Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Projects and Dinghy Dilemma

While we are still looking for the next Loose Moose design (more about that soon) we have decided to do some refitting to So It Goes our CAL 34 and prepare it for some longer distance cruising as either the Pacific, or more likely, Europe will be our cruising grounds next year.

The CAL is really an exceptional boat and when all is said and done, it is not that hard to tweak it into a more bluewater-oriented mode. The hard part is my film gear, our charter business and the crew of Moose that form the extended crew of So It Goes... but we have been tweaking and it is amazing how with a little head scratching, serious banging of heads against the bulkheads, and inspired serendipity, that it actually all comes together. The changeover to an electric drive system for instance, added a four by four foot cargo hold under the cockpit that happily stows all our scuba gear!

Some of the projects for this "H" season will be a new forward bulkhead and chain locker, a hard dodger, a watermaker, and some yet-to-be-figured-out thing that needs to be done to the under-cockpit stowage areas.

One of the head banging against bulkheads situations is the dinghy dilemma... We currently have a 9.5-foot (Caribe 9L) RIB with a 15HP outboard (and we also carry a small five horse outboard as a back up) which is wonderful, but takes up a bit more room than I'd like on the foredeck. Our second dinghy is a Walker Bay 8-foot rowing boat that we tow, but I am thinking that neither will leave the Caribbean with us when we head out for further places.

A dinghy is such an important part of a cruiser's life that having the right one is important. So, these days I find myself searching hither and yon for what makes sense with our limited deck space. Inflatables, both roll up and folding, are one possibility. Another is a nesting dinghy, but they all seem to get just a bit too clever for my tastes and there is something about having a boat you can launch ASAP that makes a lot of sense...

Here is one that might make the short list The Portland Pudgy . Taking the idea that a dinghy can also be a life boat gets two items off the list at one time. Of course, I would have to give up anchoring far out as it is certainly not a zippy dinghy but, unlike our Walker Bay, it does look like it has the capacity to carry both Sheila and I, plus gear/shopping/water/ etc. and it does have that lifeboat feature. I am really looking forward to seeing one of these puppies in person and will reserve my opinion 'til then but, the concept makes real sense and I would love to hear from anyone who has seen one of these up close and personal.