SeaGo (or similar) Ultralight dinghies?

dunedin

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After 10 years of faithful service our SeaGo tender is now nearing the point of replacement - eg the row lock has come off. Feasible to glue back on but after £40 per annum ownership costs it seems easier to replace.

We struggle to get any dinghy out of the locker, not helped by back problems. This has meant that in practice we often don't go ashore if overnight on anchor or mooring - as just too much work.

In looking at replacement inflatables we have seen ultra lightweight versions - eg an air deck 2.55 metre weighing just 19kg rather than 38kg for the equivalent of our current dinghy. This is apparently made with better materials than the entry level Eco range, which falls between the two in weight?

Anybody got experience of the ultra light versions in practice. It is indeed ultralight, indeed we bashed the demo into the roof when tying to lift immediately after the standard version :)
Should be very easy to lift out of locker and off/on board - suspect might not tow so well.

NB. Please no suggestions of rigid dinghies etc, doesn't suit our sailing. However, if anybody knows a supplier of reasonably priced carbon fibre removable davits that might be an option (heavy permanent ones not)
 

Tranona

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Been researching the really light ones (less than 15kg). Three brands O Lite from Force 4, 3D and Highfield. Will probably go for the 3D partly because they do a round tail, and partly because they have been around a bit longer and have heard no negatives.
 

Cspirit

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We have had a 3D for around three years. It's certainly light but durng this period of time both rowlock fittings have become detached as have the painter D rings and two of the pads holding the safety ropes. There is also a slow leak in the inflatable floor. As you can imagine, I'm not too impressed and I'm now searching for a replacement which will not be a light dinghy.
 

Ripster

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We have a 3D250 in its 3rd season. Not heavily used, but regularly used and all is fine with dinghy. Ours gets deflated and stored in its bag in the locker, so not sure how it would do if left up all the time. The only thing that has broken is the strap catches which snapped in the first year. I have replaced these and nothing else has gone wrong - yet!
 

theoldsalt

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............We struggle to get any dinghy out of the locker, not helped by back problems. This has meant that in practice we often don't go ashore if overnight on anchor or mooring - as just too much work..............

As I only do coastal cruising I leave the dinghy inflated and tow it. I've been doing that for 25 years (with the same Avon). It has never flipped and, with the oars under the thwart, acts as an emergency "liferaft". It is then readily available for a trip ashore.
 

Gin

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Quote>Should be very easy to lift out of locker and off/on board<Quote

I sold my almost 30 year old Avon Redstart with my boat- it had the modern A7 grey valves and the whole setup was perfect, didn't leak and although heavy, just about manageable for me (successive shoulder operations finally put paid to regular sailing a year ago).

I have been drawn back to helping a club mate with his boat and I needed a lighter inflatable. I bought a nearly new Bombard AX2 weighing only 18kgs and built of similar long-lasting fabric as the Avon, having a solid transom which I wanted as the roundtail Avon would squat with driver and fast revs. I can handle it easily, especially on club concrete slipways as I have installed Waveline dinghy wheels which don't add much to bulk when stowed away.

The AX2 has yet to be used with any regularity but it looks good, feels even smaller than the Redstart but should take 2 plus a bit of kit and it supports the 2HP motor well without squatting.

However, there is a BUT..... The valves are not a patch on the quality of the Avons, the inner neoprene flap seal virtually sits atop the plastic inner face of the valve core(not within the core as in the Avon), which is removed, for deflation, together with the outer sealing cap which in turn provides the final seal- the assembly is retained by a lanyard fixed to the cap so the components can't be lost but that lanyard is just long enough not only to facilitate removal of the assembly but in careless hands also long enough for the plastic to hit the ground if dropped. The upshot of that (in my case) was the edges of the inner rim of one valve were nibbled where it had hit concrete and over a period of just a couple of hours the tube was clearly deflating.

I replaced both valves (only two tubes in mine, plus the airdeck) for good measure and all seems OK but I'm still a bit uneasy even though I have had it inflated in my garden for a few days and used it just once to get out to moorings.
 

Boo2

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Been researching the really light ones (less than 15kg). Three brands O Lite from Force 4, 3D and Highfield. Will probably go for the 3D partly because they do a round tail...
Why do you prefer the round tail ? I understood that they are harder to handle with an outboard mounted because less buoyancy aft and the weight further back ? Does that mean you always row rather than motor your dinghy Tranona ?

Boo2
 

Tranona

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Why do you prefer the round tail ? I understood that they are harder to handle with an outboard mounted because less buoyancy aft and the weight further back ? Does that mean you always row rather than motor your dinghy Tranona ?

Boo2

Yes. Only occasional use and unlikely to ever use an outboard. Seagull is sitting in the shed looking very pretty, but every time I have to move it to get at something else I realise how heavy and cumbersome it is. Have had a Redcrest all my sailing life - still have it - and always been OK with it, but it is heavy. Had a rigid transom Plastimo 240 on the old Bavaria and never got on with it. Heavy, less interior room than the Redcrest, lousy to row and a horrid slatted floor.

The 3D roundtail is lighter than the rigid transom and folds smaller so will fit more easily in the locker and has more space - important when you are 6'3" and 100kg. Waiting to have a look at the new Highfield which is a roundtail with an inbuilt outboard pad before finally deciding. Number one job at the boat show.
 

Tidewaiter2

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Why do you prefer the round tail ? I understood that they are harder to handle with an outboard mounted because less buoyancy aft and the weight further back ? Does that mean you always row rather than motor your dinghy Tranona ?

Boo2

If locker space is limited, a round tail packs away better, I suspect, ours does. ditto handling on shore/in car.
We tend to row- I nearly took a cold dip with the motor on the back. The bracket does make a good seat for Herself, however:)
 

dunedin

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Thanks for all the feedback & suggestions - clearly not representative sample sizes but does sound like:
(a) the Lodestar UltraLite's are worth a look - sound interesting on the Rochemarine website, but perhaps twice or three times the price of other options. And nobody seems to stock them to view before purchase
(b) maybe need a bit of caution with the cheaper ultralight ones (which all look so similar probably built in same factory) - again not representative sample size, but poor Cspirit your 3 year old 3D model sounds to have had much more problems than our 10 year old Seago

If I could find a stockist for the Lodestar I might be swayed that direction. But need to think as not cheap if ultralight doesn't prove to be the answer - not least as standard dinghy plus davits would be cheaper

Lots to think about
 

dunedin

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As I only do coastal cruising I leave the dinghy inflated and tow it. I've been doing that for 25 years (with the same Avon). It has never flipped and, with the oars under the thwart, acts as an emergency "liferaft". It is then readily available for a trip ashore.

We have also towed the dinghy quite a bit - particularly where in all anchoring and mooring territory (eg West Coast Scotland). Covered hundreds of miles in this mode, and only flipped very occasionally when seriously blowing and bumpy. (We NEVER tow with outboard on, so not a huge issue)
However, the dinghy is a hassle in marinas, when leaving the boat - and on longer trips. And once invested the substantial time. effort and back pain to put back into its lair (typically done on a pontoon) it takes a lot of persuasion to reverse the process. Hence looking at alternatives
 

dunedin

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If locker space is limited, a round tail packs away better, I suspect, ours does. ditto handling on shore/in car.
We tend to row- I nearly took a cold dip with the motor on the back. The bracket does make a good seat for Herself, however:)

Yes, looking at the figures, a round tail (eg Seago 230RT, with air floor) does seem to make a lot of sense in terms of practicality and capacity vs weight. I wonder if the transom boats are just a fashion fad (at least for those of us happy with oars plus a minimum sized 2.2hp outboard, and not wanting to buzz around everywhere on the plane)
 

Tranona

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Yes, looking at the figures, a round tail (eg Seago 230RT, with air floor) does seem to make a lot of sense in terms of practicality and capacity vs weight. I wonder if the transom boats are just a fashion fad (at least for those of us happy with oars plus a minimum sized 2.2hp outboard, and not wanting to buzz around everywhere on the plane)

See my observations about rigid transom vs round tail above. rigid transoms not a fad - have virtually taken over because they are much better if you want to use the outboard. Less sensitive to weight distribution because of the buoyancy aft of the transom and easier to make a more stable hull shape. However to get the best out of them you need at least an airdeck floor or even better an inflatable V shaped bottom. They then both motor and row better than any roundtail. The "but" is weight, complexity and cost.

The worst compromise is the cheap squared bow, flat floor with slats type such as the Plastimo I had - the only plus point over a Redcrest was that it was a bit better under motor. For me the roundtail seems to be the better compromise and the choice now is between a basic (and a bit heavy) cheap Seago or go for a 3D or possibly Highfield.
 
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