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I'd like to thank everyone for their generous and thoughtful responses. Your experience and various points-of-view have certainly helped my decision process. As with much of our boating lives, it has to do with one's cruising style. Heck, even Le Capitaine thought a soft-floor rollup tender was sufficient for him:) But not for us (nor for most others I'm sure). I can hear him right now. "Monsieur, maybe you should just buy a different boat".
I also hope this thread will help others in the future. Dinghy and dinghy/OB stowage is a repeating theme on the forum and I thought the cradle aspect could use more discussion, particularly from those with experience in the matter.
On Dec 27, 2020, at 5:09 PM, CW Bill Rouse <brouse@...
I will add 3 things to this thread:
- Judy and I were in conditions in the Indian Ocean where a dinghy on the foredeck would have been a big issue. We had enough green water coming over the bow that often the windlass was 2 feet underwater and waves of green water ran over the deck then crashed into the windshield with tremendous force with water squirting through the windshield gaskets. I am sure that any dinghy mounted on a cradle, regardless of how it was secured, would have been pulled loose. Our dinghy was fine during this because it was mounted on the deck behind the mizzen mast. This was the first time that I left the 15hp outboard engine on the rail mount. A wave almost knocked it overboard, twisting one clamp completely off the teak mount. And we almost lost the poles on the starboard side. Lots of green water washed them loose and they came sliding down the deck. I saw them and caught them when they reached the cockpit.
- The loss of visibility in an SM or 54 is significant with a bow-mounted dinghy and almost 2 times more if the dinghy is in a cradle.
- Please do not forget that the deck has a balsa core. If you are not 100% sure of how to correctly penetrate the deck, do not do it, and don't let anyone else do it unless you are 100% certain they know how to do this. I have seen far too many Amels ruined because someone wanted to mount something to the deck of an Amel.
On Sun, Dec 27, 2020 at 2:58 PM Danny and Yvonne SIMMS <simms@...
Hi Colin. Thanks for the comprehensive reply. You are a very experienced off shore sailor and have thought it through. I wouldnt do it that way and I do believe care should be taken by others who perhaps to this point are not so experienced. If something gets smashed when you are a thousand miles from port it can be very serious. Those are the events that lead to catostrophy. I try to minimise the possibilities, much easier than trying to repair serious damage. However, thats me. You have the experience to make your own judgements.
On 28 December 2020 at 01:16 Colin - ex SV Island Pearl <colin.d.streeter@...> wrote:
..and of course, no hard feelings between friends as we certainly agree regarding "ugly" bit at least, as well as how dangerous this could become in extreme conditions.
For me, with a mission to circumnavigate within the small 3-year window which we had available, and also to have the maximum enjoyment of leisure time too possible, after 6 years of making absolutely zero modifications to the way Captain Henry set this brilliant boat up, it later became all about function, rather than good looks at the time actually set off to circumnavigate in early 2017.
Furthermore, to add to the controversy you may also have noticed that we had two single orange paddle skis lashed to the rails as well, and of course, these could equally prove to be a huge issue with any side-on wave hits, and we did indeed take a few small dead wave hits to those, but again these were lifted a little above the deck height, and we fortunately never experienced any boat hardware strain or problems with this. Also, our dinghy had the optional extra of two huge draining bung holes fitted for very quick draining, plus a cover lashed onto it too most of the time when at sea in order to avoid it ever actually filling up with any wave hit.
I should have mentioned we did on quite a few occasions get waves sweeping right across/over the boat (including the bow area) sideways during our circumnavigation, the worst of these was an occasion when Lauren was sleeping on the port side cockpit seat and was washed completely across the cockpit from the port side bunk (wedged in behind the captain seat) and to the top of the opposite side combing (over almost out onto the stbd deck rail!) in the black of a moonless night right to the end of her long harness tether during one storm. However, on all these occasions, the dinghy placement never proved to be a problem for us, as it was never more than a foot of solid water over the bow areas (never a dead hit to the raised dinghy height with a solid wave as you may be referring to), ie. just white water and it was always able to quickly wash unhindered right across the bow decks from one side to the other under our dinghy which was heavily lashed down.
Yes, I agree that if we were caught in extreme conditions, ie worse than we faced mid-Indian Ocean, then things could be worse, especially if we were unable to turn and run slightly downwind as we did between Chagos and Rodrigues when we got over 55 knots and 6m rolling swells which seemed like mountains each time one rose to the top of them and looked down on the whiteout conditions, and where we learnt how safe these Amel SM's actually are in very big conditions. My main concern though with this large aluminium craft on deck, in front to the mast, was what could occur if it was washed hard backwards and smashed into the base of the mast which could then be compressed and come tumbling down forwards???, and/or what may actually happen during a roll???? We did virtually knocked down sideways at least once (sails not quite into water though), but the dinghy was completely fine on that occasion (did not shift at all and righting movement of SM still very fast) due to being so well lashed down.
Please note, I am absolutely not advising anyone on this forum to place a heavy dinghy upfront as we did, especially if you do not have a lot of ocean crossing experience yet. That would not be helpful here and is also perhaps what Danny is quite rightly possibly alluding to here as this could be downright dangerous! Far better to leave your boat as she was designed, but of course, for those with experience, and who will actually be taking on large crews and who are mostly intending to avoid extreme conditions anyway, this OceanCraft dinghy on the bow, as well as our paddle skiis, for us did actually prove to be a wonderful addition to our circumnavigation with frequent use and gave us so much pleasure, (especially the paddle skiis which were used almost daily when anchored) that we would say it is worth considering at least.
Currently Boatless in Brisbane
On Sun, Dec 27, 2020 at 7:15 PM Danny and Yvonne SIMMS < simms@...
I dont think I have ever commented negatively before but sorry Colin. I saw your set ip in Vuda Point Fiji. In my opinion ugly as sin, obstructive and creating a huge blind spot looking forward. How you could put up with it for as long as you did confounds me. If you had struck a major storm with big deck sweeping seas I hate to think of the result.However, just proves tastes differ.
On 27 December 2020 at 17:26 Colin - ex SV Island Pearl < colin.d.streeter@...> wrote:
Since OceanCraft (Delos "Maggie") factory just a short distance from our home here in Australia, we copied Delos and purchased an OceanCraft 3300 aluminium dinghy, but had it specially custom made to just 3.0m (instead of 3.3m) with floor and front locker built-in. This cut back size was helpful and allowed us to easily get around the deck and also better use the Genoa, however, OceanCraft now make a standard 2.0m one which would be even better we feel. We then made a custom timber cradle for our SM, similar cradle to Delos and circumnavigated with it with no real adverse effects, including in 6m swells / 55+knots mid-Indian Ocean wild seas.
As for the positives and negatives, and will we get another one on the bow of our next Amel in a few years time?
- This large dinghy was absolute gold when we had at times as allowed us to get everyone to shore in one go.
- Whenever we had long distances, inter-island etc., to cross we used it as it cut through any chop smoothly and was very fast and comfortable.
- We used it for most refuelling as we mainly visited many remote places and almost always refuelled via Gerry cans. Compared to our smaller Hyperlon Dinghy which took max 5-6 x 23L fuel cans, we typically loaded up 12 x 23 Litre jerry cans full of fuel (plus two of us too!) on the large dinghy which saved us so much time.
- In calm waters such as throughout the Maldives for 4 months, we towed it easily (over 800mn!) as we crisscrossed this cruising haven. That was such a luxury!
- When going forwards on the bow in rough seas one felt much safer having the dinghy to hold onto.
- The large dinghy on the bow became a wonderful storage area for all our fenders and other bulky light goods freeing up lots of space in the rear locker.
- It looks really ugly on the bow!!
- When tacking we always tacked by furling the genoa in at least 60% to avoid it catching on the dinghy, and also had a sheet line (like an inner staysail stay) running from the first spreader down to the anchor winch so that the genoa sheets would pull around this rather than catching on the dinghy. Whilst we got used to this and could tack without starting the motor, it still remained was a small price to pay but fortunately, on a circumnavigation, one is rarely tacking anyhow.
- The extra weight up front was fine (note we s/s welded a nice strong long shaft new outboard bracket on the rear rail opposite the Amel supplied one - and always placed our larger outboard there - never on the bow) and we never got any drips through our bow thruster until purchasing a new 110m chain in the Caribbean. Just in case though, before leaving Thailand, we had also devised a sneaky plan in case of any emergency bow thruster leaks by purchasing a new $10 bicycle tire tube from a Phuket bike shop (for a large rim, a fat tire bike) and we split it around the perimeter and cut it to form one nice long wide pliable new rubber strip in case of any emergencies. At the start of all major ocean crossings after this, we wrapped this tightly around the bow thruster area (where water may come up into the boat) in large rough seas and never got a drop of water in, even with all the weight up front. Also, boat balance in big seas also seemed unaffected.
- We tied both the timber davit itself and the dinghy very firmly with multiple straps and these both added to the "ugliness" and could become a trip hazard for any new crew who were not accustomed to running around on the bow on dark black nights. That said we never had anyone trip on these, so were fortunate.
- Visibility forwards was not great but fine as we cut huge "see-through" holes in the timber of davit itself without impacting its strength. That said, however, at night, with no moon, it took a lot of time to get used to working out if you were looking at the dinghy or beyond this!!
So, in summary, will we do this again in a few year's time after COVID when we purchase our next Amel? The answer would certainly be "yes" if we had any intentions of having more than just one extra crew member for any long periods of time. However, since most of our circumnavigation was just Lauren and me on our own, and we far preferred it that way, we doubt that we would do this again. We think an approx 3.1 or so meter hyperlon dinghy with a 15 is the way to go, but particularly ensure you get one that fits nicely on the rear deck with enough space to move around it, plus such that the mizzen sheet does not get caught up on it.
Colin, Scarborough, QLD
(currently boatless until at least 2022)
PS If any of you happen to be here in QLD, Australia, and want our timber davit for the OceanCraft get back in touch. The new owners did not want the extra dinghy or davit and my wife wants it gone soon from our garage. The dinghy sold previously so just a free davit available now with correct camber for the SM bow- Email me at colin.cruisingpoint@...
Merry Christmas/Joyeaux Noel/Buon Natale to all AMEL Owners. We are considering a new strategy for our dinghy and have a few questions for anyone that might be able to help.
1. Foredeck storage cradle. Who has done this? Do you have pictures? How does it fasten to the deck? Is it foldable/removable? Do you store it upside down? If not, do you keep the outboard on or off?
2. Maximum length and beam. I note that SV Delos has an 11 ft. Oceancraft on a cradle. Anyone with different experience?
3. Balance. How is boat balance affected with foredeck storage and the motor still on the dinghy?
4. Any other things I should consider?
Thanks and to everyone, please stay safe, healthy and happy.
Loca Lola II
0411 016 445
0411 016 445