Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dual dinghy tips

For full-time cruisers, the dinghy is the family car.   Mike and Rebecca, living full-time aboard s/v Zero to Cruising in the Caribbean have a couple of tips for us on dinghies... learn from their experience:
Given just how important the dinghy is to a cruising sailor, whenever you tie yours to your boat or to a dock, use two separate lines. This tip was shared with us by a long-term cruiser who adopted the practice himself after observing just how many dinghies have a tendency to go astray. The basic idea is that while one line may work itself loose, the chance of 2 separate lines doing the same is next to nil. We know multiple people who have had their dinghies drift away and in fact, without naming names, we know someone whose dinghy went walkabout just yesterday! The strange thing is that this particular sailor subscribes to the two-line suggestion that I just mentioned. He always ties his tender to the boat with 2 lines, except just that one time! Fortunately we were on the trampoline when it went walkabout and thus noticed it drifting away. We were able to retrieve it for him before it went too far.

Which brings me to my second tip. After several rescues of people in dinghies that had run out of gas or had engine troubles, and towing misc. tenders, I installed a small cleat on the back of our dinghy. I picked up the cleat for a few bucks at a chandlery and after drilling a couple of holes in the fiberglass, through-bolted it to the transom. The entire job took about 10 minutes. Although I don’t think I’d rely upon it to pull a water skier, I have used that cleat to pull a 40+ foot sailboat sideways in Cumberland Bay when they were having difficulty getting a stern line to shore. It makes the act of towing something a lot easier, especially if you are alone in the tender. We also use that cleat whenever we set a stern anchor out to keep our dinghy away from a not-so-good dock.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Bob. We actually used this cleat again just yesterday to "rescue" another boat which we found drifting away from shore. Apparently that owner did NOT tie his boat up with two lines. :)


  2. It's always a pleasure to put up one of your posts, Mike!


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