The Dingy

In Chile, any boat which navigates in coastal waters (12 nautical miles), must have either a liferaft or a dingy on board, with a capacity for all people on board. And if it is a dingy, it must be "ready to be launched."

When I was beginning sailing here in Chile and was fitting out my boat, so that it could pass the certification for coastal navigation, I made the blunder to purchase a rubber dingy instead of the liferaft. A salesman convinced me that in Chile I had to have one to be able to access the shore from the boat, and the liferaft was considerably more expensive.

So I purchased the smallest possible dingy for two persons I could find, it was a small Chinese thing 230 cm. long, and with a weight of 30 kilograms and which cost me around 500 USD (new). It could carry 200 kilograms, including an outboard engine of 4 HP. This, by the way, limited my legal sailboat capacity to just two persons.

My Dingy on a Lake.

I was able to roll it up and store somehow over the rear startboard berth inside the hull. Getting it there and out was daunting. Trying to assemble it on deck probably would be impossible (I never tried that!). Having it dragging behind was also not an option considering the waves and the drag.

Another problem was that the model I bought was not very good for the sailboats, because it had a hard bottom. Yes, it makes a much better dingy for motoring, but putting the three hard boards inside the dingy when on a small deck is impossible...

So I was carrying this dingy for several months just to fulfill the legal requirement, and the best day was when I exchanged it for a life raft, which was much smaller and easier to handle!

I still used this dingy a lot for motoring on lakes because it can be easily taken in a Jeep to places with difficult access, but never would think about taking it on board.

So, do you really need a dingy for navigating in Chile?

My conclusion is that for a small boat like mine, it is absolutely useless.

In the first place, I was always able to get close to shore where the shore was protected (like in the southern fiords). Since I have a swing keel, my draft with the keel up is around 65 cm., so I usually can bump my bow into the shore before the keel touches ground. Using a dingy in open areas with swell is a suicide, so that it would not help you on the open Pacific to try to land.

I feel that for any boat smaller than 26 foot a dingy is utterly useless.