Choosing A Dinghy

Choosing a dinghy needs careful consideration before you decide to buy.  Start with the question  what do you want your dinghy to do?  Is it just to transport you and the family to and from your larger boat?  Or do you want your dinghy to do more than that?  Some are small enough to be transported on the car roof rack while others may need a trailer.

Traditional dinghies were and still are, made from natural wood.  Either carvel or clinker construction is used.  Carvel planking is each plank butted to the one beside it and caulking used to prevent water getting between the planks.  It gives a rounded, smooth hull but requires a lot of up keep.  Clinker planking is planks overlapping slightly on each plank.  It was used by the Vikings when building their longships.  Clinker dinghies are very pretty to look at from any angle.  Especially when the wood is varnished.  New clinker dinghies require a lot of time and skill to build and are expensive to buy.  Also the up keep is time consuming and can be expensive.

In the 1970s fibreglass dinghies became popular.  Less maintenance was needed than traditional wood.  The GRP dinghy just needed a wipe down with a cloth and an occasional polish!  Most weighed less than wooden dinghies.  Built-in buoyancy (usually in the seats) was required because fibreglass sinks, unlike wood!  Thousands of different types were manufactured from moulds like a production line.  They were and still are very popular.

At the same time in the 1970s, inflatables were being widely used especially by small yacht owners.  Inflatable dinghies had the advantages of being very lightweight and could be deflated and stored in a locker, out of the way.  If the crew did not want to totally deflate the inflatable it could be partially let down and folded in half to be stored on the deck.  The main disadvantage of inflatables is they are difficult to row in a straight line, especially when the wind starts to blow!


To improve the inflatable a solid base was incorporated into the air tubes.  This type of dinghy was the ‘rigid inflatable boat’  now known simply as the RIB.  These ribs quickly grew and now are being made into larger and larger boats.  The RNLI use ribs as lifeboats because they are so seaworthy.  However the average small boat owner cannot store these ribs on deck.  So we are back to towing if you choose a rib.  Larger boats can store these dinghies using ‘davits’ at the stern of their boat.


To get a quote for insuring your dinghy follow this link for dinghy insurance.


Once you have your tender you may want to buy an outboard engine, if so you could follow this link to our sister site to find out more information on the various types that are suitable.

All of the different types of dinghies mentioned above can take an outboard motor to relieve the rower from doing the work.  Sail can added to these dinghies with the use of a mast and either a dagger board or lee boards on the ribs and inflatables.  Obviously solid dinghies perform better under engine and sail than the inflatable dinghy.  However, these additional features make the enjoyment of using your dinghy so much better.


Dinghy plans are available including prams, rowing boats, skiffs, sailing dinghies, as well as canoes & kayaks at the link below.  They provide very good technical support if you require it.


Dinghy Plans


If you are interested in building a slightly larger dinghy, then what about a 16 foot Grand Banks Dory?  These dories are very seaworthy, having been designed for use out in the Atlantic ocean!  To find out more, click on the link below.

Dory Plans

So choosing your dinghy needs careful consideration.  Enjoy using your dinghy and encourage the kids to use and explore while you are anchored and relaxing.

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

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