Spectator — December 2001
By Tom Fexas
The Antibladder Boat
|Part 2: Dumping Doughnuts|
I soon discovered other problems with doughnut boats. They are nearly impossible to keep clean. Dirt imbeds in the fabric and does not want to come out. (If you are buying an inflatable, get a black one like the Navy Seals use.) With an outboard mounted, there's no place to sit except on one of the whoopee cushions, making it real easy to bounce around when encountering waves. Finally, I learned that its wide beam and high freeboard make an inflatable unrowable in anything stronger than a weak zephyr, especially with the pitiful little plastic oar stumps supplied.
So I decided to order a new Dyer. Working with Steve Leahy at Dyer was a pleasure. Being the engineer that I am and never leaving well enough alone, I even specified some extra lay-up in the hull to take the point loads of the snap davits I had fitted. (This dinghy, too, would reside on the swim platform.) Like all good things, you must wait to have a Dyer built for you, and after 21⁄2 months, my little gem was finally delivered. I got everything hooked up and swung her into place, stood back on the marina float, and admired her springy sheer and beautifully rounded, proud bow. As soon as my Dyer was launched, I jumped in and rowed around. I immediately got that "old dinghy feeling" I had when I was a little kid.
Dyer reports something of a bladder boat backlash is now underway: Demand for its dinghies is up, so I know I'm not the only dinghy reactionary out there. Maybe this is due to the plethora of classic cruisers available today. Still, of the maybe 500 boats in my marina, I probably own the only hard-shell dinghy. Yeah, she is slow running--about 5 knots with a 3-hp outboard--but, where dinghies are most used (harbors), there is usually a 5-mph speed limit anyhow. Besides, I like to row, especially against the tide.
Tom Fexas is a marine engineer and designer of powerboats. His Web site is www.tomfexas.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.