ESSENTIAL KIT - Dinghy and Outboard
The dinghy becomes your car when cruising so the easier to launch the better and the more you will use it.
The ability to carry your dinghy, with the outboard engine already mounted, in davits at the rear allows you to launch and recover it easily in most conditions. However you arrange your davits don't exceed the weight carrying capacity of the yacht.
Its also a good idea to have a winter mount for the outboard, off the dinghy, which can also be used if you are commencing a long open water passage where leaving the outboard on the dinghy might unduly stress the davits of transom.
You will need a good dinghy large enough to take a minimum of 2 adults plus a load of shopping in 2 granny bags. These are usually around 2.8m in length. Ideally carrying 3 or 4 adults is better especially if you regularly have that number on board. You will need a 3.1m or above for this.
Look for dinghies with large sponson tubes and a good banana lift in the bow like the Carib as these types run much drier through the water than the thinner straighter Zodiac style.
Whether to choose a Single or Double skin RIB, an Air Floor RIB or a slat-floor rubber dinghy is largely a matter of cost and how much weight you can carry on the stern of your yacht.
In my view, your dinghy needs to be able to plane well when loaded with a minimum of 2 people plus shopping. Slat floor dinghies rarely do this well. The Air Floor RIB is light and planes well but can suffer from UV degradation on the exposed floor. A single skin RIB offers good UV protection, is still light and planes well at the possible expense of getting your feet wet occasionally. The Double Skin RIB is the Rolls Royce solution but be ready to need a larger, heavier and more expensive outboard to push it.
Hyperlon is the most UV resistant material but also the most expensive. The modern PVC is better than the older PVC material but will still be affected by the Sun after a few years.
The best option is to fit a tight acrylic cover to each sponson that stays in place all year. They can cost over €500 to have made. I made my own for under €100 given a week's work to design, cut it out and stitch it all together.
Buy a couple of flat fender pads to keep the dinghy away from sharp projections found on many quaysides.
Buy about 5-10m of stainless 5mm chain which is enough to reach a strong point to lock your dinghy on a beach or town Quay. Use stainless padlocks if you find them or keep them well clear of seawater.
The outboard needs to be reliable and powerful enough to push you on to the plane when fully loaded. Most dinghies have a power limit so buy that first then size the outboard to it.
Don't be tempted to undersize the outboard, you will regret it later, however do be aware of the limitations of your davits and the carrying capacity of your yacht.
Keep the dinghy fuel outside of the yacht and away from anybody smoking. I use 2 x 12 litre tanks mounted on a tray on the transom. Having 2 tanks allows me to always keep one full while the other is in use.
Make acrylic canvas covers for the outboard and the fuel tank as they live out in the sun all day. I use a bright reflective yellow for the fuel tank to keep it a little cooler.
If you have to lift the outboard from its mount on the taff rail to the dinghy each time you use it then the odds are that one day you will drop it overboard.
Always use a security lanyard so it doesn't go far.
Even better consider attaching a small deck crane to the radar arch. This makes the whole operation much more controlled and can be used to lift heavy shopping or gas bottles on board too.
In an emergency it may even get your crew back on board after a dunking.
Good Combinations to carry 2 persons plus shopping on the plane
- A 2.85m Air Floor RIB with a 6HP outboard
- A 3.10m Single skin RIB with an 8HP outboard
- A 3.10m Double Skin RIB with a 9.9HP outboard
If you can afford it and have the carrying capacity a 3.4 to 4.5m Double Skin RIB with 25-30HP can also be used for water skiing with teens or light/skilled adults.