Friday, December 16, 2011

The Perfect Dinghy

Dreamers who imagine a tropical life afloat will follow their fantasies across oceans into strange harbors, perhaps anchoring off fantastic beaches and visiting hidden coves on strange coastlines.


All of which is fun no doubt but in my rĂ´le of pricker of dreams it's the floating home's dinghy that excites my imagination and rarely does one see a dinghy as well turned out as this one. Consider how perfectly it holds it's position off the beach, with a stern anchor laid out properly to prevent the boat from swinging wildly and damaging itself or others.


At the bow the boat has a rope fender not only decorative but functional and placed exactly where the owner wants it, presumably because the dinghy rides off the port quarter of the mother ship.


Inboard we see the required back up oar which may be a scull, designed with a curve to push the boat from the rear, even though I could see no corresponding notch in the transom. Perhaps it is just an oar or perhaps he uses a rope to secure the scull.


The bow was secured to the root with the sort of round turn I can only accomplish after studying and practicing endlessly, and which comes easily to the owner of the boat, who is therefore a sailor. I blame my left handedness for my cack-handedness at knotting. I am just not very good at remembering stuff like that. I used to be able to splice three strand rope (the easiest kind to splice) once upon a time. A skill long since lost.


A proper dinghy has crap inside, and not all are just like this one which is neatly ordered with all easy to hand. A fuel tank of course, a bailer, some ropes which are always useful and a bag probably containing required "safety" equipment.


The seat that crosses the hull side to side is called a thwart and this one has a compartment, a clever use of space. I love this ugly brown, incredibly well equipped dinghy. It's owner would likely think me a nerd for getting worked up over his work horse. But I know what I like.


Modern sailors prefer rubber dinghies like the one below. I used a similar dinghy carried in similar fashion not least because inflatables are stable and we traveled with two large dogs. They make excellent dive and swimming platforms and they are remarkably resilient. Inflatables don't row well but they don't tend to sink either and they can, though very rarely, be folded and rolled up for long journeys over open water.


Modern cruising sailors call their dinghies "station wagons" such is the need for versatile reliable and load carrying transportation to and from shore. Some sailors use alternatives like canoes or kayaks if internal combustion is not wanted, with it's associated costs, smelly fuel and mechanical unreliability.


In the end though a trim ten or twelve foot hard dinghy, properly equipped is a traditional and therefore proper.


A thing of beauty forever.



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