With the help of a
bonus check from work, Don was able to purchase a very nice hard-bottom inflatable dinghy. Now we each had our own boat. We
combined our childhood nicknames, and christened our Zodiac ‘Dinky Duck’. We kept the outboard from our Morgan,
and it worked just fine as our dinghy engine. Well – as fine as any outboard ever works. Just like any other boat, we
needed additional gear for Dinky Duck. A gas tank for the engine; oars for when the engine wouldn’t start; an anchor
to keep the current from carrying us away when the engine wouldn’t start; a hand held radio to call Tow Boat US when
the engine wouldn’t start; a light for when we sat in the dark trying to get the engine to start; a cover to protect
the dinghy from the elements while we got the engine fixed.
Even with the fickle engine, the dinghy became our favored mode of transportation for quick short-distance
trips. But leaving it in the water made it the favored breeding ground for barnacles, algae, and other indeterminate growth.
I gave it a coat of bottom paint, which helped diminish the invasion, but each time the dinghy was stored on deck while we
used our favored mode of transportation for slow long-distance trips, our cabin top ended up covered in little black flakes
that got EVERYWHERE. Apparently the bottom paint I’d chosen didn’t work by repelling growth; it just didn’t
give it anything solid to hold on to. Plans to install Dinghy Davits were moved to the head of the list.
Davits are simply a set of very big, stainless steel brackets that hang off the back of the boat.
Blocks and tackle are rigged with lines that hook to the dinghy, allowing it to be hauled up or dropped down with only minor
rope burns. At first, Don was a bit concerned about placing so much weight on the push pit, what with the solar panels, wind
generator and sporadically functioning Mercury installed on this little balcony of teak and tubing. But when I pointed out
that the stern rail was through-bolted to the hull on seven points, he concluded that it might not really be such a big deal.
installation of the davits turned out to be really quite easy, it did not turn out to be painless. The minor scratches suffered
from the bolt tips persuaded us to follow the directions and turn all 8 bolts around so that smooth heads were facing inside
the push pit. Only one nut was sacrificed to Neptune in that process. However, that wasn’t the worst of it. I suppose
Re Metau was a little upset that we made her butt look so big with the new addition because she bit back hard. Don somehow
managed to break his toe in the teak lattice after vaulting over the stern rail.
While he sat healing with his bottle
of Patron, I began working on the dinghy cover so that it could be secured from one side and keep rainwater from turning our
Zodiac into a swamp. I was confident that we weren’t overtaxing the strength of the push pit, but with water weighing
in at 8 lbs. per gallon, I didn’t want to test its breaking point. I replaced the bungee cord in the opening of our
existing cover with line that could be pulled through grommets to draw the bottom shut. After taking measurements multiple
times, I located the approximate centerline of the tackle and made holes lined in vinyl. The last step was adding ties to
the top that would attach the cover to the stabilizing bar in a tent shape. The design allows us to drop the dinghy down while
the cover remained on the davits and kept everything nice and dry. Now if only that friggen’ engine would start!