DinghyGo under sail

Is there a cruising sailor anywhere who doesn’t dream of having a tender that can double as daysailer? The only problem with this dream is you really need to have a hard dinghy to make it come true. And hard dinghies–let’s face it–aren’t nearly as useful and convenient as inflatable ones. They’re nowhere near as stable, can’t carry as much stuff, are much too heavy, and are hard to stow.

But hold the phone sports fans… the DinghyGo 2, a Dutch-built inflatable sailing tender that will hopefully appear here in the U.S. in the next year or two, may be just what we’re looking for.

It certainly checks most of my boxes. The size is perfect–9 feet long, exactly the same length as my last three inflatable tenders; it doesn’t weigh very much–just 66 pounds; you can roll it up, which is something I always insist on in an inflatable (no RIBs for me, thank you very much); AND you can leave the sailing rig off and run it with an outboard engine (up to 8 HP) if you want.

DinghyGo on the beach

On the beach, masquerading as a normal outboard-powered dinghy

There are just two features that seem less than ideal to me. First, the floor (except for a couple of hard bits around the daggerboard and mast step) is inflatable instead of solid. Second, the hull fabric is not Hypalon. According to Ian Thomson of Nestaway Boats, which just started selling the boats into the U.K. last year, the fabric instead is a polyurethane/PVC hybrid known as Balnex, which he admits is not quite as durable as Hypalon, but can be welded instead of glued at the joints. The fabric should, however, be more durable than plain old PVC and is also lighter (and less costly) than Hypalon. Of course, the inflatable floor, though not as stiff as a solid floor, also reduces weight, which is something, frankly, that seems more and more important to me as I get older.

DinghyGo sailplan

You’re looking at 43 sq.ft. of sail area. Plus the rudder and daggerboard seem plenty big enough to do the job

DinghyGo floor plan

If you want you can remove the center thwart and forward mast-partner thwart when you’re not sailing the boat

One nice feature of the DinghyGo is that it doesn’t look like it’s any more trouble to assemble than a regular roll-up inflatable, as you can see in this video here:

Another very nice feature is that it’s not egregiously expensive. Ian tells me the price in the U.K. is now £2249, including the sailing rig, which translates to $3,687 USD at today’s exchange rate. Subtract the British VAT included in Ian’s price (20%) and that works out to about $2,950 USD. Compare that to the $2,800 I paid for my current Apex inflatable, sans sailing rig, and it seems pretty reasonable.

One big question, of course, is how well does it sail? The British comic Sailing Today published a review of several inflatable craft last October and described the sailing performance of the DinghyGo as “sedate,” but noted that it does make “decent headway” to windward and is a “true all-rounder,” in that it sails reasonably well and also motors and rows reasonably well. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is about all I’d ever hope for in a dinghy.

If sedate sailing just won’t do it for you, you can instead take a look at the French-built Tiwal 3.2, which was introduced into the U.S. market at Annapolis last fall. This is more of a dedicated inflatable sailboat, with a flat PVC inflatable hull under a rigid metal frame, and is cleverly designed. It can’t really function as a tender, but according to the Sailing Today crew it does kick butt and is “startlingly stiff and exciting” to sail.

Tiwal 3.2

It’s also about twice as expensive as the DinghyGo. The current price is $5,950, which includes a sailing rig with a 58 sq.ft. sail. If you want the bigger 75 sq.ft. sail (and who wouldn’t?) you have to pony up an extra $1,200.

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6 Responses
  1. Nick Kats

    Interesting. Big widr inflatable that sails,, unstayed mast –> simplicity of setup & takedown.
    Nothing here or on the website on rowing. I take it this inflatable rows like crap?

  2. Charlie

    Hi Nick! Yes, I expect like most inflatables it will row poorly. You’d be able to improve that a bit by getting rid of those silly oars and replacing them with longer ones. The best inflatable for rowing I ever met was designed by Steve Callahan. The Clam he called it. It was essentially an RIB with narrow beam, and it could also sail well. It folded in half (hence the name) so it could be stowed more easily. Unfortunately, they are no longer on the market. charlie

  3. Mark

    Not sure if it’s still available but Henshaw inflate abeles over in the UK made a roll up tender that sailed. I remember testing that when I was an editor at Sailing Today and as I recall it sailed respectably if a little slowly, it could also be rowed, motored etc. think it was called the Tinker if memory serves me correctly.

  4. Nick Kats

    Hi Charlie
    Any change in this scene since we last discussed this 5 years ago?
    The Dutch Orca 10’7″ (see your link above) with unstayed mast sure looks interesting. Very light too, the hull at 67 pounds.

    1. Charles Doane

      Hey Nick! These Dutch boats still seem interesting to me. There’s still an active rep in the UK, but no rep in the US. Though it does seem you can buy them online in the US. In that my Apex inflatable is starting to feel its age and will need replacing soon, I may try out one of these. Even better, you try one and tell me what you think!

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