photos at the bottom of this page....
The dinghy is always a
tough choice to make.
You need a good husky dinghy, maybe with an outboard so you can make
longer runs to town for provisions. Or to take gear with you to scuba or
snorkel. This needs to be a very steady dink. But it 'always' needs to
be inflated, off-loaded and sometimes carried in davits.
Then you find that many
times it is just too much trouble to make all that happen just for a
quick stop someplace so you can dash into shore for some quick
the years have taught me a couple things about the dinghy.
When I bought Flying
cloud, she had huge davits on the stern and a VERY large rib inflatable
that the davits were not ready to handle.
I hate davits! They
look unsightly, they're always in the way and the rarely work the way
So I believe I have
found the happy solution........
I carry on the foredeck
an eight foot rib inflatable. It is deflated and stored very secure in
chocks and straps. When I need it and its 9 hp outboard, I use one of my
downwind poles to lift it off the deck and over the side.
I have on the stern
Port quarter one of those lovely (expensive) hoists that can load and
off load the motor.
In my laid back approach to things I have installed a 12 volt air
compressor in the engine room and plumbed it to the base of the mast.
That does a fair job of inflating the thing.
But back to that quick
trip ashore or the need for a dinghy in a hurry.
For that I bought the
plans for a Westport Dinghy. These are great since they only weigh 40
pounds! The normal construction is the same as they used to do with
aircraft wings. A wood frame work and cloth stretched over they
skeleton. Today they use Dacron, Kevlar and epoxy for this construction.
But of course for me
there is no simple out-of-the-box solution.
So using the plans from the Westport dinghy, I constructed the mold or
jig to build the dink. Using 'under floor layment' panels, I constructed
the stations for the jig. But, I made her stern section a bit wider and
shortened her length just a little so she would fit upside down on top
of the inflatable.
Then to take it a step
farther and knowing I would destroy such a delicate craft out cruising,
I decided that instead of bent ribs from oak, I would use three layers
of mahogany ply and epoxy and bend them as they were installed. This was
a sort of 'glue-lam' beam which is much stronger.
Fabric was not going to
work either. So I 'cold-molded' one inch by 1/8 inch luan strips
diagonally across the ribs and stringers. two layers of this with epoxy
in between and then finished off with fiberglass cloth and epoxy, gave
be a very stout little boat of 52 pounds. I sanded her smooth and coated
her with clear AwlGrip, trimmed her with the same colors as Flying Cloud
and gold-leafed her name on a teak transom.
Now I can carry this
dinghy upside down resting on top of the rib dinghy.
If I need a quick
dinghy, I just un-strap her and toss her over the side. To retrieve it,
I simply raised it on deck by it's painter.
The additional advantage s, this little boat protects the Rib from
For info on
these boats and plans go to: