Date: 10 February 2014. Stabilize a Hard Dinghy
Algae is a
small, inexpensive hard fiberglass dinghy manufactured in 1972.
She is old, beat-up and just about perfect. When I pull up to a
dinghy dock, I am not worried about someone taking her. No one in
their right mind will want the thing and for several reasons -- not
all of which are true.
"knows" that hard dinks are by and large unstable. They tip over and
indeed Algae as purchased had that propensity too. She doesn't now
and it's a very simple fix that can be duplicated with relative
This idea actually is one
that friends of mine did to their dinghy. Ann and John live on
the schooner Steelaway. The sailboat has an 80' waterline and
is approximately 110' overall. Steelaway is a rugged steel
boat built by the couple in Louisiana.
I have been fortunate
enough to go sailing aboard her.
As much fun as that was,
Ann used to hostess a Tea Time for the ladies aboard her boat
that always brings a smile of remembrance. Multitudes of
various teas, sweeteners and more, plus treats -- and loads of
girl talk too. It was fun.
The plan John and Ann came up
with for their tender increased the stability of the boat. Their
dink was long and slender -- lending itself to tipping over. A
slender, round bottom boat tends to roll and situating yourself in
dead center is a must. If not, well, America's Home Videos always
seeks amusing new moments....
digress. The Steelaway hard tender is similar to mine. It included
reinforcement at the gunnels and fenders down the sides.
over 40+ years in the sun, tended to bow out at the middle. Those two
boards (inside and outside the hull at the *gunnel) add strength.
Mine are oak, approximately 1.5" wide and 1/2" thick. Through bolted
(it is good to have a fiberglass dink) they made a wobbly dinghy far
sturdier. Scott and his buddy added them for me years ago and
they have made a big difference in my happiness quotient.
That's the top edge of the hull of a boat.
even though strengthened, Algae was still tippy. Stepping into
and out of the rowboat was a bit less comfortable/safe than I
preferred. That is where I copied another of Ann's dinghy
ideas. She and John had fenders down the outside edges, so I
Holes were drilled through the
dinghy and small rope tie the fenders to the upper gunnels. Ratty fenders
work perfectly for this process. Just so long as they have some umph
(air/floatation) left in them, they will be a-okay.
I can only
fit three fenders down each side on Algae in order for the state
numbers and sticker to be displayed.
you use a motor of any sort the state has it's hand out for fees.
That sticker isn't real expensive, only because Algae was
manufactured in 1972. Antique boats (30 years old or older) in
Florida get discounted rates.]
amazing -- they offer floatation at the edge of the dinghy.
Onboard Algae, I can stand in the bottom at the edge without fear of
particularly fun is watching folks on the dock get up and walk over
to see me splash when I board Algae. They do not get their reward and seem surprised.
And I never enlighten them either.
benefit to a small fiberglass dinghy like Algae is that folks do not
realize that by virtue of the fenders she is stable. She is not
fancy by any means and I like it that way. Thus, Algae less likely to be
acquired by nefarious sorts. Thieves go for the marshmallows
(inflatable dinghies) that
for stability enhancement evolved from simply having three fenders down both port and
starboard. I wanted to add a couple more across the transom.
That is when
I started to keep my eyes open for small fenders. Buying same is not
done -- not by me anyway. Out here quite often you can find them
floating free. I have spotted fenders washed up along the banks of rivers
and in the middle of bays. Without a name on the fender, well, it is
mine. Or mine until I find a new owner who wants or needs a fender.
And that is
what happened for me. Bear on Thursday's Child offered me a couple
of fenders for Algae which I gratefully accepted. I had plans for
and his son Drew
Thursday's Child on the horizon→
You met Thursday's Child a Westsail32 in the
Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child)
(and everything works in Theory) was to place two fenders across the
transom of Algae which would offer stability at the aft end, and
also could keep the motor out of the water should the dinghy ever be
flooded. The fenders were a gift from Thursday's Child.
placed one of the fenders at the transom and ran into a road block.
As you can see on the starboard (right) side of the dink, the
extended U-bolt and handle get in the way. So, another plan bites
the dust. The fenders will work well for Seaweed so I am pleased
nonetheless. Thanks Bear!
did the name of the dinghy become covered when I added fenders
across the transom, those extended U-bolts got in the way. And why
are the extended U-bolts important? Well, back in the day when I
bought this dink from Scotty on SeaNut they were a component of his
As I recall,
Scott had two gizmos (similar to pelican clips) on his swim
platform. Those U's fit into the clips/clamps and then the bow was
hoisted up vertically. That would be ideal!
I want those gizmos -- or
something similar. You see, when the dink is in the water she
The other option, to store
her on the swim platform is unsafe. When Algae is side-ways on
the platform my swim steps are covered.
Being able to
re-board Seaweed is critical from a safety aspect.
Too many folks drown because they cannot get back onboard
If any of you have an idea as to what I can use to attach Algae via
those extended U-bolts, please do add a comment. I would like to rig the
way SeaNut had done it. There has to be a word or search term that
would help. Even better would be if you have a set in your chandlery
aka garage that could solve the problem. Thanks!
How-To Stabilize a Hard Dinghy:
If her sides are
wobbly add two long strips of wood (inside and outside)
down each side at the gunnels. Through-bolted, they will
A seat (or three)
also adds firmness and keeps the boat from twisting.
To keep her from
flipping over, fenders along the edge of the gunnel will work
wonders. Any sort of fender (no-name is fine) will add
Fenders along the edge will also keep your boat from
should she ever become filled with water -- another benefit.
Happy life afloat to you... of course it is wintertime, so there is more time to
think of projects.
While my Comments were kaput, I received
the following notes:
Comments are functional again. Please scroll down and
comment too. I love that!
Don says on 2 January 2017:
Hey, I found your post about the
fenders. Looks good. I may make a variation for the gheenoe but
Me: Thanks Cap'n Don.
The fenders have worked well for me. One of the best parts about
boating is sharing ideas. What works for me fine, with a bit of
tweaking, may just exceed your expectations. I hope so!
Thank you for your
comment. It is appreciated.
Don says on 3 January 2017:
Just a note on your concerns of not being able to put a
fender on the outside on the stern to keep your motor out of the
water. Why not put it on the inside on the stern?
Me: Now that is an idea
I'd not considered. I believe I could fit one on the starboard
side. The port side has my Perko switch that turns on the
trolling motor and the running/anchor light. I'll take a look
though. Your idea has merit and it might just work.
Thanks Don! I love
learning things. I betcha I can make your idea work. Thank you,
and thank you for your comment.
How do you store your dinghy when underway?
If you know what SeaNut used, or I could use to raise Algae, please let me
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