Dinghy Handling


Often forgotten or overlooked when investigating a charter company, the dinghy is a critical element to a charter cruise: It can be either the source of much help and fun or the cause of lots of frustration, which could potentially ruin your charter.

When doing your homework in choosing your charter company, you definitely want to inquire what kind of dinghies they have in service. There are several kinds: the inflatable, the hard fiberglass (usually older) and the semi-rigid - also called rigid inflatable or hard bottom (the new ones). The latter combines hard bottom and inflatable sides. Most charter companies have, over the last few years, progressively replaced the old types with the hard bottom kind. Some 2nd. tier companies have not and in that case, you will be given and old fiberglass dinghy. Our first advice is to insist for a hard bottom dinghy every time you can. They are much nice, as you will read.

Before Casting Off: Checking Out the Dinghy

Often, during the boat briefing by a charter company employee, charterers focus on the yacht and completely forget the dinghy. BIG mistake! How would you like to reach your first anchorage, a big smile on your face at the thought of the beach bar waiting for you 300 yards from your boat, only to find out that your dinghy outboard refuses to fire up? Believe me, you would be veeeeery upset! So here is a list of things to check out before leaving.

Items that must be in the dinghy:

Operating the Dinghy

Docking and Beaching

Docking is pretty straightforward. Just approach the dock slowly, that's all. When tying up to the dock, leave the painter long enough to handle tide changes (you did not think about that one, uh?) if you are in an area that has a tide.

If you are in an area that you know is theft prone — and unfortunately, they do exist- you want to tie up your dinghy with a steel cable and a padlock, preferably including the outboard engine handle in the loop. If you are in such an area, the charter company will certainly supply you with those items and alert you to the situation.

Beaching the dinghy is relatively easy if there is no swell or breaking waves near the beach.

Towing The Dinghy

It sounds simple, but there are some tricks to this.

The Dinghy at Night