You may remember, our old dinghy was a bit a pain. It had an airfloor, was flat in the water and with the slightest waves we had a wet ride. Additionally it was leaking air at some point, and even if I finally fixed the last hole (at least I hope so) - it's old and questionable how long it would last for continuous daily use. Our dink is more or less our "SUV" - we need it for everything: shopping, sight-seeing, fishing or simply to go ashore - so we run it everyday a couple of times while we are at anchor.
A new dink was on the list for so long, but it was difficult to finally get one: First you need to make a decision, and then you need to FIND what you want on some remote islands. And if you find it check the prices; Some island dealers are really bad guys and try to get advantage of desperate cruisers; A dealer in the DR offered us a particular dink for 30% above the US list price - just to let us know later that this model is second hand and out of warranty - BUHH?
So we waited for Sin Maarten, home of two big marine store chains with decent prices (tax free) and a wide choice. Our favorite shop here is Budget Marine, nice people, nice store and very helpful even with remote planning to ensure the desired stuff was on stock when we arrived.
We had the following in mind when we decided for a new "car":
- It should be as light as possible to keep it on the davits for daily use or overnight storage for safety reasons
- It should not be over 9ft so we can store it on deck when we do a longer ocean leg (we have limited space as we have two head sails)
- A RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) which basically means it's an Inflatable with a solid bottom and a V-Shaped Hull, like a "real" boat - this is much more stable in waves, easier to beach as the bottom gets no leaks from corals or stones.
- The tubes should be made from Hypalon (a robust coated nylon), normal PVC tubes are dead just after a few years Caribbean sun!
We finally bought an AB Lamina 9AL: The Lamina is an amazing piece of inflatable, it has an Aluminum double floor, it's 2.75 meter long and weights just 36kg without the engine! I mean think about that - 36kg of boat can carry almost 500kg of load! The downsize was that our old 5 HP Mercury Engine was a bit to weak for a decent ride, we could plane with two of us - but just with a bit of luggage (Rahel's handbag for example) we have been like glued to the water.
So we upgraded the engine to a 9.8 HP Tohatsu. I know, for a landlubber 10 HP sounds like nothing, but that's 1 HP for each 3,6 kg boat weight. On Habibi, which is a heavy displacement sailboat, each HP has to push 180kg. The dink is flying now! And thanks to the deep V Hull we can even cut through big waves with a breeze. I really like that thing!!!!
The downside is that we are now broke for the next two months - as usual with big boys toys I went far over the planned budget - we may just eat self cought fish for the next weeks or simply starve (don't be too scared, I improved my skills. Really!)
And yes, thanks god I had the full support of my wife to spend that money. She hated the wet ride in the old dink and I could proof that more HP means less spray in the boat = dryer ride. Try to sell this to your wife next time you buy a car - GOSH I love boating!