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Dolphin Dinghies - An overview (updated October 14, 2016)


It's a slow day and having just updated the Technical Section/Dinghies with Jerry Slaughter (ROWDY, Marscot/O'Day #5) new wheel barrow dinghy I realized we did not have an 'overview' page for this subject - a page from which one could link to the specific content. So here goes...

Wikipedia tells us the word, Dinghy, derives from a Bengali/Indian word. The word ḍiṅgi means small boat, and is a diminutive of the Bengali word ḍiṅgā, meaning boat. The British Royal Navy adopted the word to designate the smallest ship's boat.

Now that's out of the way Dinghies mean different things to different people - both a curse and a blessing is one.....

The curse description derives from expletives uttered when trying to lift one on to your boat, land it in surf conditions, get it across a rocky beach, tearing itself loose from its tether on a windy day, see it launching itself off a wave bearing down on your transom, etc, etc.

The blessing description derives from compliments received on how nicely she handles, how pretty she looks (especially if you built her), how patiently she can handle over-large loads, getting $25/nite moorings vs a $75/night slips, etc, etc.

Relative scale is important. While Dolphins are very capable boats, they are not big boats. Big boats can carry dinghies on deck or hang them off their transom - not easy for a Dolphin. A solution for some is inflatables - you can tow then, and store them - but doing both can be a problem on a Dolphin -Inflating them in the cockpit requires an advanced degree in cubic space management.

So, with this introduction, what do Dolphin owners do about this? Below is a series of links to specific owners stories, and other Dinghy links of interest. We'll add new links as we get them.

Blue Gum's Dinghy

Marionette's Dinghy - 'TEER

Marionette's Other Dinghy -  Pup  

Recovery's Dinghy

'TEER's Skeg Dolly

Mischief, a wooden pram

ROWDY'S Dinghy, a 'wheel barrow' boat


May 11, 2016. We've had some dinghy commentary on the Forum (Cruising Section). We'll include them here

Posted 07 Jul 2009
Hey all,
I have a cruise in the works and would like to hear what other folks have done about storing, towing, or even leaving behind their dinghies. I have a hard chine dinghy that is just too big to fit on the foredeck. I welcome your thoughts and experience.

Posted: 09 Jul 2009 at 7:29am
Hi Halsey
If I have a lot of sailing time legs in the cruise, I stuff my inflatable in the port quarter. I tow it on a short leg, on a long leg I deflate and reflate when I get there - 1/2 hr hassle at each end. I tow my 'hard' dinghy, 'TEER, when I have short legs planned and am by myself. I could theoretically put her on the foredeck - a real hassle - and I have never done it. Towing costs about .3/.4 knots boat speed with either dinghy.

Cruising without a dinghy makes one feel 'dependent' but if you can live with moorage fees, and the schedule of the host marina/YC launch schedules, or begging rides out to your boat from strangers then it can work. On a 7 day solo cruise from CT to Maine, last year, I never inflated my inflatable - always got dock space, except at one club, Sandy Beach YC at Rockport, Cape Ann, MA they provided free use of a dinghy to get to and from your mooring. On arrival they picked you up with their launch, said to select any of several color coded dinghies at their dock, and leave it on your mooring when you leave - great service.

I hope you get additional reponses to this request - it would be nice to find out what others do given the limitations of our 24' boats.
Marionette #12

Posted: 18 Aug 2009 at 12:42am
Hi All,
With few options and time running out before the start of my trip I decided to tow my dinghy. I towed her nearly 1,000nm, she far exceeded my expectations! When ever i would look back to check on her she would just be dancing on the waves, even in a 5ft sea! The dinghy is a Bolger design; Nymph, built by myself. Quick and cheap to build with capacity for 3 average americans and obviously tows very well, I highly recommend this design to anyone in need of a dinghy.

Posted: 14 Oct 2010 at 4:41pm
I guess this will fit in the better late than never category...I am toting my inflatable dingy ( West Marine ) in the port locker. Might be easier to extract it from the quarter birth? Haven't had the need to use it yet here in Hawaii, except to inflate it to see if it held any air. To my great surprise, it did.
Bob L.
Teaka, #165

Posted 18 Oct 2010 at 11:24am
We have a Joel White 7'8" nutshell pram. It tows great, we have always towed till now. We haven't put it on the deck yet but measuring looks like it will fit upside down.
(barely, or perfectly depending on how you look at it) I plan to place it on the fordeck with the spinaker pole and a 3 point harness....will see how it works!
Bob L.
Teaka, #165

Posted: 09 May 2016 at 10:50pm
I had an Avon rover 280 that I used the boat's 8hp Suzuki on. It stowed nicely under the cockpit sole. Hauled it on deck with the spinnaker halyard and was able to set it up on the foredeck/cabin top. I am NOT a proponent of towing a dingy at sea. I've tried it a few times and it always caused me problems. If the weather turns bad that's the worst time to try to get it onboard and stowed. Better to have it onboard and stowed before setting to sea. Know maaaaany people who arrived to their destination and looked back to find their dingy gone. NOT a good idea.
Barbara Joyce, #141


October 14, 2016. We received an interesting picture and comments (excerpted) from Steven Fruth (Melia, Yankee #158, Santa Barbara, California)

We had a great summer sailing Melia to the channel islands. We used our dinghy tow that we picked up used and love it, towing the dinghy is a necessity when you go cruising.


Click on the photos for a larger image

Dolphinites may want to check out Melia's dinghy towing system. This is a commercially available product. Click here to go to the manufacturer's website.






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