The family car
Many people who are not “out there” might miss the important role that a cruiser’s dinghy or tender plays in their life. Without a functioning dinghy, we would often be stuck on the boat, unable to make it to shore for pleasure trips or provisioning excursions. When we first bought our boat, the sellers included with it a brand new Walker Bay soft-bottomed PVC dinghy powered by a brand new Tohatsu 4-stroke outboard engine. Although the now-functioning Tohatsu is, for the time being, serving us well (if you don’t know what I mean by now-funtioning, just use the blogs search function to read about our past engine woes), we have come to realize that the dinghy, although fine for day use in the US or Canada, wouldn’t really cut it as a tender in the tropics.
Dinghys come in two basic categories: inflatable or hard. A hybrid of this is called a RIB which stands for Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat. As the name implies, they have a hard bottom (fiberglass or aluminum) with inflatable tubes to keep them buoyant. The hard bottom allows it to move more efficiently through the water and also offers protection when dragging the boat onto not-always-soft-sand beaches.
The two most common materials for these boats are PVC and Hypalon, the latter being much more resistant to UV light (sunshine) and thus, much longer lasting in the tropics.
With this information now in our databanks, we decided that a small Hypalon RIB is what we wanted. For the last month or so, we have been searching Craigs List for items like this for sale in the areas we were in. One challenge for us was to find a small boat because we still need for it to fit on our davits. Smaller boats like this appear a bit harder to come by. While in Fernandina Beach though, we came across just such a boat. A bit of dickering back and forth with the seller and Rebecca and I are now the owners of a brand new “family car.” We towed the dinghy back to our boat yesterday morning, cleaned it up and swapped the Tohatsu over to it. The Walker Bay PVC dinghy we have was then cleaned up, deflated and will now be sold to some other boater. We are pretty happy with the deal that we made and are confident that this new dinghy will serve us better than the original one that we started our cruise with.
Cleaning up the new dinghy.
For sale: 1 Walker Bay slat-floor PVC dinghy.
All folded up for the new owners, whoever that will be.
Enjoying the beach at Cumberland Island.