09 May 2009


                                             BOATER BEV’S BOLG





What you put in your dinghy is as important as the dinghy. You must of course comply with regulations, which means the proper licensing, safety equipment, and lights, and please, do what is necessary to get that white light high enough.

Oars may not be required, but they are on the top of the list of essentials.


On the must have list is two anchors, one to hold the dinghy to the beach, and the other one, and it can be smaller, to hold the dinghy off the beach. Sounds funny and superfluous, but so often, even if the wind should blow the dinghy out off the beach, there will be a side current, or next to shore the wind blows along shore, or wakes will set you on, so you almost always need that second anchor. If your dinghy is small and light enough, you can do as most people do and drag it up on the beach, but that does nothing to enhance the bottom paint. If you keep your dinghy in the water, and it has a hard bottom, it pays to have bottom paint on it. If it is a soft dinghy, you are abrading the bottom. And any dinghy sitting on the shore can have waves splash in and fill the dinghy, unless you’ve taken the wise precaution of turning it around with the bow facing outward.


Next, I also suggest two painters, the primary one for tying to docks or your boat, strong enough and long enough, so there is no question of breaking, or not having enough scope to comply with the request at most busy dinghy docks, to leave a long line. Half inch line works well; it may be overkill in terms of strength, but smaller line can become difficult to untie. The second painter should be for towing, if you ever tow. This time a floating line is preferred to eliminate this necessarily longer line from getting down into your prop. You still must keep it short as you anchor, and let it out as you pick up speed.

You also should have another small, lighter line from the stern, so you can tie your dinghy alongside your stern, or the dock or another boat, when this becomes convenient. And don’t forget to have a long steel cable you can use to padlock the dink to shore or the boat in iffy areas. Chain would be better, but hard to carry a long enough piece. Don’t use this in areas where dinghy theft is almost unknown; it’s hard on everyone else.


A spare gas can, a small two gallons worth can be a life saver, if you have a gauge that fails, or you’ve been careless, and for years, after having both these failures, we carried one, but now with the four stroke engine, an the fuel lasting so much longer, we’ve given it up. May regret this someday.


A ladder to climb back in the dinghy after a swim, unless the tube size is small enough and you are agile enough. Eventually, you will have a guest who isn’t.


A good air pump is a must have, although it doesn’t have to be in the dinghy. Not inflating the tubes hard enough is one of the biggest destroyers of inflatables. Don’t forget the water pump, even if you have a built in pump, and an extra stern plug may be a lifesaver someday. A pliers, and screwdriver, and a few fuses should be aboard.


In the nice to have category, and close to essential, I would put a radio, (this can be a portable) and a compass, a bottle of water, and any kind of map you can get of the local area. This can be a freebie, or one you’ve copied from your chart boo; it’s just great for dinghy exploring. At night have some sort of powerful flashlight or searchlight.


Depending on the area you cruise depends the risk of theft, so judge by that, what you can leave unsecured in the dinghy. In our experience, the Caribbean was the worst place, and we kept the dinghy pretty stripped down, but you must carry oars, and eventually, we lost a pair.


Ancillary to the dinghy, is a means of hoisting it. Our experience was with davits on the stern of the sailboat, modified with cross bars, to prevent swaying in big seas, and set so the stern of the boat rode lower than the bow, to allow water to drain out the back hole under almost all conditions. It follows, there must be lifting rings mounted in the dinghy. When we got electric winches, it was as easy as pushing a button to hoist it up, and took less time than writing about it. We lifted the dinghy every night, and on every run. Kept the dinghy quiet, clean and safe, and meant extra speed underway. Now with a trawler, we have a crane that hoists the dinghy to the upper deck. It is rigged to be a one-man operation, but we don’t do it every night, and when it is a short hop, of less than ten miles, we usually tow it. Did lose it once having the line slip away when we hit unexpected, very rough seas. A problem with floating lines, especially new, is they are slippery, and must be very carefully tied.



Now for the addition to our dinghy that has meant the most to me, and as you can see from the photo, even Dave uses. We call it the Granny Rail. It is a support I can grab on to, whether climbing in or out , from the side or the front mounted step (the highest part of our dinghy), and feel safe and secure. You can make it as simple as a single stanchion mounted to the floor, but it must have a rigid floor. You can write, if you want more details. Best present you can give yourself, if leaping about from deck to dock is getting beyond you.