Not a “new to us”used dinghy but a brand new dinghy! How exciting! As you may have read, we have been exploring our options. Our West Marina folding dinghy was too small. Our Porta Bote dingy was too big. Our new Highfield dinghy is just right.
When we untied from our land life we had a few unanswered questions. Ok, a lot of unanswered questions. Some of the bigger questions; Do we add an arch or not? Solar panels; how big, how many and do we really need them? And, what type of dinghy? We wanted to live the lifestyle for a season or two before we decided. It gave us time to research, talk to other cruisers and actually understand what would work best for our boat and our needs.
We had numerous questions about buying a dinghy. Let’s see— Hypalon vs PVC? Fiberglass bottom or aluminum bottom? Size? Weight? Will we need to buy a new outboard motor? Decisions, decisions.
After much thought and research we decided on the Highfield CL310 PVC. We saw quite a few Highfield CL310’s in the Bahamas. We talked with several owners and had good reviews. Once the decision was made, Mark set about getting the best deal he could find. We bought the CL310 Hyperlon instead. Why? Because if you have ever met Mark you’d know, when he is finished negotiating he will have a great deal to show for it. We were upgraded to the hypalon from the PVC at a very good price. Good enough for us to rent a car and drive four hours to pick it up.
The Highfield dinghy is smaller inside than the Porta Bote. It is also a couple of feet shorter. The shorter length will be easier to handle. The Highfield has less cargo space than the Porta Bote for when we snorkel or go to shore for provisions but we feel it will be ample for our needs. Buying the smaller size is a trade off for the weight of the next step up in size. The CL310 is about 110 pounds before we add 80 pounds for the outboard motor (190 pounds total). A larger dingy would be 134 pounds (214 with outboard). The extra weight posses issues when we want to beach the dinghy or when we lift it onto the boat.We are not getting any younger. Another plus, by staying with the smaller size we can continue to use our current outboard motor.
It was a month before we had the opportunity to take the new dinghy out for its first spin around the bay. We were busy installing the arch on the back of the boat. After which we installed the solar panels and davits onto the arch. We also had a side trip or two.
We finally had a chance to get the new gear together and splash the new dinghy. We love the way it handles. The bay was flat the day we tested it. Unfortunately, there was a manufacture defect on both sides of the bow. The dinghy leaked. We made a trip back down to Miami to Highfield’s USA office (importer for the brand for USA) to have the dinghy professionally repaired. As Mark wrote in a previous post, The folks at the Highfield headquarters were very helpful and professional. They dropped everything when we arrived to help us.
Round two. Once hurricane Hermine passed and things got back to normal, we had time to try out the repair. The ride was dry. The bay was a little rough this time which was good. We had been told the Highfield would be a dry ride and wanted to see for ourselves.Everything went well. We really like the new dingy. We are looking forward to using it a lot this winter.