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There are certain nautical debates for which there can no clear victor. The best anchor argument, or the longstanding monohull vs multihull feud, are just a couple that have pitted sailor against sailor for ages. One that is perhaps not as frequently discussed, but seems to be just as diametrically split, is the method for traveling in a dinghy. In other words, there is the sitter camp, and there is the stander camp.

Stander vs. Sitter: the four camps!

Using the example of a couple traveling in a dinghy, we’ve witnessed four distinct variations of passenger placement:

  1. Both people sitting. That would be us.
  2. Passenger sitting in front with driver standing behind.
  3. Passenger standing, with driver sitting behind.
  4. Both parties standing. Seemingly the highest skill level, and the funniest to look at!

How do the standers remain… standing? Although I have no experience, it seems as if they hold on to the painter, pulling back on it, and use a surfing type motion to remain balanced. It’s pretty impressive to watch actually!

Why do standers stand? From what I’ve heard, proponents of standing believe the ride to be drier. That is, they don’t get splashed as much. It seems to me though that for any given speed, the amount of water coming over the bow would remain the same, regardless of whether someone was sitting or standing. All that would change is what article(s) of clothing gets wet.

Our recommendation?

Both Rebecca and I are firmly entrenched in the sitter camp. So much so that we can’t help but shake our heads when we see people doing otherwise. As we made the long trip into Le Marin this morning, we passed between two dinghies, one of which had a stander on board, and yes, we took note. Standing seems silly to us, but standers must have their reasons.

What should you do? That’s 100% up to you. My only suggestion, and it’s a very strong one, is for the driver to always attach the kill switch to his/her person. While I’ve yet to witness anyone falling out of a dinghy who wasn’t severely intoxicated (you know who you are!), with such an increase in height of center of gravity, it seems obvious that the chance of falling out must be increased by standing. Whether sitting or standing, please drive safe!

Note: In the big center console dinghy that we used when chartering, I did always stand. The RIB was just not set up well to do otherwise. With a steering wheel to hold onto though, there was no surfing involved. Additionally, I always had the kill switch attached to me!

This entire post, with the exception of the admonition to wear your kill switch, is meant to be tongue in cheek. Personally, I couldn’t care less how you travel in your dinghy. If you are offended by any of this, please turn off your computer, and go outside to get some fresh air. I promise, you’ll feel better. 🙂

In other news…

Although it only shows up if you peruse the fitness category, or you subscribe to our site, Rebecca added another post this morning, this time citing the reasons why she hasn’t tried to fund our cruising kitty by teaching fitness classes. Check it out!


  1. Wow…thought you were talking about something else. I remember a great poem (did I write it?).
    It is only when I am at sea,
    That I will sit down to ….

    Well, anyway, happy Friday!

  2. In our trips into BC, Canada it was almost universal that the Canadians would stand in the dinghy, holding onto the painter…

    s/v Eolian

  3. I’m curious how many of the dinghy surfing drivers have the kill switch lanyard attached to themselves. My squirrel brain is now picturing an anchorage rodeo with people trying to lasso dinghies run amok.

  4. I am in the stander camp, especially when alone and have actually tried all 4 of these configurations with Donna. I do find the “both standing” option to be a little more precarious, however operator standing and crew sitting in front can result in the crew getting significantly wetter than the operator, which has its own ramifications. I absolutely find standing to be drier, however I also belong to another camp (club) the bad back group. I always found standing to be much easier on the spine than sitting, twisting and pounding.
    Hope all is well. Cheers.

    • Hi Kirk. Sorry about the back. I can’t imagine bouncing along on a long trip with a sore back. That would suck! Our dinghy ride was about 2 miles today (1 way), and I find that on long trips, when it’s bouncy, my neck can get a bit sore.

  5. Ice fishing in BC???? I don’t think that’s a thing here – it hasn’t gotten cold enough for a lake to freeze since I was a teen.

    • Best stay quiet about that. You’ll have even more people wanting to move there.

    • Sandra: You must be in the lower mainland! I guarantee that it gets cold enough to freeze the lakes elsewhere in BC! As a matter of fact, I am at our place on Horse Lake (near 100 Mile House) now and looking out over the frozen lake and the various ice fishing huts dotted around the lake. Our lake is generally frozen from mid-December through to April and thick enough to drive on usually from January through to March. Can’t wait to get back to our boat which is currently tucked away in Costa Baja marina in La Paz, BCS – though we were cruising for most of November and much of December, so can’t complain too much.
      On the standing/sitting thing, I must admit we always sit (though our Bullfrog dinghy has a seat and steering wheel so it makes sense) but we always insist any passengers sit as well. I can’t imagine anyone driving or riding in a non-console dinghy standing up – sorry, that’s just plain unsafe and bad seamanship!

      MV “Northern Ranger I” – N46061
      Currently lying Costa Baja, La Paz, BCS

  6. Eve and John Dennis s/v Always - Reply

    We sit. I was always under the impression that dinghy butt was apart of cruising. ( Was I played ? ) I saw a guy with a loaded backpack on, standing while zipping along. No kill switch. He fell out . Dinghy spun fast circles and eventually hit an anchored boat , where a boater was able to grab the switch and kill it. The backpack saved the guys face…

  7. Um…I fell out of the dinghy, not attached to the kill switch, in the mid-morning with no alcohol involved. I was fine. Took a few years off EW’s life. Wear your kill switch. You are so right.

  8. We always sit, but see some who stand. Sitting seems to be more popular here in Australia.

  9. Having ridden in your suped-up rocket dingy at full throttle, I am inclined to vote for an alternative option: laying down, cowering in fear. =)

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