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Old 12-02-2008, 06:22 AM   #1
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Well my 10+ year old 2.8m Caribe RIB has bitten the dust. I'm going to take it in to the repairers one more time but I think this time the Hypalon has just been rubbed and scraped and busted up so many times it will be one for the knackery.

I have my boat sometimes on a mooring, sometimes at anchor, and sometimes on a rickety old berth at a marina. So I'd like a fairly solid dinghy that I can leave in the water. On the other hand the RIB has been useful because I can deflate it and bring it up on deck.

I'm thinking, as a compromise, to get two dinghies. One fibreglass or aluminium to leave behind and one fully inflatable / roll-up which I can take with me while cruising. I think I've found a pretty good fibreglass one second hand but I was wondering about the inflatable. There appear to be so many options these days -- air floor, slat floor, wooden floor, Hypalon vs PVC (considering I'll probably keep it rolled up and stashed away much of the time) etc. What do others have and what do you recommend?
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:29 PM   #2
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You might check out a Porta-Bote which is a fold up boat which holds a lot, can take abuse, and folds to the size of a surfboard to put aboard your cruising boat. We've seen several at the dingy docks near the mooring fields here in San Diego, so they seem popular enough. We plan to get one someday, too. Our current dingy situation is a very good condition Hypalon (spelling?) Tinker Traveler RIB and a lovely Merrimack cherry ribbed fiberglass canoe. The canoe must stow on deck, the Traveler has a spot below deck. We'd like to have a "beater" of a dingy and think the Porta-Bote will work for us as we'll likely be able to store it easily on deck and creatively below deck if need be.

I've heard bad things about PVC but all in relation to UV exposure.

Best of luck.
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:37 PM   #3
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For cruising we always had an inflatable. Our best, in our opinion, was the Achilles with inflatable floor, the last dinghy we carried on sv Watermelon.

Because Peter insisted that we not tow our dinghy, we deflated it and stored it even when we were only going on a day sail to the next bay "up the road". With the inflatable floor and a 12V dinghy inflating pump, we had the boat in the water less than 1/2 an hour after dropping anchor. The dinghy also stored easily without those board floors to find a place for.

Achilles at the time we bought it was the only hypalon dinghy with a fully hypalon floor as well. We can vouch for the greater durability of the hypalon in the tropics.

Downside of the inflatable floor - it's a bit "squirrely" compared to the hard keel of a RIB or the inflating keel of a dinghy with floor boards to keep the keel deep. In other words, getting into and out of the dinghy needed a bit more care or the dinghy would zip out from under your feet. It took some time to get used to it, but then we were okay and no more missteps.

The other reason we liked the Achilles was that we carried only a small, 4 HP outboard, so the (much) lighter Achilles still moved well with the small outboard. And carrying the outboard and dinghy up the beach in significant tidal areas was a snap - THE most important feature for us.

Now, with davits on the power cat, we have a RIB. And because our boat is an indulged child, it's not just any RIB, it's an AB with aluminum hull. About 50 pounds lighter than the comparable GRP hull (and perhaps $1,000 more expensive, though I might be exaggerating). For us, two old cruisers past their prime, it's nice to still be able to carry the dinghy up the beach. Still using just a 4 HP outboard.
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