How to select a proper dinghy

Published On March 23, 2014 | By Mark Baese | Boating With Dogs

We do most of our boating on an inland body of water called Okanagan Lake. There are a few marinas on the lake, a bunch of mooring buoys where you can tie up for the afternoon or overnight, but not much else. (Other than amazing weather and scenery)

If you need gas or to hop ashore to hit the store for groceries – you simply pull into a slip or pier. There really wasn’t much of a need for a dinghy unless we wanted to go from our mooring buoy to the beach while spending time overnight. In that case, we found just a simple childs floating toy boat you can buy for a few bucks did the trick.

Then this guy came along:



Our dog George loves to boat. Of course, he doesn’t use the restroom facilities on the boat, so he needs to go to shore. Multiple times a day. It’s not much of a problem in the middle of summer where he can just swim there. However, early morning / late at night before bed – there are times where a soaking wet dog is not ideal. Especially when the weather is a little cooler.

We originally tried to manage with what we had. This was George’s first overnight on the boat in early May a few years back:



Julie did her best to row to shore. As you can see, it was perilous at best. They didn’t really fit too well in the small inflatable. The water temperature is also still very chilly in May. She got wet on her way in, but not too bad. As you can see, her shorts are soaked:



On the way back, it went from bad to worse. This is the last picture I took before George sabotaged the vessel which lead to the sinking of SS Dinghy (click on the pic for larger version):



Julie swam back to the boat and made the declaration that we needed to get a better dinghy.

At the time, we had just dropped 4k on a complete bottom re-do which included epoxy and anti-foul along with numerous fibreglass repairs. We weren’t really in the mood to drop more cash on an “official” dinghy – so we just went with a high-end recreational floating boat shaped object that worked pretty well.

Here, Julie is taking full advantage of the recreational benefits:

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Of course, this boat fit myself and George much better – and was slightly more stable than the last inflatable. The lifejacket is for safety. Julie made me wear it because she’s never actually seen me swim:



Most of the time though, George would just jump in and swim to shore himself (with a little encouragement from me in the distance):



In case you’re wondering why George is wearing the lifejacket, it’s because of the handle – not because of his swimming ability. Vizsla’s are excellent swimmers. However, our transom swim platform isn’t accessible by George from the water. So we need haul him up. The handle on the life jacket makes this much easier.

We now have a way for him to get on to the boat – which I’ll write about another time.

Sadly, this Dinghy didn’t last long. George punctured it rather easily. I think we got one season out of it. At this point, we went official. Something a little more durable that would last. Something that could carry Julie, George and I to shore without worry.

This was actually a gift. Julie and I received a gift certificate from some great friends to our local marine shop – and it covered part of the cost of an actual dinghy that was durable.

Now, this dinghy is still not what I’d recommend for coastal waters, for an inland lake that is mostly glass-calm, it’s a cadillac. I know lots of you spend time in the ocean, and this is probably laughable. For us, it’s about as perfect as we can get for our current needs.


Despite the luxury of having all that room in the dinghy, we still get George to jump in and get to shore himself when the weather is appropriate. He loves it:



That, is the evolution of our dinghy.



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