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Tips on Inflatable Dinghy purchase please

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Hi all,


I am now close to securing my first keeler (Raven 26) with an offer accepted and just awaiting Survey, likely to occur in the next few days. Much Excitement!


Unfortunately she does not have a tender so I have started looking for one, and have found it a more confusing proposition than buying the boat!


I am probably leaning towards and inflatable. Based more on the fact it seems they are the popular choice, but from there on I am a little stumped. I have a 2hp outboard already but would really appreciate anyones comments or tips or recent experiences. Ideally would prefer to be spending $1000 or less.


Thanks heaps

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Well done on your (almost) first purchase.


Like all boat things there are pros and cons.


Things to consider:

- durability (pulling it up on the sand vs up a ramp with oysters or up on the rocks) impacts whether GRP, ply, soft bottom vs hardbottom inflatable, PVC vs hyperlon

- Rowing ability (the flat bottom inflatables generally row poorly)

- Towing ability

- Storage on board / in the car / in the garage at home

- How dry it is

- How stable it is

- How many crew you normally have

- Will in mark your yacht (or worse your neighbours) if left bumping along side


I like the inflatable option as size for size they do most of the above except row well (better if you get one with an inflatable keel) and they are the most popular choice for good reason.


Can't go too far past a good Southern Pacific or Aquapro (not the chinese ones though). I'd look for a 2-3 year old one on TM.


One trick on a smaller keeler if you dont want the boat on the foredeck or to tow it is to strap a piece of timber or aluminium (oars, bamboo poles, aluminium / stainless tube) to the horizontal bars on your pushpit and have them cantilever aft out the back of the boat say 1m. You can then lift a light soft bottom inflatable up and sit and strap it on the poles) - cheap removable davits!

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The Raven is a good, solid design for a first keeler. The biggest issue you will have with the tender is storage, and how you will do that. When I had a Raven, I used to carry the dingy lashed across the stern rail - the base of the dingy on - or at transom level. It was a 2.2m inflatable. Crap (almost impossible) to row except in flat calm, but was ok with the old 2hp Suzuki I had then. This dingy fitted on the stern, just. Could not go bigger. There is a much larger range of them available now though, although $1K will leave you a bit limited. I agree, have a look at trademe...

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The system that ab1974 mentions above is well demonstrated in the pic attached (if I can manage to attach it)! I've also used this system and found it brilliant. Bamboo poles are best as they are light and strong (and cost nothing). The system is so easy it's ridiculous and I don't know why more people don't use it. The tender is off the deck and out of the way, you're not dragging it behind the boat, you don't have the complication of trying to strap it to the stern which is a pain, and to launch you just give it a push...brilliant


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Had lots! The best was a alloy hard-shell inflatable from Force4 (unfortunately now deceased...and dinghy got stolen). Light, manouverable and very well made. The fiberglass types are a lot heavier (I now have a Maxon but not that happy with it as for its size its very heavy). Ply is great, strong and light but can't handle big loads. Roll-ups? Had a Incept, all the seams started pulling apart. Got given an abandoned Zodiac (still got it) and glued in a new floor and lots of repairs but wouldn't trust it. They flip if towed at sea. Go hard-shell alloy. Force4 is unfortunately gone but other brands are about.

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Hi, for my sins I mostly build and repair inflatables in my business, (just waiting for Bushman or Beau peep to jump on this thread). But for what it is worth this is what I think. Don't buy a boat from trademe older than 5 years. If you are going to buy secondhand buy a boat with welded seams, That mostly means Southern Pacific, Force 4 and Aquapro, Zodiac and other Zodiac derivative brands like Bombard and X-3. Aakron, Java, Maxxon, Honwave, Quicksilver and most other pvc brands are glued together and come from the same factory in Guandong province - Sun Selections. The quality is ok, but because the glue only lasts for between 5 and 10 years once the handles start to drop off the seams splitting aren't far behind and once that happens it is pretty much all over. With a welded boat as long as the fabric isn't toast from the UV damage you can glue floors back in or the tubes back on to the hull etc etc etc. I have replaced 2 transoms in Aakrons since xmas on boats about 5 years old, the ply used in China is not good, most European brands and NZ brands use marine ply and the transom can be repaired. Aquapro's with serial numbers ending 06 to 10 should be avoided as these are the years they were bringing in faulty boats, nice tubes but the fittings all fall off including the floors and hulls. They are now built in NZ by Southern Pacific but they don't do small roll ups, which leaves only Southern Pacific as the only brand that welds their boats, uses marine ply in their transom and floor boards and produce a small roll up. There are others but they would be imports and the inflatable boat industry is so incestuous they are some times hard to tell apart.

If you can find a hypalon dinghy in reasonable condition, particularly an Achilles grab it and don't let it go.

Sorry it's a long post I'm still at work at 6.30pm waiting for some glue to dry putting a new transom back in one of the Aakrons I mentioned.

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