Features March 2008 Issue

Making the Old Dink New Again: Practical Sailor Turns an Old Fiberglass Dinghy into a Stable Rigid Inflatable

Practical Sailor testers retrofit an old fiberglass workhorse dingy with a Walker Bay inflatable tube.

One man’s dream to improve stability on his family’s old Dyer knock-off becomes a quest to see if it is possible, and cost effective, to turn the old dink into a rigid inflatable using a inflatable tube kit from Walker Bay. As it turns out, it wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. The family dinghy, an 8-foot Dyer knock-off acquired in the late 1980s, was the perfect tender. But two kids and a dog later, and the family dink no longer fit the family—particularly with the added weight of a four-stroke, 3.5-horsepower outboard clamped on the stern. Our tester was accustomed to the benefits of a hard dinghy—durability, the ability to sail it, superior rowing—but lusted after the increased stability and carrying capacity of an inflatable. A rigid-hull inflatable seemed to offer the best of both worlds, but the prices were out of this world. Besides, the old dinghy was still in great shape, so dropping the cash for an expensive new dinghy was unjustified. (What’s a tightwad sailor to do?) And that’s how the idea for a DIY hybrid dinghy was born: We would make the old dink new with the addition of the inflatable tube from a Walker Bay RID (Ridged Inflatable Dinghy).

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