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Lift It: Retain and Maintain your Dinghy and Engine

Standard cruiser transport: ten-foot dinghy and 15hp engine
Standard cruiser transport: ten-foot dinghy and 15hp engine

I finally decided it was time to devise a way to lift the dinghy out of the water at night.  Anything that helps us sleep easy, be it ground tackle that has earned our trust, halyards that don’t slap endlessly in the slightest breeze, or the knowledge that the dinghy will be there in the morning has got to be a good thing, right? And there would be other benefits too: Our new (well, secondhand) dinghy has a shiny white bottom and we’d like it to stay that way.

The days when a trip to the beach to clean the dinghy seemed like an adventure have sadly passed. These days it’s just a chore. So no more dinghy scrubbing for me.

So, how to find a solution? For most catamarans – and many monohulls – some sort of davits are the obvious answer. Costly, yes, but once installed davits are easy to use and always ready, and in most cases the dinghy can stay on the davits whilst underway. But this wasn’t going to work on our Corbin 39, with its round canoe stern and the Aries wind vane steering gear hanging off the back!

Moving on to plan B, the next solution was to hang the dingy from a halyard as we see many other cruising folk do. After several attempts—and a fair bit of pondering—I decided that this was not for me. For live-aboard cruiser types like us the standard mode of transport is most likely an old, heavy-duty 10ft rigid inflatable dinghy with a 15hp outboard engine. Add a bit of fuel and a few odds and sods and that adds up to 250lb or more. Which is more than I really wanted hanging off my masthead sheaves and loading up my main halyard winch night after night.

Back to the drawing board.

I wanted something that was easy to rig, quick and easy to operate and that didn’t put too much load on anything. If it was difficult to do it would be all too easy to neglect. I needed a purchase of some kind; a mechanical advantage as opposed to the financial kind. I eventually came up with the idea of using the running backstays; easily unhooked from the chain plate and transferred to the dinghy lifting strops. I now used a dedicated 2:1 purchase attached to the running backstay wire and led back to the primary winch. Then I added a guy line going forward to counteract the pull aft.

Some experimentation was needed to get the strops just the right lengths to give stability, sufficient lift and a slight angle, so that with the drain plug removed the rain will always run out. A dinghy full of water would weigh over 1200lb. The result was just what we were looking for; easy to do, simple and sturdy.

Sim Hoggarth is a British merchant navy marine engineer now cruising in the Caribbean with his wife Rosie on board their Corbin 39 Alianna.

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