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• December, 2015
Page 52 •
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BILL FOWLER – Marine Specialist MCDERMOTTCOSTA INSURANCE
LETTERS But here are some thoughts: 1) Small inflatables — less than about 9 feet — can plane easily because they have so little wetted surface and because the bow rise is extreme. Once on a plane, they are not very stable directionally, and want to 'fall off' a plane as soon as you turn the boat or slow down a little. 2) Inflatables in the 9'6"-to-10'6" range will plane with a healthy 8-hp engine — presuming they are lightly loaded with two normal-sized people. Again, longer boats will generally plane more easily. A 10-hp outboard is better. And for boats in the 10'3"-to-10'6" range, 15-hp can be used if the driver is careful. 3) What might be surprising is that a light 11-ft boat, like an old Zodiac sportboat with a highpressure floor, can plane with 5-hp with a single rider, or two to three people with an 8-hp. Why? Because it is more efficient. It creates less resistance and has far less bow rise than the smaller Planing dinghies are fantastic. Short and ﬂat is better in calm boats. My experience — over 30 waters. years working in the industry, cruising, and testing boats — is that small increments in inflatable boat length have a ton of impact on your enjoyment of the dinghy. I would much prefer to get a light 11-ft dinghy that was occasionally a hassle than to try to shoehorn into a compact dinghy that was easier to stow. Chuck Hawley Santa Cruz Readers — Chuck is a marine industry 'know it all' — and we mean that in greatest respect. One thing to keep in mind is that planing is not the only important consideration for a good dinghy. In Mexico, where the water is often like a mirror, planing might be a top consideration. But in the Caribbean or the South Pacific, where there is more wind and chop, we think seaworthiness is a more important quality. A short, flat-bottom screamer ideal for Mexico will often not plane in the Caribbean or the South Pacific because it would be a submarine. ⇑⇓ MANHANDLING AN OUTBOARD HAS PREDICTABLE OUTCOMES I've got an easy answer for Jonathan and Rebecca Mote who are looking for the right size outboard to get their 8-ft inflatable to plane. Get the lightest outboard with the most horsepower that the dinghy is designed to handle. Bottom line, I think their dinghy is too short. It may be rated for only up to 8-hp. I had a 9.5-ft Achilles air-floor with a two-stroke 8-hp Tohatsu. It would sometimes plane with two people. I should have gotten the next longer dinghy though, as the 8-hp was the maximum horsepower my dinghy was rated for. That confused my thinking at the time of purchase. This is also important: Get an outboard lift of some kind, as manhandling an outboard all the time has predictable outcomes — injured toe, injured head, deep-sixed outboard, damaged dinghy, etc. Matt Johnson Las Vegas, NV
The December 2015 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.