Search This Blog

Blog Archive

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Improving on the Dinghy

Our dinghy after finishing dinghy chaps last fall.
We have a fairly decent dinghy.  I can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) complain. It’s a 10’ AB hypalon dinghy with a hard floor and 15 hp Yamaha.  It has a seat that fits across at midships.  The ends of the seat slide into slots that hold it snugly in place.  Often times, I think a little bigger dinghy would be nice, especially when we’re provisioning, but it’s actually a very serviceable dinghy; our “car” on the water.
Dinghy in Maine 

However, one teensy complaint that I have had is that the seat tends to bend when sat upon. Surely this is a shortcoming of the seat’s design rather than something to be said about my weight, right?  At any rate, I really want to feel comfortable sitting on the middle of the seat rather than on the side tube, where I’m more apt to get wet while underway.  
This handmade wood seat fits perfectly over the original seat.

While in Maine this past summer, we met some folks who had done a really nifty thing with their dinghy.  They had made a very sturdy wide wood seat that fit over the top of the dinghy seat which was then painted nicely.  That image tumbled around in my mind for a couple of months. 
Our handmade seat, made in Memphis in bro-in-law's garage

Before we left our boat in Maryland this fall, and drove off to Memphis to visit Carl’s family, I went out and found 3 pieces of wood that could be fashioned into a seat that would fit over our dinghy seat.  I brought the pieces with us to Memphis where I knew one of the family members would have a garage with just enough power tools to enable me to build a wood seat and to sand it and shape it to remove any sharp edges.  (Thank you Stro.)
Ready to seal and apply "non-skid" to cover the wood surface

It’s not a perfect fit by any means.  It could have been made a little longer, but it does the job.  It makes our dinghy seat a very strong, sturdy seat that will hold my dainty weight as well as that of my husband.  After returning to Maryland, I sealed the wood and then painted the seat with “non-skid” to protect it from the elements.
Our new wider wood seat, covered with "non-skid" finish

One way in which the seat was not perfect was that it is actually a little wider than the width of the dinghy seat below, so that it does want to slide around just a bit.  I finally solved that problem by lining the two long sides underneath with thick weather stripping.  Problem solved.  Then I attached the wood seat to the original dinghy seat by circling the two with nylon webbing and an adjustable buckle.
Thick weather stripping lining both long undersides of the seat

I was fairly happy with our new seat at this point.  Alas, my husband was not.  The non-skid made for a slightly rough surface such that he didn’t want to kneel on the seat as he climbs into the dinghy.  After making this sturdy seat, I was determined that he would like the darn thing.  So, the next project was to make a cushioned seat covering.

Covered cushion that fits over new wood seat.  

It may be no surprise to anyone that I had leftover pieces of Sunbrella, Pfifertex and Shelter-Rite vinyl lying around from previous projects. With those, I was able to put together a cushioned seat cover.  Previously, I had purchased a thick yoga mat at Wal-Mart in order to add external insulation over our freezer. I cut another piece off that yoga mat for the cushion on the dinghy seat.  It’s perfect since it’s a closed cell foam—lots cheaper than the foam designed for that purpose. 

Webbing cinches up the underseat and wood seat.
As you can see from the photograph, I applied snaps to the tails of the seat in order to attach the cushion to the wood seat.  After drilling a starter hole for the screws, I put a small plug of marine grade silicone on the screw to keep the drilled hole from absorbing moisture in this wet environment.  Voila.

A Sunbrella was made to cover gas tank previously.

Next issue—a while back, we moved our gas tank toward the bow in the dinghy, along with the bulk of the security chain we use for securing the dingy to docks.  Having more of the weight farther forward enables us to get the dinghy up on plane more easily.  Now that the area under the seat is occupied with the gas tank, I needed another plan for carrying the life jackets.  I don’t like them just lying on the floor of the dinghy—we step on them and they get hammered by UV rays.  
Back side of the three-sided hammock thingy, holding one life jacket.

Given that development, I made up a little 3-sided hammock thingy that hangs under the new, wider seat to hold one of the life jackets.  
Life jacket inside case makes for a cushion.  Zipper closure.

For the other, I made a zippered case so that it can act like a cushion. With three snaps, I attached it to the side of the dinghy where we sit when operating the motor. Sometimes with a little more chop on the water, we tend to get wet butts while operating the motor.  Now we can flip the cushion up to sit a little higher and perhaps, get a bit less wet. Otherwise, it’s out of the way, beneath our legs as we sit on the hypalon tube.
Flip the case up and sit on higher cushion.

For the final dinghy project; I made a little pouch that slips over one of the dinghy handles.  It will hold two coffee mugs, or a retractable dog leash, some doggy bags and boat cards.  
Small Pfifertex pouch for coffee or small items.

We now have the most color-coordinated dinghy at the dinghy dock in Vero Beach.  Just a few days ago, another dinghy stopped by the boat and asked where I got the dinghy chaps, and said, and I quote, “These are the nicest looking dinghy chaps in the anchorage; they’re really tight.”  Oh, my heart swelled to hear such a compliment!  I am such a SailRite “nerd.”


Deb said...

You're a bigger Sailrite nerd than me and that's saying a lot!!!

SV Kintala

Ardys said...

Indeed it is! 😉