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First printed in 2007, Dinghy Driving 101 is a perfect companion piece for the previous three Admirals’ Angle columns on cruising dinghies. In the outboard store there are dozens of different kinds of motors, but from a novice driver’s point of view there are two: ones with a transmission and ones that start in gear.
Before setting out anywhere in your dinghy, even just to practice, be sure you have a dinghy anchor and rode aboard, lifejackets (a Coast Guard requirement), a line or painter to tie up with at your destination, and, until you get some experience, a handheld radio to call for help with! Before yanking the start cord on your outboard, check the fuel tank to be sure you have gas.
Now, VERY IMPORTANT….before you do anything else, attach the cable from the motor’s kill switch to your person.
To go forward, push the transmission lever forward and gently twist the throttle to accelerate. Depending on the dinghy, the size of the outboard, the load you have aboard, and the water conditions, you can generally move across open stretches of water more quickly with less splashing if you can get the boat up on a plane.
To come alongside a boat, approach its quarter slowly from behind (into the wind) at a 45o angle.
Beaching a dinghy in anything but the quietest of waters is not something novice dinghy drivers should attempt alone.
Becoming competent in driving the dinghy removes many fetters that constrain a woman’s enjoyment of cruising. In 2006, Gwen Hamlin, one of the principals for Women and Cruising, began writing a monthly column called Admirals’ Angle for Latitudes & Attitudes magazine. In 2013, Admirals’ Angle moved to the new magazine Cruising Outpost, currently a quarterly.
The goal is to introduce the kind of women you can expect to meet out cruising, and to demonstrate that there is rarely one simple answer to any issue. Military inflatable charge rubber dinghyThe newly designed inflatable keel, inflatable boat easier to improve the speed control on the fast, V-keel inflatable boat to provide excellent directional control and flexibility.
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In fact, Dingy Driving 101 was set to rerun in the July 2012 issue of Latitudes and Attitudes for that reason. Hardly surprising since couples cruising – especially for the first time – are doing pretty much everything together, and, without any particular thought, the guy gets into the habit of driving. Reading your engine’s manual (what a concept!) is the best way to get the starting sequence right. On external tanks, check that the fuel line is securely connected at both ends (with the arrow on the bulb pointing toward the engine) and without kinks and that the vent on the tank is open.
There is no need to rev the motor, and if it is revving loudly on its own, then you probably didn’t have the throttle set at the start line. This is the little twisted wire with a clip on the end that hangs from the outboard’s “key,” a C-shaped wedge shoved under the red “kill” button on the front of your outboard. You’re probably already aware that a boat does not react as precisely as a car, especially at slow speeds. If you are alone, be cautious and sit forward as the bow can come up abruptly as you accelerate! If there are too many dinghies to dock alongside as above, you may have to nose your way in. It eases the making of friendships and frees you to spend more time doing things you enjoy. We will get a small commission on almost anything you purchase - book or other item - during that session.
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Pushing on the button is what shuts your motor off, so pulling out this key will stop it instantly should you unexpectedly fall out while in gear. You will quickly appreciate the good protocol of leaving plenty of painter between the dock and your dinghy, so, if you lock up your dinghy, be sure your cable is plenty long.
Even in flat and tide-less conditions, you still need to worry about abrading the dinghy’s bottom when approaching and dragging it ashore. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable.
Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. With the debut of Cruising Outpost Magazine and the transfer of Admirals’ Angle to that platform, Dinghy Driving 101 got skipped. Even with these backups in place, avoid casting off from the big boat or the dock until you have your engine running. If your motor hasn’t been run yet that day, give the fuel bulb a couple of squeezes and pull out the choke. In reverse, if you push the tiller to the right, the stern of the dinghy will go left “following” the direction the back of the motor is pointing. For example, when you come to a stop, the bow will blow down one way or the other as soon as you lose momentum. Be conscious of your wake and its effect on others, and when you slow down, do so gradually or else your wake will swamp you from astern! If your dinghy could be caught under the dock by a rising tide or if a wharf’s condition might damage your inflatable, play out your dinghy anchor from the stern as your momentum carries you the last few yards and tie it off just long enough to let you climb off. However we at Women and Cruising still feel it goes so well with the Cruising Dinghy trio, that we are reposting it here. It is surely one of the most frustrating things to have to ship the oars and row back to your own boat when an outboard refuses to start. Another effect comes from prop walk; whichever way your propeller turns in forward, the stern of your dinghy will kick in that direction. Plus your remaining momentum gives you time to stand up with painter in hand and secure yourself before you blow off. This takes a bit a practice, but it is better seamanship than a T-bone or downwind arrival! Either anchor the dinghy afloat or pull it above the high-watermark and put the anchor a few yard inshore or tie it off. Make sure your outboard is running well before you cast off and ensure nothing is dragging overboard.
Play with this, turning in circles, in forward and reverse, so you can anticipate these effects.

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