Our New Dinghy

While in the Bahamas last year, we realized that the single biggest upgrade we needed was a better dinghy. We got our old dinghy when we were living and cruising in the Chesapeake Bay. It was a little over 8′ long, had a “soft” (inflatable) bottom, and was powered by a 2HP electric motor with an integral lithium battery. It was very light and easy to stow and had the huge advantage of not needing to carry any gasoline. This setup was perfect for the Bay where the distances we needed to travel by dinghy were short, the beaches had no coral or rocks, and the water was generally calm.

All of that was different in the Bahamas. We often needed to travel long distances in the dinghy and contend with rocks and coral on the beaches. We had to carry snorkel/fishing gear, groceries, laundry, and guests. We also sometimes had to travel in rougher open water, We needed a dinghy that was bigger, faster, and more robust.

One thing we really liked about our old dinghy was its electric engine. We hoped we could just move up to a larger version of an electric outboard along with a larger dinghy. While larger electric outboards exist in the size we needed, we couldn’t justify the much greater cost and added weight. We did a lot of research on this and were very disappointed. Electric outboards compete favorably with their gasoline equivalents in the 2HP range, but they are 5 times the cost and almost twice the weight in the 20HP range (mainly because of the battery requirement). Technology has a long way to go here.

So the choice came down to the biggest dinghy and gas engine combo we could find in the lightest weight package. We still intended to use our existing davit system which is integrated into our cockpit arch so the dinghy length and weight had to fit those parameters. We also didn’t want something so heavy that we couldn’t pull it up manually with block and tackle.

After a lot of looking, we decided on a Walker Bay Genesis 310 which we got last summer. It is 10’2″ long (2 feet longer than the old dinghy) and has a rigid bottom with inflatable sides (a.k.a. Rigid Inflatable Boat – RIB). The bottom is formed in one piece with injection molded plastic. This material is quite durable and is much lighter than fiberglass or aluminum. The 2018 Honda outboard (20HP – 4 stroke) is the lightest in its class at 104 lbs. This is lighter than any 2 stroke outboard we could’ve gotten in the same power range. The boat has console steering and seating for four people. Including the engine, it weighs in at a svelte 325 lbs. (a little more with all our gear and a full gas tank). That’s about 150-200lbs lighter than other boats we looked at of the same size and HP.

Sitting in the drivers seat. I installed the cool little fish finder/chart plotter under the mini windshield. You can see the port and starboard navigation lights integrated on each side of the console. The throttle control has an integrated “tilt” switch for the engine which also has an electric starter. At the top of this picture there is a bow seat. Under that seat is stowage for ice/drinks or other gear.
The 3 gallon gas tank fits nicely under one of the seats. All of the console and most of the seats are made of the same injection molded plastic as the hull to save weight.
Three of the seats have tray storage immediately beneath them. The trays lift out to access even more storage below. That’s where we keep extra life jackets, an anchor and rode, air pump, and tools.
The console hinges up showing where the battery is stored. It also came with a nice little fuse box (upper left) with plenty of room for adding more circuits.
This picture is looking forward from underneath the starboard side boat (it’s hanging in the davits). You can see where the rigid part of the hull interfaces with the starboard side tube. The black piece with the 3 screws is a trim tab. There is also a set of integral wheels for “rolling” the boat up onto a beach. There is another trim tab and wheel out of the picture on the port side.
The dinghy is hanging from the arch with a custom cover over it made by Paula. Look for a future post from Paula on the construction challenges of the cover.

4 thoughts on “Our New Dinghy”

  1. Love it! Nice runabout!!! That’ll get up and go. Have you planed her out yet? How does she handle at higher speeds?

  2. nice boat with great amenities. I would have personally preferred to have the cover of white sunbrella. I guess that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.

    1. As you can see from the picture, the cover required a lot of fabric. Since the Sunbrella is so expensive, we buy what’s on leftover bolts from our local “sailor’s exchange”. It’s way cheaper that way, but we don’t often have a good choice of colors.

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