Spindrift Dinghy handling

After 10 years plus of using an inflatable dinghy the switch to a hard dinghy has meant a few adjustments to how I store it, stow it, and manage it under way. The Spindrift 10 is a fun combination of row boat, sailing dinghy, and outboard tender. Mine is a nesting version so it can be taken apart, flipped upside down, and nested together making it a small package that fits neatly on the foredeck.

I’ve now rowed it, sailed it and motored with it using the Torqeedo 3hp OB. So far, so good. I expected it to be different than the inflatable and it is. Getting in and out requires more care. It is not as forgiving of mishandling as my former a big rubber tubes of a dinghy, so driving it into the side of the mother ship is a bad idea. It will also get banged up when it goes to battle with an ugly dock. All expected. The reward is a dinghy that I can row and actually get someplace in. I can have fun with it as a sailboat! And, when needed, it moves along well with the little electric outboard.

Using the outboard on the Spindrift also highlighted the other big difference. Weight distribution matters. Moving to the center requires a tiller extension (I found one on Amazon that works). I get noticeably better performance from the OB doing that. With two people in the dinghy the extension wouldn’t be needed. The same challenge with weight distribution happens when rowing with a passenger . Whether the passenger is sitting in the bow or the stern, the balance of the dinghy is not ideal. We didn’t try two person rowing (side by side). That seemed like a friendship killer but it might work. If you have stuff to carry it could be used to balance the load.

The next big change was getting it on and off the mothership when towing is not prudent. The inflatable was always hoisted up by the towing bridle, bow first, and lowered onto the foredeck. This method is not really a good option with the Spindrift 10. The transom submerges and after lowering there is a good gallon or two of water to bail out. I also don’t like the idea of the hard dinghy swinging around in the wind which the inflatable often did. So I think the best option is to hoist it horizontally.

Spindrift 10 with hoisting rig alongside sailboat ready for bring aboard

With some gunnel protection (trying out some jumbo pool noodles) installed and a Dynema hoisting rig the Spindrift comes up and over the lifelines and onto the deck with just a little persuasion. I can set it down there and undo the 5 fasteners holding the two halves together. The halves are light enough (guessing 40-50lbs each half) to easily flip, stack, then tie them down. The oars, three piece mast, boom, dagger board and rudder also need to get put away.

If you want to watch a great YT video of a cruising couple, Sailing Yacht Florence, with a Spindrift 9 here is the link. I should thank them for this as it was very helpful in my deciding to buy this dinghy from the person that originally built this one. Here is a link to their WP page on the same.

Canada again and a dinghy change up

I’ve been ignoring this blog so here is a brief update for Spring of 2023. I made it to Canada last year. Explored parts of Desolation Sound for the first time over a three week cruise. Visited a few familiar places on the way up and some new ones as well. I typically avoid marinas but anchoring out in some locations proved difficult and it was easy to find dock space in early September. With solar power and a water maker I don’t really need to tie up but it is nice once in a while to not deal with anchoring.

I dragged anchor for the first time on a particularly windy night off Lopez Island. Completely due to my being rusty with calculating scope. Re-anchoring in 25-35 knots single handed in a dark, crowded anchorage, produced some adrenaline. The next day I realized my mistake determining water depth with a the depth sounder set to keel depth not waterline. I also decided that if someone anchors too close astern, removing the option of letting out more chain, it’s best to move before the weather deteriorates and the light fades.

The trip was nice overall and I enjoyed having a new paddleboard along to explore and get a little exercise. I tried stern tying for the first time, single handed, and found it doable in the right location and conditions.

One element I missed (again) in this type of cruising was the lack of sailing opportunities. There is often not enough wind, wrong direction, or the legs are too short. Consequently 75% of my miles were under power and some of them were towing an inflatable dinghy. The soft bottom dinghy design is very draggy so even in flat conditions, towing it results in reduced cruising speeds. Over a long day it adds up. They also perform poorly in other ways too. I use a 3HP electric OB or row it. The former is just okay and the latter is terrible.

So earlier this year the old inflatable went to a new home and I went in search of something else. I decided to try a hard dinghy. Ideally one that could be rowed, had a sail rig to play with when the big boat was at anchor, towed well and was driven easily with the small electric OB. I was told by friends to not go with anything smaller than 10ft for lots of obvious reasons. However, I don’t have davits on Kinetics so a 10ft dinghy has to be light weight and not cover the entire foredeck. The solution seems to be a nesting hard dinghy and those are mostly kit built.

Late in 2022 I found a Spindrift 10 for sale and grabbed it. Unbolts into two halves that nest making it a compact, an easy to store, 5ft x 4ft-2in package on the foredeck. I found a YT video of a cruising couple with a Spindrift 9 and they seem to love it. It sails fairly well but I haven’t had much time to use it yet. Same for rowing. Still need to try out the outboard on it. There are a few things I want to customize to make it easy to manage as the new tender for Kinetics but it should be fun figuring it all out. Below is a friend taking it for a maiden sail.