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Managing the Dinghy on Charter

a group of people sitting on a boat in the water

Ahhh….the dinghy, something most people don’t really think about causing trouble on their sailing charter. The dinghy is an integral part of the sailing charter experience. Allowing cruisers the ability to step onto shore once they reach their desired destination. However, the dinghy can cause some of the most dangerous moments on your bareboat charter. Knowing the best way to manage, launch, and get in and out of the dinghy can save your future self from a lot of stress! Below are the best practices when it comes to dealing with your dinghy on a charter: 

Inspect your dinghy: Always inspect your dinghy before leaving the dock. Superior Charters does our best to ensure that dinghies are in proper working order prior to your arrival but you are ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the dinghy and the safety of your crew while on charter.

  • Make sure the dinghy is properly inflated, low inflation or excessive water intake may indicate a potential problem. 
  • Make sure that the painter, the line for securing and towing the dinghy, is properly tied to the boat. 
  • Check the drain plug and make sure it is properly in place.
  • Make sure that the dinghy has two oars and make sure that they are properly secured to ensure they do not come loose while towing.

Start and inspect your motor: If your boat has a motorized dinghy, make sure that you start the motor and ensure that it is working properly prior to leaving the dock. 

  • Start the motor and ensure that the motor is spitting out water.
  • Make sure that the fuel tank is full.
  • Check the outboard motor and make sure that it is firmly attached to the transom.

Towing your dinghy: Appoint one of your crew to be the dinghy-painter person while maneuvering under power. Keep the painter out of the prop and ensure that the painter does not come untied from the boat. If your painter becomes entangled in your prop, immediately shut down the engine of the boat and do not attempt to restart it. The force generated by a prop line is sufficient to displace or bend a shaft and this is not covered under the Daily Damage Fee.

Boarding your dinghy: Ensure that your dinghy is properly secured prior to boarding. Use bow and stern lines to keep it at the stern of the boat. Trying to step into a tender can be difficult, we recommend squatting and scooting your way into the dinghy. An unplanned dip in Lake Superior can put a damper someone’s day and can cause additional stress and worry for your crew.

Operating your dinghy: Do not overload your dinghy. Check for capacity limits, you may need to take more than one trip to get your entire crew safely to shore. Prior to unhooking your dinghy from the boat, make sure that you have the oars or paddles aboard as well as life jackets for everyone on board. Life jackets are required when rowing or motoring to shore and both the Park Service and the Coast Guard will enforce this policy. If your dinghy includes an outboard motor, make sure you start the motor prior to unhooking your dinghy from the boat. You don’t want to realize that your motor has a problem while you are slowly floating away from your vessel (although this could provide entertainment for anyone left on board!)

Beaching your dinghy: If your dinghy has a motor, you must lift the motor of your dinghy while beaching. There are two popular ways to get the dinghy to shore. First, you can make a run at the shore and as you get close, tilt the outboard up to protect the prop. With the bow high (passengers leaning aft), you will slide onto the beach and someone at the bow can jump out to hold the dinghy. The other (and most common way) is to get close, shut off the engine, tilt your outboard engine up, step into knee-deep water and slide the dinghy onto the beach. Once you are safely on the beach, tie your tender to something solid (tree, rock, etc.).

– Superior Charters Crew

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