It’s been six years since I last wrote about this annoying, slightly embarrassing little survivor of a dinghy. I lamented back then, in an article on the virtues of hard dinghies that can be rowed (as opposed to the ubiquitous blow-up kind with outboards) that the damn thing, since 1976, had refused to be stolen, or break free under tow, or desert me or my family, period. It remains obstinately loyal today.

Left: the old dinghy. Right: same dinghy with delusions of grandeur.

Left: the old dinghy. Right: same dinghy with delusions of grandeur.



I would rather have a sweet pulling boat like a Whitehall or an Eastport pram or a dory. Or I should try my hand at building one of those admirable Chesapeake Bay Light Craft. But the dinghy and I are both cheap, and because it has carried me or accompanied me over many a nautical mile for 40 years now, I seem to have slowly developed a soft spot in my heart for it.

Aside from the advantage of being worth next to nothing, it only weighs a few score pounds and I can still carry it on my back. It’s easy to haul on board and slide overboard (I use a doormat on the gunnel). It tows well. It rows fine with one person and a decent pair of oars. It rows OK with three people or with two people and a load of gear in the bow. With two people and no gear it’s a horrid dog. I’d put in another set of oarlocks for the bow seat, but to keep any sort of stability I would have to sit in the stern and my wife would always have to row. There’s boat stability and there’s marriage stability, and I know which is which.

Scoping out rocks near the surface that might damage the mother ship if she swings at anchor.

Scoping out rocks near the surface that might damage the mother ship if she swings at anchor.



No, this ride is already pimped enough. Four years ago I repainted the topsides, and added Gunnel Guard all around. Gunnel Guard is a great product, but must be about the most expensive by-the-foot boat gear in the world, except maybe stainless steel anchor chain (which is better for showing off than it is for anchoring). Two years ago I taped off the bottom around the resting waterline and put on four coats of epoxy impregnated with a kilo of copper powder left over from a separate Coppercoat project. Then I renewed the topsides paint again.

The Coppercoat treatment, usually reserved for bigger, better craft: four coats of epoxy laden with copper powder.

The Coppercoat treatment, usually reserved for bigger, better craft: four coats of epoxy laden with copper powder.



All that made the outside of the dinghy look pretty good. But then the inside seemed even more disgraceful than usual. So last year I repainted the interior and thwarts. Big improvement! Then the oars appeared tattered and sad, so I sanded them down, revarnished them, and added leathers and buttons. Then the 1976 bronze bow ring looked a bit thin and elongated, so I put in a new stainless towing eye above it. And then the old nylon painter seemed gray and drab, so I spliced a new one onto the towing eye.

The face-lifted boat needed better-looking oars. That meant sanding, varnishing, and new leathers with buttons and brass brads.

The face-lifted boat needed better-looking oars. That meant sanding, varnishing, and new leathers with buttons and brass brads.



I rowed quite a bit this past summer. It was a lot of fun, as it always has been — maybe even more fun now that the dinghy is looking so sharp. Sharp, I mean, for an ungainly little tub that won’t disappear. It’s leaning up against the shed today, ready for winter, and now that I’m looking at it, I’m thinking… maybe I should go ahead and put in those bow oarlocks, just in case I have to ferry around some portly dignitary next summer. You never know.

Crew ashore and in search of the proper beach stones. The newly beautified and now needy little dink now has to be lifted and set down carefully to avoid damage to its Coppercoated bottom. All photos: Doug Logan

Crew ashore and in search of the proper beach stones. The newly beautified and now needy little dink now has to be lifted and set down carefully to avoid damage to its Coppercoated bottom. All photos: Doug Logan

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