06/21/2012, The Inflatable Dingy Question
Before we cast off our mooring line in Port San Luis back in 2008, our Achilles dingy and 5Hp outboard motor was stolen. It was an older wood floor inflatable with a 5Hp outboard motor and looking back maybe the thieves did us a favor in forcing us to upgrade to a ridged bottom inflatable with a 15Hp Yamaha because we sure have enjoyed the larger dingy and motor. But if we could go back in time would we buy the 15Hp 2-stroke outboard motor and a ridged inflatable dingy we have again? The answer is Yes and No. Yes, we would still buy the 15Hp 2-stroke Yamaha, even though I had to buy it from a dealer in Florida because 2-strokes are outlawed in California. However, "No" we would not buy the Walker Bay Genesis Ridged inflatable again.
First, about the motor, must you have a 15hp to have a good time cruising? Certainly not, in fact before our 3Hp was stolen off our rail one night, we often used it MORE than our 15hp outboard simply to save fuel and because it was easier to get on and off the dingy. But a cruiser's dingy is asked to do so much, having that extra power for the long dingy rides full of groceries or, as we have used, as an emergency tow boat seems to me to be worth the expense, added weight and hassle of the larger Hp motor.
Now, when it comes to the dingy, we not buy the Walker Bay Genesis again. The Walker Bay Genesis has probably been the most disappointing cruising gear purchase we have made. Our dingy is only 4 years old, but the number of parts and pieces on the dingy that have broken and failed is almost too large to mention. Our friends with other ridged inflatables 13yr old have had less problems and failures than our Walker Bay. Sure, ours was a 2007 model which was their first year of production and we see improvements in the new models, but there are far too many better brands of dingys out there and after the failures we have had with ours, I couldn't buy another Walker Bay inflatable. But the truth is we wouldn't buy another ridged Inflatable anyway! I know it's the "thing to do" according to conventional wisdom, but let me tell you the flaw of the inflatable dingy, it's an INFLATABLE, meaning they leak, they ALL leak. Some leak less than others, but don't leave on an extended cruise with just one foot pump, have a spare because if you actually use your dingy rather than stepping off your boat onto the marina dock slip, you can count on using your foot pump to keep your $2500 (or more) blow up boat full of air.
The whole concept of why an inflatable dingy is good for cruisers centers around the ability to fold them up and store them away while underway, but with so many cruisers installing dingy davits or storing them on deck why have a fold away dingy when you never fold it away? Even with our 36ft Pearson, we used the davits so why not forget about the inflatable and save time, money, headache, pumping, and patching and just buy an old reliable aluminum skiff? If we could go back in time, we would buy an aluminum skiff and that is exactly what we intend to buy the moment we get back to Port San Luis this summer and ditch the Ridged "deflatable".
Forget the $500-$1000 sunbrella dingy chaps to protect the dingy from the sun and scratches. Bail out on the dingy repair kits and deflate the idea that because everyone else is casting off cruising in their Rigid Deflatable that it's the smart choice. It certainly is the common choice that keeps the Dingy Repair guy in every major cruiser port employed, but sometimes the common choice isn't a result of what is best, but just what product has the best marketing. Maybe if we didn't have a life raft then the notion of an unsinkable Rigid Inflatable would have more of an appeal, but I'm done with them and will be selling ours on Craig's list along with some other junk that we had to have but now can't wait to get rid of.
|4th Yr. 2012 Cruising Season||
Quick, get the anchor set we are burning daylight , move...move...move, what are you waiting for, snap that photo, catch that fish, do a quick 30 minute snorkel with a 15 minute beach hike. The guide book lists 4 things worth seeing in this fishing village, but we only have time for three of them, so I've prioritized in order of significance to the Mexican culture and scheduled 22 minutes at each of the three attractions. Whew, what a successful day, another anchorage and town checked off the list. Been there done that, honey what's next?
Sounds crazy I know, but each season we see Cruisers on this type of "Speed Cruising Circuit", but we don't see them for long because they are so busy checking destinations off the list and moving on their schedule, that they don't have time get to know other cruisers or build any relationships with locals, beyond what you would with the staff of a Club Med resort. Now granted, not everyone has 4 years to homestead in Mexico and some cruisers just have less time based on everything from budget to desire. We always wondered what it would be like to speed cruise, and in the last few days with guests aboard we got our answer: exhausting.
The speed cruise started with a sunrise breakfast at anchor in La Paz and then we were off motoring to our first anchorage for the day, Balandra, the site of the famous mushroom rock. The anchor was set and then five minutes later the crew was off the boat for a quick snorkel and beach walk, while I cleaned the boat propeller and bottom. About two hours later, when I saw the crew swimming back towards the boat, I hopped on deck and another five minutes later we were heading for anchorage spot number two for the day, Bahia San Gabriel on the south end of Isla Espiritu Santo. A perfect 13-15kt east wind was blowing so we were able to scream along under full sail at 6-7kts, without burning a drop of diesel. It was the type of sail that doesn't happen often here in the Sea. The brisk wind had just came up, so the sea was still almost flat calm, with just small wind ripples on the water that you couldn't even feel aboard this 55,000 pound freight train. Once anchored in Bahia San Gabriel, the dingy was lowered and off everyone went again for beach exploring and to check out the remains of the old pearl factory. I stayed behind to make some water and straighten up the boat, but a little rest and calm was my real motivation. Two hours before sunset the crew arrived back on the boat and again, five minutes later the anchor was up and any diesel we has saved by our earlier sail was used as we motor near full power to our third and final anchorage for the day, Playa La Bonanza on the SE side of the island. I would have preferred to spend the night where we were, but the wind that was blowing out of east all day has backed and now was coming out of the south west, which put it blowing directly into the anchorage. It was only blowing 5kts at the moment, but we have spent enough time in this area to know that by 2AM it would be blowing 20kts and gusting to 25kts. We could either use the last bit of light and my energy to move to a protected anchorage now, or we could do it later at 2AM in the dark. So off we went to the other side of the island and the crew enjoyed the pork stew I found time to make in the pressure cooker while I was "resting". The sun set while we were motoring and just before we lost the light we set our anchor for the third time off Bonanza beach. We drank a beer in the cockpit and 5 minutes later I was sound asleep in my bed.
As I'm trying to string together my thoughts at anchor this morning at Bonanza and trying to not mistype "from" as "form", the crew is exploring the beach while I make some more water, do the dishes from breakfast and validate my opinion that speed cruising isn't for us. Rather than "Go...Go...Go....Move...Move...Move", I think I'll adopt the word "manana", which literally translated means "tomorrow". However, as anyone who has waited on something in Mexico can tell you, a better translation for "manana" could be "not today".
|4th Yr. 2012 Cruising Season||
06/14/2012, From 1/2 Chain to 3/4 Nylon
After a few years of seeing 1/2 inch anchor chain hanging from the bow of the boat, it sure gives an uneasy feeling to see what looks like a string of dental floss coming from our bow. I have learned something in the process of anchoring with 3/4 inch nylon rode for the last few weeks, which is why people without an electric anchor windlass prefer to anchor with nylon. Dealing with nylon anchor rode is just SO MUCH easier than chain! In our time here in Mexico, I can easily count on both hands without even needing my toes the number of boats I've seen out at anchor on nylon rode. The questions of cruising with or without a water maker, solar panels, a wind generator, or what dingy and outboard to buy don't have a clear consensus by looking at the real word evidence of what people are doing; however, the question of Nylon vs Chain anchor rode appears to be settled, and chain with its higher costs and weight in the bow is the clear hands down winner for a cruising boat. Sure there are exceptions to everything and no doubt a "Nylon-er" will comment on how much weight they took out of their bow or how they have sailed around the world on nylon and I'm just showing my rode bigotry, but folks I don't worry about my chain chafing on a rock during a blow or about my chain chafing through on the bow roller. In other words, on a boat that continually has the forces of mother nature trying to make her rest comfortably on the ocean bottom, having chain vs nylon rode gives you one less thing to worry about.
It's known as the La Paz Waltz, where wind and current can often have boats riding forward on their anchors and the above photo shows just how dramatic it can be. Our 100lb anchor is somewhere off our stern as the estuary current pushes us forward into the 10kt wind. The photo shows our dental floss nylon rode, but the same would happen with our chain. Positive thinking will let me believe that, the nylon rode rubbing against our hull and keel will scrap away the barnacles. But perhaps I should think more negative and imagine a big red barnacle slowly chewing through the nylon rode while I'm off the boat at a burger or taco stand. Maybe that sound of chain scraping against our hull is comforting after all.
|4th Yr. 2012 Cruising Season||