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RufusTheSwab

Advice on dinghy in Mission/San Diego Bays

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So my family just bought a 34 ft sailboat in Mission Bay (San Diego). The previous owner, unfortunately, sold his dinghy before we bought the boat. So we're in the market for an inflatable dinghy with an outboard we can use when we go tie up in the bay or go on trips to Catalina etc. 

So I'd love some advice from more experienced folks as to what makes a good dinghy for those purposes... I'm assuming hard bottom is the way to go? Is bigger better (9.5 ft vs 11ft or more)?  What about HP?  I see a lot of 4.5, 6 HP for sale.  I also read this guy's advice saying 15+ as a minimum... (http://www.frugal-retirement-living.com/sailboat-dinghy.html). 

Typically (2/3 of the time) we'd probably just have 2 people needing to be in the boat, but it would be nice to be able to take 4. 

Looking forward to seeing what folks think...

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I've been pretty impressed with the performance/utility of a 10 foot airfloor (high pressure floor) with a 4 stroke 6 HP.  Boat weighs about 60 pounds.  Engine weighs about 60 pounds.  Boat rolls up small and fits under my bunk.

1 adult = 15 knots (crazy fast if choppy)

2 adults = 12 knots (planing nicely)

3 adults = 10 knots (barely planing)

4,5, adults = displacement speed.  

It will even pull a kid on a tube at grin inducing speeds.

Steve

P6OzIHh.jpg

 

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Personal experience here, an inflatable tender with tiller steering and enough horsepower to plane is a waste of money on SD Bay. It's so narrow in most places the first two or three powerboats that run by you make it so choppy that sitting on the gunwale tube and trying to steer is a teeth jarring, tiring endurance event for you and passengers. There are basically two ways to go depending upon your checkbook and the kind of use you plan:

1. Small motor with enough umpfh to get you from your boat to the shore-forget planing. Inflatable keel and/or floor boards are fine with 4-6HP. 

2. Planing RIB with wheel steering on a console, throttle quadrant and a seat for the operator, can be any size you want and 25-45 HP is going to get you over the chop with a smile and happy passengers. 

Anything in between is a waste of money- BUT- I have a 10'4 Zodiac with an 18 HP electric start Tohatsu I'd love to get rid of. ;)

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Where you'll store the dinghy makes a huge difference. It's unlikely that you'll have davits on a 34' boat so you'll probably want to store the dinghy belowdecks. So go for lightweight and easy to in/deflate i.e. inflatable floor. Floorboards perform a bit better but they can be a pita. If your budget can stretch to a hypalon dinghy then get that. 

As for the motor either go small or go large. Something like the 2.3 hp Honda is very light, easy to carry around, install etc. They're not much fun to use and start in gear, weird. You'll be put-putting around the anchorage but who cares. Don't even think about punching through any kind of surf landing. The other end of the spectrum is getting the largest outboard that your dinghy can take. This will get you planing with one or two aboard but will be heavy and hard to deal with. Installing it at anchor in a rolling place will be sketchy. Some kind of crane/hoist system will be very nice to have. 

There are no right answers, just tradeoffs. Think about where/how you want to use this thing and pick something appropriate.

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The last two replies are spot on.  Unless you anchor outside Zuniga point, you'll never need to go very far in the dink. 

I have a 10 foot inflatable with a wooden floor and 10hp ob.  It's fun, but overkill for my 28 footer, and a pain to store - takes up the whole quarterberth.  The engine takes most of the lazarette, and requires the main halyard as a crane.   It sits at home.

I recently bought a simple oval inflatable (no transom, but I could add a bracket and small motor). $120 on Amazon. It works well for 2-3 people, and stores in a medium sized suitcase.  It's considered a 3 person raft - I probably should have gotten a 4 person one, but it's mighty handy.

 

 

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Ok, nobody's brought it up so I will. Walker Bay 10' rigid inflatable with a Suzuki 2.5. It's not fast but it does everything pretty well. A great appliance. 

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Mission bay is different from SD bay - no commercial traffic or waves, shallow water, small boat paradise. Also all the distances are relatively short. 

Off the wall option: hard dink with a sailing rig and a 2hp outboard and oars. My Trinka 10 is a blast when I anchor in Mariner's basin on an overnight from SD bay w my little kids. We can sail, row, fish, explore the islands... I never bothered with the o/b but it'd be easy to add.  

 

Edit: tows well too!  No davits for me. Should be okay to Catalina. Maybe stow it on deck for anything longer. 

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I'm a hard dinghy fanatic. The Portland Pudgy works well with a motor and tows well, but is a little too small for more than two people if you want to stay comfortable and dry. I'd personally recommend something like the OCtender, which can plane with a 4 hp motor. I met the designer in New Zealand, he has some good ideas in the boat. It weighs very little as it is made from cored composites. I'm not sure if they sell them in the US or not. Both these boats are also more expensive than a soft floor inflatable. 

https://octenders.com

That being said, a hard floor inflatable works just fine and is easier to purchase. Our 10' aluminum AB does 22 knots with me in it and a 15hp motor, and can carry a lot of weight. 

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One more bit of advice: there's a 14' max length at the dinghy docks on Catalina. While you would be well-advised to stay well under that, those center console, 25-45hp jobs recommended above could exceed that.

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Thank you all for the advice!! We ended up settling on a 9.5 foot with a 6HP Tohatsu for now--may upgrade to something a little bigger if/when we ever get the davit situation figured out. But for now and our purposes I think we're in good shape. Thanks again!

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