We use a 10' roll-up inflatable sport dingy when we cruise in our
Rhodes 22. Our inflatable is a Grizzley model made by Bear Boats. It
cost about $1000 back in 1995. In 5 years of use, the little boat has
held up well except for what I would call deliberate abuse from a
certain teenage son. If I can keep Gary from destroying it outright
in the next couple of years, I think it will probably last 12-15 years.
The empty weight is about 100 lbs & it rolls up into a package small
enough to fit into the lazarette compartment without removing the
aluminum floor slats. The floor is a set of aluminum slats hinged
together. This style floor is not quite as rigid as a sectional
plywood floor, but it sure is a lot quicker to set-up. Our inflatable
is rated for a 10 hp motor, although it planes out nicely with an
old 6hp Evinrude with only one adult or two kids on board.
In 1999, we started using a little transom-mounted Minkota trolling
motor rated at 30 lbs thrust & a gel cell battery when cruising with
the inflatable. This is probably the best arrangement of all for
cruising. The trolling motor is quiet, easy to store, only weighs
about 20 lbs, & the prop depth is infinitely adjustable. The group
24 gel cell fits into a plastic battery case which fits into the same
location & uses the same tie downs as the outboard motor's gastank.
I have a charging station set up in the lazarette compartment to
charge the gel cell from the mother ship's Honda 8 outboard or from
shore power. There is room on the foredeck to store the inflatable
upside down. However, we usually rig a towing bridle & pull it
behind the mother ship. The effect upon sailing performance is
neglible. Unloaded, the inflatable rides so high that we've never
had any problem with the little boat filling up due to sea conditions.
I do leave the drain plug open when we tow it. For close quarters
manuvering around the marina, we pull the inflatable in close, usually
on the starboard side, so the towing bridle doesn't get fouled in
the mother ship's prop.
In March, 2000, we upgraded the outboard to a Honda 9.9 for use
around our home here on Sanford Lake. The new outboard cost about
$2000, so the entire package would cost about $3000 to replace. The
performance is quite a bit higher with the 9.9 vs. the 6. It will
now plane at 12 knots with 2 full size adults on board. With just 1
person on board, it now skims over the water at about 20 knots! 20
knots is fast enough to catch a little air & cause the operator to
be thrown overboard if you take a 3 foot wave or boat wake at full
speed. With the 6 hp outboard, it wasn't quite fast enough to catch
air going over a boat wake. So, it's no longer as idiot-proof as it
was with the smaller motor. This extra measure of performance is
getting my 14 year old son Gary into all sorts of trouble, as regular
readers of the Rhodes list can attest.
The inflatable is rated to carry 1000 lbs. It has four separate air
chambers & is thus nearly unsinkable. Three of the air chambers make
up the "hull", one in the bow, port side, & starboard side. The 4th
air chamber is the air keel which forms a shallow V-hull & enables
the boat to plane. My kids have had our inflatable filled to the
gunnel with water & it still supported them + the gas tank + Evinrude
outboard + all the water! Nearly all the floatation is around the
perimeter, so a 230+ lb adult can stand on the gunnel without
capsizing the little boat. You can stand up & move around without
fear of falling overboard or capsizing. The floatation tubes are only
17" diameter, which is small enough to slither over the side anywhere
for swimming off of it. You don't need a boarding ladder or have to
worry about flipping it when you climb aboard from the water.
The thing will float on a heavy dew, so you can take it into shallow
or weed choked back water areas that most boats can only dream about.
It is also quieter than an aluminum, fiberglass, or fabric canoe or
rowboat & much more stable & seaworthy, thus making it an ideal
fishing platform. The whole boat is like a giant fender. Who cares if
you bump into something with it? It does not row quite as well as a
solid hull boat. The side tubes flex a bit when you really lean on
the oars, thus making rowing a little less efficient. In addition,
cross winds blow it around a little more than a canoe or solid
rowboat. It's kind of like a leaf sitting on the water as opposed to
a piece of wood down in the water. You get used to it. All of the
above characteristics make the boat an almost ideal 1st kid's boat,
almost idiot proof as far as stability, floatation, & unsinkablity go.
The inflatable can either be deflated & transported in the trunk of
the car or it is car topable. We usually carry ours fully inflated on
the roof rack of our Chevy Astro minivan just to reduce our
set-up/take-down time at the launch ramp.
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium,BR>
26 JAN 2001
Check out the Bombard Mini AX inflatable can handle a 4hp motor, and
is about $600.00.
27 JAN 2001
We don't ahve a dinghy any longer, but we had one that Pamela
purchased years ago and it was not satisfactory. If we were to
purchase one now, I think we would have to go with the Walker Bay 8.
We have had sailing friends that had one and they were happy with it.
John Ward bought a "Fold-a-boat" at the Annapolis boat show. It has
done everything that the sales folks said it would. John seems
pleased with it and I know it is a very stable boat. It has the
advantage of being easy to store after the season is over.
27 Jan 2001
I have a Walker 8 and have been satisfied with it. It rows well, but
doesn't have forward oarlocks, so you must row from the middle seat
even when 2 are aboard, creating an unbalanced load either forward or
aft. No big deal for 50 yards, but I row 1/2 mile and the setup is
not comfortable. When I have company in my dinghy I set up a little
electric motor and sit aft while my wife sits forward. That results
in an uncomfortable position for steering. At some point I noticed I
could steer the boat simply by shifting my weight, which was where
the idea to try it in the Rhodes came from.
I row with 2 piece oars available from WM which easily fit into the
lazarette. The Walker 8 is a good value for the money.
27 Jan 2001
Check Harbor or Marina for restrictions or requirements, or
limitations such as maximum length. Consider a mini inflatable, ones
that are less than 7 feet and under 4 feet in width (35 lbs or less),
65 lbs may be too heavy and or bulky, or too large for storing in
lazarette. Flexible floor or wood slats, or plastic, may oil-can
under higher speed. Inflatable floor or keel (semi-v shape) will
improve performance, but may be more difficult to secure heavy items
to floor. Rigid plastic performs best but is heavy and difficult to
store. Remember, water supports the weight, but tough, durable, and
solid feel will give you Peace of Mind. I like the idea of a mini
(7x4), just too easy to handle, and performs okay. If you get a big
one you can still attach wheels at transom, then trailer it. Hypalon
is for long term UV exposure, and pvc is for lower cost (that is
general rule). Some recent PVC may have long term uv capability? For
Rhodes 22 lazarette consider an inflatable kayak. If storing outside
at marina you probably need a durable wood, or wood/epoxy dink, and
you can still attach wheels to it for improved mobility. Many people
build, or supply kits; just ask.
27 Jan 2001
We have used the Walker 8 dinghy and like it. It's a heavy plastic
structure which takes the bumps and bruises well, and can be carried
by two. It's tight, but we can fit the boat into the back of our
Mountaineer when the back seats are down. Haven't had experience with
other types. Just 2 cents worth.
27 Jan 2001
My dinghy is similar to the Walker Bay. About 8ft long. Has 2 sets
of oar locks so it balances better with a passenger. Price was right,
and it tows well. Think I'd rather have an inflatable, but they don't
row so good, then I'd have to deal w/another motor.
I tried both 6 and 8-foot oars and found the 6's easier to handle.
You'll also have to choose the fittings for the oars--either those
with a pin thru the oar or the ring & sleeve type. Getting used to
the ring & sleeve didn't take long and the oar doesn't have a place
Just be sure to get the solid bronze ones. My first set were chrome-
plated castings. We had one break at a very inopportune moment
that resulted in a rather embarrassing Coast Guard escort across
Oswego Harbor. But that's another story...
30 Jan 2001