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best dinghy for small sailboat

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Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

Agile, fun boats like the classic sunfish and new hobie bravo keep the smile in summer sailing..

best dinghy for small sailboat

Photos by Ralph Naranjo

Messing around in small boats is a global theme-one thats embraced by pond-bound pram sailors, river riders, lake voyagers, and all of us who call salt water home. The purpose of this sailing dinghy profile is to highlight seven very interesting little sailboats. Some are new designs, and others have stood the test of time, but all are currently being manufactured, and each drives home just how much fun sailing close to the water can be.

This isn’t a shootout among anorexic speedsters or a report on the best tender that doubles as a sailing dinghy. Its a look at perennials like the Optimist, Sunfish, and Laser-legendary competitors that have helped spawn some of the best sailors in the world. But its also a look at three of the newest entries in the dinghy-sailing circle: Bics Open, Hobies Bravo, and Laser Performances Bug. These agile, new sailing dinghies are chock full of fun and boat-handling features to inspire kids of all ages to go sailing.

Well also take a look at Chesapeake Light Crafts kit approach to getting started-one that offers meaningful lessons and tangible rewards well before the boat ever hits the water.

Scale down an Open 60, add sail technology long favored by windsurfers, and put it into play in a tough thermo-formed hull, and you have the makings for a new kind of watercraft. The result is a very interesting blend of performance and reliability that targets adolescent interest. When all is said and done, Bics boat is more akin to a sit-down windsurfer than a traditional Blue Jay. And like all good boats, its vying for attention not just based on performance, construction quality, and style, but just as importantly, on the price tag stuck to the hull.

The Open Bics light weight and wide, flat stern section means that even small chop can be surfed; and bursts of planing on a reach add a zing factor to dinghy sailing. The Open Bic is already an International Sailing Federation (ISAF)-sanctioned class, and fleets are developing around the US. Another bonus: Its an easily portable boat that can be carried like a windsurfer, adding excitement to a Sunday picnic at the beach.

The thermo-formed polyethylene hull is a modified hard-chine design with lots of beam aft. Sailed flat, the boat is agile enough to surf wavelets, and with a shape thats ergonomically friendly to hiking, the ensuing heel on the upwind leg puts just the right amount of chine into the water. In light air, careful control of heel can significantly reduce wetted surface.

The design team that developed the Open Bic saw it as a transition bridge from Optimist sailing to a more performance-oriented dinghy. An interesting innovation is that the Open Bic can be sailed with an Optimists rig and blades. This buy the hull only approach can be a significant incentive for parents with children outgrowing their Opti as fast as their boat shoes. However it wont be long before the kids want the fully turbo-charged feel delivered with the Open Bics well-shaped 4.5-square-meters rig, sail, and nicely foiled blades.

Bottom line: The Open Bic is fast, agile, and buckets of fun for kids uninspired by sailing in the slow lane.

Just when you think that Hobie Cat Co. has covered whats possible in beach-cat innovation, their design/engineering crew comes up with a new twist that reinvents the wheel. The Hobie Bravo is a good case in point.

In a recent visit to Backyard Boats ( www.backyardboats.com ) in Annapolis, Md., we got a good look at the Bravo. Nearly as narrow as a monohull but still quite stable, this quick-to-launch beach cat packs plenty of get-up-and-go. Its a simple to sail, entry-level boat that fast tracks learning the steer, sheet, and hike trilogy. The boat features a single, midline rudder and roto-molded hulls. The shape of the hulls provides enough lateral plane to allow a crew to make headway to windward.

The narrow (4 feet), 12-foot Bravo uses crew weight and hiking straps to add to the righting moment once the breeze is up. Whats done with webbing on larger cats has been converted to a shallow, rigid deck well on the Bravo. It does raise the weight of the boat to 195 pounds, but it offers comfortable seating plus room for cushions and a cooler. Kids or grown ups can have a Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn type of adventure aboard this fun little sailing machine. Or the family on a beach picnic can set it up and take turns speed reaching along a sandy shoreline.

The furling mast supports a roachy sail with slightly slanted vertical battens, helping to shape the boomless mainsail. The result is convenient sail handling, decent performance, and superior safety. Theres no boom to clobber the crew, and the roller-furled sail and mast are easily stepped in the tripod-like receiver. This interesting set of struts raises the top bearing point of the mast step and spreads rig loads out to the hulls. The furling mainsail offers the ability to reef, a big plus in a building breeze or when teaching children to sail.

Like all of the boats in the Hobie lineup, theres a wide range of specialty parts and fittings that make the boats fast to rig and easy to handle. The kick-up rudder is hung on gudgeons mounted in the center of stern, and just as rig loads have been effectively spread via the tripod step, the energy radiating from the large rudder is spread athwartships via a contoured deck element.

Bottom line: The boat is quick to rig, easy to launch, and responsive to beginners-more experienced sailors will have just as much fun power reaching when the breeze is up.

The Bug

A pocket-sized club trainer, the Bug is an evolution of the kids trainer/club racer that leverages lessons learned in Optis, Dyers, and Sabots. It pulls together the logic of a stable hull shape and simple-to-sail rig, and puts it all in a cost-effective package.

Lending to its success is designer Jo Richardss ergonomic, roto-molded hull, a fabrication that is as close to zero maintenance as a boat can get. The straight out-of-the-mold polyethylene skin gets a few decals, and theres no wood to refinish or gelcoat to wax. These tough, abrasion-resistant hulls have a bumper boat tolerance thats a big plus when it comes to kids learning to sail. Best of all, owners can start with a learn-to-sail rig and upgrade to a more performance-oriented mast and sail package (41 or 56 square feet) that kicks performance into the fast lane.

Oars and an outboard motor bracket can be added to turn the little sailboat into a dual-purpose dinghy. Even the bow painters means of attachment makes sense-no projecting hardware ready to knick the topsides of unintended contacts. Instead, theres a recessed hole in the stem allowing a line to be lead through and a knot used to keep the painter in place.

Bottom line: Aimed at club programs and families look for boats that can be transported on the car top, the Bug is easy to rig and definitely kid friendly. The fact that its manufacturer, Laser Performance, is an international interest and a major player in the performance dinghy industry means that this boat and its parts will be around for a while.

Hobie Bravo

Photo courtesy of Hobie Cat Co.

Eastport Pram

Chesapeake Light Craft expedites boatbuilding for do-it-yourselfers looking to take their garage-built boats for a sail. The company pre-cuts parts, packs kits with all the materials, epoxy, and paint youll need, and leads homebuilders through a thoroughly detailed stitch-and-glue approach to assembly. Kits are available in various stages of completeness, ranging from plans only to the full package, including sail, hardware, running rigging, and paint.

The Eastport Pram is just shy of 8 feet, and the marine plywood and epoxy construction delivers a boat that weighs in, sans sailing rig, at just 62 pounds. Lighter than the comparatively sized Bug, this stiff, durable dinghy, rows like a real boat and sails comfortably with one or two aboard. In keeping with other good tender attributes, the Pram behaves under tow and is equally amicable when propelled by a small outboard or tacked up an estuary under sail.

Kit boatbuilding continues to have a niche following. Theres also an added-value feature worth noting: On one hand, the builder receives a box of pieces and the result of his or her endeavor leads to an aesthetic and utilitarian dinghy. In addition, the DIY skills the builder develops will be useful in other epoxy bonding, brightwork, or mono-urethane application projects. Such talents will benefit many other boat maintenance endeavors.

Whats hard to quantify is the sense of accomplishment derived from sailing a boat that you have built yourself. When the project is tackled in tandem with a child, spouse, or friend, the memories and the boat will last.

Bottom line: With neither sidedecks or a sealed hull, this is not a boat thats easy to recover from a capsize. So once the kids favor on-the-edge sailing in a building breeze, a non swamping, easier-righting boat is probably a better option. The Pram can then be put to use by their appreciative parents or grandparents.

Never in their wildest dreams did Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce imagine that the Weekender (the Lasers original name) was destined to become an Olympic class sailboat and one of the most popular springboards for top-tier sailors in the world today. Originally envisioned as a car-topper for weekend campers, the cat-rigged, low freeboard sailing dinghy morphed from its original roots into a boat favored by college competitors and revered by generations of agile sailors of all ages. Even frostbiting winter sailors have locked onto the Laser.

Chesapeake Light Craft

Designed in 1969, the Lasers first few years were anything but smooth sailing. Popularity grew quickly, but along with the limelight came plenty of consternation. Dubbed a surfboard not a sailboat by a growing cross-section of the yachting elite-many parents warned junior sailors to steer as clear of Lasers as they did sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The campaign failed, and junior sailors in yacht club programs around the country fell into the grip of the new one-design dinghy-discovering the sailboats proclivity to plane.

one-design Laser

Dyer Dhows languished in boat sheds across the country as a new theme in sailing took hold. Dubbed fast is fun by sailor/engineer Bill Lee, the young Merlin of Santa Cruz, Calif., took the theme to big-boat sailing, merging California culture with the Laser logic of light displacement and planing hull shapes.

Best of all, the Laser embraced the ideal of a tightly controlled one-design class that put people on the water in identical boats and left winning and losing races up to sailing skill and tactics rather than a boats performance edge. For decades, the boat has been the single-handed sailors choice among junior sailing programs, and with the addition of the Radial, 4.7 and M rigs, smaller competitors have also found the boat to be a great sailing platform. Today, theres some lawyer saber-rattling over the sale of the design rights, but the boat remains more popular than ever.

The sleeved sail, two-part spar, daggerboard, and kick-up rudder make the boat a quick-to-rig and fast-to-get underway dinghy. Light-air efficiency is good for a one-design sailboat, but this means that as the breeze builds, the non-reefable sail can become a handful in a hurry. In fact, the boats Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde demeanor is what builds talent among Laser practitioners. The big boys block the mainsail and blast off for the layline, while lighter sailors heavy-weather tactics include more nuanced de-powering and feathering. In light air, the tables turn, and the winner is often the sailor who planes quickest on the reaches. The old guards surfboard slam may have held some credence after all.

Bottom line: The Laser is a timeless classic thats easily transported and is built for performance. Its well suited to adrenaline-seeking teens as well as the more fit adult crowd.

Designed in 1947 by Floridian Clark Mills, the utilitarian Optimist could be made out of two sheets of plywood-and from its inception, the Optimist was meant to link kids with the water. Slipping into obscurity in the U.S., the little pram found fertile ground to grow in northern Europe. With just a few tweaks, the Scandinavians took Millss lines and parlayed them into whats become the favored junior sailing trainer for kids from Detroit to Timbuktu. Statistics show that there are about 30 builders worldwide putting out approximately 4,000 boats each year. With about 130,000 boats class registered and an estimated 300,000 total hulls built (amateur and pro), theres plenty of reasons to get excited about an Opti.

Performance boats

The example weve chosen is the USA-built McLaughlin boat, both a demonstration of high-quality FRP construction and modern manufacturing techniques. Its also a boat that can be purchased in a range of performance-inducing iterations-upgrades designated as club, intermediate, advanced, and professional versions. Like all performance sailboats, stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio is important. But class rules include a minimum weight, so the most competitive hulls meet the mandatory lower limit but use good engineering and building technique to reinforce the daggerboard slot and mast step and produce overall stiffness.


The low mast height and high aspect ratio sprit sail is very versatile, affording young (and small, 65 to 130 pounds) sailors a wide window of decent performance. The flat bottom, slab-sided hull is responsive to crew weight-driven trim changes, and the better the sailor, the more agile they become. Light-air performance is all about minimizing wetted surface and maximizing sail area projection. When the breeze starts to kick up, the sailor becomes the ballast, and the art of hiking, sheet handling, and tiller wiggling come into play.

Under careful adult supervision, two 6- to 8-year-olds can double-hand the friendly little dinghy, or one more-confident child can solo sail it. In fact, introducing kids to sailing with similar proportioned small prams has been a right of passage around for decades. A set of oarlock gudgeons can turn the pram into a functional dinghy thats also adaptable to the smaller Torqeedo outboard (www.torqeedo.com).

McLaughlin also markets a Roto-molded polyethylene version of the Opti and sells DIY kits for those who want to create their own wood version.

Bottom line: The Opti is like a first bicycle without the need for training wheels. The fact that at the last Olympics, over 80 percent of the winning sailors had gotten their start in an Optimist speaks well to the value of messing around in this particular dinghy.

Open Bic

Designed in 1951 by ice boaters Alexander Bryan and Cortland Heyniger, the hard chine Sunfish was the prototype board boat. In 1959, it made the transition into fiberglass, and over the following half-century, more than a quarter-million hulls would hit the water. Simplicity and decent sailing attributes combined with an attractive price to make the Sunfish the most popular one-design dinghy ever raced.

Far more than a platform for racers, these boats are an excellent training tool for sailors of all ages. Also built by Laser Performance, they reflect the fun of summer and put sailors in close contact with the water on which they sail. Its no surprise that the larger fleets coincide with warm water and many see going for a swim to be part and parcel of the low-freeboard experience.

The lateen rig is in keeping with the overall design concept and simplifies rigging. A short stub of a mast is stepped and a single halyard hoists the sail along with tilting V-shaped upper and lower booms.

The total sail area is nearly the same as the Laser, but the halyard hoist versatility of the lateen rig make it a handy beach boat and a little less daunting when the wind begins to build. The clean sail shape on one tack and deformation caused by the mast on the other tack are a slight drawback. The Laser rig is more efficient, but when caught out in a squall, its nice to be able to ease the halyard and dump the sail. Its also handy to be able to leave the boat tethered to a mooring, and the doused sail and short mast make it possible.

Multiple generations of sailors are often found sailing Sunfish, and the boat represents one of the best bargains to be found in the used boat market. When considering a pre owned boat, the potential buyer needs to take a close look at the daggerboard-to-hull junction and mast step, points where previous damage can create hard-to-fix leaks.

Bottom line: The Sunfish is a great beach boat that can turn a hot afternoon into a fun-filled water experience.

There were no losers in this group, and picking winners and runners-up proved a difficult task. The outcome had to be based on assumptions about how these boats would be used. For example, parents with a competitive 9-year-old who swims like a fish, always sprints for the head of the lunch line, and likes to steal bases in Little League probably have an Opti racer in the making. Less competitive junior sailors-future cruisers in the making-will do better learning aboard a Bug. Many newly formed sailing clubs target the boat as their trainer of choice.

The Bravo holds plenty of appeal for those with a lakeside cottage or a favored campground destination. Whether its a solo sail just before sunset or a fun race on Sunday, the quick to set up and put away features are a plus, and for those who feel that two hulls are better-the Bravo will hold plenty of appeal.

Serious competitors can campaign a Laser for life, and whether youre headed for a local district regatta or getting ready for the Olympic trials, the hull, rig, and sail remains identical-sort of like the Monaco Grand Prix being raced in a street legal Mustang.

Bic Opens new little speedster tickled our fancy, and as a trainer/performance boat crossover, it drew a strong nod of approval. Watching the junior sailors smiles as they sailed their Open Bics endorsed our opinion.

And if there is any boat that defines the essence of summer, the Sunfish takes the prize.

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Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

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My Cruiser Life Magazine

Choosing the Best Dinghy for Your Boat

It is often said that a boater’s dinghy is like their car. When traveling between ports, you will often only have a land vehicle if you rent one. But your dinghy comes with you, and it’s an essential link to shore. Unless you dock your boat every night, your dinghy gives you the ability to go out to dinner, go to the store, or find a secluded beach to call your own.

Dinghy boats come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. So how do you choose between a hard dinghy that rows well or a fast dinghy with motor? Let’s look at the options and see if we can’t find the best dinghy for your and your crew.

dinghy boat dock

Table of Contents

Sailing dinghy, dinghies as tenders, dingy dinghies – what is a dingy, what are some uses for a dinghy, basic types of boat dinghy, lifting ability and storage when underway, hard dinghies, inflatable dinghy boat options, what’s the best dinghy for your cruising boat, dinghy boat faqs, what is a dinghy.

A dinghy is a small boat. But there are two primary dinghy meaning uses that you should be aware of. 

  • Sailing dinghies
  • Dinghy boats as yacht tenders

Firstly, a dinghy is a small sailboat usually used for racing. So you might hear about “dinghy races” or “dinghy sailors.” These are the sorts of little boats that kids would learn to sail, but they’re also raced in the Summer Olympics. 

Optics are the classic sailing dinghy. Its purpose is to sail and have fun. They usually carry one or two people and nothing else.

sailing dinghy race

Secondly, a dinghy serves as a tender to a larger boat. In cruising and living aboard, this is the most commonly used definition. Your dinghy is like your car. Your boat is like your house or RV, and you park it somewhere comfortable. Maybe a scenic, quiet, and protected anchorage. Then you hop in the dinghy to explore the area or go into town for supplies. 

A dinghy allows you not to have to pull up to a dock. Anchoring is usually free, and mooring fields are cheaper than taking a slip. Plus, living “on the hook” is more fun–there are fresh breezes, and your neighbors aren’t right next to you. You have more privacy and your own little slice of the ocean.

But to live like this, a good dinghy is important. It has to be safe in most conditions and be able to haul you and your gear. In addition, it should be able to handle the occasional provisioning run–meaning it needs room for lots of groceries. 

Many cruisers affectionate call their dinghy “the dink” or some other fun name. In the US, a motorized dinghy will need to be state-registered.

Fun fact–RV owners who tow small cars refer to them as “dinghies.” They are cheaper to operate and easier to maneuver once they get where they’re going, so they’re used in the same way that boaters use dinghy boats.

Dinghies as tenders come in many forms. 

  • Kayaks or canoes
  • Hard boats with small motors
  • Inflatable boats that row
  • RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boats) with motors — these can be slow or very fast

hard dinghy

Dingy (adjective) – dirty, unclean, shabby, or squalid Dinghy (noun) – a small boat carried on or towed behind a larger boat as a tender or lifeboat… Definitions from Marriam-Webster Dictonary

So if your dinghy is a dingy boat, you should invest in some good boat soap and clean it. 

Related reading: What Is the Main Function of a Boat Trailer’s Safety Chains?

Why is a Dinghy Important?

The dinghy is your primary method for getting ashore for cruisers traveling far from home or for liveaboards who aren’t tied to a dock. Having a good dinghy means you don’t have to get a dock every night. It means you can anchor in quiet coves in between towns. If you have a dog, it means they can get to shore morning and night for “shore leave.” And if you want to explore shallow creeks or go fishing, it’ll do that too.

The importance of a dinghy depends entirely on your cruising style. Some people don’t want to anchor–they’ll be at a dock every night no matter what. Those rare evenings between destinations when they do anchor for an evening, they don’t go ashore. A dinghy isn’t very important for them and won’t get used much.

On the other hand, some people live via their dinghy. The big boat gets them between destinations, but the dinghy is their “daily driver.” 

The easiest way to explain how cruisers use their dinghy is by example. So here is a look at how boaters visiting the Bahamas usually use their dinghies. 

You find a cozy island where you want to hang out and drop the hook in a protected cove. Then, you launch your dinghy and go to town, find secluded beaches, or just go exploring. Maybe you’ll want to find some coral reefs for fishing or snorkeling or see the tiny islets and rocks that protect the anchorage. Some islands have hiking trails or miles and miles of beaches.

Marinas are few and far between the islands, and the best and quietest spots are far from them. Most towns don’t have big docks–just small dinghy docks where you can tie up for free and walk to the store. In the Abacos, several of the most popular towns have harbors full of mooring balls and several small dinghy docks that make it easy to visit the town.

In these instances, everything you need for your boat will get there by way of the dinghy. You’ll take your trash to shore in the morning and bring home groceries. You might also take your propane tanks in for a refill or get some jerry cans filled with freshwater or diesel. 

Finding the Right Dinghy For Your Boat

With so many choices, finding the dinghy for you can be a daunting task. Make it easier by learning about your choices, understanding how you will use it and what you will carry, and planning for where you will keep it on your boat.

Dinghies come in as many different designs as big boats do. You can pick between hard, inflatable, or RIB for the hull. A RIB (rigid inflatable boat) has a hard hull surrounded by inflatable tubes – so it’s kind of a hybrid.

For locomotion, you can have oars, a sail, a motor, or any combination of those. Motors used on dinghies are usually small and portable, although go-fast RIBs can have larger 15 to 25 horsepower motors installed.

It should also be noted here that dinghies are relative to the size of the “mothership.” For a 100-plus-foot motor yacht, the dinghy might be a 40-foot center console with triple 300 horsepower engines. So in dollars, their “dinghy tender” might cost quadruple what the rest of us spent on our “big boats.”

Dinghies should be suited to their purpose. For example, cruise ship dinghies ferry passengers to and from shore at destinations without cruise terminals. They’re passenger ferries and hold 30 or 50 passengers for the journey. For cruisers, a suitable dinghy usually means something that will get them to shore and back–the distance will vary. It must carry two to four people and a week’s worth of groceries.

Your choice of dinghy depends radically on the boat that will be carrying it. How will you deal with your dinghy when you’re underway? If it’s an inflatable that can roll up and store in a locker, life is easy.

But what if you want a hard dinghy or a RIB? Below are the most common options for lifting a bigger boat aboard. No matter how you get your dinghy aboard, once it’s on deck it must be lashed upside down to ensure it remains secure even in heavy seas.

Towing is often done but never recommended. Towing a dinghy limits the maneuverability of your big boat, making docking in tight spaces tricky. Plus, it opens up your dinghy to a world of possible disasters, including coming loose and being lost, or flooding and capsizing due to high winds or waves (or other boater’s wakes). Keeping your dinghy in the water also means more maintenance since you’ll have to scrape its bottom regularly. Most dinghies do not have bilge pumps, so bailing after every rainstorm will become a thing.

Underway, the load on the tow lines is high, and if you must tow, make sure to do so with a proper towing harness and bridle. Also, always remove your outboard before towing–it’s safer on the big boat.

If there is one advantage of towing, it is that your dinghy will be ready to go–it is already launched when you get where you’re going.

Also, note that a towed dinghy makes an easy target for theft in the anchorage–an important consideration in some parts of the world. It’s an easy thing for a thief to come along and cut the line while you sleep. The dinghy will drift away silently, and you won’t be any the wiser until morning. 

C-Level, Inc 3 Point Dinghy Towing Bridle

Many cruising boats install davits on the transom. These provide lifting points that hoist the dinghy out of the water. Davits are an excellent upgrade because they allow you to keep the dinghy out of the water while traveling and hoist it up every night. Your dinghy will be cleaner, and you can take the plug out to let rainwater drain out. It’s safer too since you can easily lock it to the boat for long-term storage.

As handy as davits are, they can also be a pain. Getting the lifting harness and equipment just right can be a hassle. Dinghies on davits are prone to swinging in wind and waves, which can quickly chafe lines or even an inflatable’s PVC or Hypalon. If the dinghy is heavy or has a large outboard, the swinging can quickly get out of control to the point that it will damage the davits. Strap your dinghy down so that it doesn’t move at all, even when you’re in quiet anchorages. You never know when a ferry boat will throw a big wake your way!

Finally, the location of davits on the stern is less than ideal. Most boats don’t balance well with too much weight that far aft. Furthermore, should you take a wave over the stern during an overly boisterous passage, you can probably kiss your dinghy–and maybe even your davits–goodbye. Most salty sailors store their boats on the foredeck when at sea, even if they do have davits.

dinghy davits on a power catamaran

Foredeck or Rooftop Hoists

Powerboats usually have motorized hoists that lift their dinghies onto the high deck. Traditional trawlers can use their mini mast and block and tackle to do the same job. Sailboats use their mast and rigging to hoist a dinghy onto the deck. This can be a good way to get inflatables up to deflate them for storage, or to move a hard boat into position to be strapped down.

Once aboard, the dinghy can be sat on the deck in cradles or flipped over and sat upside down. How it stores will depend entirely on your boat and how much space you have–and where you have it. 

Hard dinghies have rigid hulls, just like regular boats. Many are made of fiberglass, but there are also molded plastic ones. There are also a handful of classic or homebuilt wood dinghies out there. 

Hard dinghies come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some are beautifully designed by the world’s best yacht designers, like Lyle Hess’s Fatty Knees. Others are functional, floating, plastic bathtubs, like the Walkers Bay 8. 

Rowing Dinghy

Rowing dinghies are paddled with oars and a center-mounted seat. This limits the space on the boat considerably. The rower sits facing aft, which is awkward to maneuver the boat from but provides lots of power into each stroke. 

Nearly all dinghies are made to be paddled, to some extent. But if rowing is a big part of your plan, you need to research carefully. Many dinghies row poorly. Flat and wide boats are difficult to control and hard to get to track straight in any wind or chop. 

On the other hand, proper rowing dinghies are a pleasure. Look for classic designs that have a dominant keel line and soft chines. 

Some cruisers and solo sailers use plastic kayaks as rowing dinghies. So long as it holds enough supplies and gets you where you need to go, it’s a great idea. Best of all, kayaks are much easier to maneuver in strong winds than rowboats, and faster too. In the world of dinghies, a kayak is like riding a bicycle.

Some cruisers want to know about the functionality of using standup paddleboards (SUPs) as a solo sailor’s dinghy. The truth is, SUPs make terrible dinghies. They have no gear carrying capacity, and they are impossible to lock up once you get to the dinghy dock. To make matters worse, they’re difficult–if not impossible–to paddle into strong winds or choppy conditions.

Sailboat Dinghy

Adding the ability to sail your dinghy moves it from the tool category into the toy category. We all like to have water toys, and if you can practically turn your dinghy car into a water toy, too, that’s pretty cool.

But, sailing a dinghy comes with an entirely new set of problems. It will need a sail rig, a keel of some sort, and a rudder to sail well. This will not work on any dinghy–it will need to have been designed from the get-go to sail.

Nice dinghies don’t come cheap, and adding a sail kit usually makes it substantially more expensive. But for purists who love the freedom and peace of real sailing, there are not many things that are more fun than skirting around the harbor silently in your sailing dinghy.

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Hard Dinghy with Motor

You can add a motor to most dinghy designs as long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and do not overpower or overload it. Engines are heavy, and adding all of that weight to a tiny boat’s transom can quickly cause trouble.

Hard dinghies that are a suitable size for cruising boats seldom plane. A planing dinghy goes fast–so you can expect that most dinghies in the 8 to 12-foot range are going to be slow. The exception to this is the RIB–a hybrid hard-inflatable dinghy. For more details on RIBs, see below.

What’s left is the fiberglass or plastic dinghies that can’t get on plane–they have displacement hulls. They are usually rated for between two and five horsepower. Adding more horsepower does not necessarily make the dinghy go faster. The engines can be gas, propane, or electric. 

Once you get into slightly larger boats, in the 15 to 18-foot range, there are a few that will get on plane. But these boats are so large and heavy that you cannot lift them on most cruising boats. For example, Boston Whaler has made a series of tenders and small tenders, like their 130 Super Sport . But, with an engine and fuel, this little boat weighs over 1,000 pounds.

Pros and Cons of Rigid Hard Dinghies

  • Indestructible–much more robust than inflatable options
  • Can be very good looking
  • Always ready to go
  • Options for rowing or sailing
  • Tippy–much less stable than inflatable boats
  • No way to store in a small space–can’t roll up or deflate
  • Low weight carrying capacity
  • Generally limited to low-horsepower motors
  • Cannot plane (go fast)
  • Can be very heavy and bulky

Best Hard Dinghy Brands

West marine dinghy.

West Marine sells a few models of rigid dinghy. They are made of molded plastic, extremely tough, and can be oared or powered by a small outboard. Unfortunately, none of the West Marine models come with a sail kit. 

The West Marine Classic Dinghy is similar to a popular model known as the Walkers Bay 8. These can often be found on the used market and have many great options. They have a sail kit and a tube kit that converts them almost into a RIB. 

Porta-Boat makes a unique, folding, rigid boat design. The boat panels fold together into a flat case that looks a little like a surfboard. You can unfold the Porta-Boat on your foredeck and launch it. When lightly loaded and given a big enough outboard, Porta-Boats are fast enough to plane–a rare find in rigid dinghies.

Portland Pudgy

The unique looks of the plastic Portland Pudgy betray its biggest plus–it is designed to serve as a lifeboat. For a cruiser outfitting their boat for crossing oceans, liferafts are expensive and take up a lot of space. So having a dinghy that could potentially serve that purpose could save you several thousand dollars–plus the liferaft packing service cost every one to three years.

The Pudgy is a cute dinghy, virtually indestructible, and equipped however you like. It’s made of roto molded polyethylene, just like a plastic kayak. You can row it, motor it, or sail it. The survival kit adds liferaft supplies and a canopy for emergencies. Best of all, the various pieces fit inside compartments built in the hull. 

Fatty Knees, Trinka, Sam Morse Cherub, etc.

There are a handful of really classy classic dinghies out there, but you have to do a little research to find them. Usually, they result from a professional yacht designer answering a cruiser’s problem. For example, when Lin and Larry Pardey were sailing around the world on their Lyle Hess-designed Serafynn, Hess designed them a dinghy that fit perfectly on their boat. That little dinghy eventually became the well-loved Fatty Knees. 

Dinghies of this class look great, and they usually row and sail beautifully. Most will accept a tiny outboard for power. None will get on plane, and space and hauling capacity are not as much as with a RIB. Some of these dinghies are still made, while others are rare finds on the used market.

Chesapeake Light Craft CLC Kits

The selection of small rigid boats that make good tenders is surprisingly limited. If you’re a hand person, you might consider building one from a plywood kit. Several suppliers of such kits, but Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis is the biggest. Their boats range from tiny rowing prams to motor and sailing yachts. 

This type of boat building is known as stitch and glue. Panels of marine-grade plywood are stitched together and then glued together with epoxy. The result is a robust design that is lightweight and can last decades with proper care.

A nesting dinghy is one particularly interesting design that you can make from plywood. These are built in two or three sections, each stacking neatly in the other. So on your deck, the dinghy is small–only five or six feet long. However, when assembled, they can be 12 or more feet long.

Inflatable boats also come in a variety of types. The only universal feature is the inflatable tubes surrounding the boat, but the interiors and floors vary. Besides the cost of the boat, the deciding factor usually comes down to storage space and setup. 

Roll-up floors are made of the same rubber as the hull but with wood slats that make it sturdier. Some are entirely flat and made of plywood or aluminum panels–these are generally called solid-floor boats. Next, there are inflatable floor boats with a high-pressure floor that you can stand on, like a paddleboard. And finally, RIBs have fiberglass or aluminum hulls surrounded by the inflatable tube.

Inflatables are probably the most popular dinghy option because they are easy to come by and easy to store. Once inflated and on the water, they are very stable and difficult to capsize. In addition, they hold an insane amount of weight, so you never have to worry about overloading it with your groceries or supplies. 

Inflatables are sold with oars for rowing, but they make terrible rowboats. They blow around on the water and are difficult to control. With no keel, they don’t track and make terrible leeway in wind or chop. Some do have an inflatable keel, which gives the hull and little shape and greatly improves handling.

RIBs are easier to paddle since they have a keel and do track better.

Most inflatable or RIB owners will opt for engine power eventually, even if they like rowing. Inflatables can be quite fast, and some are designed to get on plane. In my personal experience, you need a minimum of 8 horsepower to plane a RIB, although 9.9-horsepower motors are even better. If you carry more than two people aboard or have a lot of gear, consider a 15-horsepower engine as the minimum.

Newport Vessels 20M1000017 8-Feet 10-Inch Dana Inflatable Sport Tender Dinghy Boat - USCG Rated (White/Gray)

Rigid Inflatable Boats

Making hybrids tends to not work out very well with many things in life. The results often take on all the disadvantages of each thing and few of the advantages. But with rigid inflatable boats, this isn’t the case. Luckily, these boats really are the best of both worlds. 

The advantages are that RIBs are lightweight yet supremely stable for their size. Large inflatable tubes all around the hull provide a dry ride and are very difficult to capsize. They can be loaded for bear and carry lots of people and supplies. 

The hard bottom of the boat gives it a solid keel and good handling characteristics on the water. If you want to get on plane, a RIB is your best bet. All you have to do is buy one that will safely handle a large enough outboard motor.

The complexity of a RIB’s design is proportional to its cost. The simplest boats are small, with a single floor. In other words, the floor you stand on is also the outer hull. It slopes down to the keel, making it harder to stand on than a flat floor. They have no built-in storage options. They’ll have seating on the outer tubes or a simple bench seat.

One step up is the double-floor RIB. These have a flat floor attached to the hull, so there is space below. These boats usually have some storage under the floor, near the bow. They’re easier to stand in, but they are also much heavier and more expensive. 

Larger RIBs may have built-in seats and possibly a wheel-style helm. This looks comfortable, but it takes up a lot of space and weight that might be handier for extra people or more groceries. 

The first rule is that if you have the space and budget for a RIB, you should get the RIB. You might be able to fit an air floor roll-up boat, but you’ll never like it as much. Some of them are very nice–but they aren’t RIBs, and they never will be. 

If you absolutely, positively can’t fit or afford a RIB, then there are still plenty of options. But the remaining types of inflatables will always feel like a rubber toy boat more than a solidly built vessel.

Inflatable Sport Boats - Swordfish 10.8' - Model SB-330A - New 2022 Release - Air Deck Floor Premium Heat Welded Dinghy with Seat Bag

Material – PVC vs Hypalon Dinghies

The vinyl material that makes up the tubes of an inflatable comes in either PVC or Hypalon. PVC is cheaper and the most common. Unfortunately, PVC is broken down the quickest from the sun’s UV rays.

Hypalon is the solution for areas with intense sun exposure. Hypalon will last twice as long as PVC boats. But, of course, it does come at a cost–it’s much more expensive than PVC. It’s also important to note that you cannot use PVC patches and repair kits on Hypalon boats–so repairs and even the glue for a Hypalon craft will cost more. Hypalon is also called CSM, or chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE) synthetic rubber.

You also need to consider the size of the tubes and how many air chambers they are dived into. The larger the tube, the greater the boat’s reserve buoyancy and the better its handling and carrying capacity is. The more air chambers it has, the safer it will be should one chamber spring a leak or get punctured. A cruising sailors dinghy should have a minimum of three air chambers, but four is even better.

Rigid Hull Construction Material – Fiberglass or Aluminum

The rigid hard bottom of a RIB can be made of fiberglass or aluminum. Aluminum is an attractive option since this type of robust design was popularized by AB and now Highfield. Aluminum is strong and lightweight. It can still be dented and scratched, but the chances of it getting holed are very low. 

Fiberglass boats are less expensive and heavier. But, just like any fiberglass vessel, they can be chipped and cracked by impacts with rocks or docks. Luckily, fiberglass is extremely easy to fix, whereas aluminum would require welding. It’s also easy to modify a fiberglass dinghy. If, for example, you wanted to add a cleat to the transom for towing, you could do so easily. That sort of modification is harder to do correctly with aluminum.

Small Dinghy Seating Capacity, Storage Space, and Load Limits

No matter whether you’re looking for a RIB dinghy boat with motor, a sailing dinghy, or a kayak, your choice always comes back to what exactly it is you need to carry. Small boats like these don’t have a lot of extra buoyance to spare when you overload them. If you sometimes need to carry an extra person or two, but your dinghy is too small, that could pose a big problem. If you need to ferry new house batteries out to your boat, but all you have is a kayak with 50 pounds for cargo–that’s not going to happen. 

Whatever boat you like, take a look at its maximum loading capabilities. Thanks to the official US Coast Guard capacity plate, most dinghies will have this marked on them. This will rate the vessel for a maximum number of people, a maximum amount of weight, and maximum engine horsepower. 

Pros and Cons of Inflatable Dinghies

  • Can roll up or deflate for smaller storage
  • Lighter than hard boats
  • Enormous weight carrying capability
  • Extremely stable–won’t flip even if you stand on one side
  • Can carry more horsepower and go faster than hard dinghies
  • Since they store smaller, you can usually fit a larger inflatable on your boat than you can a rigid boat
  • Material degrades in the sun from UV damage
  • Tubes can be punctured by rocks or chaffed bylines in extreme circumstances
  • Best Inflatable and RIB Brands

West Marine earns a place on the list for simple ubiquity. West Marine dinghies are rebranded versions of those built by other companies – usually Zodiacs. Most, if not all, are made in China. 

But the advantage is in their availability – most coastal areas of the US are near a West Marine store, and most stores have a few dinghy models in stock. You can go and see them in person, and you can pick them up and take them home on the same day. Pretty much every other option on the list will have to be ordered sight-unseen.

West Marine sells a selection of inflatable dinghies, from roll-ups and slat-floor models to top-of-the-line RIBs. They keep parts in stock at most stores, and the better boats are available in either PVC or Hypalon. 

Highfield Boats

Highfield is best known for its hard-wearing Hypalon aluminum-hulled RIBs. These sharp and sturdy boats are found on most charter boats since they last the longest. The company also makes PVC roll-up models. Highfields are pretty much the hottest ticket in RIBs right now–their boats look and perform marvelously.

Their boats range from the tiny 6’7″ RU 200 roll-up to the SP900–a 30-foot, 900-horsepower center console powerhouse. The most popular dinghy tender is the Classic 310. If you need something lighter, the Ultralight line is excellent as well.

Zodiac Nautic

Zodiac is a French maker of inflatable boats. They have a full line, from small roll-ups to large professional rescue RIBs. Their boats are divided among different product lines. Cruisers will want to look into the Cadet line of dinghies, which come in roll-up and RIB versions. 

If you’re looking for a boat with a helm, the Yachtline has four size options. These boats have built-in seating for up to nine people and engines up to 90 horsepower.

AB Inflatables

AB started as Antilles Boatworks–as you might imagine, their target market is the Caribbean. They make hardy Hypalon RIBs with aluminum hulls built for life in the tropics, plus jet boat yacht tenders and professional SAR and law enforcement RIBs.

Achilles makes roll-up, slat-floor, and RIB dinghies in various sizes. 

Like the mothership you call home, your dinghy is uniquely yours. No two boaters will make the same choices – everyone has different priorities. For the couple driving a classic wooden boat, nothing will do but an equally classic wooden dinghy. On the other hand, speed and comfort requirements dictate a go-fast RIB for the ultra-modern motor trawler. There’s never a one-size-fits-all answer to boating, so research carefully and think about how you’re going to use your dink. The good news is, there’s an active used market for dinghies out there–so upgrading and trading until you get it right is an option.

Is it dinghy or dingy?

A dinghy is a small boat, usually used by a bigger boat to carry supplies and people to shore and back. For example, “The yacht’s dinghy brought the crew to shore, where they went shopping.”

Dingy is an adjective meaning dirty, unclean, or squalid. For example, “After two weeks at sea, the dingy sailor desperately needed a shave and a long, hot shower.”

Why is a boat called a dinghy?

The English word “dinghy” comes from a similar Hindi word that describes small rowing boats used on the rivers in India. According to Merriam-Webster, it first appeared in English around 1810. It likely became a loanword during the times of British India.

What is a dinghy for a boat?

The most common type of dinghy is a small boat used as a tender. It runs back and forth to shore, tending the needs of the larger vessel. For example, it might take passengers ashore, pick them up, or just pick up and move supplies.

Sailing dinghies are small racing sailboats, like those used by sailing clubs to teach sailing and racing skills.

best dinghy for small sailboat

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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best dinghy for small sailboat

best dinghy for small sailboat

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Yacht Tender

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Yacht Tender

A yacht tender is your ticket to freedom on the water. Once you drop anchor, it’s your ride to the fun and adventure that inspired you to buy a boat in the first place. Just imagine watersports, exploring, scuba diving, snorkeling and, of course, just relaxing in the warm sun!

Here’s a quick secret — your yacht tender is the most fun boat you’ll ever own.

We think a dinghy should not only reflect the beauty and precision of a yacht but also have the power and functionality to push fun to the limit. Is there any better way to celebrate dropping anchor than a cold drink and a zoom on the dinghy? Please, let us know if you find something.

Having the right tender lets you enjoy your boating experience to the fullest. There are a few things to consider when picking the best yacht tender for you, so we made this guide to help you through the process. We’ll go over:

  • The benefits of rigid inflatable boats
  • Pricing of small yacht tenders
  • How to pick the right dinghy
  • A brief overview of our models

There are lots of yacht tender options out there, and it’s essential to find the best one for you. Whether you’re looking for the best small boat or superyacht tender, we’ll give you the information you need to find the perfect dinghy for your life on the water. Read on to learn how to pick the perfect yacht tender.

The Benefits of Rigid Inflatable Boats

Rigid inflatable tenders have become the go-to choice for boaters. Here’s the deal.

Safety is always the first priority when you’re on the water. With the ever-changing conditions of an ocean environment, you need a tender that’s prepared to handle it all. There’s a reason the United States Coast Guard, military and police use rigid inflatable boats — they’re extremely seaworthy. The United States Navy describes rigid inflatables as extremely fast and buoyant. It employs them for Navy SEAL extractions and in intense ocean conditions.

Virtually unsinkable and super tough, rigid inflatable boats are hands-down the best choice for those who desire small yacht tenders.

What Do You Mean by Rigid Inflatable Boat?

Commonly called a RIB, a rigid inflatable boat has a hard hull and inflatable tubes for sides. This construction gives rigid inflatables the best of two worlds — they have the indestructible v-hull and tracking of a hard boat and the shock absorption of an inflatable boat. They’re as hardy as they are versatile. For example, we offer Navy-tough tenders with beautiful European craftsmanship that you can’t find anywhere else.

Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat

In addition to their durability, RIBs offer many other advantages. Here are a few more reasons why RIBs represent a smart investment.

RIBs Provide Stability

In a rigid inflatable tender, there’s little risk of tipping over because the inflatable tube and hard hull combination provide excellent stability, which is great for loading and unloading your family and your toys.

Also, the inflatable tubes significantly increase a tender’s capacity rating, meaning you can safely fit more passengers and gear on a RIB than on a hard dinghy. Known as the “Safe Working Load,” or SWL, this capacity is detailed by the manufacturer. To calculate the maximum number of people who should be aboard a small vessel, multiply a vessel’s length by width and then divide the result by 15.

RIBs Demonstrate Impressive Efficiency

Inflatable dinghies are much lighter than hard tenders. Weighing less means they’re much more efficient, and you can pack in a lot more adventure with the same amount of gas. Skip the line at the fuel dock, and head straight into your day.

RIBs Have Exceptional Safety

A great benefit of having an inflatable tender is you don’t have to worry about damage to your luggage or your precious cargo. We all have all experienced that awkward misstep aboard boats. When everything and everyone is moving around in the ocean, you may have trouble not fumbling every once in a while. It’s much nicer to catch yourself on the cushioned tubes of an inflatable than on hard fiberglass — we’ve tested this one!

Inflatable Tender Benefits

When you’re going fast and having fun on the water, you don’t want to worry about safety. Knowing you’re in the safest dinghy lets you relax and focus on your adventure.

The United States Coast Guard has specific safety requirements for all recreational vessels. Adhering to these not only keeps your tender legal, but it also keeps you and your family safe. You can follow a simplified list of requirements.

It’s Easy to Use RIBs

For everyday boating operations, having an inflatable-sided dinghy is the best. You don’t have to deal with fenders or worry about all the bumps and nudges like on a hard tender.

Getting a spot at the dinghy dock often means playing bumper boats. If you have a dinghy with inflatable sides, you don’t damage other vessels, the dock, or your dinghy. Not to mention if you’re dropping someone off or tying up on your yacht, you can leave your dinghy unattended without worrying about damage to your boat.

Sometimes, it’s easier to tow your tender than it is to put it away — like if you’re changing to a nearby mooring or going to a secluded cove for the day. And unlike a hard tender, an inflatable can bounce off your yacht without damaging anything.

Anyone Can Maintain a RIB

Rigid inflatable boats need a lot less maintenance than hard tenders, partially because they’re less likely to get damaged in the first place. Inflatables don’t have fiberglass siding that can get cracks or holes, and their parts are easily replaceable. We offer replacement parts through our website and also have free online owners manuals for every model we carry.

RIBs are also much easier to keep clean than the scuff-prone fiberglass of hard tenders. The tubes are made of high-quality non-absorbent material that lets you easily wash off or wipe down your dinghy to keep it looking nice.

RIBs Are More Comfortable Than Hard Dinghies

Inflatable dinghies are bound to be more seaworthy than hard dinghies. The inflatable tubes absorb shock from wind waves and swell when you’re going fast, which gives you and your family a better ride.

Inflatable Boat Tubes

Did we mention inflatable dinghies are just more fun? The incredible stability of the inflatable sides makes climbing out of the water a lot easier. And when you’re ready to cool off, the tubing makes for the perfect diving platform. You and your family can literally bounce off the walls.

How to Pick the Right Dinghy for You

Basically, choosing the best yacht tender comes down to three things:

  • What tender your yacht can hold
  • How many people will be aboard your tender
  • How you’ll use your tender

Tender Sizing

Determining the right-sized tender for your yacht is an important decision. People sometimes go for the first inexpensive option they see, without realizing just how much time they’ll end up spending on their tender — but keep in mind, tenders are the unsung heroes of the boating world.

It depends on how you want to use your dinghy, of course, but a good rule of thumb is if you can go bigger, go bigger. You don’t want to overdo it, but people sometimes underestimate the size of the dinghy they’ll need and have to upgrade later. Leave yourself some extra leg room and you, your family and your guests, including loyal pets, will be happier in the long run.

Here’s what to consider when choosing the size of your tender.

What Size Dinghy Can Your Yacht Carry?

The size of your storage area is often a good indicator of how large your dinghy should be. If you’re not sure what size dinghy is best suited to your yacht, measure the tender storage area or contact your dealer — they will give you the specifications of your dinghy storage and a suitable range of tender sizes.

Dinghy Storage Area

Also, keep in mind what the type of storage area for a dinghy on your yacht. If you have a dedicated dinghy garage where it will be out of the way when not in use, you don’t have to worry about getting the maximum size. But if your dinghy storage is on a hydraulic swim step, keep in mind you’ll need enough room to function around the dinghy while it’s aboard.

How Many People Will Be Aboard Your Yacht Tender?

If your yacht has room for a lot of passengers, you’ll probably want a dinghy that can transport a lot of people, too. When you’re doing ship-to-shore transportation for you and your guests, you don’t want to make five trips to the dock and back. Choose a tender that can hold enough passengers and cargo.

Again, assuming you have enough room to store it, we recommend assessing your dinghy needs and then considering the next size up to leave room for any extra guests, luggage or toys you may want to bring along. Extra space not only helps you operate your dinghy more safely, but it also leaves room for comfort.

What’s the Purpose of Your Dinghy?

That’s easy — fun! Pick your pleasure.

Are you all about watersports and exploration? Water skiing and searching for secluded beaches to relax the day away or scuba diving on beautiful reefs? Or maybe you’re just looking for a stable and dry ride to shore to shop, dine and discover. Whatever it is you like to do, a proper tender gets you into the mix.

Once you decide how you want to use your dinghy, you’ll have a better idea of which one you’ll want. If you like watersports, maybe a model with a little more size and power will suit you. If you just want a comfortable, dry ride to shore, maybe you’d prefer a model that’s smaller and quiet.

By the way, kids love dinghies — it’s a fact. Inflatable dinghies are awesome for towing the kids around on inflatable water toys, and they’re also a great way to teach the young ones how to drive a boat. But be careful — you’ll be asking “permission to come aboard” before you know it.

A Step-by-Step Review of How to Pick Your Yacht Dinghy

Follow these five steps to ensure you pick your RIB correctly:

  • Determine the size of tender your boat can handle.
  • Estimate the number of passengers and how much gear you’ll carry.
  • Figure out how you want to use your tender.
  • Browse and pick your favorite model .
  • Hit the open seas.

Tender Pricing Vs. Quality

There are cheap dinghy options out there, but you often get what you pay for. A proper tender is not only a representation of your yacht but an integral part of your boating experience. The yacht may do the heavy lifting on a voyage, but the dinghy is your transportation once you’re on anchor or a mooring.

If you work hard to create a luxurious atmosphere on your yacht, you’ll want a dinghy that reflects the same attention to detail that you expect from a precision watercraft. Our tenders are all about functionality without sacrificing style. We know a quality dinghy is essential to your yacht — that’s why we don’t cut corners. We pride ourselves on using the latest technology with only the best materials and precision European craftsmanship.

What Dinghy Models Does BRIG USA Offer?

We manufacture all of our tenders in our 100,000-square-feet headquarters in Europe . A team of industry experts — including ex-military and aeronautical engineers — seasoned craftsmen and designers make sure that no detail is overlooked. We take pride in knowing we produce premium dinghies for amazing adventures around the world. We have a wide range of tenders to choose from to match your needs and preferences:

  • Our Falcon Tender series ranges from 9 feet 6 inches to 15 feet 10 inches and can carry four to nine people, or 500 to 2,645 pounds. This series is the smaller range of tenders that we offer, but make no mistake — they have the power to get the job done and look good doing it.
  • Our Navigator series is a step up in size from the Falcon series. They range from 15 feet 11 inches to 24 feet and can carry eight to 10 people, or 2,315 to 3,960 pounds. This line of tenders has increased size and range for bigger yachts and even more passengers, gear and good times.
  • The Eagle series is our flagship line. With unparalleled design and function, they range from 11 feet 2 inches all the way to 32 feet 6 inches and can carry from four to 20 people, or 1,320 to 6,173 pounds. On our larger models, you won’t feel like you’re on a dinghy — they have the capacity, range and comfort for a full day of fun with the whole gang. No joke — these tenders turn heads.

Who Makes the Best Rigid Inflatable Boats? Find Them at BRIG USA

Yes, we’re biased. But for good reason — our dealers have the largest inventory of inflatable boats in the United States and the best inflatable yacht tenders. No one matches our prices or quality.

We have several options for high-quality dinghies for your needs and your price point. We offer premium quality at competitive pricing.

No matter what you’re looking for, BRIG USA has the right tender for your yacht. Check out our models and get out on the water.

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Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

sailboats for beginners

There are a number of classic trainers used by yacht club youth programs as well as techie new designs. Without mentioning specific models and brands, it’s difficult to outline which small boats are best but here are things to look for in good teaching boats.

Some of the best small sailboats for beginners include:

  • Boats with tillers steering
  • Boats with no winches
  • Sailing dinghies
  • Small sloops
  • Small catamarans
  • Rotomolded boats
  • Trailerable sailboats

Explore All Sailboat Types

Boats with Tiller Steering

Steering by tiller (rather than a wheel) can make a difference when learning. Tillers are directly connected to the rudder that manages the boat’s direction. Tillers provide quick feedback about the strength and direction of the wind as well as the boat’s turning agility at various speeds.

Boats with No Winches

Boats that require no winches to manage the sheets and halyards are best for youngsters and new sailors. These boats usually don’t experience the same forces on the sails and rigging as larger boats, which can be a handful when the wind starts to blow. Winches are usually replaced with cam or jam cleats, which are easy to use.

Sailing Dinghies

Sailing dinghies are usually rigged with one mast and one sail and offer kids and new sailors simplicity so it’s easy to learn the ropes. Less overwhelming than boats with two sails, dinghies are light and responsive. They also have a shallow draft due to side or centerboards so they can be sailed just about anywhere. In some cases (whether from a wind gust or sudden crew weight shift) sailing dinghies can capsize so students should wear lifejackets and know how to swim. Sailing dinghies are usually sailed by one or two people.

Small Sloops

Small sloops with a mast that carries head and mainsails are the next step so students learn how sails work together. Headsails can be hanked on or attached to a small roller furler. These boats may have some or no winches, which also makes them easier to maintain. These boats can usually be sailed with one to four people.

Some sloops can scale up, providing a more challenging experience for sailors as they develop skills. Certain models can carry spinnakers and larger headsails to teach sail combinations and new sail trim techniques. Others offer the ability to hike out (shift crew weight well outboard to balance the boat against the wind pressure in the sails). This kind of sailing is more advanced.

Small Catamarans

Small catamarans provide extra stability for those who may be nervous about capsizing or aren’t fond of heeling (tipping while sailing). With two hulls providing a wide and stable base, catamarans area ideal for beginners, which may be why they’re often used by resorts as their beach sailing tourist boats. Rigged with one or two sails, small cats are tiller steered and usually have a trampoline that the students sit on and sail.

Rotomolded Boats

Small rotomolded boats are very forgiving due to their durable construction. Unlike fiberglass or wooden boats, rotomolded (a type of plastic construction technique) trainers can bounce off docks or other boats and cause or sustain little damage. Dinghies and catamarans can both be made via rotomolding.

Trailerable Sailboats

Finally, small sailboats that can be trailered to different locations add variety and that makes learning fun. Students can learn to sail in different wind and water conditions and enjoy their boats differently on vacation or with new friends.

Learning to sail involves all the senses and requires a level head and lots of practice and although it can be learned in many ways, the best way is to start with a boat that’s small, simple, safe and durable.

Read Next: Small Boats: What Are My Options?

You Might Also Like:

  • Sailing Basics: 10 Nautical & Sailing Terms to Know
  • Learning the Basics of Sailing
  • Why Sailing?
  • Find the Right Boat for Your Lifestyle
  • Explore Sailboat Brands

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Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k

  • Katy Stickland
  • July 29, 2020

We put six portable sailing dinghies under £5,000 to the test to see which one is the best all-rounder and really deserves a place on your boat

Testing inflatable sailing dinghies at Lymington

Six inflatable sailing dinghies were tested by the team

Lightweight fabrics and drop-stitch construction enabling rigid high pressure structures are a far cry from the ubiquitous inflatable rubber tender.

all it’s pack-down convenience, these old-school bulbous craft were never easy to row, and mostly can’t be sailed.

This led to a heavy reliance on outboards, and with it, the loss a peaceful means of exploring new harbours.

With a sail and reasonable rowing abilities, however, you can get around without a noisy engine, occupy family for hours on end, and sail up creeks that a yacht could never explore.

Sailing sailing dinghies in Lymington

We tested the boats which could double up as portable tenders and capable sailing dinghies

We wanted to try out portable sailing dinghies that offered the best of both worlds – genuinely portable tenders that also double up as capable sailing dinghies.

The Seal, a new product, most closely resembles the once popular Tinker Tramp.

The two Dinghy Go dinghies are the closest to conventional tenders, but with rigid inflatable floors, centreboard casings and stayless rigs.

The Seahopper will delight traditionalists and fans of hard tenders, while folding completely flat.

The two wildcards were the MiniCat Guppy and the Tiwal 2, both 
of which offer plenty of fun afloat and could double as tenders if needed.

How we tested the portable sailing dinghies

We judged the six dinghies against a few 
key factors.

First we measured the size of the bags in which the dinghies and 
all their kit were stowed, and weighed each bag.

This gave us a fair idea of how realistically portable each tender is and how much space it might take up on board.

We then assembled each boat and timed how long it took from packed to ready.

Weighing the bags the dinghies came in

The dinghies were weighed to discover how portable they really were

Whilst assembly will always get quicker with practice, some manufacturers sent representatives for the test, easing our learning process.

Once on the water, both Toby Heppell and Theo Stocker took the sailing dinghies out for 
a spin, sailing the boats upwind and downwind.

They also rowed and motored those that were equipped to 
do so (the MiniCat and the Tiwal 
were not equipped with rowlocks or an outboard bracket).

We measured 
rough speed via GPS to give us an idea 
of what speeds could be achieved in the sailing dinghies.

The weather during our test was a little variable with winds between 7-13 knots and minimal wave state.

  • 1. How we tested the portable sailing dinghies
  • 3. Seal (prototype)
  • 4. Seahopper Kondor
  • 5. MiniCat Guppy
  • 6. Dinghy Go Nomad3 & Dinghy Go Orca
  • 7. Also on the market

best dinghy for small sailboat

Sailing Dinghy: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

by Emma Sullivan | Jul 13, 2023 | Sailing Adventures

Embarking on adventure: a beginner's manual to mastering the art of dinghy sailing and boating.

Short answer: Sailing Dinghy

A sailing dinghy is a small, lightweight boat designed for recreational or competitive sailing. It typically has a single mast and sails, and can be sailed by one or two people. Dinghies offer an accessible way to learn and enjoy sailing, with various types available including the popular Laser, Optimist, and Flying Junior models.

How to Choose the Perfect Sailing Dinghy for Your Adventures

Title: Embarking on New Adventures: Expert Tips for Selecting Your Ideal Sailing Dinghy

Introduction: Setting sail on a thrilling adventure with your very own sailing dinghy is an experience that few can resist. Whether you’re an avid sailor seeking the perfect companion or a beginner ready to dive into the captivating world of sailing, choosing the right dinghy is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate through the key considerations and share expert insights to help you select the flawless sailing dinghy for your upcoming adventures.

1. Evaluate Your Skill Level: As with any sporting activity, assessing your skill level is paramount when selecting a sailing dinghy. Beginners should opt for forgiving and stable options, such as small catamarans or dinghies equipped with centerboards that offer enhanced stability and ease of control. On the other hand, experienced sailors might feel more comfortable pushing their limits with high-performance racing dinghies designed for speed and maneuverability.

2. Purpose and Intended Use: Consider how you plan to utilize your sailing dinghy. Are you looking to embark on serene leisure cruises? Or are adrenaline-pumping regattas and races more your style? The purpose of usage dictates various factors like size, design, rigging options, and even storage requirements.

– For Recreational Sailing: If relaxation is your primary objective, seek out spacious designs with comfortable seating arrangements suitable for day trips. Dinghies featuring open cockpits allow easy movement while showcasing stability in calmer waters. – Racing Enthusiasts: Aspiring sailors seeking competitive endeavors should gravitate toward lighter-weight designs built specifically for speed and agility. Consider high-performance hulls with advanced rigging systems that maximize control during tight maneuvers.

3. Size Matters: Selecting an appropriate dinghy size is crucial to ensure safety, comfort, and overall performance on the water. – Solo Sailors: Those planning solitary adventures should opt for smaller, single-handed sailing dinghies that offer ease of handling, maneuverability, and quick rigging. – Crew or Family Sailing: For group outings or family escapades, larger dinghies with multiple seating options and spacious interiors are recommended. Look for models designed to accommodate your specific crew size comfortably.

4. Material Considerations: Dinghies can be crafted from a variety of materials, each presenting unique attributes in terms of durability, maintenance, weight, and cost. – Fiberglass: Popular for its reliability and longevity while offering sleek designs and low maintenance requirements. – Wood: A classic choice appreciated for its timeless appeal and natural beauty. Wooden dinghies require greater upkeep but can be extremely rewarding for enthusiasts who enjoy the traditional aesthetic. – Inflatable Dinghies: Versatile and easily transportable options that inflate quickly when needed—ideal for those seeking convenience or frequent exploration in distant locations.

5. Estimating Budget: Understanding the financial investment required is essential before embarking on your purchase journey. Determine your budget based on factors like desired features, boat condition (new vs. pre-owned), accessories required (sails, oars), and ongoing maintenance costs. Exploring both new and used market options may help find the sweet spot between quality and affordability.

Conclusion: Selecting the ideal sailing dinghy requires careful consideration of various factors such as skill level, intended use, size requirements, materials used in construction, and available budget range. Taking these aspects into account will not only pave the way for safe and enjoyable adventures but also ensure a long-lasting relationship with your chosen vessel. So set sail with confidence on your next adventure as you navigate the vast ocean waves with grace aboard your perfect sailing dinghy!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Rigging and Launching a Sailing Dinghy

Rigging and launching a sailing dinghy can be an exciting adventure for those who love the open water. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just starting out, properly rigging and launching your dinghy is crucial for a safe and successful outing. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get your sailing dinghy ready for action.

Step 1: Gather Your Gear Before you begin the rigging process, it’s essential to gather all the necessary equipment and gear. This includes sails, mast, boom, rudder, tiller, lines (ropes), lifejackets, and any other required safety equipment. Having everything organized ahead of time will make the rigging process smoother.

Step 2: Prep the Mast Start by inserting the mast into its base on the boat securely. Make sure it is straight and secure before proceeding further. Attach any necessary hardware such as shrouds or stay wires that support the mast’s stability.

Step 3: Connect Boom and Sails Next, attach the boom to the mast using appropriate fittings or hardware. Ensure that it is securely fastened so that it won’t come loose when under sail. Now attach your main sail to both the mast and boom using halyards (lines) or clips provided for this purpose.

Step 4: Install Rudder and Tiller Once your sails are secured in place, proceed to install the rudder onto its pintles (metal fittings) at the back of your dinghy. Make sure it moves freely but with enough resistance while being attached tightly enough to avoid falling off during sailing activities. Attach one end of a tiller extension to the top of your tiller handle before inserting it into its fitting on top of the rudder assembly.

Step 5: Check Lines and Controls Take a moment to ensure all control lines are in proper working order before leaving the dock. These lines include sheets (controls for adjusting sails), halyards (controls for raising and lowering sails), and any other lines specific to your dinghy’s rigging setup.

Step 6: Safety Check Before launching, conduct a thorough safety check. Inspect all the installed equipment to ensure there are no loose fittings or potential hazards. Ensure you have life jackets on board for everyone, alongside essential safety items such as a whistle, flares, and a first aid kit.

Step 7: Launching Your Dinghy Now it’s time to launch your dinghy into the water! Find an appropriate boat ramp or area that provides easy access to the water. Make sure your dinghy is securely attached to a trailer or hoist system before slowly lowering it into the water.

Step 8: Adjust Sails and Prepare for Sailing Once your dinghy is in the water, climb aboard while being mindful of your balance within the vessel. Adjust the sails accordingly by releasing or tightening control lines until they are adequately set for sailing conditions.

Step 9: Give Way to Freedom! Finally, push off from shore or engage your engine if necessary—head out onto open waters with confidence in your newly rigged sailing dinghy!

Rigging and launching a sailing dinghy may seem like a daunting task at first, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll find yourself confidently setting sail in no time. Remember that practice makes perfect – take every opportunity to hone your skills and learn more about safely navigating on open waters. So grab your gear, embrace the wind in your sails, and enjoy every moment aboard as you embark on exciting nautical adventures!

Exploring the Basics: Understanding the Components of a Sailing Dinghy

Are you eager to embark on your sailing adventures but feeling a bit overwhelmed by the complex world of sailing dinghies? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we’ll break down the essential components of a sailing dinghy, helping you understand their functions and how they contribute to your incredible sailing experience. So grab your life jacket and let’s dive in!

1. Mast and Rigging:

Let’s start at the top with the mast and rigging – the backbone of any sailing dinghy. The mast is a vertical spar that supports the sails, allowing you to harness the power of wind. Rigging comprises various cables, wires, and lines that support and control the shape of the sail. Together, they ensure stability and allow for smooth maneuvering through different conditions.

Ah, yes! The majestic sails that capture the wind’s energy to propel you forward! Sailing dinghies typically have two types of sails – a mainsail and a jib/genoa. The mainsail is attached to the mast while the jib/genoa is mounted on the forestay at the bow. These sails work together to catch wind from different directions, making use of every gust for maximum speed.

Imagine yourself as Captain Jack Sparrow steering your ship – well, meet your trusty companion; The rudder! Located at the stern (back) of your sailing dinghy, it allows you to control direction by adjusting its angle relative to water flow. Be mindful of maintaining proper balance between speed and maneuverability – too much rudder can cause drag!

4. Centerboard or Daggerboard:

Diving beneath your boat’s surface brings us face-to-face with an often overlooked hero –the centerboard or daggerboard! Attached to keel/centerline underneath your boat or inside its hull respectively (depending on design), these retractable fins provide stability, preventing excessive drifting sideways. Lower it when sailing and retract it during beach landings or shallow waters to avoid damage.

The hull, the lower part of your dinghy that sits in the water, plays a vital role in buoyancy, stability, and speed. Most dinghy hulls are made from fiberglass, wood, or composite materials like carbon fiber. Each material has distinct characteristics offering different trade-offs between weight, strength, and cost – be sure to choose wisely!

6. Control Lines:

Ever wondered how those skilled sailors effortlessly perform stunning maneuvers? Well, behind their impressive skills lies an intricate web of control lines! From cunninghams to outhauls, downhauls to vang lines – these ropes help you adjust sail shape, control tension on various parts of your boat’s rigging and achieve optimal performance under different wind conditions.

7. Sailing Instruments:

If you’re aiming for precision and advanced data about your boat’s performance on the water – investing in sailing instruments is a game-changer! From depth sounders and GPS devices to wind indicators and compasses – these handy gadgets provide valuable information helping you navigate with finesse while avoiding unexpected obstacles underwater.

Understanding these essential components will boost your confidence as you embark on your sailing journey. Always remember – safety comes first! Ensure you have appropriate personal protection gear like life jackets and familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations before setting sail.

So there you have it – a comprehensive rundown of the key components that make up a sailing dinghy. Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, hoist those sails high and embrace the joys of sailing with confidence! Fair winds and smooth seas await brave sailor!

FAQ: Everything You Need to Know About Maintaining and Repairing Your Sailing Dinghy

Welcome sailors! We are here to address all your queries and concerns about maintaining and repairing your beloved sailing dinghy. Whether you are a seasoned sailor or just dipping your toes into the pastime, we have compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions that will provide you with all the necessary information to keep your dinghy in top-notch condition.

1. Why is regular maintenance important for my sailing dinghy?

Regular maintenance is vital for any watercraft, especially for sailing dinghies. Being exposed to the elements, they require special attention to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Routine checks and upkeep will prevent minor issues from turning into major problems while ensuring safety on the open water.

2. What should be included in my regular maintenance routine?

Your routine maintenance should encompass several crucial aspects: – Hull Inspection: Regularly examine your hull for any signs of damage or wear, including cracks or loose fittings. – Cleaning: Remove dirt, grime, and saltwater residues after each use to prevent corrosion and deterioration. – Rigging Inspection: Inspect ropes, lines, and fittings for fraying or weakened areas that may compromise their integrity. – Sail Care: Check for tears, mold growth, or loose stitching on your sails. Prompt repairs or replacements are essential. – Safety Equipment Check: Ensure all safety gear such as life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers are functional and up-to-date.

3. How can I protect my sailing dinghy from degrading due to sun exposure?

The sun’s rays can take a toll on boat finishes over time if not properly protected. To shield your sailing dinghy from this degradation: – Apply UV-resistant wax to the hull regularly. – Invest in a fitted cover designed specifically for such boats when it is not in use. – Store your dinghy in shaded areas whenever possible.

4. What steps should I take if I notice any damage or wear on my dinghy?

It is crucial to address any damages promptly to ensure optimal performance and safety: – For minor cracks or chips, use an appropriate marine-grade epoxy to fill them in. – Consult a professional if you encounter major structural damage or are unsure about repairs needed. – Regularly check the condition of your rigging and replace any frayed or weakened lines promptly.

5. Are there any specialized tools or equipment I should have for maintaining my sailing dinghy?

While basic maintenance can be done with common tools, certain tasks may require specific equipment: – A sail repair kit consisting of adhesive patches, thread, and needles for quick fixes on sails. – An epoxy kit for repairing cracks or chips on the hull. – A tension gauge to ensure proper rigging tension for optimal performance.

Remember to familiarize yourself with these tools’ proper usage before attempting repairs!

Now that you’re armed with knowledge about sailing dinghy maintenance and repair, you can confidently hit the water without worries. Stay safe, take care of your vessel, and enjoy the exhilarating experience of sailing!

Essential Safety Tips for Beginners in Sailing Dinghies

Sailing dinghies offer a thrilling and adventurous experience on the open water. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced sailor, it’s crucial to prioritize safety while embarking on your sailing journey. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with some essential safety tips catered specifically towards beginners in sailing dinghies. So grab your life jacket and let’s dive in!

1. Always wear a life jacket: Safety should always be your number one priority when sailing. Regardless of your swimming abilities, wearing a properly fitted and Coast Guard-approved life jacket is non-negotiable. It provides buoyancy and ensures your safety in case of an unexpected capsize or any other unforeseen circumstance.

2. Get acquainted with the weather forecast: Checking the weather conditions before setting sail is imperative for any sailor, especially beginners. Unfavorable weather can make your sailing experience dangerous and unpredictable. Keep an eye out for strong winds, storms, or changing tides that may affect your journey. Remember, it’s better to stay ashore if the weather seems risky.

3. Learn basic navigation skills: Understanding basic navigation techniques will help you maintain control over your dinghy even if you lose sight of land or landmarks. Familiarize yourself with reading nautical charts to identify potential hazards like shallow waters or submerged rocks within your sailing area. Additionally, learning how to use a compass can assist you in maintaining course direction when visibility is limited.

4. Never sail alone initially: As an inexperienced sailor venturing into the world of dinghy sailing, it’s advisable not to embark on solo trips until you’ve gained confidence and sufficient knowledge about handling various situations on the water. Sailing with a more experienced buddy or joining a beginner-friendly sailing club allows for shared responsibilities and immediate assistance during emergencies.

5. Inform others about your plans: Before heading out on the water, inform someone trustworthy about your planned itinerary – including departure time, expected return, and the sailing area you’ll be exploring. In case of any delays or unforeseen circumstances, this information will enable others to start searching for you if necessary.

6. Know your limits: It’s crucial to acknowledge your own abilities and limitations as a beginner sailor. Be honest with yourself about your swimming skills, knowledge of sailing techniques, and comfort level on the water. Avoid pushing boundaries by attempting challenging maneuvers or heading into unfamiliar territory until you’ve gained sufficient experience and competence.

7. Stay aware of your surroundings: Constant vigilance is essential while sailing in order to avoid potential collisions with other vessels or fixed obstacles such as moored boats, buoys, or rocks. Regularly scan the area around you and maintain situational awareness at all times. Remember, prevention is always better than dealing with an accident afterward!

8. Practice capsizing drills: Capsize recovery skills are vital for any dinghy sailor – even more so for beginners. Learning how to properly right a capsized dinghy and reboard it can save both equipment and lives in emergency situations. Familiarize yourself with these techniques by practicing them under controlled conditions before venturing out into unfamiliar waters.

9. Carry essential safety equipment: Apart from a life jacket, ensure that your dinghy is equipped with necessary safety gear such as a whistle or horn to signal distress, a waterproof flashlight for emergencies during low visibility hours, flares (if required), and a throwable flotation device like a lifebuoy.

10. Take sailing lessons from professionals: Last but not least, investing in formal sailing lessons conducted by certified instructors can be invaluable for acquiring the essential skills needed to become a confident sailor. These experts will guide you through proper boat handling techniques, safety protocols specific to dinghies, and provide insights based on their extensive experience.

By adhering to these essential safety tips tailored towards beginners in sailing dinghies, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy a safe and enjoyable sailing experience. Remember, it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to venturing out into the open water – your safety should always be your top concern. So set sail with confidence, aware of the risks but ready for adventure in your trusty dinghy!

Unleashing the Thrill: Mastering Advanced Techniques in Sailing Dinghy Racing

Do you find yourself yearning for the exhilarating rush of adrenaline, the wind whipping through your hair, and the sense of ultimate freedom that comes from gliding effortlessly across the water? If so, then you’re no stranger to the enchanting world of sailing dinghy racing. But what if we told you there’s a whole new level of excitement waiting to be discovered – one that can only be achieved by mastering advanced techniques?

In this blog post, we are determined to unlock the secrets that will take your sailing skills to unprecedented heights. Prepare to experience an electrifying journey as we delve into the realm of advanced techniques in sailing dinghy racing.

First and foremost, let’s talk about boat handling. While basic maneuvering may have gotten you across the finish line before, it’s time to elevate your game. The art of skillful boat handling lies in precisely trimming sails, adjusting weight distribution, and anticipating changes in wind direction like a seasoned sailor. We’ll guide you through these intricacies with detailed explanations and expert advice so that you can glide effortlessly through choppy waters and leave your competitors trailing behind.

Next up on our quest for mastery is strategy. Sailing dinghy racing isn’t just about who can sail fastest; it’s about making strategic moves that will give you an edge over your rivals. By understanding wind patterns, current flows, and racecourse dynamics like never before, you’ll be able to make split-second decisions that can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Our clever insights will equip you with game-changing strategies that even experienced sailors may not have uncovered.

But let us not neglect the importance of physicality when it comes to dominating on the waves. Sailing dinghies demand strength, agility, and sheer determination from their captains. Our professional guidance will help condition your body for optimal performance while sharing inventive workouts to hone your reflexes and build the endurance required for these high-octane races. After all, being physically fit is not only vital for your own safety but also ensures an unstoppable presence on the water.

As we unlock the mastery of advanced techniques, we invite you to embrace innovation. Unleash your creativity and dare to challenge conventional sailing norms with groundbreaking techniques that will leave everyone in awe. We’ll explore cutting-edge technologies and equipment choices, giving you insider knowledge on how to gain a competitive edge using tools that others haven’t even thought of yet.

Last but not least, we must emphasize the importance of fostering camaraderie within this tight-knit sailing community. Forming alliances and learning from experienced sailors can significantly accelerate your growth as a racer. Our witty anecdotes and stories from seasoned professionals will entertain you while imparting valuable wisdom garnered through years of experience.

So buckle up (or should we say “harness yourself”) for an exhilarating journey into the world of mastering advanced techniques in sailing dinghy racing. With our detailed professional guidance, witty insights, clever strategies, and innovative approaches – there’s no limit to what you can achieve on those waves. Get ready to unleash the thrill like never before!

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Choosing the Best Dinghy for Your Boat

January 7, 2021 by Travis Turgeon 5 Comments

inflatable dinghy anchoring sea

At anchor, a dinghy boat serves as your lifeline to everything from leisurely excursions to provisioning trips. Every captain or crew will use their dinghy differently, so it’s essential to consider what features and functions are important to you.

Do you plan to explore remote areas away from anchor? Do you plan to fish, snorkel, or dive from the dinghy? How many people will you need to carry at once? Every aspect should play into your decision.

Below, we cover the following to help you choose a dinghy that’s right for your boat:

  • Key Factors to Consider
  • Types of Dinghies
  • Outboard Motors

General Information and Tips

What should i consider before buying a dinghy for my boat.

dinghy sailboat storage

Make the following considerations before purchasing a dinghy for your boat: 

  • DInghy Storage 
  • Carrying Capacity
  • Use of the Vessel

Dinghy Storage

Storage should be a defining factor when purchasing a dinghy for your boat. There are several common ways to store a dinghy, but not all storage is suitable for every vessel. A rigid dinghy will need enough space to be tied on the deck or at the back of the boat, while you can stow an inflatable dinghy in lockers or lazarettes.

Regardless of where you choose to keep your dinghy on the boat, it should be in a location that does not reduce drag, restrict access to important areas, or prevent easy access for storage and use.

The most common options are:

  • Dinghy Davits
  • On-Deck 
  • Locker 

Davits: Permanently installed at the stern of the boat, davits are used to store, deploy, and retrieve your dinghy from the water. Davit storage is standard for any dinghy that’s too heavy to manually lift in and out of the water. Although storage on dinghy davits is convenient, it poses a risk when sailing through heavy seas. Large waves and wind can cause the dinghy to flood while in transit, and the weight can damage the stern of the boat or the davits.

On-Deck: Some people choose to tie the dinghy upside-down at the bow, stern, or side of the boat. For this to be an option, you need sufficient unused space on the deck, and you need to be sure that the dinghy is not interfering with any important pathway or area on the boat. 

Swim-Step: Boats with an elevated swim-step can accommodate a dinghy at the boat’s stern as long as it’s elevated far enough out of the water. Keep the dinghy tied aerodynamically and tilted so that it doesn’t fill with water. 

Locker: Roll-up inflatable dinghies are easily deployed and retrieved from the water by hand, and they can be deflated and stored in a locker anywhere onboard. 

Towed: For nearshore journeys in calm conditions, you can easily pull the dinghy behind your boat. Be careful, though, as high speeds and choppy seas can cause a dinghy to flip in the water.

Dinghy Carrying Capacity

If you’re sailing with multiple crew or passengers, you will want a dinghy that can carry the same amount of people. Making numerous trips from ship to shore will not only cost you time, but it will also run up fuel costs. Further, you’ll want extra room for luggage, provisions, recreational gear, and anything else that may find its way onto your boat. 

The handling in your dinghy can become problematic when loaded beyond capacity, so use caution – especially in rough seas. Safety should always be a top priority, so the goal is to aim for the biggest dinghy you can get without sacrificing too much storage space.  

Dinghy Material

Rigid dinghies are most commonly made of fiberglass or aluminum, but you can opt for a more classic wooden design as well. The material will partially dictate where the dinghy can be stored and the need for equipment such as dinghy davits. While fiberglass hulls are cheaper than aluminum, they also come with the burden of a heavier weight. Alternatively, aluminum hulls will outlast their fiberglass counterparts, but for a higher price. Overall, rigid dinghies can withstand wear-and-tear better than inflatables, although routine maintenance is required.

Inflatable dinghies are kept afloat using tubes surrounding the boat’s hull, commonly made of either PVC or CSE. CSE, or “Hypalon,” is a synthetic rubber material that is highly resistant to chemicals, UV light, extreme temperatures, and abrasion. CSE is a lot like PVC, but it’s lighter and has more UV and water-resistant properties. It’s also more abrasion resistant, making it ideal for taking to shore. CSE offers a longer service life and a more extended warranty, although again at a higher cost. The most common complaint you’ll hear about CSE is the rate at which the air escapes from the tubes. On average, CSE tubes lose about 15% of their air within 24 hours, while PVC loses under 7%.

PVC is an excellent alternative to the more durable CSE, as the material still offers a reasonable service life at a lower cost. PVC is also much lighter, more convenient to fold, and easier to clean than CSE. The biggest potential problem with PVC is simple neglect and lack of maintenance. If cared for properly, modern PVC materials can last long enough to justify not paying the higher costs for CSE. 

For some excellent tips on maintaining your inflatable dinghy, check out Sail Magazine’s Tender Choices article , here.

How You’ll Use The Dinghy

The last factor to consider is how you intend to use the vessel. Will you be traveling long distances from anchor? Exploring remote locations? How many people do you need to transport? Do you need special features to accommodate scuba diving and fishing? You should do as much research as you can to ensure that you’re buying a tender that suits your needs while staying within your budget. Below, we discuss the difference between each type of dinghy – and who each is best suited for.

Types of Dinghies 

Choosing the right type of dinghy for you and your boat will require some careful thought. Your dinghy is your primary source of transportation between journeys, and you’ll want to make sure that your purchase is fitting for your immediate and future needs.

The three most common types of dinghies are:

Rigid Boats

Inflatable boats, rigid inflatable boats (rib).

hard body dinghy pier

Hard-body (rigid) dinghies are among the simplest styles of tender, and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Rigid dinghies are sufficient for those who don’t need to travel long distances or through rough conditions. However, more and more people are moving to inflatables or semi-inflatables for their wide range of abilities when needed. 

When considering if a rigid dinghy is right for you, think hard about the material each is built with. For the hull specifically, the materials will affect the price, durability, and cosmetics of the vessel, as well as the weight and ability to transport. Most rigid dinghies are constructed with fiberglass, aluminum, or wood and have a lower carrying capacity than inflatables. They also have less stability when entering, exiting, and moving through the water. 


  • Easily Propelled
  • Puncture Resistant
  • Outboard Compatible
  • Low-Cost Option
  • UV Resistant


  • Easily Scratched and Blemished
  • Adequate Storage Space Required

inflatable fishing dinghy lake

More popular than rigid dinghies and less popular than RIB’s, inflatables offer a good middle ground for those looking to compromise between cost and functionality. The large PVC or Polyurethane tubes in the front and sides of the boat are more stable than rigid vessels and allow for a higher carrying capacity due to their buoyancy. Compare those benefits with the low costs of materials, and it’s easy to see why inflatables are so popular. 

There are numerous variations of Inflatable dinghies, with the most common being:

  • Soft Bottom Roll-Up
  • Rigid Floor with Soft Bottom
  • Soft Bottom with Rigid Transom

Dinghies with soft bottom have the widest variance in configuration. Some have rigid transoms where an outboard motor can be mounted. Some have rigid, removable floors, and some have an inflatable keel that increases the vessel’s stability and planing abilities. Other than the lower-end inflatables, though, almost all will have stable floors and a captain’s seat. Rowing is difficult in rough conditions, so inflatables are most commonly used with a 5-10 horsepower outboard.

Roll-up inflatables are easily stored, don’t take up much space, and are the lightest of all inflatable options. They also have the least to offer in functionality, and since most don’t have a rigid transom, they must be rowed by hand. Unless you only plan to use the vessel in calm conditions, you should consider dinghies with hard floors and transoms. 

Soft bottom dinghies with rigid floors and transoms are more ideal, as they can be used efficiently in a wider variety of situations. The ability to mount an outboard allows you to use the vessel in harsher conditions and travel greater distances. The rigid floors allow you to use the vessel for fishing, diving, provisioning, and more without sacrificing stability and comfort. 

  • Lightest Option
  • Easily Compacted and Stored
  • Easily Damaged and Punctured 
  • Consistent Maintenance Required
  • Low Efficiency

rigid inflatable dinghy powerful

The RIB design is a cross between a soft bottom and rigid hull and gives you the most bang for your buck in the water. The hard-bodied hull makes for a stable and damage-resistant body, while the inflatable tubes add optimal stability. The RIB design is so efficient that it’s even used by the US Military and Coast Guard. The tradeoff you make with a RIB is portability and storage, as the hull can not be taken apart or broken down. However, this can be overlooked by carefully choosing a RIB that’s right for your boat. If you’re looking to outfit your boat for scuba diving , a RIB should be pretty much your only consideration for a tender.

Rigid Inflatable Dinghies are the most popular type of dinghy for cruising sailors, and it’s easy to see why. RIBs used as dinghies are commonly between 10 and 15-feet long, with anything larger being reserved for massive yachts with dinghy garages or excess storage space. RIBs are typically stored on davits or lashed upside down somewhere on the deck of the boat. For shorter trips near shore and in calm conditions, you can tow the RIB behind the boat.

Typically, RIBs are available with either aluminum or fiberglass hulls. Aluminum is lighter and stronger than fiberglass, although you should expect to see a price tag that matches those benefits. 

  • Optimal Speed, Handling, and Stability Rugged 
  • Limited Storage Options

Outboard Dinghy Motors

dinghy outboard motor lake

After choosing the dinghy that’s right for you and your vessel, you’ll need to select an outboard to fit. You’ll want something powerful enough to make the dinghy plane at full capacity but also light enough to transfer to and from the dinghy‘s transom. Before making a decision, check with the manufacturer to determine the recommended power output for your intended use. 

Generally speaking, fully inflatable dinghies that measure around 10-feet in length support a 5-8 horsepower outboard, which is sufficient for the basics. For a more capable inflatable, look for a 10-25 horsepower outboard. Just be cautious, as too much power can flip a lightweight dinghy. 

Similarly, a 10-foot RIB will support a heavier engine, such as a 10-15 horsepower outboard that provides enough power for the boat to plane while carrying more than one passenger. For more capability, look for an outboard in the 20-50 horsepower range.

Either way, you’ll need to decide your dinghy’s primary purpose and buy an outboard to support it.

If it’s simply used for trips to shore in calm conditions, a lower-powered outboard will likely be sufficient. The more power you can apply, the more capable your dinghy will become. Further, the maximum power output of the engine should always exceed the recommendations for operating the dinghy at full capacity. If you have a powerful outboard, you won’t have to worry as much about overworking the engine when the boat is full. 

When determining which motor is right for you, keep in mind the storage and transportation options you have. If you need to lift the dinghy and outboard out of the water manually, it might be safe to say that the lighter the outboard’s weight, the better. If your back can handle the extra weight, though, the 4-stroke engines are far better suited for things like water sports and rough surface conditions.

sailing rope safety equipment

Dinghy Excursion Checklist

  • Check inflation levels and make sure there is no water inside the boat. If there is, look for leaks or damage.
  • Ensure the boat is free of all loose lines, flags, or anything that could get caught in the boat propeller.
  • Check to make sure the outboard is appropriately and securely mounted to the transom. 
  • Quickly test both the forward and reverse gears to make sure everything is working as it should. 
  • Test the lights on the dinghy, even if it’s still light out. 
  • Check for paddles, lifejackets, first-aid kits, and dinghy repair kits.

Operating the Dinghy

  • When operating the dinghy alone, clip the emergency motor stop to your clothing. If you fall overboard, your motor will stop. 
  • Be cautious when using a powerful outboard. Too much power can cause a lightweight inflatable to flip or overturn. 
  • Bring the dinghy upwind when returning to your boat for a more controlled approach. 
  • Always use both front and rear-facing lights when operating the dinghy after dark.
  • When towing the dinghy behind your boat, experiment with the length of the tow rope to find the smoothest pull.
  • If there is any surf present, do not attempt to beach your dinghy.
  • Use a dinghy anchor if there are large tide changes, waves, or swells present.
  • Keep a dinghy repair kit on board at all times in case of small punctures or tears.
  • Dinghy covers reduce UV light exposure and prolong the life of the dinghy by up to five years.
  • Cosmetically, CSE doesn’t wear down for about 10 years. PVC begins to look rough after only a few.
  • Consider where you intend to use your dinghy. Will it be in locations with high swells, rocky shores, and cold water? If so, consider a more rugged and damage-resistant material.
  • Before purchasing a dinghy, visit a few boat shows, and read user reviews. You want to be comfortable making a purchase, and having first-hand resources to chat with is the best way to feel confident about your decision. 
  • Keep your dinghy insured separately in case of incidents that happen away from your yacht.
  • Dinghies and their outboard motors are common targets of theft, so be sure to lock up both whenever possible.

When choosing a dinghy for your cruising lifestyle, it’s important to know exactly how to buy a new or used boat  and what considerations should be prioritized. 

Join the #BoatLife community and contribute to our new forum! Get a new conversation started, or use your experience to address existing posts.

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment below, share it on social media, and subscribe to our email list.

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Reader Interactions

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July 3, 2021 at 10:26 am

I have one for my canoe, my dinghy, and my power boat So, the next time you see a 5 year old boat in Seabridge marina in Ventura California, that looks brand new, it’s my boat.

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July 30, 2021 at 8:17 am

It is a great article and quite intresting to read too thanks for sharing such good information with us.

best dinghy for small sailboat

August 1, 2021 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for reading, Cassey. We’re always here to help – don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments!

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December 14, 2021 at 2:08 pm

Travis – My name is Mark and I am a member of the Great Lakes Cruising Club. We’ve been around since 1934, we have 2,500 US & Canadian members and we are a volunteer driven organization. For the last twelve years we have operated an on-line school, the GLCCSchool.com. Annually we present 35-40 webinars and have an attendance of around 900 people. We really liked your article on dinghies and are wondering if you would consider turning that into a presentation for our school. If you have the slightest interest please check us out and send me an email so we can explore this further. Thanks.

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January 23, 2022 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for all of the applicable information. I appreciate how the differences of each type of boat were well defined. This article was extremely helpful.

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Best Dinghy for Small Sailboat

  • Thread starter SailorElliot
  • Start date Jul 19, 2021
  • Tags dinghy flicka 20 inflatable dinghy
  • Forums for All Owners
  • Ask All Sailors



Hello! I am wondering what the best dinghy is for rowing/motoring to shore on my Flicka 20. I would prefer not to tow. Is a motor necessary, or is it possible to row to the dinghy dock/the shore from a mooring? Thank you!  

sail sfbay

The one that can fit on your sailboat, light enough for you and/or your crew to handle, large enough for crew and supplies, do you want to get up on plane with a motor AND fits your budget...........do not think there is a best dinghy. I like a low cost, lightweight (52-53 lbs) rollup dinghy like a West Marine PRU-3 for $1000 WEST MARINE PRU-3 Performance Roll-Up Inflatable Boat | West Marine or RU-250 for $700: WEST MARINE RU-250 Roll-Up Inflatable Dinghy | West Marine The need for a motor depends on how far AND how fast you need to go..............If you want a motor there are a lot of factors like weight, do you ant to carry gasoline, etc. I like a lightweight electric motor like a Torqeedo 503 or 1003 Travel 503/1003l - Torqeedo .  

Leeward Rail

Leeward Rail

SailorElliot said: am wondering what the best dinghy is for rowing/motoring to shore on my Flicka 20 Click to expand
SailorElliot said: Is a motor necessary, or is it possible to row to the dinghy dock/the shore from a mooring? Click to expand


Don't over look the value of a beat up old dinghy - They're far less likely to be stolen! The inflatables are more stable which is good when guests are on board and when doing boat repairs from the dinghy. I have a small fiberglass dingy that weighs close to 100lbs. By the end of each season I'm a bit tired of lugging it to the dock multiple times a week. However, it's a load of fun to zip around the marina with a trolling motor  

Thank you everyone for responding! I ended up getting an inflatable Intex kayak which works great and is easily stored.  

I bought an Intex 5 person inflatable row boat. It works ok getting us from the dock to the mooring. It rows, but because it has a flat bottom, it doesn't track real well. I don't really think I would tow it for any distance because it's so light and could flip, but when we put the boat in this spring my 18 year old son was standing in it as I towed it behind me out to find the mooring. I guess that says something for the stability.  

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2023 Boat of the Year Best Dinghy: Tiwal 3R

  • By Dave Reed
  • December 16, 2022

Tiwal 3R

Sailing World Magazine’s  annual Boat of the Year tests are conducted in Annapolis, Maryland, following the US Sailboat Show. With independent judges exhaustively inspecting the boats on land and putting them through their paces on the water, this year’s fleet of new performance-sailing boats spanned from small dinghies to high-tech bluewater catamarans. Here’s the best of the best from our  2023 Boat of the Year nominees »

The High-Pressure Ripper

  • Tiwal 3R 2023 Best Dinghy
  • Stated purpose: Recreational sailing, one-design and rally racing
  • Crew: One to two
  • Praise for: Performance, comfort, portability
  • Est. price as sailed: $8,900

The surest way to grow sailing is to make it easy to get on the water with minimal hassle on a boat that is exhilarating to sail—and that’s exactly what the inflatable and ­powered-up Tiwal 3R does. Thousands of Tiwal fanatics around the world can’t be wrong; they love their zippy little crafts, and the Tiwal community has grown ever larger since its young French innovators launched the first model a decade ago. The Tiwal 3R is the continuing evolution of a great idea—with even better execution. Tiwal boats keep getting better, and this one is its best yet.

The “R” is for Race, and that’s because after two years of playing and adventure racing on the early-edition Tiwal 3s, keener owners started asking for more. But the engineering required to make Tiwal’s high-pressure inflatable hull and aluminum frame take on greater rig and structural loads that had them stumped for nearly two years, says Emmanuel Bertrand. They kept breaking it until they got it right.

At 10 feet and 121 pounds fully rigged, the magic of the Tiwal 3R is its portability, which would explain why the company says it sells so many in urban areas around the world. The sail, hull, blades, five-part composite spar and boom, and aluminum frame pack into two 5-foot duffel bags. To put it all together at whatever water’s edge takes about 30 minutes; it’s mere minutes if the boat is coming off the car top already pumped and assembled.

Tiwal 3R

The PVC hull construction is identical to all other Tiwals, but the design for the 3R is a big improvement, with a more pronounced V-shape, a bit more rocker, and a reinforcement plate on the bottom near the transom, which gives it stiffness and a cleaner exit. “It’s difficult to get a hard corner on inflatables,” Stewart says, “so that’s a great solution to give it a nice sharp edge and a cleaner break so the water isn’t bubbling up over the back.”

When I got my weight in the right spot, the boat just took off. It’s quicker than quick. —Chuck Allen

The gust-responsive rig and big sail, built with North Sails racing cloth, is what takes the boat a big step from the recreational sailor’s Tiwal 3 to the racing sailor’s 3R, Powlison says. “This is the same size sail as a Laser, 77 square feet, which is a lot of power. When you get the vang set right, it does make a big difference. It is an effective control that they got right.”

Powlison’s only desire was to be able to get the sail controls to run farther back on the rack, accepting, however, that this would unnecessarily complicate the setup.

Tiwal 3R

Allen, who’s been a Tiwal fan since the original, is impressed once again. “You definitely get a lot more performance out of this thing,” he says after sailing the boat in 10 to 15 knots and flat water. “I got hit with a puff and was like, dang! This thing’s got some wheels. It’s much faster and stiffer. I’m 170 pounds and was able to stay out on the rack the entire time, even when it got light.”

Stewart’s assessment of the 3R is that it’s built for a slightly more advanced sailor. “This thing is higher tech, with a lot more control lines, so it’s a bit more boat to handle. That being said, I’m a big guy (the manufacturer’s stated maximum load on the wing is 242 pounds), and I was never sitting in water, so it will accommodate a wide range of people.”

Getting the purchase systems for the 4-to-1 cunningham and the two-part vang (all of which are doubled-ended) into the mast collar hardware was an engineering exercise, says creator Marion Excoffon. But the end result is a system of color-coded lines and color-matched Harken blocks that work effectively and smoothly to depower the sail. Once the control systems are assembled, they don’t need to be rerun. When rigging, simply slide the mast into the collar, hook up the mainsheet, attach the rudder, and cast off for a fast and sporty adventure.

Tiwal 3R

“Every time I got a little puff, the boat zipped right along,” Allen says. “The foils are stiff and shaped well, so the boat goes upwind really nicely. The bow was stiff and wasn’t flopping in the chop. But the best part was reaching around in the big puffs, sitting at the back corner of the rack, with the boat just skimming. When I got my weight in the right spot, the boat just took off. It’s quicker than quick.”

  • More: 2023 Boat of the Year , Boat of the Year , Dinghy , Print Winter 2023 , Sailboats
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Better Sailing

Dinghy Sailing: Beginner’s Guide

Dinghy Sailing: Beginner’s Guide

Sailing on a Dinghy or Small Boat is a good choice in learning how to sail. This is because Dinghies are simple, easy to maneuver, and very responsive to your actions as well as to Wind conditions. Sailing on a Dinghy will give beginners a sort of training ground – they will learn the basics and understand the different important aspects of the sport.

Learn what this Sailing Variation is all about. The following sections will give you some insights on the various features of Dinghy Sailing:

Dinghies – Types and Classes

Sailing History indicates that Sailing was used for trade and transportation before it became a source of enjoyment. It was in the late 1900s that people began using Small Boats for leisure and sport.

The term ‘Dinghy’ is from India, which means ‘small’. A Dinghy is a small Sailboat designed to accommodate one or two persons and is usually used in recreational Sailing. It is powered by wind, outboard motor, or paddles.

In general, Dinghies are classified according to their purpose. They come in many types and features which suit different conditions.

In this section, know the numerous Dinghy Types and Classes:

Basic Types

  • General – Purpose Dinghies : Dinghies under this type are most appropriate when learning the very basics of Sailing. These are usually used for leisure and enjoyment. Wayfarer is an example of a General-Purpose Dinghy. It is less than 16 feet long and is often used for short trips. Other examples include Mirror and Enterprise.
  • Skiffs : Considered as the fastest Dinghy Type, a Skiff is a flat-hulled open Dinghy which can accommodate one or two persons. It can be powered using oars or a motor. Examples of Skiffs are Musto Skiff, 49er, Jersey Skiff, and 18ft. Skiff.
  • High-Performance Dinghies : Dinghies under this type are fast and are used primarily for Racing.
  • Racing Dinghies : As the name suggests, Dinghies under this type are used primarily for Dinghy Racing.

Here are some Classes of Dinghies:

  • Laser Radial
  • Jersey Skiff

These are the basic Dinghy Types and Classes. Take note that each one has its own features and is designed for a particular purpose.

Dinghies – Care and Maintenance

A Dinghy can be subjected to a lot of elements that can contribute to wear and tear over time. Thus, make the necessary steps to take care of your Dinghy after sailing in order to maintain its good performance every time you go onboard.

There are several things to do as far as proper care and maintenance is concerned. In this section, know some guidelines on how to take good care of your Dinghy:

  • Once the Dinghy is ashore, rinse it thoroughly with fresh water.
  • After washing the Rudder, Centerboard, and/or Daggerboard, store them in their respective bags.
  • Make regular inspections so that damages or problems (if any) will be attended to before they become worse.
  • Make sure to run repairs on parts that need to be fixed.
  • Lay the Mainsail out on a clean, flat surface.
  • Fold the top over onto the body of the Sail. Roll the Sail carefully and make sure that the roll is at right angles with the Leech.
  • After rolling the entire Sail, put it in a sail bag.
  • You can use a trolley to store your Dinghy. Tie the boat securely on the trolley. Put the detachable items inside the Dinghy. Fit the boat cover over the top and make sure that it is fastened firmly. Secure it under the Hull, Bow, as well as the sidedecks. To prevent your Dinghy from being blown over, tie the Sailboat down to securing points on the ground.
  • Put your Dinghy in an area where it can be safe and secure. Dinghies can be left at Dinghy parks in many Sailing Clubs.

These are some tips on how to take care of your Dinghy and keep its good working condition. Regular checks and inspection on the components of your Dinghy can help ensure its good performance every time you go sailing.

Small Sailboat Buying Guide – How to Buy Dinghies

Dinghies and small Keelboats come in a wide range of features. Each is made and designed for a particular purpose to suit the needs of so many fans of Small Boat or Dinghy Sailing. However, there are many models that can be used for other types of Sailing besides the one in which it is designed for.

As a beginner, you need not buy a Dinghy or a Small Keelboat. Buy one when you have already tried different Dinghies and other Sailboats, and if you know by now the Sailing Variation that attracts you most.

In this section, know the different things to consider in buying Small Boats:

  • Consider your skill and experience : Obviously, Sailing will be much more fun and a lot safer if your Sailboat is suitable to your skill as well as experience. Many Dinghies and small Keelboats have features that make them a bit more complex compared to other boats of the same type, therefore requiring more techniques. Hence, take your level of skill and know-how into consideration. Make sure that you and your Small Boat are well-matched to each other.
  • Decide what Sailing Variation interests you most : Suitability is very important. As mentioned earlier, each Dinghy or Small Keelboat is designed for a particular type of Sailing. Therefore, make up your mind on what sort of Sailing attracts you most.
  • Make some research : There are so many information resources available that can give you some ideas on the features of different Small Boats. Magazines and websites related to Sailing are good sources of information that you need.
  • Get some advice : Experienced sailors can give you pointers on the advantages and drawbacks of a number of Small Boats. It is likely that they have tried several boats with varying features so they will be helpful in choosing the right Small Boat for you.

Make use of our Small Boat Buying Guide, as these pointers can help you in buying Dinghies. Take your time in the selection process. Look at several types and check the features of each one. Choose the one that suits your needs.

You can also read the “ How to Right a Capsized Sailboat ” article for this essential information if you thinking of starting Dinghy Sailing.

Dinghy Sailing Beginner’s Guide – Conclusion

It is obvious that knowing the essentials of Small Boat Sailing is crucial should you wish to pursue this Sailing Variation. Aside from the fact that you will learn different skills, the more important thing is that the learning process is a fun and exciting experience.


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Best inflatable boat: 9 compact tenders put to the test

Robert Melotti

  • Robert Melotti
  • September 9, 2021

Rob Melotti and the PBO test team put some lightweight, portable inflatable dinghies through their paces in Lymington to find the best inflatable boat

Inflatables are everywhere: paddleboards , canoes, kayaks , tents, kites and wings – and inflatable boat technology has long been a practical option for tenders, RIBs, liferafts and lifejackets .

But what the ‘new wave’ of inflatable boats brings to the practical boating landscape is the air floor, which makes very stable, very lightweight tenders a very practical option for people with limited stowage ie owners of cruising boats under 30ft.

And the market has responded with a selection of offerings under 2.4m weighing under 20kg. So which is the best and what should you be looking for to get the most for your money?

We tested nine models sold by eight different brand names. The inflatable boats were superficially quite similar, but in the accumulation of small details it was possible to pick a few favourites.

We rowed and motored all of the inflatable boats solo, and most of them with two aboard. We weighed and measured them and found a lot to like.

What’s the best inflatable boat? 9 options tested


3D Twin V Shape 230 Air Deck Tender was a good all-round performer – and best on test

3D Twin V Shape 230 Air deck tender

French manufacturer 3D Tender was one of the earliest producers of ultralight inflatable tenders. This model sports premium touches, such as davit rings and the most high-spec pump of all the inflatable boats on test.

In terms of convenience it is a rucksack carry bag with a large front pocket for the pump and accessories. The zips will need maintenance though.

best dinghy for small sailboat

The V floor is a single chamber, keeping set-up time to a minimum and keeping the weight down. The lack of safety lines on the side makes carrying as a two-person team a little less convenient than some of the other inflatable boats, but the keel strip will help preserve this boat.

The rowlocks double as cleats and the rubbing strake will provide strength but little in the way of splashproofing for passengers.

Buy it now on oceanfirstmarine.co.uk

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.


Force 4 02Lite was the lightest on test

Force 4 02Lite

This model is very similar to the Seago Go Lite (also tested), including the rucksack, which was our favourite on test for carrying comfort, although you do have to beware of any loose objects inside the bag dropping out of the side enclosure flap.

best dinghy for small sailboat

The Force 4 02Lite was the lightest package overall and packed down to just 90cm long.

The oars were the smallest on test, which affected the rowing performance, but it was the only inflatable boat with open rowlocks – so you can use your own oars.

The bench is adjustable, but I wasn’t able to position it far enough aft to brace my feet against the transom under oars.

There are three D-rings for making a towing bridle on the bow but no ergonomic carry handle.

The rubbing strake is minimal with no splash guard and there are no davit lifting eyes.

Buy it now on force4.co.uk

best dinghy for small sailboat

Crewsaver Air Deck 230 is solidly built and joint cheapest, but is outclassed by 3D Tender’s lightweight V floor design

Crewsaver Air Deck 230

Best cheap inflatable boat

The pack we were sent for testing had the incorrect seat included, but we were able to substitute a seat from one of the other inflatable boats on test without difficulty.

The rucksack doesn’t have a front pocket, but there are no zips to corrode and the adjustable webbing buckles mean the top opening of the bag is quite forgiving for repacking.

The safety lines are robustly attached to the hull, which is a feature that will pay dividends long-term, but adds a bit of weight.

best dinghy for small sailboat

The rubbing strake is also weighty, but the splash guards will keep water out of the boat.

The coned aft sponson caps are hard plastic, enabling vertical storage without damage and the rowlocks double as cleats.

There are davit rings in the bow and through the thick transom board, plus the bow handle is wide for ergonomic carrying.

Buy it now on crewsaver.com

best dinghy for small sailboat

Excel Ventura SL200

From a Midlands-based company that specialises in inflatable boats, this came with a great double-action hand pump and was the only boat on test with an over-pressure valve – a useful feature for exposure to the hot sun.

The safety lines are sturdily attached and splash guards make up part of the rubbing strake protecting the sides and keeping water out of the boat.

The rowlocks double as cleats and the bow handle is wide enough for a proper grip.

best dinghy for small sailboat

Excel Ventura SL200’s double action hand pump made short work of inflation

Davit fittings are supplied and the sponsons are shaped to add waterline length and buoyancy aft. The duffel carry bag was the sturdiest on test.

This inflatable boat comes with a good long set of oars, although we had to sit side-by-side to make any progress under oars with two adults on board.

Buy it now on excel-inflatables.co.uk

best dinghy for small sailboat

Quicksilver was big – but also heavy

Quicksilver Tendy Airfloor 240

This boat has an inflatable keel as well as a removable inflatable floor. There was also a rigid slat athwartship between the floor and keel, which increases the weight overall.

best dinghy for small sailboat

This is one of the priciest and heaviest inflatable boats on the test and one of the largest in packed dimensions.

It features a fuel tank strap, a decent keel strip to prevent damage on slipways, a decent bow carry handle and rowlock cleats.

The rubbing strake is quite meaty as well without being particularly splashproof.

The carry bag is very forgiving – opening flat like a groundsheet.

There were no carry handles on the sponsons and the safety rope fixings aren’t as solid as many of the other inflatable boats on test, although there are rowlock cleats and the seat is fully adjustable.

Buy it now on eBay

best dinghy for small sailboat

Light weight makes for easy handling on land and in the water

Seago Go Lite 230

Seago is a distributor, supplying UK chandleries and there are similarities between this model and the 02Lite from Force 4.

This model is very light and compact – just 0.5kg heavier than Force 4, but packs down to the same 90cm length.

The oars are very short, but are fixed using a pin and thole system which some may prefer over the Force 4’s rowlocks.

The PVC material is described as 1100 Decitex (Force 4 is 800 Decitex) and the backpacks of the two were identical: comfortable to carry and forgiving to repack due to their large side aperture rather than a narrow top.

The rubbing strake is minimal and there is no ergonomic bow handle.

Buy it now on seagoyachting.co.uk

best dinghy for small sailboat

YAM 200T is not rated for two adults

This 2m inflatable boat has a fixed seat and was unique on the test for having wooden slats to reinforce the floor. This means less pumping up, but slightly increased weight.

Like the 3D tender there is no safety rope so carrying between two crew involves spreading your arms wide from bow handle to stern handle placed on the sponsons. It is rated for one adult and one child – the smallest by rating on the test.

There is a hefty rubbing strake with raised levels to block spray and the rowlocks double as cleats. The oars are miniature and the bow has three D-rings for rigging a towing bridle but no ergonomic handle for carrying. With two adults aboard we would have been better rowing side by side – but it was no slouch under engine.

Buy it now on bhg-marine.co.uk

best dinghy for small sailboat

The nicest boat on test to row

YAM 240 (STI) Air Floor Sport Tender

This is the most expensive model on test and features an inflatable keel as well as a floor section, plus two sponsons to inflate.

With that much to inflate a high quality pump would have been better, but there is a pressure gauge included in the package to get everything sufficiently firm.

The seat is fixed but the oars were nice and long, which made it the nicest boat to row. As with the YAM 200T there were no safety lines fitted and carry handles are spread far apart, which makes carrying more difficult.

But there is a good, ergonomic bow carry handle and the inflatable boat is rated to carry 400kg, the highest rating on test. The rowlocks double as cleats and the rounded aft end of the sponsons have protective, hard plastic caps.

best dinghy for small sailboat

Smaller diameter sponsons means more space aboard – but less freeboard

Talamex Superlight SLA230

Talamex is a Dutch brand imported by EP Barrus. This inflatable boat had the narrowest diameter sponsons on test, which creates more internal space, but less freeboard.

It’s an extremely lightweight package, with a thin transom board, but nice long oars and a good carrying handle on the bow.

The pump supplied is a single-action hand pump and the bag folds out completely flat like a groundsheet, which is very forgiving for repacking.

best dinghy for small sailboat

The bag has nice carrying handles on the narrow ends. The seat was massively adjustable and the rubbing strake is generous without offering very much splash guarding.

The safety rope attachments look a bit vulnerable and there are no other handles on the sponsons.

best dinghy for small sailboat

Launching the Seago 320

Verdict: Which was the best inflatable boat on test?

This group of inflatable boats can be subdivided in a few different ways: by length, by price and by weight (note there is also a group of rucksack boats and a trio of air-keel boats).

I think the best on test goes to the 3D Tender, which manages to keep the weight down, comes complete with a very high-spec pump, a very user-friendly rucksack bag with a big front pocket and a ‘slight V form floor’ that inflates as a single chamber.

There are no safety lines or a bow handle, so carrying the boat when inflated is less natural than some of the others and it’s the second most expensive.

The best bargain buy is probably the lightest, smallest package: Force 4, for me, is preferable to the very similar Seago model because of its ‘open’ rowlocks. But if you prefer captive oars, the Seago is slightly cheaper.

The Crewsaver is the same low price and probably more robust and seaworthy than the Force 4 or the Seago while being easier to carry when inflated than the 3D Tender. But without the V floor I think it’s a less versatile performer.

I didn’t see the benefit of the two 200cm dinghies we tested: both were noticeably small in use without being smaller to pack and stow or lighter to carry.

The 240cm V Floor models can carry bigger loads at greater speed, but if you really need that level of performance you have to accept the extra set-up time, weight and stowage.

Best inflatable boats – key facts and figures

What makes the best inflatable boat for you?


Rucksack bags were easiest to carry

The bag details matter when one of the main selling points of a product is its portability. We looked at handles, zips and overall design. Metal zips will corrode without a regular rinse in fresh water, but as long as the zipper track is plastic, then replacement zipper trucks can be fitted relatively cheaply.

Carry handles at the narrow ends are very useful and half of the inflatable boats tested can be carried as rucksacks. A few of the boats pack away in bags that deconstruct on all four sides like groundsheets, with webbing straps and adjustable buckles crossways and lengthways.

These are very forgiving and yet still pack up tightly and securely. We also looked at the quality of the bag material: is the bag likely to survive chafing, stretching, damp or UV exposure for as long as the dinghy itself?


We weighed each of the inflatable boats in their carry bags and found quite a variation in boat weights

Size, weight and price

Our facts table will quickly show you the lightest and smallest packs and there are four tenders priced under £500.

The two longest inflatable boats in the test (YAM 240 and Quicksilver 240) were in the biggest bags (110cm and 120cm respectively), and were the heaviest packs weighing over 20kg even without any accessories.

Only three of the nine tested boats weighed in at under 20kg straight out of the box. There was an 11kg difference between the lightest (Force 4 02Lite) and the heaviest (Quicksilver Tendy Airfloor 240).

The Force 4 comes in a rucksack bag that is 20cm shorter in length than the Quicksilver and over £100 cheaper.

But unless size, weight and price are your only criteria, then a simple numerical comparison could miss some important details.

Article continues below…


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The electric motor is either sealed in an underwater casing, or housed above the waterline under a cowling, as in…

best dinghy for small sailboat

Choosing a boat dinghy – top tips for buying and maintaining tenders

From getting on and off the yacht to collecting supplies, visiting friends or simply going fishing, tenders play an important…

Pumps and pressure

Some of the air floors are rated for 1psi; others at 11psi. Most of the sponsons were rated at 3.6psi, which shouldn’t require too much brow mopping for foot- or hand-pump operators.

Five of the inflatable boats came with foot pumps, but the double-action hand pumps with the 3D and the Quicksilver were a joy to use.


All the boats were easily carried by two when inflated

Manual handling

It’s an ironic linguistic quirk that a tender should be so regularly treated without much tenderness. Even a few hours’ use on a clean slipway incurred scuffs, dings, grubby marks and a few minor tears to the carry bags.

Grass is far kinder than concrete for inflating, but is in short supply at busy locations. We looked at keel strips, rubbing strakes, safety line attachment points, bow handles and more… including the relationship between price, weight and fit-out.

First published in the September 2021 issue of Practical Boat Owner.

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Cruising World Logo

20 Best Small Sailboats for the Weekender

  • By Mark Pillsbury
  • Updated: May 24, 2024

In order to go cruising, most of us require a sailboat with a head, a galley, and bunks. The boat, likely a 30-footer and more often a 40-footer, will have electronics for navigation and entertainment, refrigeration if the trip is longer than a coastal hop, an engine for light wind, and, depending on our appetites for food and fun, perhaps a genset to power our toys and appliances.

To go sailing , however, all we really need is a hull, mast, rudder, and sail. To experience the pure joy of sheeting in and scooting off across a lake, bay, or even the open ocean, there’s nothing better than a small sailboat – we’re talking sailboats under 25 feet. You can literally reach out and touch the water as it flows past. You instantly feel every puff of breeze and sense every change in trim.

Some of the boats in this list are new designs, others are time-tested models from small sailboat manufacturers, but every one is easy to rig, simple to sail, and looks like a whole lot of fun either for a solo outing on a breezy afternoon or to keep family and friends entertained throughout your entire sailing season. This list is made up of all types of sailboats , and if you’re looking for a list of some of the best small sailboats for beginners, you’ll find exactly that here.

Any one of these popular boats could be labeled as a trailerable sailboat, daysailer, or even a weekender sailboat. And while most would be labeled as a one or two person sailboat, some could comfortably fit three or even four people.

– CHECK THE WEATHER – The weather changes all the time. Always check the forecast and prepare for the worst case. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

Marblehead 22 Daysailer

If you have an eye for elegant lines and your heart goes pitter-patter over just the right amount of overhang beneath a counter transom, the Marblehead 22 daysailer, designed by Doug Zurn and built by Samoset Boatworks in Boothbay, Maine, will definitely raise your pulse. Traditional-looking above the waterline and modern beneath, the cold-molded hull sports a deep bulb keel and a Hall Spars carbon-fiber mast with a wishbone rig and square-top main. The 11-foot-9-inch cockpit can seat a crowd, and a small cuddy forward will let you stow your friends’ gear for the day. samosetboatworks.com

Catalina 22 Sport

Catalina 22 Sport

Many a harbor plays host to an active fleet of Catalina 22s, one of the most popular small sailboats over the years, given its basic amenities and retractable keel, which allows it to be easily trailered. Recently, the company introduced the Catalina 22 Sport, an updated design that can compete with the older 22s. The boat features a retractable lead keel; a cabin that can sleep four, with a forward hatch for ventilation; and a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib. Lifelines, a swim ladder, and an engine are options, as are cloth cushions; vinyl cushions are standard. The large cockpit will seat a crowd or let a mom-and-pop crew stretch out and enjoy their sail. It’s clear why the Catalina 22 is one of the best sailboats under 25 feet. catalinayachts.com

Hunter 22

With its large, open-transom cockpit and sloop rig, the Hunter 22 makes a comfortable daysailer for family and friends. But with its cuddy cabin, twin bunks, optional electrical system, opening screened ports, and portable toilet, a parent and child or a couple could comfortably slip away for an overnight or weekend. Add in the optional performance package, which includes an asymmetric spinnaker, a pole, and a mainsheet traveler, and you could be off to the races. The boat features a laminated fiberglass hull and deck, molded-in nonskid, and a hydraulic lifting centerboard. Mount a small outboard on the stern bracket, and you’re set to go. marlow-hunter.com

the Daysailer

Not sure whether you want to race, cruise or just go out for an afternoon sail? Since 1958, sailors have been having a ball aboard the Uffa Fox/George O’Day-designed Daysailer. Fox, who in the 1950s was on the cutting edge of planning-dinghy design, collaborated with Fall River, Massachusetts boatbuilder O’Day Corp. to build the 16-foot Daysailer, a boat that features a slippery hull and a small cuddy cabin that covers the boat roughly from the mast forward. Thousands of Daysailers were built by various builders, and they can be found used for quite affordable prices. There are active racing fleets around the US, and new Daysailers are still in production today, built by Cape Cod Ship Building. capecodshipbuilding.com

BayRaider from Swallow Boats

BayRaider from Swallow Boats

Easy to rig and trailer, the BayRaider from England’s Swallow Yachts is a relative newcomer to the small-boat market in the United States. Nearly all of its 19 feet 9 inches is open cockpit, though a spray hood can be added to keep the forward sections dry. The BayRaider is ketch-rigged with a gunter-style mainmast. The topmast and mizzen are both carbon-fiber, which is an option for the mainmast as well. The BayRaider can be sailed with a dry hull in lighter conditions or with 300 pounds of water ballast to increase its stability. With the centerboard and hinged rudder raised, the boat can maneuver in even the thinnest water.

$28,900, (904) 234-8779, swallowyachts.com

12 1/2 foot Beetle Cat

Big fun can come in small packages, especially if your vessel of choice happens to be the 12 ½-foot Beetle Cat. Designed by John Beetle and first built in 1921, the wooden shallow draft sailboat is still in production today in Wareham, Massachusetts at the Beetle Boat Shop. With a draft of just 2 feet, the boat is well-suited for shallow bays, but equally at home in open coastal waters. The single gaff-rigged sail provides plenty of power in light air and can be quickly reefed down to handle a blow. In a word, sailing a Beetle Cat is fun. beetlecat.com

– LEARN THE NAVIGATION RULES – Know the “Rules of the Road” that govern all boat traffic. Be courteous and never assume other boaters can see you. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

West Wight Potter P 19

West Wight Potter P 19

With berths for four and a workable galley featuring a cooler, a sink, and a stove, West Wight Potter has packed a lot into its 19-foot-long P 19. First launched in 1971, this is a line of boats that’s attracted a true following among trailer-sailors. The P 19′s fully retractable keel means that you can pull up just about anywhere and go exploring. Closed-cell foam fore and aft makes the boat unsinkable, and thanks to its hard chine, the boat is reportedly quite stable under way. westwightpotter.com

NorseBoat 17.5

NorseBoat 17.5

Designed for rowing and sailing (a motor mount is optional), the Canadian-built NorseBoat 17.5—one of which was spotted by a CW editor making its way through the Northwest Passage with a two-man crew—features an open cockpit, a carbon-fiber mast, and a curved-gaff rig, with an optional furling headsail set on a sprit. The lapstrake hull is fiberglass; the interior is ply and epoxy. The boat comes standard with two rowing stations and one set of 9-foot oars. The boat is designed with positive flotation and offers good load-carrying capacity, which you could put to use if you added the available canvas work and camping tent. NorseBoats offers a smaller sibling, the 12.5, as well; both are available in kit form.

$19,000, (902) 659-2790, norseboat.com

Montgomery 17

Montgomery 17

Billed as a trailerable pocket cruiser, the Montgomery 17 is a stout-looking sloop designed by Lyle Hess and built out of fiberglass in Ontario, California, by Montgomery Boats. With a keel and centerboard, the boat draws just under 2 feet with the board up and can be easily beached when you’re gunkholing. In the cuddy cabin you’ll find sitting headroom, a pair of bunks, a portable toilet, optional shore and DC power, and an impressive amount of storage space. The deck-stepped mast can be easily raised using a four-part tackle. The builder reports taking his own boat on trips across the Golfo de California and on visits to California’s coastal islands. Montgomery makes 15-foot and 23-foot models, as well. If you’re in search of a small sailboat with a cabin, the Montgomery 17 has to be on your wish list.

CW Hood 32 Daysailer small sailboat

With long overhangs and shiny brightwork, the CW Hood 32 is on the larger end of the daysailer spectrum. Designers Chris Hood and Ben Stoddard made a conscious decision to forego a cabin and head in favor of an open cockpit big enough to bring 4 or 5 friends or family out for an afternoon on the water. The CW Hood 32 is sleek and graceful through the water and quick enough to do some racing, but keeps things simple with a self-tacking jib and controls that can be lead back to a single-handed skipper. A top-furling asymmetrical, electric sail drive and Torqeedo outboard are all optional. The CW Hood 32 makes for a great small family sailboat.  cwhoodyachts.com

Sun Cat from Com-Pac

Sun Cat from Com-Pac

Shallow U.S. East Coast bays and rock-strewn coasts have long been graced by cat boats, whose large, gaff-rigged mainsails proved simple and powerful both on the wind and, better yet, when reaching and running. The 17-foot-4-inch Sun Cat, built by Com-Pac Yachts, updates the classic wooden cat with its fiberglass hull and deck and the easy-to-step Mastender Rigging System, which incorporates a hinged tabernacle to make stepping the mast a one-person job. If you want a personal sailboat ideal for solo sailing, the Sun Can is a great choice. Belowdecks, the twin 6-foot-5-inch berths and many other features and amenities make this cat a willing weekender.

$19,800, (727) 443-4408, com-pacyachts.com

Catalina 16.5

Catalina 16.5

The Catalina 16.5 sits right in the middle of Catalina Yachts’ line of small sailboats, which range from the 12.5 to the 22 Capri and Sport, and it comes in both an easy-to-trailer centerboard model and a shoal-draft fixed-keel configuration. With the fiberglass board up, the 17-foot-2-inch boat draws just 5 inches of water; with the board down, the 4-foot-5-inch draft suggests good windward performance. Hull and deck are hand-laminated fiberglass. The roomy cockpit is self-bailing, and the bow harbors a good-sized storage area with a waterproof hatch. catalinayachts.com

Hobie 16

No roundup of best small sailboats (trailerable and fun too) would be complete without a mention of the venerable Hobie 16, which made its debut in Southern California way back in 1969. The company has introduced many other multihulls since, but more than 100,000 of the 16s have been launched, a remarkable figure. The Hobie’s asymmetric fiberglass-and-foam hulls eliminate the need for daggerboards, and with its kick-up rudders, the 16 can be sailed right up to the beach. Its large trampoline offers lots of space to move about or a good place to plant one’s feet when hanging off the double trapezes with a hull flying. The boat comes with a main and a jib; a spinnaker, douse kit, trailer, and beach dolly are optional features. hobiecat.com

Hunter 15

Novice sailors or old salts looking for simplicity could both enjoy sailing the Hunter 15. With a fiberglass hull and deck and foam flotation, the boat is sturdily built. The ample freeboard and wide beam provide stability under way, and the heavy-duty rubrail and kick-up rudder mean that you won’t have to worry when the dock looms or the going grows shallow. Both the 15 and its slightly larger 18-foot sibling come standard with roller-furling jibs.

$6,900/$9,500 (boat-show prices for the 15 and 18 includes trailers), (386) 462-3077, marlow-hunter.com

– CHECK THE FIT – Follow these guidelines to make sure your life jacket looks good, stays comfortable and works when you need it. Safety Tip Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard

Super Snark

Super Snark

Under various owners, the Snark brand of sailboats, now built by Meyers Boat Co., has been around since the early 1970s. The Super Snark, at 11 feet, is a simple, easily car-topped daysailer that’s fit out with a lateen rig and sail. Billed as unsinkable, the five boats in the company’s line are built with E.P.S. foam, with the external hull and deck vacuum-formed to the core using an A.B.S. polymer. The Super Snark weighs in at 50 pounds, and with a payload capacity of 310 pounds, the boat can carry two.

$970, (800) 247-6275, meyersboat.com

Norseboat 21.5

Norseboat 21.5

Built in Canada, the NorseBoat 21.5 is a rugged looking craft that comes in a couple of configurations: one with an open cockpit and small doghouse, and another with a smaller cockpit and cabin that houses a double berth for two adults and optional quarter berths for the kids. Both carry NorseBoat’s distinctive looking carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast with main and jib (a sprit-set drifter is optional), and come with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard. Because of its lightweight design, the boat can be rowed and is easily trailered.

$36,000 (starting), 902-659-2790, norseboat.com

Flying Scot

Flying Scot

Talk about time-tested, the 19-foot Flying Scot has been in production since 1957 and remains a popular design today. Sloop rigged, with a conventional spinnaker for downwind work, the boat is an easily sailed family boat as well as a competitive racer, with over 130 racing fleets across the U.S. Its roomy cockpit can seat six to eight, though the boat is often sailed by a pair or solo. Hull and deck are a fiberglass and balsa core sandwich. With the centerboard up, the boat draws only eight inches. Though intended to be a daysailer, owners have rigged boom tents and berths for overnight trips, and one adventurous Scot sailor cruised his along inland waterways from Philadelphia to New Orleans.

RS Venture

Known primarily for its line of racing dinghys, RS Sailing also builds the 16-foot, 4-inch Venture, which it describes as a cruising and training dinghy. The Venture features a large, self-draining cockpit that will accommodate a family or pack of kids. A furling jib and mainsail with slab reefing come standard with the boat; a gennaker and trapeze kit are options, as is an outboard motor mount and transom swim ladder. The deck and hull are laid up in a fiberglass and Coremat sandwich. The Venture’s designed to be both a good performer under sail, but also stable, making it a good boat for those learning the sport.

$14,900, 203-259-7808, rssailing.com

Topaz Taz

Topper makes a range of mono- and multihull rotomolded boats, but the model that caught one editor’s eye at Strictly Sail Chicago was the Topaz Taz. At 9 feet, 8 inches LOA and weighing in at 88 pounds, the Taz is not going to take the whole crowd out for the day. But, with the optional mainsail and jib package (main alone is for a single child), the Taz can carry two or three kids or an adult and one child, and would make a fun escape pod when tied behind the big boat and towed to some scenic harbor. The hull features Topper’s Trilam construction, a plastic and foam sandwich that creates a boat that’s stiff, light, and durable, and shouldn’t mind being dragged up on the beach when it’s time for a break.

$2,900 (includes main and jib), 410-286-1960, topazsailboats.com

WindRider WRTango

WindRider WRTango

WRTango, a fast, sturdy, 10-foot trimaran that’s easy to sail, is the newest portable craft from WindRider International. It joins a line that includes the WR16 and WR17 trimarans. The Tango features forward-facing seating, foot-pedal steering, and a low center of gravity that mimics the sensation of sitting in a kayak. It weighs 125 pounds (including the outriggers and carbon-fiber mast), is extremely stable, and has single-sheet sail control. The six-inch draft and kick-up rudder make it great for beaching, while the hull and outriggers are made of rotomolded polyethylene, so it can withstand running into docks and being dragged over rocks.

$3,000, 612-338-2170, windrider.com

  • More: 21 - 30 ft , Boat Gallery , day sailing , dinghy , Sailboat Reviews , Sailboats , under 20 ft
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Boat/Vessel Registration

If you own a sailboat over eight feet long or a boat/vessel with a motor (no matter the size), you must register it with DMV in order to legally operate it on California waterways.

To register your boat/vessel, you will need:

  • A completed Application for Vessel Certificate of Number (BOAT 101) form. 
  • If the original certificate is lost or damaged, complete an Application for Replacement or Transfer Title (REG 227) form to request a copy.
  • Applicable fees .
  • If you own a trailer for your boat/vessel, you need to register it separately .

You may also need:

  • To complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a California Boater Card if you plan to operate a motorized vessel on a state waterway.
  • Bill(s) of sale (if you bought your boat/vessel from a private party instead of a dealer). 
  • A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form, in case you do not have a copy of the bill of sale.

You can register your boat/vessel at any DMV field office , or mail your registration application and related documents to:

Department of Motor Vehicles PO Box 942869 Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

You may also need to pay the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation Fee and obtain a Mussel Fee sticker. Please see the Mussel Fee sticker request page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any boat or vessel that you can use to transport yourself on water, such as a:

  • Sail-powered boat/vessel that is over eight feet long.
  • Vessel/boat with a motor (no matter how big it is).

If you bought your boat/vessel from an out-of-state seller, or if you recently moved to California, you need to register your boat/vessel with DMV within 120 days of bringing it into the state.

There are some boats/vessels that  do not  have to be registered:

  • Canoes, rowboats, or any boats/vessels that use paddles or oars
  • Sailboats shorter than eight feet long
  • Sailboards or parasails
  • A ship’s lifeboat
  • Seaplanes on the water
  • Boats that run on a track, such as amusement park rides
  • Floating structures that are tied to land and use power, water, and a sewage system on the shore.

Dinghies must be registered with DMV.

Houseboats that have a motor must be registered with DMV.

Commercial boats/vessels that weigh more than five net tons and are longer than 30 feet must be registered (documented) by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yes. Any boat/vessel that travels or is moored in California waterways, including private lakes, must be registered with DMV.

  • A  documented boat/vessel  is registered with the U.S. Coast Guard and has a marine certificate. These boats/vessels do not have to be registered with DMV.
  • An  undocumented boat/vessel  is registered with DMV and does  not  have a marine certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard.

If you buy a new boat/vessel, it is automatically considered undocumented, so you have to register the boat/vessel with DMV before you can put it in California waters.

Your boat/vessel will get a vessel registration number (beginning with CF before the numbers) when you register your boat/vessel with DMV.

You have to display your vessel registration number on your boat/vessel. Make sure it meets the following requirements.

Your Vessel Registration Number must:

  • Be painted on or permanently attached to each side of your boat/vessel’s bow.
  • Be written in plain, vertical block letters and numbers that are more than three inches high.
  • Be properly arranged so you can read it from left to right.
  • Contrast with the color of the background so that it is easy to see and read.
  • Example A:  CF 1234 AB
  • Example B:  CF-1234-AB

In addition to your vessel registration number, you will also receive a registration sticker. You should attach it to the both sides of your boat/vessel, three inches apart from your vessel registration number.

Your registration sticker must be clearly visible at all times. Please do not place any numbers, letters, or devices near the registration sticker (other than your vessel registration number and Mussel Fee sticker (if required)).

Starboard and port sides of vessels. Arrows indicate where to place Mussel Fee and Registration stickers. On the starboard side of the hull the stickers are placed to the immediate left of the CF number. On the port side the stickers are placed to the immediate right of the CF number.

If you boat in California fresh waters such as the Delta, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams, you must purchase and display a Mussel Fee sticker next to your registration sticker. The Mussel Fee sticker matches the registration sticker by color and date.

You may purchase the Mussel Fee sticker online . The vessel registration/renewal and sticker transactions are separate. Once you receive your Mussel Fee stickers, place them on either side of the registration sticker as shown below.

Since 1972, all boats/vessels manufactured in the U.S. come with a Hull Identification Number (HIN).

The HIN must be:

  • Painted on or permanently attached to your boat/vessel so that it cannot be changed or removed.
  • Assigned and attached by manufacturers to commercially built boats/vessels.
  • Assigned by DMV for homemade boats/vessels.

If your California Certificate of Ownership is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can submit a completed Application for Duplicate or Transfer of Title (REG 227) form.

If you lost your sticker, you can submit a completed Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents (REG 156) form to replace the lost certificates and/or stickers.

You can then mail the forms to DMV or visit a DMV field office in person.

You must renew your boat/vessel registration by December 31 of every odd-numbered year (for example, 2013, 2017, etc.), even if you do not use your boat/vessel.

To remind you that you need to renew your registration, DMV will mail you a renewal notice 60 days before your registration expires.

Visit our online registration page to see if your vessel is eligible to be renewed online.

You can also renew your registration by phone (automated system), mail, or by visiting a DMV field office in person.

Phone:  1-800-777-0133 Mail: Vehicle Registration Operations Department of Motor Vehicles PO Box 942869 MS C271 Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

If you renew your registration by mail, please return the bottom portion of your renewal notice in the envelope provided with a check, cashier’s check, or money order to cover your fees .

If you do not receive or lose the renewal notice, you may contact DMV and pay your fees.

When you buy a boat/vessel from another person, you should also get the California Certificate of Ownership from the person who sold it to you. That person should sign/endorse the certificate on line 1. If there is a lienholder, you need their signature on line 2.

Once you have the California Certificate of Ownership, write your name and address on the back. Then you can submit the certificate to DMV along with the transfer fee, use tax, and any renewal fees that might be due.

If the boat/vessel has a trailer, you need to get the trailer title. If you cannot get a copy of the title, you can complete a Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Certification and Application (REG 4017) form to transfer it into your name.

If you decide to sell your boat/vessel, you need to:

  • Give the Certificate of Ownership to the person who buys it. Make sure you sign the certificate on the front.
  • Contact the DMV within five days of the sale and fill out a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (REG 138)  form.

You must provide the boat/vessel information (vessel registration number, HIN), the name and address of the buyer, and the sale date on the form.

  • Submit the form online or by mail.

If the boat/vessel has a trailer, give the titling and/or registration documents to the buyer and submit a separate  Notice of Release of Liability (REG 138)  form.

Additional Information

Boats and vessels registered in California are included in property taxes by the county tax collector, depending on where the boat/vessel is stored or moored. DMV might deny registration renewal or transfer if the county tax collector tells DMV that you have not paid your personal property taxes.

Vessel registration becomes invalid when a boat/vessel is:

  • Required to be documented by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Transferred to a new owner.
  • Destroyed or abandoned.
  • No longer used primarily in California.

You must tell the DMV when a boat/vessel is:

  • Moved to a different storage location.
  • Documented through the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Destroyed, lost, or abandoned. Return the California Certificate of Ownership to DMV within 15 days.

Learn more about vessel registration transaction requirements by visiting the Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual .

Need something else?

Registration fees.

How much will it cost to register your boat?

Boat/Vessel Guide

Our special interest guide for boat owners is full of great information on everything from registration to quagga requirements.

Everything you need to know about owning and transferring titles, including vessel titles.

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Best Sailboats For Lakes

Best Sailboats For Lakes | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Lake sailing is a popular recreational activity, and it's easy to get started. But which sailboats are best for freshwater lakes?

The best sailboats for lakes are the Optimist dinghy, the Sunfish racing sailboat, the Herreshoff 12 1/2, the West Wight Potter 15, the West Wight Potter 19, and the Cal 20 sloop.

In this article, we'll review six of the best small sailboats for cruising on lakes. Additionally, we'll go over the qualities to look for when choosing a lake sailboat, along with how to choose the right boat size for your sailing destination.

We sourced the information in this article from boat design and identification guides along with our experience sailing American lakes.

Table of contents

‍ What Makes a Sailboat Good for Lakes?

There are a few things that most lake sailboats have in common. For one, they're trailerable—and thus enable the owner to pull them out of the water and store them in a reasonably small space. They must be light enough to fit on a trailer and also have a centerboard or swing keel and collapsible mast.

Additionally, they must be light and nimble on the water and handle well. Lakes don't have consistent wind like oceans do, so lake sailboats must be able to utilize small amounts of wind but also contend with the occasional gust. In a way, lake sailboats have to be more carefully designed than larger ocean-going boats.

The largest lake sailboats have a small cabin with a berth and a place for a stove and possibly a sink. These small cabin cruisers are ideal for camping, and they're the best type of lake sailboat for large lakes and extended cruising.

Smaller recreational boats have open tops and are easy to sail. Their small size makes them relatively safe and also easy for beginners to handle. Many of them are filled with positive flotation foam, which makes them virtually unsinkable. These are the best kinds of open-top boats for lakes.

There's a difference between a practical lake sailboat and a fine lake sailboat. Classic sailboats are considered fine lake sailboats in the sense that they're valuable and fun for experienced sailors. These vessels are less suitable for beginners and recreational sailors, as they require skill to operate and maintain.

The best kind of lake sailboat for most people is a medium-sized lightweight fiberglass sailboat. These boats have been produced by various manufacturers in many configurations, and tens of thousands still exist on lakes and rivers around the country.

Do Lake Sailboats Have to Be Small?

Not necessarily—it all depends on the size of the lake and the intentions of the sailor. Full-size ocean-going sailboats can be found on some of the nation's bigger lakes, such as Lake Michigan and even Lake Cumberland.

But in most cases, the size of lake sailboats is limited to about 22 to 25 feet. A boat in this size range can sail anywhere that ski boats and pontoon boats can operate.

Best Sailboats for Small Lakes

Small lakes have the least flexibility when it comes to sailboat selection, and for obvious reasons. Thankfully, there are tons of great small sailboats that work well on small lakes. Plus, these sailboats can be carried by a couple of people and stored in a garage. Here are two of the best sailboats when navigational space is limited.

1. Optimist "Opti" Dinghy Sailboat

The Optimist is one of the most popular youth and instruction sailboats ever built. It's small, lightweight, and (almost) impossible to capsize under normal circumstances. The boat itself is basically a fiberglass (or wooden) box with a slanted bow and a centerboard.

The Optimist dinghy measures 7 feet 9 inches long and 3 feet 8 inches wide. It weighs just 77 pounds dry and has a 7-foot aluminum mast. It utilizes a spirit rig, which is a simple two-spar system that reduces the height of the mast.

The centerboard, mast, and tiller come off with little effort, and the vessel is essentially unsinkable. This makes it perfect for kids and teenagers who don't know how to sail or for smaller adults who just want a cheap little sailboat to cruise around the lake.

Optimist dinghies are remarkably easy to sail and offer a great platform for learning the basics of tacking, windward sailing, and sailboat recovery. They're available widely on the used market, as over 150,000 have been produced over the years. Plus, it's a popular racing boat, and hundreds of them show up for regattas around the world.

2. Sunfish Sailboat

The Sunfish is the ideal upgrade from an Optimist, and it's much more suitable for adults. Sunfish sailboats are designed for racing, and they're significantly larger than sailing dinghies. They require more skill to operate, but they're a ton of fun on the water and easy to master.

The Sunfish is designed for a crew of one or two adults, though it can be easily operated by just one. The hull is 13 feet 9 inches long and 4 feet 1 inch wide, and it weighs 120 pounds dry. In other words, two adults can easily lift this boat in and out of the water, and it's small enough to navigate small lakes.

The Sunfish has a lateen sail, which is an ancient design that's easy to rig and reduces mast height. For its size, the Sunfish has a very large sail area. This makes it efficient in light winds but also quite squirrelly in gusts. However, careful attention can prevent capsizing—and capsizing the Sunfish isn't actually a big deal. Simply stand on the centerboard, grab the boat and lean back to right the vessel.

Sunfish are common on the used market, as thousands have been produced since 1943. You can still buy a new one from Laser Performance for under $5,000, and used Sunfish are available for much less.

Best Sailboats for Medium-Sized and Large Lakes

People who want to sail on large lakes have a ton of flexibility in the kind of boat they use. Some people sail small sailboats, like the Sunfish or the Optimist, near shore in large lakes. However, large lakes can also accommodate much bigger boats with better accommodations, up to and including full-size cabins. Here are the best sailboats for large lakes.

1. Herreshoff 12 1/2


The Herreshoff 12 1/2 is a beautiful classic boat with incredible handling capabilities and excellent efficiency. The Herreshoff 12 1/2 is essentially a pocket ship, as the hull is designed in the same way that classic full-size ocean-going sailboats were.

The Herreshoff 12 1/2 features a full-length displacement keel and a spacious cockpit, as there's no centerboard trunk in the way. It's also remarkably stable and suitable for use in dodgy weather. This vessel is open-cockpit and doesn't include a cabin, though some people use a boom tent to go camping aboard.

Despite being similar in length to the Sunfish, this vessel is not even in the same class. It's a full gaff rig and includes a headsail and traditional rigging. More experience is required to operate one of these sailboats, as it's a scaled-down version of a full-size cruising boat.

However, once you learn to operate the pulleys, you'll find that sailing a Herreschoff 12 1/2 is a joy in almost all wind conditions. It's small enough to use on medium-sized lakes and to tow on a trailer, and it's stable enough for comfortable and safe sailing for the entire family. Four adults can sit aboard, and it can be piloted by just one.

If you're looking for a beautiful and classic lake sailboat with ocean-going seaworthiness, it's tough to go wrong with a Herreschoff 12 1/2. These vessels are available on the used market starting around $5,000 to $10,000, and most of them can be found in New England.

2. West Wight Potter 15


The West Wight Potter 15 is a fiberglass trailerable sailboat that was designed to be safe, fun, and easy to transport. These vessels are designed for stability, and they're unsinkable thanks to positive floatation foam. Additionally, the West Wight Potter 15 is one of the smallest sailboats you can buy with a cabin.

This 15-foot boat uses a Bermuda rig, similar to what you'll find on the vast majority of large recreational sailboats. The mast and standing rigging was designed to be extremely easy to deploy and stow, making it a great weekender for low-stress operation.

Additionally, the West Wight Potter 15 has a very shallow draft and a centerboard, making it suitable for beaching at the lake. West Wight Potter sailboats have very few unnecessary metal parts, and thus they're extremely light. Most standard full-size cars and trucks can tow this vessel without trouble.

The West Wight Potter 15 was produced until recently, and there are hundreds on the used market that you can purchase. Prices fluctuate widely, but a West Wight Potter 15 in usable condition can be found for $3,500 to $15,000.

3. West Wight Potter 19


If you're looking for a larger centerboard cruiser with better accommodations, then the West Wight Potter 19 is an excellent choice. This vessel follows the basic design principles of the West Wight Potter 15, but the cabin is much more spacious. Additionally, the rigging sets up and disassembles just as easily.

The West Wight Potter 19 is an extremely comfortable and safe boat, and it's a wonderful little pocket cruiser for extended lake trips. Additionally, the cabin is spacious enough for two adults to sleep comfortably, and there's room for a stove, a sink, and a portable head.

The West Wight Potter 19 is trailerable and lightweight. It has a centerboard, which allows the owner to reduce its draft from several feet down to just a few inches. A vessel like this can last for years in freshwater, and they're popular for saltwater cruising as well.

The West Wight Potter 19 is also quite affordable. Due to its popularity, you can find one in excellent condition for between $5,000 and $12,000 in many areas. These boats are also remarkably seaworthy, as one individual sailed his from San Francisco to Hawaii—over 2,000 nautical miles of open ocean. In other words, you'll be safe and comfortable on the lake.


The Cal 20 is a classic sailboat that has been around for decades, and it's one of the most popular 'big' boats on America's freshwater lakes. It's a cruising sloop that measures about 20 feet in length and features a cabin with a unique flush deck.

The Cal 20 is much more typical of large coastal and ocean-going sailboats, and it's operated in exactly the same way. It has a tall Bermuda rig with traditional controls, so it's a great platform to practice sailing full-sized boats.

The Cal 20 features a small cabin with basic amenities, such as a sink, a place for a camp stove, a portable toilet, and a V-berth. Additionally, it's exceptionally water-tight for a boat of its kind, so it can be left in the berth year-round without serious problems.

Cal 20 sailboats are extremely robust. There's no flimsy material anywhere aboard, as they're designed for saltwater cruising and racing. They have a large sail plan which makes it easy to sail in light winds, and they're stable enough to make handling easy in the occasional gust.

The Cal 20 can be found in abundance on the used market, with prices as low as $2,000 for a functional and leak-free boat. The best places to look for Cal 20 sailboats are on the West Coast, but they can be found inland as well.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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American tourist found dead on small Greek island west of Corfu. 3 other tourists are missing

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ATHENS, Greece -- A missing American tourist has been found dead on a beach on a small Greek island west of Corfu, local media reported.

The body of the man was found Sunday on a rocky, fairly remote beach on the island of Mathraki by another tourist. He had been reported missing Thursday by his host, a Greek-American friend. The tourist had last been seen Tuesday at a cafe in the company of two female tourists who have since left the island.

No further details about the victim, including a name or hometown, were immediately available.

Mathraki, which has a population of 100, is a 3.9-square-kilometer (1.2-square-mile) heavily wooded island, west of the better-known island of Corfu.

This was the latest in a string of recent cases in which tourists on the Greek islands have died or gone missing. Some, if not all, had set out on hikes in very hot temperatures.

A 74-year-old Dutch tourist was found by a fire department drone on Saturday lying face down in a ravine about 300 meters (330 yards) from the spot where he was last observed last Sunday, walking with some difficulty in the blistering heat.

Dr. Michael Mosley, a noted British television presenter and author, was found dead last Sunday on the island of Symi. A coroner concluded that he had died the previous Wednesday, shortly after going for a hike over difficult, rocky terrain.

On Friday, two French tourists were reported missing on Sikinos, a relatively secluded Cyclades island in the Aegean Sea, with less than 400 permanent residents.

The two women, ages 64 and 73, had left their respective hotels to meet.

On the island of Amorgos, also in the Cyclades, authorities are still searching for a 59-year-old tourist reported missing since Tuesday, when he had gone on a solo hike in very hot conditions. U.S. media identified the missing tourist as retired Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Albert Calibet of Hermosa Beach, California.

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The 5 best Father's Day gifts for 2024

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Best gift for a golf dad.

Classic and timeless, why not treat dad to a round of golf — and a new polo shirt for the game, too? This navy style by Swedish brand Peak Performance is made of soft cotton piqué that’s been dyed in a way that uses significantly less water, energy and chemicals — so you can help dress your dad and feel pretty good doing it.

Peak Performance, peakperformance.com | $100

Best gift for a timepiece dad

If money is no object, or perhaps if you’re timing Father’s Day with a milestone birthday — say, a 40th or 50th — then this Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch is the ultimate treat. Huge among the watch collectors and ‘Speedy’ fans, it has been hotly anticipated since it was first seen on the wrist of Daniel Craig last November, and features a lacquered white dial inspired by space exploration — fitting given the Speedmaster Moonwatch has been worn by NASA astronauts since 1965.

Omega, omegawatches.com | $11,100

Best gift for a sports dad

This classic story by beloved Canadian author Roch Carrier makes a sentimental Father’s Day gift for any hockey-loving dad — especially if it’s from a toddler or young child who he can read it to. It tells the story of a boy named Roch, who outgrows his beloved Montreal Canadiens sweater only to find that its replacement comes arrived, not with legendary Habs player Maurice Richard’s number 9 emblazoned on it, but with the blue and white logo of the team’s rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead. It’s a timeless tale about growing up, fitting in, friendship, and, of course, teamwork.

Indigo, indigo.ca | $23.99

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If your dad knows more about designer brands and fashion labels than anyone else you know, he’ll appreciate this ‘Casa Way’ T-shirt by Paris brand Casablanca. Founded by Charaf Tajer and known for its sporty-meets-sophisticated esthetic and collaborations with the likes of New Balance and Bulgari, this is a gift that shows you don’t just listen to what he says, you also pay attention to his threads.

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Some dads pay a lot of attention to their home: from the furniture and decor in each room to the way it feels and smells. The house isn’t just a place to kick off your shoes and sit back — it’s a place that says a lot about you. If that sounds like your dad, he’ll appreciate this d’Orsay 9:15 ‘En tête à tête’ candle, a fresh, woodsy scent that looks as gorgeous as it smells.

Gravity Pope, gravitypope.com | $85

best dinghy for small sailboat

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Love Boat Ice Cream

Photo of Love Boat Ice Cream - Cape Coral, FL, US. French Raspberry Supreme

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1523 NE Pine Island Rd

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Love Boat Ice Cream opened a new store in Cape Coral! The new location is off of NE Pine Island Road and opened last week. Love Boat Ice Cream is hands-down the very best ice cream in the area and I'd put them up against any you could find. My all-time favorite flavor is French Raspberry Supreme -creamy vanilla with a rich raspberry swirl. Getting some has been well worth the drive to Ft. Myers but having them here in Cape Coral now has me smiling ear-to-ear. They are a locally owned and have history with their local communities. They have several locations now, as well as many local businesses that carry some of their product. The ice cream is homemade at their site on San Carlos Boulevard in Ft. Myers. All of the flavors we've tried have been full-bodied and rich. The portions are incredibly generous. They have a new-to-me size -- snack size is one scoop. A kid's cone has 2 scoops. A small cone has three scoops. You can mix flavors per cone/bowl. There is a large board that lists all the flavors you can choose from. Another plus is that flavors containing nuts and/or gluten are clearly marked. Highly Recommended

best dinghy for small sailboat

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Friday night 50 + people waiting in line 2 employees behind the counter we will wait till next time definitely need more employees Off to DQ

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  1. 15' Sailing Dinghy

    best dinghy for small sailboat

  2. 15' Sailing Dinghy

    best dinghy for small sailboat

  3. Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k

    best dinghy for small sailboat

  4. 25 best beginner sailing dinghies

    best dinghy for small sailboat

  5. 15' Sailing Dinghy

    best dinghy for small sailboat

  6. Top 5 Small Sailing Dinghies and Trimarans Over $5K 2022-2023

    best dinghy for small sailboat


  1. How to sail a dinghy. The best way to get a feel for sailing

  2. Top 5 Small Sailing Dinghies and Trimarans Over $5K 2022-2023

  3. BEST DINGHY for Bluewater Sailboats (Hypalon vs PVC, Fiberglass vs Aluminum)Patrick Childress #24

  4. THE ULTIMATE DINGHY (row, motor, or sail it)

  5. Dinghy Cruising the cheap way to sail

  6. Getting Started


  1. Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

    Learn about seven different types of sailing dinghies, from classic to new, that offer fun and adventure for sailors of all ages and skill levels. Compare features, performance, and price of boats like the Open Bic, Hobie Bravo, and Laser Performance Bug.

  2. 25 Best Beginner Sailing Dinghies

    Learn about different types of dinghies for beginners, from training boats to singlehanders, doublehanders, cruisers and multihulls. Find out which boats are suitable for learning, racing, family sailing and more.

  3. An Easy Guide to the 8 Best (And Funnest) Small Sailboats

    Its enduring popularity, strong class association, and supportive community make it a beloved classic in the world of small sailboats, embodying a perfect blend of performance, comfort, and inclusivity for sailors of all levels. 8. Hobie Cat. Start a fun hobby with the Hobbie Cat. Length: 16.7ft / 5.04 m.

  4. Tender Choices

    Mar 15, 2024. Original: Aug 5, 2016. A rigid-bottom inflatable with a powerful outboard is the tender of choice for many cruisers. Before choosing which inflatable dinghy is right for you, there are many factors to consider. Some sailors claim that the inflatable boat has killed the traditional rowing sailing tender.

  5. Sailing Dinghies: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

    A sailing dinghy is a small boat typically designed for one to four individuals. It features a single mast with a mainsail and often has additional sails like jibs or spinnakers. The compact size and maneuverability of dinghies make them excellent vessels for racing or recreational sailing purposes. 2.

  6. Choosing the Best Dinghy for Your Boat

    The most common type of dinghy is a small boat used as a tender. It runs back and forth to shore, tending the needs of the larger vessel. For example, it might take passengers ashore, pick them up, or just pick up and move supplies. Sailing dinghies are small racing sailboats, like those used by sailing clubs to teach sailing and racing skills.

  7. Your Guide to Choosing the Best Yacht Tender

    For everyday boating operations, having an inflatable-sided dinghy is the best. You don't have to deal with fenders or worry about all the bumps and nudges like on a hard tender. Getting a spot at the dinghy dock often means playing bumper boats. If you have a dinghy with inflatable sides, you don't damage other vessels, the dock, or your ...

  8. 2022 Boat of the Year: Best Dinghy

    The 18-foot inflatable Happy Cat Hurricane Carbon edition proved to be the biggest surprise of the 2022 Boat of the Year tests. Even with two full-sized adults, the boat was lively and earned high ...

  9. Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

    Without mentioning specific models and brands, it's difficult to outline which small boats are best but here are things to look for in good teaching boats. Some of the best small sailboats for beginners include: Boats with tillers steering. Boats with no winches. Sailing dinghies.

  10. Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k

    Best portable sailing dinghies for under £5k. We put six portable sailing dinghies under £5,000 to the test to see which one is the best all-rounder and really deserves a place on your boat. New inflatable technologies have opened the door to all-round portable sailing dinghies that are far more capable than their predecessors.

  11. Sailing Dinghy: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

    Short answer: Sailing Dinghy A sailing dinghy is a small, lightweight boat designed for recreational or competitive sailing. It typically has a single mast and sails, and can be sailed by one or two people. Dinghies offer an accessible way to learn and enjoy sailing, with various types available including the popular Laser, Optimist, and

  12. The 5 Best Sailboats For Beginners

    The following boats were chosen because of their handling characteristics, low cost-of-ownership, and simplicity, as all of these factors are important for choosing the best beginner sailboat. 5) Sailing Dinghy. The sailing dinghy is the quintessential starter sailboat. These tiny, lightweight, popular, and highly affordable little craft is ...

  13. Choosing the Best Dinghy for Your Boat

    Generally speaking, fully inflatable dinghies that measure around 10-feet in length support a 5-8 horsepower outboard, which is sufficient for the basics. For a more capable inflatable, look for a 10-25 horsepower outboard. Just be cautious, as too much power can flip a lightweight dinghy.

  14. Best Dinghy for Small Sailboat

    Best Dinghy for Small Sailboat. Thread starter SailorElliot; Start date Jul 19, 2021; Tags dinghy flicka 20 inflatable dinghy; Forums. Forums for All Owners. ... do not think there is a best dinghy. I like a low cost, lightweight (52-53 lbs) rollup dinghy like a West Marine PRU-3 for $1000 WEST MARINE PRU-3 Performance Roll-Up Inflatable Boat ...

  15. 2023 Boat of the Year Best Dinghy: Tiwal 3R

    Tiwal 3R 2023 Best Dinghy. Stated purpose: Recreational sailing, one-design and rally racing. Crew: One to two. Praise for: Performance, comfort, portability. Est. price as sailed: $8,900. The ...

  16. Dinghy Sailing: Beginner's Guide

    Sailing on a Dinghy or Small Boat is a good choice in learning how to sail. This is because Dinghies are simple, easy to maneuver, and very responsive to your actions as well as to Wind conditions. Sailing on a Dinghy will give beginners a sort of training ground - they will learn the basics and understand the different important aspects of the sport. Learn what this Sailing Variation is all ...

  17. Best 2 Person Sailboats

    The RS200, Hunter 15, and Hobie 16 are a few of the best 2-person sailboats. Other sailboats meant for two people include the Norseboat 17.5, Sunfish, and even a Laser SB3. These small sailboats are best geared as a beginner sailboat that compliments having two people on board. In my experience, there are plenty of small sailboat brands that ...

  18. Best inflatable boat: 9 compact tenders put to the test

    Inflatables are everywhere: paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, tents, kites and wings - and inflatable boat technology has long been a practical option for tenders, RIBs, liferafts and lifejackets. But what the 'new wave' of inflatable boats brings to the practical boating landscape is the air floor, which makes very stable, very lightweight tenders a very practical option for people with ...

  19. 10 Best Small Sailboats (Under 20 Feet)

    Catalina 16.5. jlodrummer. Catalina Yachts are synonymous with bigger boats but they have some great and smaller boats too such as Catalina 16.5. This is one of the best small sailboats that are ideal for family outings given that it has a big and roomy cockpit, as well as a large storage locker.

  20. Best Small Sailboats, Beginner and Trailerable Sailboats

    No roundup of best small sailboats (trailerable and fun too) would be complete without a mention of the venerable Hobie 16, which made its debut in Southern California way back in 1969. ... Under various owners, the Snark brand of sailboats, now built by Meyers Boat Co., has been around since the early 1970s. The Super Snark, at 11 feet, is a ...

  21. Top 5 Small Sailboats / Daysailers Under $100K

    In this episode, we're sharing my top list of some of the most affordable small sailboats or daysailers under US$ 100,000, and we'll talk about their price a...

  22. Boat/Vessel Registration

    A documented boat/vessel is registered with the U.S. Coast Guard and has a marine certificate.These boats/vessels do not have to be registered with DMV. An undocumented boat/vessel is registered with DMV and does not have a marine certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard.; If you buy a new boat/vessel, it is automatically considered undocumented, so you have to register the boat/vessel with DMV ...

  23. 25 best beginner sailing dinghies

    1. Twelve of the best training boats Sailing schools, clubs and training centres use a variety of boats with beginners, including singlehanders such as the Pico, Hartley 10 and the RS Quba, the latter having three rigs catering from entry level to more experienced sailors. There's also a range of larger training dinghies from builders such as RS, Topper, Laser and Hartley Boats.

  24. 100+ Best Boat Names for the Most Creative Ideas on the Seven Seas

    There are a few, but the rules and regulations regarding boat names apply primarily to boats that are more than 25 feet long and otherwise qualify for documentation with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

  25. Small-Boat Sailing Merit Badge

    View current Small-Boat Sailing Merit Badge requirements and resources from the official Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Hub

  26. Best Sailboats For Lakes

    The best sailboats for lakes are the Optimist dinghy, the Sunfish racing sailboat, the Herreshoff 12 1/2, the West Wight Potter 15, the West Wight Potter 19, and the Cal 20 sloop. In this article, we'll review six of the best small sailboats for cruising on lakes. Additionally, we'll go over the qualities to look for when choosing a lake ...

  27. American tourist found dead on small Greek island west of Corfu. 3

    ATHENS, Greece -- A missing American tourist has been found dead on a beach on a small Greek island west of Corfu, local media reported. The body of the man was found Sunday on a rocky, fairly ...

  28. The 5 best Father's Day gifts for 2024

    The 5 best Father's Day gifts for 2024. ... Sunday, June 16. Whether you're up for a big, big splurge or looking to gift something small and sentimental, Rebecca Tay uncovers five perfect ...


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