Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dinghy Tenders

People often ask us why Steadfast has a boom. Because she looks like a trawler, the kind of boat that plods along at a top speed of 6 – 9 knots, they assume the boom is for a steadying sail. When a boat is moving slowly, it tends to be pushed around by waves a lot, giving an uncomfortable ride for those aboard. Yes, our mast and boom have tracks for a sail, but because Steadfast is an express cruiser, travelling 15 – 18 knots, with a top speed of 22 knots in calm seas and no extra weight, a sail would be superfluous to her design. We use our boom as a lever/crane to deploy our dingy/tender.

First, we attach the three-point harness.

Then we raise the dinghy from the chocks.

Next, we outhaul the dinghy to the end of the boom.

The boom swings to a 90 degree angle and the dinghy is lowered over the side to the water.
Before we got smart (read: dead tired and lazy) we had to take turns cranking the winches by hand.  Such hard work.  Two seasons ago, Captain B purchased a heavy-duty, battery operated drill with a winch attachment to do the grunt work.  The batteries didn't last long.  As the season wore on, they got more and more tired and finally burned out--just like us.  This season, the super smart Captain B got a new electric drill with an extension cord.  Instant, never-ending power.  We are in buisness!

After ten years of almost daily practice, Captain B and I have become pretty proficient at the dingy drill. Back in the day, when we were newbies, we did have our little episodes of dangerous, frustrating and hilarious trials. There was the time we dropped the whole thing overboard. And the time we wiped out the transom door and flag staff with a wildly swinging 375 pounds. It didn’t take long to learn the fine art of holding on to it, while standing clear of it at the same time. Flying dinghies are a force to be reckoned with.

In the cruising life, the dinghy is equivalent to your family car at home. Imagine living on the farm, 12 miles from town and not having a trustworthy means of transportation. We have a love/hate relationship with our little “Roe Boat”. We treat her with tender loving care, being meticulous about triple tying her at night to Steadfast’s transom and raising her in stormy conditions to prevent chaffing or loss. Like a car, we have to scrub her, fill her with air and fuel, and pay attention to depths so not to ding the propeller. Like at home, I have had to learn to drive the dink myself, learn how to deal with the fuel line that likes to come undone and leave you stalled at sea, and learn how to fish from its 11foot confines without snagging a bare hook in the inflatable sides.

Nelson has had to learn the rules too.

Must wear a life jacket.


No jumping from a moving dinghy.

No hanging onto Mama’s bare legs with your toe nails.

Come when called, or the dinghy will leave without you.


Since we taught him how to jump in and out on his own, we have often found him sitting in the dinghy all alone, silently giving us the message that he wants to go ashore.

That’s it for today’s installment.

There will be fresh-caught Mahi Mahi fingers for cocktails on the Compass Cay docks tonight, compliments of the Steadfast Crew. Join us for Sundowners, watch for the Green Flash, and share fishing stories of the day.
See you there!








Post a Comment