The Dinghy Saga

OK, so I’ll take the blame for this – another opportunity for Bill and Laurie to buy high and sell low…

When we bought Toodle-oo! she came with a tender – inflatable dinghy – made by Caribe (good product) and with a 15HP 2 stroke engine – relatively light and powerful and well sought after… The problem is that we have ambitions to get to Patagonia where I hear that use of an outboard is not easy due to the thick kelp. We therefore went on search for a rowable dinghy – since the Caribe was not that great at rowing – the inflatable tubes so big (which makes it a great inflatable) that rowing is troublesome.

We found a Puffin Sailing Dinghy on Craig’s List – a sweet little thing that would fit nicely on the foredeck. Assured it sailed and rowed well, we purchased it and put the Caribe on sale. We ordered a new 2.5HP engine to suit our new tender.

The Caribe sold quickly. (Tells you something I suppose!)

Our first trip with the dinghy was Memorial day – down to Newport. Unfortunately, we’d forgotten to bring oarlocks and the engine was still to arrive so it was pretty useless as a tender and we relied on rides from Jane and Mike. In some frustration, I finally got it off the foredeck and rigged the sail – with lots of difficulty in spite of help from good friend Peter Sterret… OK it sails – so long as you don’t mind having a bath at the same time. Stable? Not a bit of it! This thing is an unexpected swim waiting to happen!

When we sailed out of Newport bound for Bristol, we towed said dinghy and within half a mile had managed to submerge it! Water pouring through the centerboard slot. This thing has to go!

We arrived in Bristol and decided (sans oar locks) that we couldn’t row to the dock so called for assistance from Bristol Marine. They don’t service the Harbormaster’s moorings and the harbormaster doesn’t do ‘taxi rides’ so we’re stuck aboard. We finally convince the harbormaster that he should give us a ride and capitulates – but he’s pretty adamant that he’s not bringing us back to the boat…

We therefore need another dinghy in order to get to Toodle-oo! Enter the Green Demon. Again, found on Craig’s List – this is a rowing only dinghy – no centerboards in sight – and it comes with its own 2.5HP Yamaha! Wowee! That means that the new one we ordered is redundant! In spite of the no return policy, the seller of the new engine allows us to return the engine… good news – I’ll do just that after the weekend…

We launched the Demon in Bristol and motor her out to Toodle-oo! it’s a bit of a wet ride (warning bells)  but she’s more stable than the Puffin – we assess… We then unload and tow the Puffin sailing dinghy back to the dock. Fortunately, the Puffin is a sought after brand and we manage to unload the bloody thing quickly – again via Craig’s List.

The weekend arrives and we decide we’re going to have a nice quiet evening in Potter’s Cove. It’s a short sail there, we have no intention of leaving the boat so we leave the Demon on the mooring. We have an enjoyable evening, and return the following to find the dinghy where we left her – but no engine attached. (And yes, Laurie had indeed told me to lock the engine to the dinghy!)

We reported the engine stolen to the DEM. The harbormaster reckons the thing fell off the back and is down below mooring 4 in Bristol Harbor – anyone interested, have at it!

Our new engine arrives via UPS the following day – no need to return!

Green Demon is something of a liability – getting wet is inevitable, going swimming pretty likely. She’s a hard fiberglass dinghy so every time we bring he rot the swim platform she crashes into it – doing a number on our gel coat.

On the OCC cruise it gets special attention – as the dinghy without freeboard(!) meaning whoever sits in the low spot gets wet – inevitably me! In Boston, a prize was awarded for a trivia question on the OCC’s VHF net – the winner gets a ride in bloody thing! Strangely, nobody took up the offer.

Things were getting serious however – with getting wet on every trip to banging up Toodle-oo! tensions were running high. We needed another solution. Finally, we agreed we needed rid of the demon and we purchased a simple inflatable instead.

Relief comes in inflatable tubes! In spades!

Our new Achilles dinghy is a good deal smaller than the Caribe, a good deal slower and has the opportunity to have its inflatable bottom punctured by the rocks of Patagonia – but at least we’ll be able to sit in it comfortably and with security – and besides which, she rows better than any of them. Welcome home Toodle-Pip!

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