Revive Your Dinghy
If your old inflatable is looking a little tired or not holding air like it should, sealants and paint can help make it look new again. "Hands-On Sailor" from our October 2011 issue.
My wife, Sharon, and I purchased Possessor, our 51-foot Morgan Out Island, six years ago, and we still consider it the deal of the century. Richard, the previous owner, took Different Drummer, our 33-foot Morgan Out Island, in trade along with some extra cash and our almost-new dinghy and outboard. Possessor, however, had been on the hard in the Bahamas for more than three years, and the only evidence of a dinghy was the sturdy set of davits on her transom.
A few days before my crew, Jim and Dave, and I were set to leave from Marsh Harbour with Possessor, Richard pulled up to our mooring. “Ron,” he called out, “I brought you the dinghy that goes with the boat. It doesn’t look like much, but you can ski behind it.”
He was right. The red tubes on the old Apex hard-bottom inflatable had faded to a nondescript orange. A lot of fabric was showing, and the multicolored assortment of patches had evidently given up the ghost long ago, causing the 10-footer to deflate every two days. The upside: No one would steal it, and it was powered by a smooth-running 25-horsepower Mercury outboard.
I assumed that our relationship would be short-lived, so I immediately went shopping for a new hard-bottom dinghy, which resulted in some serious sticker shock.
It was time for Plan B: I’d try to bring the old dinghy back to life. At West Marine, I discovered several products from Inland Marine that were designed to help me solve my problem and revive the old dinghy.
Once I bought the products—patches, sealant, a rubber coating, and paint—I now had to get the dinghy out of the water to start the process. Craig, the dockmaster at Beach Marine in Jacksonville, Florida, where Sharon and I live on Possessor, used a forklift to remove the Apex from the water and place it on a rolling dolly. Then the work began.
Since my dinghy needed so much work, I planned for the project to take several weeks, which would allow the products used in each step to cure properly before proceeding to the next.