A New Dinghy And A Big Change

Cruisers know that the dinghy is the same as the family car when we live ashore.It gets you to shore to buy groceries, visit with friends, and reach those beaches and snorkel spots that can't be reached with the mothership. Ask ten cruisers what the best dinghy is and you will get ten different answers. It will turn out to be one of those discussions like anchoring or cleaning the holding tank. The opinions will fly and the discussion will go on for a long time.

Since we began cruising almost 20 years ago, we wrestled with what type of dinghy would be best for us. After a couple of shake down cruises it became obvious. We first tried a very nice fiberglass skiff that was capable of sailing, with a mast and boom, rowed well and looked very elegant. But in a short time we grew to hate it. We could not carry more than two people and it would only hold a small outboard. It was so tippy getting in and out from the boat that we stopped using it. It was always banging against the hull and dinged everything.

We sold that dinghy and bought an inflatable. Our first inflatable had a soft floor with wooden inserts and standard size tubes. It was a big improvement, more stable, carried more weight and let us up the horse power of the outboard. After our first cruise to the Bahamas, we realized that although better, the design made for a wet ride across the harbor in even a small chop. In Georgetown we had to wear foul weather gear to ride across the harbor on bright sunny days.

It was obvious that we needed an inflatable, we just need a better one.  Our next purchase was a RIB from Caribe. It proved to be perfect, it was stable, carried even more weight, used a larger outboard that allowed us to get up on plain, reach our destinations much faster, and with the larger tubes and flared bow, it was a much drier ride.

That dinghy lasted us for ten years and we put a lot of miles on it. It was used and abused all over the Caribbean. It was sold along with our sailboat and the new trawler had an inflatable exactly like our first one only not in as good condition. This was not going to do so the hunt began for a new one. We carried the Caribe on davits on the stern of the sailboat the entire time we owned and cruised the boat. But we did not want to carry a dinghy on the back of the trawler this way, we prefer carrying it on its side on the swim platform. This is doable but not ideal with an inflatable. We had seen a pretty nifty fiberglass dinghy in our travels made by Livingston Boats in Tarboro, North Carolina. We had met a few cruisers with these boats and they really liked them. We started doing research on line and and asking questions of owners and the end results seemed to be that this was a good option for us. The twin hulls gave the stability we needed, the boat would move along quite well with a smaller outboard, which means carrying less weight, it is very well built and it looks really nice. On the website it is referred to as the 8 but is actually 7.5 feet.

There is also a mounting option for dinghy mounting brackets made by Weaver Davits that would make mounting on the swim platform easy and secure. It also makes launching and retrieval easy, which is very important to us. It took at the most a couple of hours to install the Weaver Davits and have the boat resting on the swim platform. We just love it when a plan comes together.


  1. We just found your site, just as we just bought our first boat that did not have sails, a Prairie 29. Though we haven't been cruising on her yet, we will at the end of September. I am losing my affection for our inflatable, and like the idea of the catamaran type dinghy. However, I want to be able to sail her when the weather is right. Can a useful sail rig be installed in your opinion/ And might the twin hulls in the water be enough resistance to leeway? Thanks, Rick Cass, StraycatII

  2. Rick, Looking at the Livingston. I can see how a sail could be rigged but the sailing ability I can't answer for. It is a good question and I suggest you contact Livingston direct ans see if anyone has done this. I have found them to be very helpful and responsive. Good luck. Chuck

  3. Hi. We just bought 'The Great Book of Anchorages' and hope to use it on our trip south this year. It looks great. Thanks. We also follow your blog which has provided some great tips.

    We recently purchased a 1984 Defever 41' that has no dinghy of davit system. After doing some research on-line we are considering a Livingston and Weaver or Sea-Wise davit system for the stern swim platform - like your setup. We were wondering if you still like the setup? And, any advice you may have before we do it, too. Thanks, Carl & Nancy (MTOA #4103).

    1. Carl and Nancy. We hope you enjoy the book and find it useful. We do like the Weaver davits very much and feel it was a good choice for us. If you haven't seen the post, we added an electric winch to make deploying and retrieving it much easier. Now Susan or I can easily handle the dinghy. It's near the bottom of this post, http://trawler-beach-house.blogspot.com/2012/05/road-trip-and-short-cruise.html . Of course your Defever will require a different mounting if you go with this method. My only advise would be to make sure the mounting on the platform is strong enough to handle the weight. If not, reinforce it. I hope we see you out there one day. Chuck and Susan


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