The dinghy is one of the most important accessories to the cruising sailboat. It is even said that it plays a roll of car for the cruiser. Now that Suwena is sailing the world seas, the importance of a dinghy is increasing to us. The more time we stay at anchor, the more important the dinghy becomes. Unless, we want to swim ashore 🙂
Suzumar’s 2.3m inflatable dinghy has served for five years as Suwena’s tender. We prefer to keep the dinghy always ready for use but not obstructing the view on the deck. Hence our Pikku Suwena (Little Suwena) has been travelling upright on the swimming platform. The more we started to use the dinghy, the more we wished her to be a little larger. Thus last fall there was one of our targets to find a new dinghyin from the Southampton Boating Show. There was a really good selection of dinghies to choose from on the fair. We could inspect, lift and compare the models very easily. Finally we concluded that the 2.6m long aluminium bottom Ribeye RIB was just perfect for us. We wanted the dinghy that would raise to plane easily even with a smaller engine and we wanted her with a deep V-hull to keep us comfortable even in a little choppy sea. Because of the hard bottom it would not matter if we slide her up to the rocky beach. We can also lift her by just two of us. And finally the benefit of the deep V-hull (no floor sheet) Andrus does not have to sit any more with his knees in his mouth.
The acquisition of larger dinghy brought some other changes as well. Where would we keep her? Of course we can lash her down to the foredeck during the longer crossings. But this way she would be obstructing our view and take up a large portion of the deckspace. Due to her length and most of all her width she would not fit any more standing upright on the swimming platform. So the new dinghy brought another acquisition: the davits.
We compared a few manufacturers of the davits and got a good feedback from Simpson’s davits from other boaters and also from the Nauticat Yard. On the Southampton Boat Show we looked at different models from Simpson and had a discussion directly with the manufacturer about suitable models for Suwena. Finally we decided to go with Simpson LSD 125 swivelling davits that can take a load of up to 125 kg. The swivelling function enables us to turn the davits 90 degrees and thus shorten the boat’s length and maybe save some berthing fees.
On the fair we managed to agree the delivery of both the dinghy and the davits to the time of installation, whenever we find somebody to do the job. Suwena’s winter home this year is Ipswich Haven Marina and the installer’s search started near by Ipswich. Everybody we asked a recommendation from, suggested the Fox’s Marina. During our visit onboard in November we also visited Fox’s Marina to talk about installing the davits and we became convinced with their work. After finding an agreement on pricing we booked the installation at the beginning of February. Probably later in spring the workload of the yard might be huge and we do not want to risk delaying the summer cruise by delayed the installation of davits.
The season started unusually early by untying the mooring lines in Haven marina and moving Suwena to Fox’s marina that is located a mile away. Immediately on the next day Suwena was lifted ashore. Actually we were living for the first two days by hanging in a travelift. The yard was quite busy as boats were shuffled around for various maintenance tasks. When it was our time for metalwork, Suwena was transferred to stands and there we lived for the whole week. An amusing incident happened on the final day when Suwena was ready to be moved back to water. I was inside, working quietly when suddenly Andrus was quickly climbing the metallic ladder aboard. He told “Do not be surprised if we suddenly start moving!” He had asked the crane driver if I knew inside the boat that he is about to move Suwena? And the answer from an astonished man was “no”. There was no way he could”ve known that I cannot see and I must say that I would have been really amazed if the boat had suddenly moved on the dry land.
Metal brackets that are through-bolted on a transom, needed to be manufactured for the davits. First a cardboard model of the brackets was made and both the davits and the bracket model were fitted to the boat. It was very smart because this way we could see easily how tall the brackets needed to be. Traditionally the davits are installed rather low. However the davits we chose were so low that the height of the brackets had to increase, otherwise we would not be able to use the winches of the davits.
In addition the metal shop produced the brackets for the davits, we also must move the ladder of the swimming platform more closer to the boat’s centerline. This meant the aft railing needed rewelding. A part of the bracket would stay on the top of the aft deck and thus the deck teak required an adjustment as well. When the ladder was moved, the railing fixed, the woodwork done and the metal backplates added inside the aft cabin cupboards it was time to fit the spot welded brackets and the davits. The fitting was perfect and the brackets returned once more to the metal shop for final welding and polishing before everything was bolted to Suwena. From the time that we were bobbling in a flat bottom dinghy and we had an great idea to purchase a new dinghy and davits it took quite a while and money before everything was implemented.
Anyway, Fox’s Marina work quality was excellent and the davits look like an original installation. I told to Martin, the foreman of the metal shop, that “The work is awesome, there are no visible joins by eye and I even cannot feel the changed parts by my precise fingers. Thank You.”
Living onboard ashore for almost two weeks was challenging. In fall we were worried about the weather conditions and if the temperature would be below zero. This year Suwena has been wintering in the water and there hasn’t been any need to use antifreeze at all. We borrowed a few tube heaters from the marina and they kept her nice and cosy. Finally the lowest temperature was plus two and there were not any problems at all. Another thing was that we could not use the tank water because all used water would have just passed by though-hulls to the yard’s ground. But the facilities of the marina were good.
When Suwena was lifted ashore she had a bottom wash, changing of zinc anodes and Andrus shortened the chore list every day. It is said that the cruising is travelling to distant locations for fixing the boat. Also for us, we had already quite a long list of maintenance jobs waiting. There are so many different parts on the boat and it seems that there are some loosened screws or couplings behind every access hatch during our sailings. Like e.g. now it was a good time to remove the wireless remote control of the autopilot from the boat’s electrical system. In several occasions the autopilot has freezed so badly at sea that we had to shutdown and restart the boat’s electrical system completely. Andrus has been searching the defect and he suspects that the remote control might cause this.
When Suwena was back in the water we could admire our new dinghy in new davits and we were very satisfied with the final result. We had a discussion about the davits already in Nauticat yard but we left them out because the dinghy will usually complicate the stern-to mooring. Of course we could always lower the dinghy and then make her fast. Now however the dinghy is so high up that the med mooring can be done and we can easily embark from below the dinghy. Additionally the extra height is good for the blue water sailing because we could have tall waves crushing on us from behind.
The last Friday when we were leaving Fox’s Marina for another mile back to Haven Marina suddenly we had seamless understanding between us to raise the sails before returning to the marina. The sun was shining and the wind was 14 knots. It was just the perfect sailing weather for finishing the hard week ashore. We sailed downwind the river Orwell until Levington marina and returned upwind by making five tacks until we were at the lock of Ipswich. The sailing season was opened by eight mile winter sailing. Amazing how relaxing this was!