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The Dinghy Diaries

YVRguy

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Jan 10, 2013
462
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
On our boat Ge'Mara, the dinghy has always been something of a conundrum. Our first dinghy, the one that came with the boat when we purchased her, was a rigid Walker Bay model. We liked it because it was sturdy and bullet-proof. We could ride it up onto a rocky shoreline with zero worry. Yet it weighed a ton when being hoisted out of the water to stow on the deck. We found out later that over the years there had been water ingress into the supposedly sealed area that soaked into the foam or whatever is in there. We replaced that dingy with a more modern inflatable model. This one was lighter yet seemed more stable. On the other hand we always worried about riding it up onto a rocky shoreline. The barnacles alone look like they could tear a hole in a dinghy quite easily, let alone the sharp edges of the rocks themselves. Also, it is so light that it doesn't ride well being towed behind the boat in rough seas. Alas, in big winds this week the fixture it was tied to ripped right off and it quietly drifted away from us.

So we're in the market for a new dinghy and we were thinking of a rigid model again but it looks like Walker Bay no longer makes them. I'm sure there's some company that does but it makes me wonder whether rigid has been proven less practical. What in your experience is the best all-round dinghy for a 34ft sailboat? Are the inflatables susceptible to tearing on the rocks or is that a red herring? Thanks in advance for the benefit of your experience.
 
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Likes: TomY
Jan 11, 2014
7,498
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Aluminum hull RIBs seem to be popular. The aluminum bottom will stand up to the barnacles, the RIB makes it stable, and they are reasonably light if you don't get the fancy floor and extra storage.

We have an ~8' Achilles Hypalon RIB with a single floor bottom and no extra storage, it is the smallest one available at the time, I think the model number was 240. It tows well, is reasonably light ~75lbs, when trimmed correctly it will plane with a 4hp, holds a surprising amount of stuff, and is very stable. We added a keel guard for dragging up on the beach. We're happy with it.
 

Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,941
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
We started with a small inflatable, which was light enough to stow on the foredeck easily, but so light it would get airborne in high winds when we towed it. It once went airborne, flipped upside down, and then submerged. It finally came back up and righted itself, but that was the last time I towed it. I also worried about running into an oyster bar in our home waters of Gulf Coast Florida. The razor edges of the oysters would rip right through the fabric.
Eventually, the Florida sun destroyed the inflatable, and we went with a Walker Bay 8. It is light enough that it sits nicely in our davits, and solid, so I could run it right up onto an oyster bar without worry. It rows nicely, and sometimes I leave the motor up and row for pleasure. I got the inflatable collar for it, so it is very stable, and carries a good load. A few years ago, I bought a Torqeedo outboard, and that has worked out very well. Most recently, I got the sail kit and now I zip around the anchorage for fun.
West Marine sells a similar dinghy, if in fact Walker Bay is defunct.
 
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DArcy

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Feb 11, 2017
1,127
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
It looks like the Walker Bay 8 (and 10) is still available, they have a separate site for the rigid boats

I don't know why they don't show up on the Walker Bay Boats site, not even a mention of them.

I have had mine for about 20 years and it is still going strong even with dragging it up rocky shores.
 

YVRguy

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Jan 10, 2013
462
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
It looks like the Walker Bay 8 (and 10) is still available, they have a separate site for the rigid boats

I don't know why they don't show up on the Walker Bay Boats site, not even a mention of them.

I have had mine for about 20 years and it is still going strong even with dragging it up rocky shores.
Thank you for this! I had assumed by the Walker Bay site that they stopped making rigid tenders altogether.
 

ppro

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May 6, 2021
5
Walker Bay WB 10 American Falls Reservoir
Question to the Walker Bay dingy owners...I am assembling a Walker Bay dingy (WB10) from parts....but I can't discern what fasteners hold the upper and lower seat halves together and it doesn't show them in the bill of materials of parts in the manual. You must use some type of fastener to connect the upper and lower (top and bottom) seat halves together before mounting them in the boat... Can any Walker Bay dingy owners tell me what type of screw or connector connects the two seat halves together ? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,941
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Question to the Walker Bay dingy owners...I am assembling a Walker Bay dingy (WB10) from parts....but I can't discern what fasteners hold the upper and lower seat halves together and it doesn't show them in the bill of materials of parts in the manual. You must use some type of fastener to connect the upper and lower (top and bottom) seat halves together before mounting them in the boat... Can any Walker Bay dingy owners tell me what type of screw or connector connects the two seat halves together ? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
I have a WB8, but it has been awhile since I assembled it. I think the seats sit on a ledge on either side of the hull, and SS 1/4" bolts ran down through the seats and ledge and fastened everything together. When I bought the dinghy lift kit, it consisted of four SS eye bolts that replaced the outer most SS bolts on the seats.
 

ppro

.
May 6, 2021
5
Walker Bay WB 10 American Falls Reservoir
I have a WB8, but it has been awhile since I assembled it. I think the seats sit on a ledge on either side of the hull, and SS 1/4" bolts ran down through the seats and ledge and fastened everything together. When I bought the dinghy lift kit, it consisted of four SS eye bolts that replaced the outer most SS bolts on the seats.
Tom The center seat has six holes around the center area that appear to be made to install fasteners ...maybe your right and the seat bottoms sit loosely in place following the shape of the boat...with nothing more.... I have the 1/4 inch bolts to mount the seat assemblies to the sides of the boat, so I guess I will try that and simply install each two piece seat assembly and see how it works. They do seem (the bottom seat half) somewhat loose when installed but maybe that's how they are intended.
 

Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,941
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Tom The center seat has six holes around the center area that appear to be made to install fasteners ...maybe your right and the seat bottoms sit loosely in place following the shape of the boat...with nothing more.... I have the 1/4 inch bolts to mount the seat assemblies to the sides of the boat, so I guess I will try that and simply install each two piece seat assembly and see how it works. They do seem (the bottom seat half) somewhat loose when installed but maybe that's how they are intended.
There could be some differences between my 8 footer and your 10 footer. I'm not near my dinghy now, so I am working strictly from memory :(. It sounds like your center thwart should be fastened to the centerboard trunk. There would be lots of bending moment from the long centerboard if the trunk is not secured, and the trunk acts as a support for the thwart.
 
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SFS

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Aug 18, 2015
1,940
West Marine kayak Tampa Bay
I'm also working from memory, and we had the 8-ft version, but along the gunwhales the bolts went through the seats and the gunwhales and into nuts that were sized for the formed holes in the underside of the rail. So the only tool you needed was the wrench or socket on the top (bolt head) side - the nuts were captive in their shaped holes.

As to the seats themselves, I remember a lot of bolts around the perimeter of each seat, again with nuts held motionless in formed holes in the plastic. With all the bolts removed, the upper and lower halves of the seats (which sort of snap together) could be separated using a flat blade screwdriver. Inside was styrofoam flotation, which degrades with heat. I had to take mine completely apart to get rid of a massive ant infestation inside the seats. If you encounter this, do the work on a dock, over the water, with a hose to blast everything clean. The tarpon will love you, but you have to be careful not to drop any nuts or bolts.
 
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ppro

.
May 6, 2021
5
Walker Bay WB 10 American Falls Reservoir
SFS That helps....so there are some peripheral bolts and nuts besides on the sides where the seats attach to the boat body. Thanks...so far, no one seems to know to much about the bolts that you mention that actually help clamp the seat halves together. At least now I know there are some type of bolt for that. I have sent the company a e mail and also their main parts supplier at inflatable boat parts web site...no response on these bolts yet but I now know they exist ! :) Thank you very much for the assistance SFS and Tom
 

Tom J

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Sep 30, 2008
1,941
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
their main parts supplier at inflatable boat parts web site..
I have heard the inflatable website has nothing to do with the rigid hull WB's. There might be a separate source for your parts.
 

ppro

.
May 6, 2021
5
Walker Bay WB 10 American Falls Reservoir
Tom The inflatable boat parts web site does sell many of the parts for the Walker Bay dingies. As I understand it, they are the main parts supplier for the company. When on the company web site, if you click on parts, it's the site the link takes you to.
 
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Likes: Tom J
Jun 25, 2004
269
Hunter 306 Pasadena MD
We have one of the Westmarine watertender 9.4 rigid plastic dinghies (it's the wide one, with almost a trimaran type of hull), which we row. Some things I really like about it: it's indestructible, tows well, and seems to hold 3 people fairly well. But it leaves something to be desired in the rowing department. The oars rub on the gunwale, and the main issue: it doesn't track particularly well. I was thinking of mounting a small kick-up rudder on the stern to fix the tracking problem. Has anyone done this?

Thanks,
Jay
 
Dec 25, 2000
4,946
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Hi Doug, we've always had inflatables on our boats and I dislike towing them for the reason you cited. So, this is how I stow our dinghy on our first boat, an H28, and now on our current boat. Hunter 42 Owner Modifications and Upgrades

Since your boat has no step transom, if it were me I would fabricate two large SS hoops and mount them to your stern transom, or to your pulpit rails, where the inflatable tube would rest, then secure them with lanyards to your toe rail like I did.

Yes, our Avon tangled with a barnacle awhile ago that had to be patched. Sharp little critters. I try to use extra care when rowing ashore, picking a landing spot where it is either sand or pebbles, absent those sharpies.
 
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YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
462
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Hi Doug, we've always had inflatables on our boats and I dislike towing them for the reason you cited. So, this is how I stow our dinghy on our first boat, an H28, and now on our current boat. Hunter 42 Owner Modifications and Upgrades

Since your boat has no step transom, if it were me I would fabricate two large SS hoops and mount them to your stern transom, or to your pulpit rails, where the inflatable tube would rest, then secure them with lanyards to your toe rail like I did.

Yes, our Avon tangled with a barnacle awhile ago that had to be patched. Sharp little critters. I try to use extra care when rowing ashore, picking a landing spot where it is either sand or pebbles, absent those sharpies.
Thanks Terry that's very useful. I'm heading down to the boat soon to explore how that storage method would work for us.