Living with a tinnie

Transporting the tinnie down to the sea
Transporting the tinnie down to the sea

The new tender is wonderful in that it doesn’t need pumping up or out every day. In fact it’ll never need pumping up as it made from aluminium and even after the heavy rain we’ve experienced here in Cairns there has been very little water to pump out, the old dinghy had leaked like a sieve, more than we thought.

However we are having to make some adjustments. The first is that stepping in and out, Sheila the tinnie has a completely different feel, she is wide and relatively flat bottomed. Though the boat is as stable as the inflatable, when you step in it responds to weight changes and movement much quicker which takes a bit of getting used to.

The biggest change though is how the tinnie behaves in the water when left to its own devices tied to Temptress. The old tender could be tied to the stern and there it would sit. As Temptress swung with the tidal current or the wind the inflatable would mostly slowly follow behind. Sheila though reacts to the wind and waves much more quickly of her own volition. In the first couple of days we discovered that the tinnie catches up with her big sister quickly often moving faster across the water in response to both the wind and waves and the tug on the painter; the result was she’d bump up alongside leaving grey aluminium marks on Temptress’ top sides. Nothing serious, they’ll polish out but the noise at night would wake us up and we really don’t want to spend our time polishing the hull. The answer is to treat the tender as a real boat and following the lead of the other yachts at anchor in Trinity Inlet off the city of Cairns we now have Sheila tied along side when not in use. With lines fire and aft and a forward spring plus a couple of fenders on Temptress all is hunky dory.

Extra space – the tinnie is almost as wide as the old inflatable, just 10cm less beam and a similar length but because there are no tubes the space inside the boat is

New and old tenders tied aft
New and old tenders tied aft

huge. We loaded her up with the provisions for three months and there was room for more, whereas it would have taken two trips in the old tender. We have also learnt that she is as dry as the inflatable in a chop only as long as the crew weight is well back, which again is similar to the old tender. However we can no longer perch on the sides but have to sit side by side on the aft thwart (the crosswise seat), rather than one per thwart; it feels a bit odd but I’m sure we’ll get used to being so cosy.

Another big change will be retrieving the tender onto the deck. The weight is about the same (50kg) but the handling very different. As the inflatable is inherently buoyant one person can pull it up by the bow and the tubes which extend beyond the transom ensured the stern didn’t fill with water. The tinnie however has to be hoisted level then swung in before inverting on the foredeck which will take two crew, one for the winch and one to keep the boat off Temptress’ topsides. We are experimenting with ropes as lifting strops for now but intend to make proper straps once we’ve got the lengths right. The remaining question is whether or not we’ll need chocks to protect Temptress’ deck, a yoga mat will do the job for now and we’ve purchased a few metres of 2×2 just in case!

Trial run
Trial run – the skipper discovering she will plane


Tinnie on deck
The tinnie on deck occupies much less space

Our task in Darwin will be to find some suitable fendering for Sheila so we can come alongside other boats, her bow in particular needs some sort of bumper. Currently she sports a tiny fender we had on board Temptress for use as a pot marker and a flat rectangular one we bought in Cairns. Both are about two feet long and strung on her port side so we can leave them permanently tied on and flip over when needed. The great thing about an aluminium boat is you can attach metal loops to tie things to! Kevin has riveted several onto each of the thwarts and under the little deck at the bow so the oars, anchor bag and fenders can be tied securely to the boat. You can’t drill holes in an inflatable but you can in a tinnie!


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