Back when we were cruising the Med and West Africa in the early 90’s, you hardly ever came across anyone with dinghies bigger than eight feet. As far as outboards went, 5HP or smaller was the fashion unless you had a sailboat larger than 60 feet…
At the time, we had a Bolger Tortoise which, at 6’5″, was a bit smaller than most folks dinghies but seemed to carry as much gear/water/groceries as our friends who tended to all have Avon Redcrests or Bombard AX-2’s and as our Tortoise rowed well we did not have to use an outboard.
For the record, all these years later, we’re using a Tortoise (albeit a slightly longer one) after years of using various inflatable/deflatables and RIBs we were never quite happy with because truth be told I like to row and hate worrying that my inflatable or its outboard are going to get ripped off.
I mention this because if you’re in the cheapseats or VolksCruising fraternity what dinghy you choose has a huge effect on your budget as well as your general happiness level. Plus being in the cheapseats mode the only way you’re going to have a great dinghy is by getting lucky and finding one cheap or by building it yourself.
So, here’s a list of some better than most dinghies you might want to check out…
- Chameleon A nesting dinghy by Danny Greene
- Tortoise & Stretched Tortoise by Phil Bolger
- Ruben’s Nymph by Phil Bolger
- Origami & Fliptail two excellent folding dinghies by Wooden Widget
- Deckster a minimal footprint design (utilizes the Hobie Miriage drive)
None of these boats will set you back much over $500, two or three weekends of industrious wood butchery, and enthusiastic epoxy slinging.
As it happens, Wooden Widget has just come up with a new larger Fliptail which has me all sorts of excited as a nine-foot folding dinghy has a whole lot to offer. I expect you’ll be hearing quite a bit more about this design in the not-too-distant-future…