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. Many hours were spent sanding, repairing, painting and varnishing during a chilly Brighton winter. However, when we finally launched it, it proved to be a wee bit wobbly on the water and would be uncomfortably cozy with two of us in it plus an outboard. It went back on EBay to finish its life in a pub garden down 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 a SD230 for £300. Seemed like a bargain! We wanted something smaller than our Quicksilver, something that could be carried up beaches if needs be and this fit the bill.
Too small to be Crazy Horse, it was christened Crazy Pony. Well, maybe it had had some abuse whilst on display. Right from the start we had to pump up the tubes every few days and into our second year of ownership other problems showed up, the biggest being a slow water leak between the transom and tubes which got worse over the years.
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 live aboard life humping around water cans and bringing back shopping. If there was any sort of chop we got pretty wet and we’d even been kept from going ashore from fear of being swamped on some occasions.
The final straw was two weeks ago when 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. Definitely something a little bigger was needed and Colin was keen on bigger tubes and a hard bottom RIB type rather than 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 that looked ideal online but it couldn’t be delivered to Greece and it would be a grim summer trying to keep Crazy Pony usable and safe.
A bit more research and back to Nikos’s Ionian Marine Safety shop in Lefkas (nice guy, also does dinghy repairs). He had a range of models from budget to premier class. Every time we’d been in we’d oohed over an AB rib with aluminium floor but had dismissed it as 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. Then a midrange model was suggested, but its spec wasn’t quite right. Then an offer was made 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, has a rigid aluminium floor for toughness and is made of hypalon fabric which survives better in 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 the damage is fixable it will be given to a Greek fisherman. This makes me happy 🙂