First off, besides donations and anonymous advertising, I do not get remuneration
of any kind to write reviews, many bloggers do, so be careful what information you
trust out there.
For most of us, if your cruising on a budget, much of you water time will be in
a dinghy. Fetching back and forth, provisioning, visiting, snorkeling, site seeing,
fishing etc. Most spend a lot of time choosing their boat and rightly so, but a
good dinghy can go a long way to making anchoring a bit more pleasurable. Now I'm
not going to get into the hypalon vs. U-PVC debate, cause if you're cruising for
real, you'll probably wear the thing out, have it stolen, have it drift off, and
all the other nasty things that happen to an inflatable, before the sun eats it
up, besides you could take that extra couple of grand, that you would spend on hypalon
and buy a cover, but mostly I guess it's how you use you dinghy that counts.
While I was looking for a dinghy there were a couple of things I wanted, namely;
Advanced CAT Performance Inflatables AC-300 Light Gray Advanced CAT Performance
Today's pic of an early morning 25 mile run out and around to Isla Todos Santos.
This little dinghy of mine is my best purchase by far; it almost makes up for all
of my not so good ones. She's stable, at some point I think we've all almost fallen
out of a dinghy at one time or another, inebriated or not, getting in and out can
be a challenge especially when doing so from a boat. These tunnel hull designs are
fantastically stable. You can jump on one pontoon without any weight in the boat
and they stay pat, not to mention the stability up on plane and in tight turns it
feels like it's glued to the water, they don't rock obviously.
For Speed, well, this is it, the creme de la creme of go fast inflatables, I doubt
there's anything on the market that can come close. It's a little rocket, the of
the aluminum transom can take an obsessively large motor up to 100hp. I put a beat
up old 18 horse two smoke on mine, she holds 16-19 knots through chop and swell.
I don't even want to know what 100hp will do. In fact I often have to hold her back,
else she gets airborne over the swell, hence the need for good tie-downs and dry
For safety they put inner tubes which pan around half the pontoons, and based on
experience, not my fault someone reversed into me, they are enough to get around
Hard floor, the version I bought is the Dux hammerhead, I'm sure many of the brands
are just as good, has space-board (hard but flexible plastic) floor panels. These
are especially nice cause they are easy to clean and you can drill holes in them
to attach tank tie down, seats, whatever you like. And importantly, due to the speed
and spray it is self draining.
Price, well, I was lucky enough to pick one up for 1/6 of the price from a distressed
seller but Dux and other premium American made tunnel hulls aren't cheap, you're
looking at $6K USD for the go fast version, that's the reason I mentioned the knockoffs.
Besides the retail price tag, for the US made models there is nothing I dislike
about this dinghy, it is tops.
Here's a pic of a friend of mine loading the fuel from the little catamaran (dinghy)
to the bigger little catamaran at a mooring. Because of her stability we are also
able to change fuel tanks while sailing or motoring and towing the dinghy.
There are many, many different hull designs out there. I've been through three myself,
this one, a hard dingy and what one I called flabby bottom for obvious reasons.
Both of the others, had some serious disadvantages for cruising, flabby bottom was
slow and smelly and the hard fiberglass dingy was a nightmare to stow and because
it was a monohul, challenging to get in and out of.
I'm not going to go into the merits of all the hull designs out there, you can go
to WestMarine for a reasonable review of them, but for the tunnel hull catamaran
dinghy, its little secret is surprisingly simple. Blow the big rounded pontoon tubes
are two little tubes, they call hijackers or hi-jackers cause that's what jacks
you up hi on the water when you are on plan. This gives you the super duper speed,
because you up on two well shaped, thin hulls at a good angle of attack. But for
a little boat with this kind of speed you need to have the ability to turn hard,
for this there are these two aluminum angle irons around the hijackers, one per
pontoon, that form a sharp L shape on the inside of the hull, this gives you the
bite on the water with stability for sharp turns. The L on the inside hull is the
one that's grabbing the water round a turn, not the outside hull, if the inside
hull happens to lift cause you are taking the turn way to hard it simply looses
grip and slides biting in again. Kind of like, ABS brakes but for sharp dinghy turns.
It has much the same planing hull shape as a high speed racing catamaran. When in
displacement mode, i.e. not on plan, she's sitting squat on two fat pontoons and
that's why she's super stable to get in and out of and can carry well over 1500
lb's / 680 kg which is great for provisioning. An all round, brilliant design.
There are catamaran dinghy's out there without hijackers, so make sure you get the
ones with hijackers, otherwise you'll have a very stable but slow dinghy. Make sure
you get enough to stay on plan, probably a abs. min of 10hp, you should get around
Mph per HP, but I would check with the manufacturer. And note that at displacement
speeds you are dragging the hijackers, so this hull shape will be less efficient
than some dinghy's designed to do displacement speed only, but then I doubt by much.
Try this with your dingy
Here are some examples of what's available:
And what I think the American manufacturers are referring to as the knockoff, only
reason I can see why is cause it's not made in America. Saturn XCAT (via boatsToGo)
available soon, but it's been soon for quite some time now. There are some used
of the previous model around.