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2 years later- Spindrift as a tender


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In a few days time it will be two years since we moved on to our yacht full time and began using our S11N as our daily driver. I thought it might be useful to report back on real world experience with the boat.

 

We've cruised from Scotland down to the Med, across the Atlantic, and now we're in the Caribbean. In those two years, we've only had around 100 nights in marinas, so the dinghy has had a lot of use. We do carry a spare dinghy, a tiny round-tail Avon inflatable, but have only used that a handful of times, e.g. in Cape Verde where it didn't seem worth assembling the Spindrift.

 

Overall, it's been a really positive experience and we're delighted with the Spindrift. I must admit I was a little sceptical, thinking that everybody else would have a big RIB with a 15hp. Which they mostly do. But in practice it doesn't make much difference. They may get to shore five minutes faster than me, but then they're stuck with a dinghy that's too heavy to carry up the beach.

Compared to a RIB, our carrying capacity is enormous. We can easily take six people plus cargo and still have loads of room to spare.

 

The downsides are things I can live with. There is a bit of ongoing maintenance covering the inevitable scrapes and chips with epoxy and two pack paint. I generally use a stern anchor at the dinghy dock, a complication which inflatables rarely need.

 

We are definitely slower than the RIBs, but faster than those with comparable sized engines. Average about 5.5kt loaded, with a 3hp, and another knot with just one person aboard.

 

The ability to actually row is amazing. I would go as far as to say it makes the Spindrift safer than RIBs. Some of the centre console boats cannot physically be rowed at all, so if your single engine cuts out, you'd better hope there's somebody around to offer a tow.

 

In hindsight I think the 10 would have suited us a little better. Still plenty big enough but a little easier to get on and off the deck.

 

I've made a few modifications which I thought might be of interest:

 

I used split PVC hose to fender the gunwales, then added 4" thick pool noodles below that. It looks scrappy but it does wonders for protection, and adds useful buoyancy and stability.

 

I used eye, rather than wing, nuts and bolts at the nesting bulkhead. This gives plenty of places to tie things to, e.g. a midships line when lying across the stern of the yacht.

 

I added bilge runners on the aft half of the hull, which stiffen the floor, provide protection when beaching, and gave me a good strong location for davit eyes. These are made from folding pad eyes with coach bolts fitted from underneath, through stainless backing plates. Much better to have the smooth domed head showing, rather than a nut.

 

The forward davit eye I made differently. This is made using a u-bolt, and the exposed nuts on the underside of the keel were then buried in thickened epoxy, forming a protective bumper built up on top of the keel. The idea is that this will take groundings without exposing any wood.

 

Finally, I added a lock for the oars. This can be used with a small padlock, or just to stow the oars when sailing to keep them out of the way and safe in case of capsize. It's an aluminium double hook design, and goes through a hole in the rowing seat, then through an aluminium angle bracket on the forward side of the nesting bulkhead. A bungee holds it down, allowing one-handed instant unlocking of the oars.

 

Anyway I hope some of that is useful for anybody contemplating using a Spindrift as a daily tender. 

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11 hours ago, Frank Hagan said:

Do you have a YouTube channel with your sailing adventures? My wife and I watch several of the sailing channels, and I'd love to see the Spindrift in action for cruisers.

No I'm afraid not- keeping a boat running, learning to live on a budget in foreign countries, home schooling a small child... I don't know where we'd fit in much else!

The only YouTubers I'm aware of who have a Spindrift are Sailing Florence, who have the 9N. We might not have heard of the design without them.

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Hi Aphers,

 

Thanks for giving us the two year review, I really enjoyed it. All too often a boat that we have watched emerge from some plan sheet and ply on this forum, just fade away without ever hearing the rest of the story. I can think of another positive, reparability after someone crashes into your Spindrift.

 

Anyway I hope that you will keep us in the loop.

 

Good luck with your voyaging. 

 

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On 6/30/2023 at 3:33 PM, Designer said:

Hi Aphers,

 

Thanks for giving us the two year review, I really enjoyed it. All too often a boat that we have watched emerge from some plan sheet and ply on this forum, just fade away without ever hearing the rest of the story. I can think of another positive, reparability after someone crashes into your Spindrift.

 

Anyway I hope that you will keep us in the loop.

 

Good luck with your voyaging. 

 

Repairability is certainly a big advantage- and I'm hugely grateful to you for your help and advice at a time when most people were telling me to walk away.

 

Incidentally, I've just been helping another cruiser attempt to repair his RIB. It's a Highfield, which are a top brand, made of Hypalon, which is the best available material, and has always been protected from UV by canvas chaps. It's only eight years old. Despite all of this, it is simply disintegrating at the seams. The repair did not work and I think the RIB is destined for scrap.

 

My Spindrift cost about a fifth the price of that RIB and I expect it to last much, much longer...

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I have tried several length oars in my Spindrift 9N. For effecient rowing I found 6'-2" to be the best.  But for storing under sail they are too long to store comfortably.  If I sailed it much I would go for take apart oars.  Shorter just isn't acceptable to me.

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21 hours ago, Alan Stewart said:

Thanks for sharing! What length oars do you use and would you want them a bit longer or shorter? 

I'm trying to compile some "recommendations" for oar length for the Spindrifts. 

Mine are 7'6" which seems pretty good. I think the ideal length depends on how loaded the dinghy is.

When we're three up plus shopping the 7'6" oars feel a bit too high geared, but on my own they're great and I can really make the dinghy fly.

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