Shortly after purchasing the Key of Sea I lowered the dinghy that came with it and climbed aboard to take it out for a trial run. However, stepping into the little boat it became immediately apparent that this dinghy was not going to meet our needs. With only me in it there was almost no freeboard (the distance between the water line and the gunwhale). Scary.
We started looking around and found a reasonably priced new dinghy down in Anacortes, WA and bought it. It was around $1,000 (a boat buck) and seemed like a good deal.
That dinghy is our life boat should we need to leave The Key of Sea in an emergency. With the floor constantly going flat, we had ourselves a big problem. Fortunately we didn't need it for the rest of the cruise. BUT!!!
When we returned home I found a repair place in Anacortes and took the floor, which is removable, down to their shop. A couple of hundred dollars later the floor was "fixed" and I reinstalled it. It kept inflated pretty well needing refilling about once or twice a year.
Fast forward to today. When I visited the boat a few days ago I noticed the floor was entirely flat. So I took it out and brought it home to check it out.
|Our current dinghy a Mercury 310|
But what to purchase? Certainly not one with an inflatable floor.
Inflatable dinghies are the biggest sellers. They are light weight, inexpensive and hold a lot of people and or weight when compared to most other options on the market. But even the inflatables come in a wide range of models.
The least expensive are the inflatable floor versions. I now see why. Then there are the RIBs or Rigid Inflatable Boat. These have the inflatable side tubes you are familir with if you've seen the famous Zodiak boats. But, they're hulls, the bottom of the boat inside and out are made of a rigid material, either fiberglass or aluminum. The fiberglas is usually less expensive than the metal hull. You also have the option of a single or double floor, the double floor being more expensive but more stout and heavier.
So, 3 days later, the inflated dinghy floor is still holding its pressure. So I'm thinking 1) the dinghy still has some life in it and 2) I will try and get another season or 2 out of it. Good news, for now.
This little fellow just barely works on our 10+ foot dinghy and I am in the market for a higher horse power engine. Maybe next season. It does the job of getting us to and from shore when we anchor out and works when I want to wander off a ways from the boat to do some fishing. Its two basic flaws are that, due to it being only 2 hp, the dinghy is more difficult to control at lower RPMs. So, when I am approaching the big boat to connect to the davit system, I usually have to make a couple of runs at it. At low RPMs the dingy just starts heading off on its own. Secondly, the motor only has an internal fuel tank. The small tank is okay for most applications but if you are heading off too far afield, you may find yourself running out of fuel. The dinghy has oars that work fine but rowing back to the boat in wind or waves or if you motored too far from the boat, well, it's just not
|1 gal, fuel tank|
So we have begun taking a one gallon tank of fuel with us in case we run low. I also always make sure to top off the internal tank after returning to the boat and checking the tank before we leave to make sure we start out with a full tank.