Ways to Carry a Dinghy

A dinghy is a vital extension of your yacht that allows you to go where your deep keel can not. How you carry your little landing craft is also open to various options.

The three most common places to carry the dinghy are: Towed behind the boat, On the stern in davits, and on the deck.

Each of these locations has its pros and cons, and where you decide to carry it is up to you!

Towing your dinghy may seem like the easiest of methods. It simply follows you along like a puppy, going everywhere you go. It also makes it very easy to use the dinghy, as it is already in the water! The problems with towing a dinghy though, are the added drag of towing it through the water behind you, and the constant tapping of your top sides at night when the wind goes still. The tapping can be negated by placing fenders between the dinghy and your hull, but it still presents one last issue at night: theft.

Just as it is easy for you to hop in the dinghy and head to shore, so can someone else. The dinghy is already in the water, all they need to do is disconnect it from your boat and slip away quietly into the night. Dinghy theft is a major concern for cruisers, as loosing your dinghy can present a major monetary setback.

Keeping the dinghy in davits off the stern is one step up from towing your dinghy because it gets it out of the water, which means you won't have to drag it along, and you won't have to be as worried about theft during the night. Thieves are looking for easy targets and a dinghy in davits is not as easy as the one already floating on the next yacht in the anchorage! Davits are permanently installed and always ready to accept your dinghy, all you need to do is connect the ropes and crank it out of the water.

The problem with davits is it keeps your dinghy right side up and hanging off the back of your stern. Should you find yourself in a following sea, a boarding wave could crash into the dinghy and fill it with water. The surge of weight would rip your davits right off and potentially cause damage to your hull as the davits yield under the weight. If the davits don't break, your stern will now be severely weighted by all that added water and this will cause it to squat lower, posing more risk to the following seas.

The last option is to stow the dinghy on the deck. Here, it is out of the water, making it less tempting to would-be thieves, and it can be stowed upside down, making it less of an issue with boarding waves. On deck storage may sound like a great idea but it presents a major setback: loading and unloading. To get the dinghy on the deck, it must be lifted and placed on the deck. If the dinghy weighs even 100 pounds, this will be a very difficult task. Light weight inflatables might only weigh around 50 pounds and can be lifted out of the water by hand, if you are strong enough. When placed on the deck, they will probably cover a hatch and this will reduce some of the air flow through he cabin.

While it may seem impossible to get a heavy dinghy on the deck by hand, it is quite do-able with your rigging. Attaching a halyard to the dinghy will allow you to lift its weight using a winch. Now you can carefully hoist and position the dinghy on your deck without breaking your back! This might seem like the easiest and safest way to store your dinghy but it does take some time to setup the rigging and carry out the launching and recovery of the dinghy.

All three places have their pros and cons, and they all depend on what you are willing to deal with. Most cruisers we see either tow their dinghy or carry them in davits. We choose to carry our dinghy on the deck while sailing long distances, and simply tow it if we are sailing short distances.

Where you keep your dinghy is as personal a choice as what kind of dinghy you choose to carry.