Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Dinghies"
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Thread: "Dinghies"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Don and Margaret Lacoste


I am in the process of purchasing a used Fatty Knees dinghy here in Maine. It is the 8' model and comes with the sail rig. Many of you are familiar with this boat.

I ran into a fellow sailor who had lots of Bahama experience and he indicated hard dinghies are a total waste of money since they do not provide a diving platform and given the long anchorage distances, are useless to get to shore with. He strongly recommended an inflatable or hybred. He started his journey with a hard dinghy and sold it after the first cruise.

What are your opinions on this? Also, can the Fatty Knees be lashed to the forward deck? My W-32 has a traveler forward of the dodger so there is no room on this part of my deck.


SV HERON (809)

Rich Morpurgo

There are places in the bahamas that the anchorage is nearly a mile from the landing area (Big Majors Spot anchorage to Staniel Cay for example). Even in Georgetown Exuma you can anchor near the beach and it must be at least a half mile to town and you go thru a cut in the dingy that you won't be able to row unless at slack tide.

With a small outboard you still might need slack tide, at least some times.

I have a 7 foot fatty knees and love it. I also have a hard bottom inflatable unfortunately.

Jim Focha and Julie Gwin

I agree with what you were told as we have both. We use our Fatty Knees for quick deployment and very short distances in calm water with a 2 hp Honda. It use to ride between the mast and dodger until we changed to a Garhaur traveler, it now rides on the fordeck. We haven't decided if we are going to take it with us crusing. We also have an 11' Achilles with a 15 hp Honda for most use.


Don and Margaret Lacoste

Thanks for your replies. I also spoke with my friend Wayne of the vessel JURA. He has had a Fatty Knees for three seasons in the Bahamas. He admits being at times woeful of those with inflatables for quick access to shore but can't imagine NOT having the Fatty Knees he owns and loves. He also pointed out that anytime you are along the east coast, the Fatty Knees is perfect for all anchorages. He recommended buying the Fatty Knees and swapping it with other sailors to play with when he borrows their inflatables to go to shore.

Jim, how does the boat fit on the foredeck and have you had good success with it there. Is it on with its transome forward? Do you have chocks?



Aaron Norlund

Why not move the traveler?


Jim Focha and Julie Gwin

It takes up some room on the foredeck. The stern is aft near the mast and the bow near the Knight heads without chocks. I preferred it when it fit between the mast and dodger. We're going on a short cruise for a couple of months and see if we can live with it on the foredeck. If not we will leave it home when we leave for Mexico.


Jim Focha and Julie Gwin

The traveler can't go back any further because of the dodger and all other solutions seem to be more work than it's worth. Taking the Fatty Knees with us isn't that important.


Aaron Norlund

They're just so darn cute though. I had the pleasure of restoring a friend's, during which time I grew to be a bit...attached. So I can't help but cringe at the idea of one being left at home during a cruise. But if you can live with the guilt... :P

Safe cruising,
Aaron N.

Mike McCoy

I have to agree a fatty knees is certainly 'shippy' looking.

In my travels around the W Caribbean I've seen VERY few hard dinghys in actual use. Not sure why, but mainly those I do see are used by those I feel are (how do I say this diplomatically) pretty much 'down & out', living on a shoestring. Not sure why that would be but there it is.

The first real lesson I learned cruising is that your dinghy is at least as, or even almost more important that your big sailboat. It's like your car at home. It really truly is your MAIN day to day transportation. Purchase accordingly.

I started out with a 9' (PVC, HP floor) Zodiac & 2 hp 4 stroke Honda. It was great for calm weather, weekending, stowed nicely and was reliable and economical. But I was literally beating it to death putting it to use in a 'real' cruising environment.

I took a look around and adopted what I saw experienced cruisers using: an inflatable Hypalon RIB with a big outboard.

The most common dinghy rig I see down here is a 10-12 ft Caribe RIB with a 15 HP Yamaha. Not having davits I opted for the smallest/lightest rig I could handle singlehanded and stow on the foredeck : a 10' Hypalon APEX light RIB with an 8 hp Yamaha 'Enduro'. The Enduro is a simpler Central American model outboard. Maybe it's due to environmental laws but U.S. made outboards are different, more complex and correct parts are harder to find and are thus harder to service here.

Bottom line is, if you really are CRUISING, practicality & functionality is much more important than asthetics.

Also, if you plan to cruise below,say 30 deg long, have a cover made for your inflatable. One that covers the tops of the tubes with a fabric like sunbrella but also with a thick, abrasive resistant vinyl 'trim' over the bow and along the sides of the tubes. The biggest source of damage/punctures/tears/etc. is due to the dinghy banging up against the dinghy dock and a good cover will protect the dinghy fabric from the sun as well.

Finally, something to consider is where you gonna stow the mast/boom/sails/centerboard etc. of that sailing rig? I've seen only two boats with a sailing dinghy. One, the guy really does sail it everywhere he needs to go. Truly 'hardcore'. I'm sure he plans his visits to the town/store carefully though. The only time I saw the other one in use was when the grandkids visited

Aaron Norlund


If you don't mind my pestering, how did you come to pick out the 10' Apex? I'd bet you researched quite a on all of the options, so I'd really like to hear what caught your eye. I've been told by many that Apex and Achilles are "the manufactures" with which one should stick when looking for small hypalon boats, but I have not had the opportunity to go out and see different models to see what "fits best". Any input on this would be great.

A friend of mine (the own of that Fatty Knees), has a 6 hp Enduro and really loves it, however he bought it used. From where did you purchase your motor? Are they "special order" items through any Yamaha dealer or must one order from a dealer outside the states?

Thanks for your time!
Aaron N.

Don and Margaret Lacoste

Hello All,

Well I did go and try the fatty knees on the forward deck and found that it fits the boat well. There is still sufficient room to walk around the bow of the dinghy on the fordeck. The best part is that the visibility from the cockpit is still very good since the dinghy is way forward and the bow of the dinghy slops downward from view. If the boat could be placed between the dodger and mast, it may be a better place overall but visibility is certainly compromised.

I still have two additional dinghies that came with my vessel. A 10 foot Zodiac with inflatable floor and a 9' Avon Redcrest. I will most likely keep one and sell the other.

I found lifting the Fatty Knees with a spinnaker halyard was easy when I was guiding the dinghy and someone was working the winch.

I am very pleased with the boat, the way it rows, the incredible amount of storage it has, dual rowing stations, and of course its salty appearance which is in perfect harmony with the looks of the W-32. It is so superior to the Puffin dinghy I've had for 13 years.

I have not yet tried the sailing rig but have made brackets along the inside starboard cabin top which keeps the entire rig out of the way and does not effect head room. The tiller and dagger board is stored in my starboard quarterbirth.


Mike McCoy


Sorry to take so long to respond... I somehow overlooked your questions.

Why did I buy an APEX? A fellow boater decided to buy a larger double floor APEX (he has a cat w/ davits). I picked it up from him used.

It wasn't so much in-depth research as adhearing to the ol 'when in Rome' adage... i.e. seeing/adopting what cruisers with far more experience than I was using.

I really wanted what I see most cruising, a Caribe. Not sure, but to my eyes Caribes (at least) look like their hypalon is thicker, more heavy duty somehow. The downside is their tubes are definately a larger diameter. That makes em 'bulkier' when stowed on deck (unless at least partially deflated). Not too biggy of a problem tho because most of the time you'll just tow the dinghy behind you anyway.

But the basic criteria for whatever I was going to replace my HP floor Zodiac with was:

1) a Hypalon RIB
2) a size that would fit on the foredeck
3) a weight I could handle myself.

So the 10' single floor APEX 'lightweight' model that suddenly came available seemed to fit the bill. And the $300 he asked for his "old" 2002 model played heavily in my purchase decision also

One thing to consider is the lightweight models from Caribe/APEX/etc. have a single floor (that is, in fact, the hull) to save weight.

While the double floor models have a nice flat deck (and sometimes stowage lockers) I always see people having to haul them ashore, etc. to drain the space between the hull & deck. Based on my ongoing battle with crap (etc.) growing under the high pressure floor of my Zodiac, no telling whats growing in the space between the deck & hull of a double floor dinghy.

I bought my Yamaha Enduro here in Guatemala. I don't really know if they are available stateside. Again, if not, I think it may be the lack of all that EPA 'stuff' and/or I'm thinking it's an export design intended for areas/people that don't have ready access to a Yamaha parts/service shop right down the street.

I do know it seems to be bulletproof and I can pretty much take the thing apart with a screwdriver and crescent wrench. And I like having a shear pin in the prop (instead of the pressed in hubs of the US models). My advice is if you run across one in good shape, buy it. However, the caveat might be (conversely) can you get Yamaha Enduro parts stateside?

Aaron Norlund


Thanks for the insight. I had though as much about the dual floored inflatables. It seems silly to have a hollow deck area to take up more space and add weight to the deck. A single, RIB is easy to repair and thirty pounds lighter!

Good job on the $300! They're $2500+ new. A dealer a bit south of me in Fort Myers always has a few different new and used small RIB hypalon boats, but I'm just starting my ebb toward a good boat, so I think I'll cover that hurtle first. I'll probably wind up buying a boat carrying a good tender anyway.

I can't, at this time, fly a thousand miles to sail a boat back to SW FL, so I'm waiting patiently for something to come up around here. I'm in no hurry - Plus I want to sell my old Hunter 30 first. (Anyone for a W32/H30 trade? For some reason no one answered that generous offer in the "for sale" section...what's wrong with you people?!? :D )

Cool breeze, shady quarter,
Aaron N.

Rich Morpurgo

I have a ab 8 foot dual floor dink. Although it is built very well, it is too heavy. My 9.8 will not plane the thing with two people in it. It does now, but I had to put a doel fin on the outboard.



Just built a nesting dinghy and am currently figuring out how to fit its 4'8" x 4'9" between the mast and dodger. I need to determine if the trysail will be affected, remove some hardware from an old unused anti collision system, and perhaps move a block from the main sheet a few inches. Still a bit worried about it blocking my view from the cockpit. How annoying/safe is this? Either way, it was a great project to cut my teeth on some fiberglass and basic rigging. Photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/GillPickle/GillSBarca Plans for Piccolo at http://www.wavedancer-yachtdesign.com

Dave Kall

When we cruised w/ our 32 we had for a year a hard dinghy carried aft of the mast (no dodger) and a 12' Achilles. I just bought another for this boat. The 12' Achilles collapsed into two sections. Much easier to move around. I carried both sections on the stbd upper berth. I had a 10 hp Evenrude (bought in the islands) that I could take the handle off and stow IN the aft lazzerette. I cut out an opening in the floor and added some cleat stock to it and made a cover. When in port and the dinghy was out I put the cover on and that held much of our deck stuff. When we went offshore and for extended periods I put the engine in the locker. All I had to remove was one bolt for the handle. The the handle laid on it's side. I build a 2 x 6 x 12 bracked that I permanently attached to the bulkhead in there so the engine was firmly attached to the boat. I loved it. The engine was low, the deck, clean, and all my gear was stored.

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