Buying a Dinghy

BUYING A DINGHY – what to look for before parting with your cash!

When you first decide to buy a dinghy you should be thinking of why you need one.  Is it to get out to your larger boat moored in the bay?  Or is it simply as a means to get ashore when you reach an anchorage without a marina to allow you to step ashore?  Whatever the reason, you need to consider what you want the dinghy to be able to do.  Once you have decided then look to the various advantages and disadvantages of each type of dinghy.  Whether it is a solid dinghy made from wood or fibreglass – advantage of easy rowing, sailing,fishing and using the outboard.  However, the disadvantage of storage and towing either behind the larger boat or behind the car on a trailer.  These factors need to be weighed up before buying this particular type of dinghy.


If storage is a major issue then most people decide to buy an inflatable dinghy.  This type of dinghy can be deflated and transported in a bag; in the boot of your car.  Once on board the boat the inflatable can either be stored in a large locker or on deck.  So the advantage of buying an inflatable is the ease of storage and transporting.  The main disadvantage of inflatables is their ability to row in a straight line because the wind just blows them off course so easily.  For this reason many boatowners also purchase a small outboard motor to use with the inflatable.  This practice of using outboards with inflatables has had an effect on the design of modern inflatable dinghies.  If you look at the earlier designs of the 1970s, for example, compared to those of the 1990s onwards, you will notice that the stern of modern inflatables are now more of a sportsboat with two projecting tubes and a solid transom to take the outboard motor.  The two tubes projecting out from the stern give better directional stability than previous designs and the solid transom gives a better base for the outboard to drive the inflatable forward.


A development from the inflatable dinghy is the RIB – Rigid Inflatable Boat.  This is a inflatable with a solid hull fixed to the inflated tubes to give the dinghy all the advantages of a solid dinghy with the lightness (almost) of an inflatable dinghy.  RIBs are now very popular as dinghies for larger boats because they can be stored in ‘davits’ mounted at the stern of the boat.  Larger RIBs are now used for diving and passenger boats as well as rescue boats.  They can take fairly large outboard motors even as dinghies – most will plane and travel at high speeds – adding to the enjoyment of being on the water!


So having considered what type of dinghy to buy, you then have to either buy brand new or used, second hand.  If money is not an issue then buying brand new is a good choice.  The dinghy will have no marks, scrapes etc. and be very clean with all equipment in tip top condition.  However, many people cannot or choose not to buy brand new because they prefer a second hand dinghy.  Often these dinghies come with additional equipment because gear has been added to the dinghy over the years.


Lets assume you are considering a second hand dinghy.  You see a likely one advertised and want to find out more about it.  If you are within travelling distance then go and pay a visit to see the dinghy first hand.  If not, then ask to see a range of photos showing the dinghy and everything else included in the sale.  Most advertisers realise that several photos showing good and bad points will result in a sale for their dinghy, so buying, say using ebay auction site, is safe.  You can satisfy yourself online buying viewing the photos and asking the seller questions before bidding and travelling to the dinghy.


Aesthetics is the first consideration for most people buying a dinghy – does she look good?  What is the condition of the finish?  If its a solid wooden or fibreglass dinghy look for any signs of damage, especially on the underside, along the keel and bilge.  What about the towing eye?  is it loose or solid?  Cheack out the transom and outboard bracket for wear, what about the rowlocks and oars, are they in good order?  Ask if she leaks and where.  Ask how old the dinghy is and its make as well as any useful history.  What did the owner use her for?  Was she always towed behind the boat? ( look for wear around the towing eye).  If she was stowed in davits – check the lifting eyes for wear.  If she has buoyancy tanks – shake the dinghy and listen for the sound of water slopping about in the tanks – a sign of leaking.  Ask if there is any additional gear – sometimes there is an anchor and warp, mast and sails etc. an outboard motor for sale at reduced price if you buy both dinghy and outboard.


If the dinghy you are buying is an inflatable then again consider the aesthetic appeal of the tender.  Does she look fresh and clean or are there scuff marks that detract from her appearance? Are there any visible patches?  Ask the owner if they have had to patch a leak or are there any leaks.  Look for wear on the underside, around the rowlocks, towing eye and transom.  Ask to see the equipment included in the sale, e.g. oars, carry bag, seat, floor boards, repair kit, outboard motor etc.  Check for their condition also to assure yourself that you are buying good seaworthy gear that will not let you down.


RIBs that are for sale with no doubt come with a trailer, so make sure that this is also roadworthy and has been maintained.  Greasing the wheel bearing, washed down with fresh water after every use in the sea etc.  Check that lighting boards work and cables are free from damage. Tyres have a good tread and the walls of the tyres are not cracked from being exposed to too much sunlight over the years.  Many trailers have very good tread on the tyres but their wall are perished with UVA light destroying the rubber.  All road worthy trailers should have mud guards covering the wheels, if they don’t they you might get stopped by the police on your return journey with your newly purchased RIB.

It is important that you insure your dinghy for loss, damage or theft, to get a competitive quote follow this link for dinghy insurance.

If you need any help or advice please feel free to contact us

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