We’ve not had much luck with the dinghies we’ve owned. First off was the one that came with Emerald, a 3.1m Quicksilver inflatable with wooden floor. It weighed about 3 million tonnes making it a pain to haul up on beaches or onto the davits. After our 3 month trip along the English south coast to make sure we liked cruising (back in 2009) we realised it had to go. Smaller was the way to go we reckoned.
Crazy Horse II
Colin had a hankering for a traditional wooden, clinker type dinghy. Over the winter of 2009-10 we researched making our own or buying one second hand. EBay brought us an opportunity for a 6ft version that needed a little TLC and at a bargain price – see here for original blog. We spent many hours sanding, repairing, painting and varnishing during a chilly Brighton winter. However, when we finally launched it, it was a wee bit wobbly on the water. It would be uncomfortably cosy with two of us in it plus an outboard. Sadly it went back on EBay to finish its life in a pub garden in Devon.
Time was running short to find a replacement before leaving the marina for our Baltic trip. A bit of internet research found us an Excel dealer in Hove; when we visited they had an ex-display model of an SD230 for £300. Seemed like a bargain! We wanted something smaller than our Quicksilver, something that we can carry up beaches if needs be and this fit the bill.
Too small to be Crazy Horse, we christened it Crazy Pony. So, maybe it had had some abuse whilst on display. Right from the start the tubes needed pumping every few days. And in our second year of ownership other problems showed up. The biggest issue was a slow water leak between the transom and tubes which got worse over the years.
The Sun is Not Kind to Inflatable Dinghies
In the last year, every time we went ashore we had to empty out a near paddling pool. Two years ago the inflatable floor developed a leak; we repaired it but the Med sun has weakened the glue and its leaking again.
But the biggest problem was that it was just too small, maybe fine for weekend or holiday sailing but not very practical for liveaboard life humping around water cans and bringing back shopping. We got wet if there was any sort of chop. On some occasions, the fear of being swamped had kept us from going ashore.
The final straw was two weeks ago. A leak developed around one of the filler valves causing one side tube to go from full to soggy in minutes. We’d been contemplating a new dinghy anyway so had been looking around for what was available. We definitely needed something a little bigger. Also, Colin was keen on bigger tubes and a hard bottom RIB type rather than a full inflatable. In Nidri and Lefkas, there were many cheap models on offer, all Chinese made. We umm’ed and ah’ed and kept putting off the decision. Nothing seemed quite right. We found one online that looked ideal, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to have it delivered to Greece. It would be a difficult summer trying to keep Crazy Pony usable and safe.
Time to Treat Ourselves
A bit more research and back to Nikos’s Ionian Marine Safety shop in Lefkas (nice guy, who also does dinghy repairs). He had a range of models from budget to premier class. Every time we’d been in we’d lusted over an AB rib with aluminium floor. However, we always dismissed it, due to it being out of our budget. Nikos gave us lots of advice – we discussed the budget models; not built to last, it would be very likely that we would be back in this situation again in a few years. He suggested a midrange model, but its spec wasn’t quite right. Then he proposed an offer for the AB! Time for a discussion…..
It didn’t take long to make a decision. Somehow the gut just knows what is right!
Crazy Horse III
So now the AB is ours. It’s light so our 4hp engine is still suitable and we can carry it up beaches. It has big tubes so we’ll stay dryer, and has a rigid aluminium floor for toughness. In addition, it’s made of Hypalon fabric, which is much better for withstanding the hot sun. (I will make new chaps in the winter for extra protection).
Crazy Pony is gone and hopefully Crazy Horse III will be our dinghy for life, it should give us over 10 years (and very likely many more than that) years of service. We are justifying it to ourselves by feeling good at helping save the planet by not contributing to the disposable society. This morning we set off to buy the equivalent of a Dacia and ended up with a Ferrari!
P.S. Crazy Pony might get a reprieve from the glue factory yet. If Nikos can repair the damage he will give it to a Greek fisherman. This makes me happy 🙂