When I first bought my yacht I managed to scrounge an old battered fibreglass dinghy off the former owner. It really was a heap of dog dirt but it didn’t leak, came with lovely old oars and rowlocks and could hold my giant frame and two others. I had re glassed the seat several times but it just wouldn’t let the new fibreglass grip so that idea had to go by the boards. I got rid of the middle thwart and replaced it with a plastic milk crate that was permanently attached to the dinghy by a bit of rope. The front “pant” was the seat for my fo’ard crew and the back thwart was a piece of pine attached to the sides by some rusty screws. What the hell it worked!
Like most mooring bays in Sydney Harbour and it’s rivers there was a lovely old park and wharf where I could chain the dinghy up to save taking it home on the roof racks of the old Volvo. I did however take home the oars and rowlocks to discourage thieves.
Imagine my horror when one day I arrived to find my dinghy gone! All the others, pristine and shiny, clean and safe were still safely tied up but my old girl had been pinched. She was pinched alright, as the chain had been cut with bolt cutters. Now I did not tell tall stories when I described her. She really was a crappy dinghy. Not worth more than ten bucks at a garage sale. But she was my only transport to my yacht sitting safely on its mooring. I was in for a swim on a cold July morning as I had to get to the yacht to go racing. Lucky for me some other owners obliged a loan of their dinghy till a replacement could be arranged. Bloody mongrel thieves!
Now I am not Robinson Crusoe when it comes to stolen dinghies. Some of course are just vagabonds and decide to go off adventuring on their own accord. I have also had situations where boaters have managed to come in amongst the moorings in our river and somehow drive across the mooring rope and cut it. Letting go the dinghy I had attached.
Much to their horror my rope is now wrapped around their prop shaft and they are in trouble. This has happened three times to me and once they drove over the empty mooring to get rope around their prop. What kind of thick headed idiot spends their boating time ducking in and out of moorings when they could be out on a lovely adventure on the main part of the river/harbour/lake?
Delivering my live aboard 12m South Seas ketch, I had departed from Gladstone with a tyro crew who was having trouble steering a straight line while under motor. we were in the main shipping channel with wind against tide so it was pretty choppy conditions. The old aluminium dinghy and brand new outboard motor hanging from the davits gave way, dangling on one piece of rope. It was my job to save it but if I fell in I knew my crew would not be able to retrieve me. So I bit the bullet and cut the rope letting it drift off with the tide. Two days and 300 miles later I got a call from the water police that my dinghy had been found washed up on a beach on Facing Island. Well the motor had been under water but could be salvaged. the dinghy was rubbish but all I had. Then I weighed sailing back and forward for six hundred miles and another four days and decided to forego that drama. It was just not worth it.
I do love the ads I see where people have found dinghies washed up on their beaches or just drifting around with the tide. It shows that some one out there cares. Next time you are reading one of the popular boating magazines check out the lost and found and just imagine what hi jinks these dinghies may have been up to.