Page 33 - 48º North - The Sailing Magazine - December 2017
P. 33

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Circumnavigator, Pam Wall, says of dinghies, “bigger is better and faster is more fun!”
sufficient for their owner’s needs. And that’s just the point: the right tender is not about what’s “best,” because that doesn’t exist unilaterally; it’s about matching the mode of transportation to your cruising grounds and style. Debating these can be akin to starting the “cat vs. mono” thread in a rabid Facebook group or mocking someone’s choice of anchor. I’m not going there: your dinghy is a good dinghy! But I agree with my friend Pam Wall, who circumnavigated with her kids: “bigger is better and faster is more fun.” For our family, it means being able to travel distance with speed. We want to get from a quieter anchorage around the point into town, keep the laundry or groceries dry in a chop, or reach that reef that’s inaccessible in the big boat (and too far or adverse to row).
Your dinghy isn’t just valuable to you. In some parts of the world, it’s a theft target, particularly the outboard. The coconut telegraph broadcasts where to be alert in Mexico. In the Caribbean and other higher risk ports; it helps to live by the mantra of “lift it, lock it, or lose it.” Davits on our stern make it easy to hoist overnight and splash in the morning. Without davits, boats typically use a halyard clipped to a harness on the dink to hang it on the boat’s hip. Be cautious, though: doing that with our dinghy in Mexico resulted in a halyard chafed at the mast sheave because of the angle out to the side rail. In either case, depending on where you are, it may still be prudent to have a stout cable that’s locked to the boat. For the outboard, the best security is a bar lock that fits over clamp handles.
Towing a dinghy can be another
way to lose it—or worse. We’ve seen a few come loose from the mother ship when a squall hit. Sailing into Port Vila, Vanuatu, the VHF was buzzing about an unsuccessful search that was underway for a cruiser that fell overboard while tending to a towed dinghy.
Davits are convenient. Some davit arrangements are not ready for sea; strapping the dinghy down to stow it securely on the foredeck may be safer.
What makes it easiest to secure a dinghy when you come alongside the boat or a dock? After considerable trial and error, a floating painter (line) is our preference. Secured to the bow eye, splice a loop in the opposite end, attach a snap hook, and you have multiple options for easy securing. Added length allows the dink to back from a dock or a boat, making room for others or minimizing rubbing on the hull.
Protecting a dinghy is more than keeping it secured. For RIBs, tubes benefit from UV protection: PVC has a lifespan of less than 5 years; Hypalon, less than 10 years. Both can be meaningfully extended by covering with chaps. Treating with 303 Marine UV Protectant spray isn’t quite as good, but does offer some protection.
It might be a utilitarian tool, but we love our tender! This vital piece of equipment features in great memories: from those early days in Baja, to sunset dinghy rafts, drifting with friends across a Maldivian atoll, telling stories while the sun sinks into the horizon.
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