Dinghy Replacement

Update August 2018: The registration numbers are on. Cathleen stenciled them with permanent paint rather than using the stick-on numbers that inevitably rip and fall off. It looks great! While she was at it, she stenciled Fiddler on the life ring. Love it!294E8498-6EB8-4609-94E0-EA691E91AB85076799CB-801B-4F72-900F-A737707DC97E


I sold the dinghy that came with the boat. It was an inflatable with an aluminum hull and a 20hp Honda outboard.

The original dinghy when it was in really good condition.

As you can see, there is a tiller for steering and a metal seat for either the driver or passenger. Others would need to sit on the tubes. We used it for getting to shore while at anchor, exploring the waters around us, and setting/retrieving crab pots. In the last couple of seasons, the rubber tubes started deteriorating and it was only a matter of time before they leaked. The one thing that I didn’t really like about it was the tiller steering.

The dinghy is stored on the flybridge, raised and lowered with a hydraulic crane. Weight is an issue. The crane is capable of lifting 1,000 pounds, but it does not have hydraulics to move the arm laterally, only vertically. Once the dinghy is lifted, I manually move the arm to where I want the dinghy to go. Pushing it to the side of the boat and lowering it is not a problem. Pulling the raised dinghy back onto the flybridge is the problem. The weight of the dinghy causes the boat to list which makes the arm of the crane want to swing away, making it that much harder to pull in.

So I was looking for a dinghy that had a steering wheel console, adequate seating, long life construction material, and one we could use to comfortably explore, get to shore, and crab.  Maybe even fish. And it has to weigh less than 500 pounds so I can manage it with the crane.

I had read about Bullfrog boats before and like the fact that they look like an inflatable, but they are made with a styrofoam material encased in a hard plastic shell. They will not deflate or sink. Even filled with water, they float. They are extremely durable and have an aluminum hull, which is lighter than a comparable fiberglass hull.  They also have a model with a steering console and padded seating with enough room for two or three more people, or one more person and a crab pot, or two crab pots. It weighs 490 pounds. So I decided to get it. It came with a 20hp Tohatsu fuel injected 4 stroke outboard motor.IMG_2639

My friend Thomas and I drove to Bellingham to pick it up this week, but the trailer lights on the trailer they were letting us borrow did not work with my SUV. I didn’t want to drive to Seattle, then back to Bellingham to return it, without working trailer lights. Thomas had a Jeep that would work so we went back to Seattle to get it. He came up with a great idea to rent a boat trailer in Seattle so we wouldn’t need to make yet another trip to Bellingham to return it. So that is what we did and it worked out great, except for it was dark by the time we returned to Seattle with the dinghy in tow. Thomas kept it overnight at his house and met me and my son Evan at the boat launch at Shilshole Marina the next day. We planned to then drive the dinghy to Elliott Bay Marina where we keep Fiddler. That was a good plan, but the weather turned windy and rainy and a small craft advisory was issued by the weather service. Evan and I decided to take the dinghy out and if the conditions were too rough, turn around. When we got to the windward side of West Point, about half way to Elliott Bay Marina, the conditions vastly deteriorated. Large waves with whitecaps and strong winds on our beam. We turned around and went back to Shilshole. A nice lady in the marina office was kind enough to let us tie it to her boat for the night, rather than pay for temporary moorage.

Tied to a friendly boater’s swimstep for the night at Shilshole Marina.

The next day was much calmer and I moved the dinghy to our marina at Elliott Bay.

On the way to Elliott Bay Marina in calm conditions.

It is a slightly different size than the old dinghy and the chocks that it sits on had to be adjusted. Minor annoyance, but not a difficult job. The chocks are simply screwed into the flybridge. They don’t need backing plates or reinforcement since they only hold the weight of the dinghy. I needed to move two of the chocks.

The chocks that the dinghy sits on.


Project complete, dinghy securely in place.

We are looking forward to using it this season and for many more to come!

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