO being injured.

    I rigged a velcro wrist strap to the “kill switch” and ALWAYS had it on my wrist whenever operating the dink. Anything else is just inviting inevitable disaster. Even if not injured, try and imagine falling off the dink and watching it motor away!

    Keep up the outstanding posts!

    • I agree, Mike. We also always wear the kill switch. I have no desire to either be left stranded while my dinghy motors away or be chewed up by the prop.

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