Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.


More tender moments

The default setting for many cruisers, but worthy perhaps of a rethink

It's interesting the divergence in taste cruisers have regarding tenders...although I'm prepared to be "schooled" by our own reality on this, once we get into continuous mooring/anchoring mode. Perhaps I hadn't mentioned, but the only way the voyages of Alchemy are going to be economically viable is via the near-exclusive avoidance of marinas and docks. It's a free night at a reciprocating yacht club's visitors' dock, and reciprocity will likely lessen greatly the farther away from Canada that we sail, or it's going to be the old (new) anchor dropped into the briny to hold us close to foreign shores.

That means rowing, putt-putting, or even sailing to said shores in some manner of small, open boat, commonly known as a "tender" in the parlance of yachting.

As some may recall, we originally had a Zodiac 310 RIB (now in disrepair and needing a retube to something not PVC), and a Honda BF100 9.9HP longshaft outboard, a pretty robust combo that got us "on the plane", more yachtie lingo that refers to exceeding the usual six knot or so limit of plowing through the water and instead skimming at close to 20 knots over its surface, like a squashed Jet-Ski. We both motored about in this relatively stable and commonly found style of tender and when taking it in tow on the classic plastic Valiente (see the next post above).

When we acquired Alchemy, however, because of issues getting the 100-pound engine on and off in a seaway, and of getting the RIB aboard and stowed (even given our generous deck and robust boom/topping lift combo), we opted for a Portabote and nesting dinghy tender pair, with a single Honda 2 HP outboard that my strong but height-challenged wife can easily single-arm up out of the forepeak workshop, for both tenders. Both have oars, and the nesting dinghy has a generous Marconi rig for zooming about.

Not shown: the handy "notched stick" to keep this open while the seats are snapped in.

We chose this set-up for compactness, lightness, mechanical simplicity (the Honda is air-cooled, meaning that while it buzzes somewhat loudly, it doesn't require freshwater flushes to get the corrosive cooling seawater from its innards). I capacity, as the two tenders can hold more together than even our retired RIB. I personally also like the fact that a lashed Portabote on the rail and a lashed and stowed nesting dinghy keep my foredeck quite clear and preserves my forward view from the pilothouse. This was not the case with the Zodiac, which, no matter how it was secured on deck, presented plenty of pontoon in all views forward.
This stowed is not much larger than our forward deck hatch.

We expect the two-tender solution to be slow(er), wetter, somewhat more tricky in terms of boarding and exiting, but also more flexible and freeing, particularly as our kid gets more skilled with sailing (he's starting White Sail 2 this year), and having two tenders means we can all leave the boat and go to different places for different reasons. Within reason, I can even bring the Honda engine with me if the locale looks dodgy. Speaking of dodgy, something that looks like a plastic rowboat is, it seems to me, inherently less attractive to a thief than the expensive and desirable inflatable.

Needless to say, having a 15hp and an inflatable obviously suits the majority of cruisers for separate and different reasons, and I realize I am definitely in the semi-Luddite, Pardeyesque minority in fancying a rowing option. But it's interesting nonetheless, and it hurts no one to experiment. Inflatables and larger engines are so common that a switch-up would not be difficult.

A "PS" here: I've seen some intriguing use of those ski stowage boxes adapted to boats. It might be an idea for cruisers wishing to lock deck gear away without chucking it below.


Silverheels III said...

Marc, here in the Caribbean you can always identify European boaters. They are the wet sailors who putter around these very large anchorages with two people, loaded to the gunwales with groceries, water, diesel jugs, trash bags, and laundry. Their slow rollup inflatables powered by 2 hp outboard are almost never "theifed." Perhaps dinghy rustlers don't wish to get soaked. Many sailors from across the pond upgrade to a smallish rib with more power. Rigid rowboats are trashed by wakes from inconsiderate T-top skiffs with twin or trios of 250HP outboards.

Rhys said...

Wow, it's like you are reading the whole blog in one pass...Must have free wi-fi, eh?

Anyway, I was discussing this with Becky and we are committed to the "two tender solution=no RIB" at this time. Rectifying it should we find rowing unworkable/too dangerous or wet is not going to be difficult, but a consideration is that we aren't necessarily spending a lot of time in the Caribbean's packed anchorages. Places like Tahiti are going to be crowded, but really, we anticipate going more off the beaten track.

All this could change with skill development, timing, weather and politics, of course. We have been moving to the idea of doing a trans-Atlantic first out of the St. Lawrence to Ireland, then down the west coast of Europe to Portugal, North Africa, Canaries and then the lower half of the Caribbean island on the way to Panama. So whatever way we go, we'll likely have a LOT of tender miles under our keels before we need to re-evaluate.