My dinghy is an old beat up Avon RIB310 – that’s Rigid Inflatable Boat – with a Yamaha 15 hp 2 stroke outboard.
I actually bought this used about a year before I got Mazurka. Like most of my purchases, it was a very deliberate choice.
Everyone’s got one these days, and I wasn’t familiar with many of the brands I saw when I thought about getting one. When it comes to boats I’m sort of locked into a set of experiences from the 1970s through to 1993, followed by a 20+ year recess, and it was based on this that I defined my needs.
In mid-late 1970s I was working as a tender operator at BBYC. Great summer job, driving a small motorboat taking people to and from their boats that were moored in the bay. We had a couple of outboard powered Boston Whalers, 13-15 ft. There were about 150 boats in the mooring field.
For the 1976 Montreal Olympics they used Avon Seariders as crash boats, and our provincial sailing authority picked one up afterwards. I got to spend a fair amount of time with it. It was an incredible boat. Scary at times, but fast and agile with a deep V double bottom hull and a big hole in the transom so the section between the two hulls filled with water at rest for stability. Frustrating to get on a plane because you basically plowed bow up for 30 seconds while the water drained out, but then you were gone. Also darn near indestructible. You could bang into things. I won’t detail the level of abuse we put these boats through, but this boat stood up to it.
One of the boat trailer incidents I’ve been witness to happened with that boat – my friend Andrew Boswell with me as a passenger was driving on the highway with the boat in tow and it came unhitched. One brief tug to snap the chains then it veered right and out of sight off the shoulder. We pulled over, walked back and found the boat off an embankment in some small trees. Got the boat back on the trailer, pulled it up the bank and got back underway. I think the boat was in service next day 🙂
I sold Avon inflatables briefly in the late 1990s and they were the best of the crop and had a recreational line of RIBs that were descendents of the original Searider. The 310 (10 ft) was the right size for me, and I really liked that boat. So I went looking for one in 2015. When researching small outboards Yamaha came to the top pretty quickly. I was originally set on a four stroke, but after considering weight, performance and simplicity opted for a 2 stroke. This is a fabulous motor.
I watched Kijiji for a few months and kept my eye open for one. Turns out there aren’t a lot around here. Found one finally and bought it.
The boat in real use? Great in flat water, and with 1-3 people. At speed in waves it can be punishing. I probably wouldn’t have minded at one point in my life, but crossed a five mile open bay today in a good chop and got thrown around a fair amount. But given that it hangs on davits across the stern I can’t go any bigger or heavier, so that’s the compromise.
One thing I’d like to develop is the ability to tow or push Mazurka with the dinghy. Keep thinking it can be done, but haven’t worked out a system. Had a hilarious moment last summer when my son Miles and his friend Brad were trying to tow the mother ship into a stiff breeze. I suggested that they secure the towline to the bow of the dinghy to be able to pivot. The towline took Miles under the chin and tossed him over the side. A good tow bit stood up in front of the outboard seems to be the only answer. I had good results strapping the inflatable alongside in sailboats, but it doesn’t seem to work with the power boat. Ah well, even if it can’t be a rescue boat it’s always around as a life boat 🙂