Avon is offering a new 10-year warranty on their line of inflatable boats. “We’ve had less than 1% return on our former warranty for defects and deterioration of material” states Avon West’s General Manager, Dave Geoffrey, “that’s why we feel confident in extending the warranty to 10 years.”
It was mid-July 1990 on the Caicos Banks, a stretch of shallow, gin-clear water extending for about 70 miles east to west in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Along with a dozen other cruisers whod chosen to thumb our noses at hurricane season (ah, those were simpler times), we were pausing in Providenciales before heading south. …
The lines on the carbon-fiber Wing Dinghy date back to Nat Herreshoffs Frost Fish, a dinghy with a reputation for performance under sail and when being rowed. Diana Russells Wing Dinghy hull weighs only 55 pounds. Built by Savage River Works using conventional fiberglass FRP skin, carbon outer skin, and Kevlar inner hull skin, the 9-foot dinghy tests well against the popular Bruce Bingham-designed Trinka 10. The Wing Dinghy also scored well in the sailing, hoisting, towing, and rowing tests.
In a follow-up to last months review of fixed-transom rigid inflatable boats, Practical Sailor looked at three 10-foot, folding-transom dinghies: the Walker Bay Genesis 310 FTD, Avon Rover 310 Lite, and the Zodiac Zoom 310SR. These three have the advantage of being easily stowed on deck, without taking up as much space as their fixed-transom counterparts. We tested each RIB dinghy for top speed, planing speed, overall performance at high and low speeds, spray deflection, and rowing. We looked at design, quality of construction, details, extras, price, and warranty-with an emphasis on price and warranty versus construction materials. PVC inflatable dinghies are not as durable as those made of Hypalon and generally carry a shorter warranty, but they are less expensive and can meet the needs of those in more temperate climates.
Once upon a time, tenders were essentially wooden or fiberglass rowboats. Then came inflatables, which are easier to stow, less likely to damage the...
Practical Sailor 2016 Index
In a test of seven roll-up boats with inflatable decks and keels, the Zodiac Cadet 310FR ACTI-V was the top choice. Best Buy honors go to the Mercury 310 Airdeck Hypalon.
A paddle should be selected with the same care you buy a shoe, since it is your connection to the water. For long-term cruising a spare may be good idea. A good economical choice is the Aquabound Manta Ray Fiberglass (about $100).
This Walker Bay RIB is a well-executed, but heavy, plastic inflatable dinghy. Its thermo-molded hull resists impact, wont chip like gelcoat, and is easy to clean, but it is not as simple to paint or modifiy as a laminated hull. Although the hull material itself is not particularly rigid, the design is surprisingly resistant to flex. The features in the deluxe boat are nice for a shore-based utility boat, but the lighter version, which we plan to include in our future test, may be better suited for a deck- or davit-stowed tender.
We tested each product for overall quality of construction, ease of installation, and ease of use. Each model was tested on three different surfaces that are common dinghy-transporting areas: an inclined, concrete boat launch ramp with cracks in the pavement wide enough to push some dinghy dollies off course; a sandy beach, where the sand ranged from nearly flat and hard at water’s edge to more than 4 inches deep and soft above the high-tide mark; and a rocky shoreline, with some irregular stones that measured up to a foot in diameter. Each set of dinghy wheels was attached to the transom of a 9-foot, 130-pound rowing skiff. To avoid drilling a bunch of holes in our own $1,200 dinghy, we picked up a haggard—but appropriately sized—$75 garage-sale skiff for these tests.