So why do we need another dinghy?
Well that’s a story in it’s own. We’re not good with dinghies, I don’t know what it is, they’re our achilles heel.
When we came up with the plan to buy a boat and sail off into the blue we didn’t have a lot of the stuff that goes along with a boat. It’s all the peripheral stuff that really adds up. If you want to know what you’ll need, pick up a catalogue and order one of everything. No, make that two of everything (you need spares). This will cost a lot of cash and you’ll have tones of stuff that won’t fit anywhere. Welcome to boating. We started making the list of doodads to acquire, like fenders, lifejackets, a boat, dock lines, GPS, an autopilot, charts etc, etc, etc.
When my father offered to lend us an inflatable with a 2 hp outboard we jumped at it. So it was a bit small (6 feet), it floated. Lesson learnt with this toy dinghy, during a really strong blow, check that the painter is truly secured or use 2 lines. By the time we realized that we were both aboard and the dinghy wasn’t, the dinghy was half way to Texas. Fortunately the outboard wasn’t on it.
Next dinghy was Spike. Spike was a great 10′ aluminum dinghy, until he sank. And then sank again, in fact he sank daily. Oops, lesson learnt, always shorten the dinghy rodes before reversing to set the anchor. Spike is a whole story himself (click here). Spike now lives somewhere in the Bahamas.
The third dinghy was a 10′ Zeppelin inflatable with a 4 hp. Sturdy, functional, wet (inflatables are always wet), yet without much character. It’s hard to get attached to an inflatable. We never even named it. However it was very useful and it did fit nicely on Forbidden Planet. Unfortunately it was very useful to the thieves who cut it off our transom one night in Key West. Always, always, always lock your dinghy with a heavy steel cable no matter where you are. There’s a sign at the BASRA (Bahamas Air and Sea Rescue Association) in Nassau that says “If you do not lock your dinghy it will be stolen.” Okay.
We slipped up one night after arriving at the anchorage at midnight and didn’t lock the dinghy. It was tied to the transom, by 5 a.m. it was missing. Fortunately, again, the outboard wasn’t on it. Fortunately there’s also a water taxi.
We trolled the docks looking for a cheap dinghy and came up with the bathtub. A cute little boat, it fitted one midget nicely. For 2 of us and a 4 h.p. outboard it was tight. And hauling water or groceries was “challenging”. It did row nicely and we do like rowing. It got us through to the end of the season.
We debated for hours, a hard skiff or a deflatable. Hmmmm…. A hard skiff rows well, can be beached on coral or rocky beaches, is less likely to be stolen, plows through waves, has more space. An inflatable stores well and is more convenient. We couldn’t decide. One day, while sitting in the cockpit, a dinghy rows past. We look up and boom! there it is, our perfect dinghy. The Chameleon, a fiberglass nesting dinghy.
Thus, Robbie was born….