Using Your Dinghy

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Figure 17-2 shows an idyllic cruising scene. A key component to that fun is the dinghy tied behind the cruising boat. Because your dinghy is often your ticket to freedom on a cruise, you want to make sure that it doesn't float away. The following tips can make life afloat with a dinghy more enjoyable:

1 Bring a paddle. An outboard engine may power your dinghy, but make sure that you have some alternate means of propulsion — just in case!

1 Stop that banging. Assuming your dinghy is a rubber inflatable, you can tie it so the engine can't hit the hull of your sailboat. But kayaks and other water toys have a habit of banging against the hull as the wind shifts in the anchorage at 3 a.m., so you may want to pull them up on the dinghy at night.

1 Tie your dinghy securely. Whether you're towing your dinghy behind the boat or leaving it high and dry on an idyllic beach while you do some exploring, make sure that you tie it up well. Use a bowline knot, or tie your dinghy around a horn cleat, as Chapter 19 shows. Inspect the dinghy's bow line for chafe; if it looks shaky, tie on a new one. On a beach, always secure the dinghy (with an anchor in the sand or a bow line tied to a sturdy object) above the highest possible level that the tide and waves can reach, and keep an eye on it.

Figure 17-2:

Another beautiful day in paradise aboard a bareboat charter boat.

Figure 17-2:

Another beautiful day in paradise aboard a bareboat charter boat.

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1 Tow your dinghy safely. If you decide to pull your dinghy behind you from place to place, then take everything out of the boat (oars, fuel tank, engine, swim fins, and so on) before you get under way. Check with the charter company for its recommendations of dinghy towing. The same principles of safe towing that we cover in Chapter 7 apply. When backing or maneuvering the sailboat in close quarters, bring the dinghy close alongside, and have one person watch it so that you don't run over the tow rope.

1 Watch out for surf. Don't try landing your dinghy on a beach with breakers; even small waves can tip your boat. If you must beach your dinghy in waves, try to make your timing so that a wave washes you far up the beach. Then quickly climb out and grab the bow line so that it doesn't drift back. Always land bow first and depart bow out. Avoid standing in the water between the dinghy and the beach because a wave can throw the boat right at you.

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