To the editor: I read the recent article on dinghy storage (Bringing a friend Issue 143, Jan./Feb. 2005) with interest, and agree with the author’s opinions on most methods of stowing a dinghy for sea.
“Stowing for sea” became a well-used term during my years in the Navy, where it was well demonstrated that not only would gear on deck be overboard in an instant, but it could, and probably would, do terrible damage on its way over the side.
The dinghy method we settled upon on our 50-foot steel ketch Gilana has evolved over time, and to us it is the best solution we have ever seen. Originally our boat had a track across the transom for the mizzen sheet, then a stern rail above that. This closes off the stern and induces one to store “cruising cargo” against the rail. We decided to open the back of the boat and created a platform that some call a boomkin (originally a small stage to stand on while tending the boom of a yawl). We added solar panels and a wind generator; there is a removable swimming platform, and the dinghy comes up the back on her bottom into chocks, with her 15-hp outboard installed.
We can launch the dinghy in a few seconds at anchor and a minute or two while underway. We are able to launch and retrieve the dingy (a RIB) while underway at speeds up to 4 knots. We have often taken short fishing excursions, when the tuna were jumping a half mile or so from our rhumb line. We have even broken the monotony of motoring through a calm by going water skiing. We have had boarding seas in the Southern Ocean, and the dink just shed the water and did not move. As a bonus, when we land a fish, it is cleaned in the dink, where the drain hangs over the edge and a few buckets of water flush the mess overboard.
Far too little emphasis is placed upon this issue by yacht designers and builders. It is almost as an afterthought that davits are tacked onto the stern of a boat. I find this a most unsatisfactory system. Our second dinghy is a hard sailing dinghy. It is stowed athwartships midships on high chocks, allowing it to avoid boarding seas. The dinghy has done this many times and only once, exiting the windward passage from Cuba to Great Inagua, was she moved by the sea. The lashings must be incredibly tight, and I recommend the use of ratchet-type cargo straps.
Our solution has served us so very well over the years that we would like others who are contemplating this subject to be made aware of this option and feel free to copy it and improve on it. Any who are interested can see photographs of the methods described here on our website: www.seakin.com/gilana, click on 2004 and Folegandros 29 July.
– Mike and Laura Brasler owned a property management company in South Africa prior to going cruising. Mike is an engineer trained in the South African Navy, and Laura is a food technologist.