A dingy is necessary to have aboard if you go blue water sailing, it is one of the items you will use on a daily basis so it is worth to give a good thought what kind of dingy you should go for.
If you mostly stay in marinas and only do shorts trip from an occasional anchorage a lightweight simple dingy would be enough, as it is easy to lift on deck during passage and does not need a large and “heavy” engine.
We use our dingy for both short and long excursions, provisioning and trips to the dingy docks. We wanted a dingy that can carry us two and whatever we provision or take us on a longer excursion with 4 persons aboard and still be able to be planning. We have had many inflatable dinghies over the years, so when it was time for to replace our 11 feet Zodiak with inflatable floor board it was a rather easy decision to go for a ridged inflatable dingy with aluminium bottom with tubes of Hypalon as PVC tubes do not last very long in strong sunshine. The question was which brand, there are a few to choose from. The most common ones are AB-Dinghies, Caribe and Highfield, We opted for the AB, mainly due to that there are lighter than the Caribe, and that the retailer of Highfield did not gave us much support.
A 10,5 feel with a 15 hk Yamaha Enduro 2 stroke engine was what we opted for.
We think it is ideal for both longer and shorter excursions
It is very dry and comfortable not only in calm weather, we manage to cross the Hudson river from Liberty State Park to Manhattan, It was plenty traffic very choppy sea and strong current.
Looks calm hear but the wind picked up and further out it was a lot of traffic, I can’t recommend the trip, better to take the ferry. But the dingy manage the trip with 4 aboard.
I have seen small dinghies with around 4 hp engine struggling in strong wind with risk been blown out from an anchorage and desperately aiming for nearest anchored vessel to get assistance. I claim they are not safe.
Provisioning is easy as our dingy, can carry a lot of loads.
The size is good for our boat if fits on the foredeck, between the mast and the cutter sail
Inflated on the after deck, even better to have it right side up, then one can store fenders, and ropes in it during passage.
Fits on our davits for shorter trips, we never tow the dingy on anything close to open water
We have a crane for the engine, we have put the dingy and engine up and down many times, we do not find it a big issue to take off the engine and hoist the dingy in the davits even for a short trip.
Some argue that it’s to heavy for an old couple. We think not, but we would not like to have a bigger one.
Going ashore on a beach with some waves coming in you do not want to fill your dingy with water or have it turned upside down by the waves when approaching a beach. This size we can handle, If the waves risk turning us around we jump into the water before the waves starts to break, hold it still either wait for the right moment to pull it up on the shore, or use two anchors one from the stern and one from the bow.
One anchor on the beach, then we do not need to bother with the tide going up or down, which else could become a problem either the dinghy floating away or being to high on land so we do not manage to get it back into the water.¨
Dinghy wheels could be very useful
These wheels we bought on Defender in US, but they are readily available in most places. Easy to fold up and down and easy to take off, when you do not need them for a period or want to put your dinghy on deck for a passage.
You need firm sand to roll it up on the beach, we two often have no problem rolling it up, we are keen to lock it when possible as theft of dinghies become more and more common. Here we could roll it up and lock it to a tree, would never been able to drag it up without the wheels.’
If you just drag up the dingy a bit and some waves build up they easily fill your dingy, but by just folding down the wheels the waves and water pass under the dinghy
Strongly recommend wheels if you frequent beaches and occasionally leave the boat there for trips ashore.
A much heavier dingy than ours would be difficult to pull up on the beach even with wheels.
Electrical engines become more and more common. We would not go for that, they have limited range and if wind and waves pick up you might not make it back. Good for back and forth to the dingy dock, but nothing for longer trips, unless you go for a large engine and plenty of battery capacity, but an expensive option.
Since we bought our Dinghy it was often that one we used when going on excursions with our friends as our cruising friends found our dinghy superior to theirs.
We are very pleased with our two-stroke engine, would not like to have a 4 stroke as they are much heavier, require more maintenance and if submerged require much more job to fix, replace oil and oil filter. Is there a risk for the engine getting submerged? Yes, happened ones to us, we have only had the engine for a week, when some bad weather one night passed by. In the morning I found the dingy and engine up-side down. I immediately turned the dinghy back and took of the spark plugs from the engine, salt water was pouring out from the cylinders. I was not glad at all. Maybe two hours later the engine was running again, two years later no corrosion and it still works as a clock. Would have been much more job with a 4-stroke engine. I have seen a few turning their dinghies up-side down when approaching a beach with some wind and waves, so not a neglectable risk of turning up-side down.
Are we then pleased with our Dingy having it for while now, the answer is both yeas and no.
We are very pleased with the concept rib with 15 hp two stroke engine, but not with AB
Already after 6 month the tubes starts to get lose form the aluminium bottom
It was easy to tear it further away
Already signs of corrosion, we have had an aluminium rowing boat at our summer house since I was a teenager still no corrosion on that, not what you expect from an expensive high? quality product. I contacted AB but the response from them was not good at all, they claimed that no warranty for corrosion and that corrosion could have caused the tubes come loos from the aluminium bottom. I become very upset with the reaction from them, after several angry mail they agree to have it repaired. We found an authorised workshop not far away from Newport who repaired our dinghy and he said, “this is not uncommon”. I have met a few other AB owners who have not been too enthusiastic about the quality of the AB dinghies, but you see a lot of larger yachts having them. We have noticed that most charter companies in the Caribbean use Highfield dinghies, they do them in PVC or Hypalone.
I would not buy an AB-dinghy again but goo for another brand.
Our insurance company demand us to put name on the dinghy, some say you should not put you name on the dinghy as potential thieves know you are not on your boat if they see the dinghy at the dingy dock. But it is an easier way for the thieves, a boat at anchor and no dinghy tied to the boat the owner is most likely not aboard!
Good luck choosing a Dinghy for your adventure!