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The dinghy is a very important part of life aboard while cruising, it is the means of getting from the boat to the shore and back again. The dinghy needs to be large enough for transporting things (people, provisions, etc.) but not too large. On Zanshin I've got a dinghy garage, which puts a practical limit on the size and type of dinghy I can use unless I use the garage for general storage and go back to putting the dinghy on the foredeck as on previous boats. I opted for a smaller dinghy and using the dinghy garage for its intended purpose; this was a West Marine dinghy with a soft bottom but reinforced on the inside with aluminium flooring and the weight is acceptably low.
Since the United States (and Europe) are environmentally more conscious than the Caribbean countries, I opted to wait until I arrived in the Caribbean from USA to purchase an outboard. The reason is that new 2-Stroke outboards are no longer sold in those countries, as they do produce more pollution and lower fuel efficiency than 4-Stroke engines. The reason why I, and many other cruisers, still opt for a 2-Stroke engine is that the weight per horsepower is significantly less in 2-Strokes and the engines themselves are much simpler - and thus less susceptible to electrical problems and other salt-corrosion issues. The downside of 2-Stroke outboards is that one still needs to manually mix the correct proportion of oil into the fuel and they are generally louder than their 4-Stroke counterparts. In my case I got the Caribbean standard engine, a Tohatsu 9.8HP 2-Stroke and that is more than sufficient to get the dinghy loaded with myself and provisions to plane, and with 3 people it will plane in calm water and with no headwind.
I do not lift my dinghy up on the boat each night, so the various sea creatures that would like to call my dinghy home have a lot of time to attach themselves. As can be seen by the pictures below, I occasionally need to get the dinghy ashore and use 100% natural sandpaper (beach sand) with a scrub pad and sometimes even a paint remover scraper to get rid of the crud. I let it dry out for a couple of hours and then I'm good to go for another couple of weeks.
Addendum It is easy to forget how much power outboards have and why one should always wear the little red wristband emergency cutoff all the time. Outboards attach to the dinghy transom with two big screw-down bolts and I had problems with those freezing up so was operating my dinghy at low speeds with no attachment. In The Bight on Norman Island in the BVI I saw a gent rowing his dinghy upwind and making little progress, so I headed there to give him a tow. I neglected the safety strap and revved the engine a bit high, it popped up off the transom and the whole engine fell into the water while running. As did I. The forward part of the lower end hit me in the stomach area, quite hard, and cut that area plus my hands a bit - but if the working end of the prop had done so then this page would never have been finished! My whole front side was one large surface area of black and blue, but after a month most of it was gone except for a large subcutaneous haematoma which, as of this writing (2014-02-03) has not gone away and the Doctor I visited here loaded me up with some antibiotics and anti-inflammatories in the hopes of getting rid of it without having to operate. I still consider myself lucky to have been able to walk away from this without more damage. Unfortunately, I was wearing a backpack with my camera which didn't survive the salt-water encounter.
One thing that almost every cruiser adds to their outboard is a set of additional fins at the cavitation plate. These are made of plastic and look like little winglets, they are designed to keep the prop level and lower the speed at which the dinghy goes up on plane and prevents cavitation plus a bunch of other, mainly marketing, advantages. Planing is important because it is nice and fast and uses less fuel then pushing all that water aside and I finally installed the "Dolphin" set I'd purchased with the boat while at anchor in Marigot, St. Martin in February 2014.

Preparing to load the dinghy aboard I've removed all the things from the dinghy apart from the engine and am about to attach the winch hook and haul her aboard.
(2011-12-27 21:04:07 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.0, 1/100s] ISO 100 Focus 4.73m)
Preparing to load the dinghy aboard
dinghy hauled aboard Here the dinghy has been winched aboard the boat and the outboard removed from the transom and put inside.
(2011-12-27 21:19:53 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/125s] ISO 100 Focus 2.24m)
dinghy hauled aboard
Dinghy engine damaged Upon return from walking the street of Grand Case, we found the dinghy had been pushed under the dock and the engine cover took quite some damage!
(2012-02-29 10:32:07 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.3, 1/100s] ISO 100 Focus 3.76m)
Dinghy engine damaged
Empty dinghy trailing Zanshin The dinghy has been emptied of all contents and is being pulled on a 75 foot line behind Zanshin on passage.
(2011-05-11 16:49:20 NIKON D7000 with a "18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/400s] ISO 100 Focus 21.10m)
Empty dinghy trailing Zanshin
Nasty dinghy growth This is a nasty amount of growth on the bottom of my dinghy!
[17°4'24.66"N 61°40'19.63"W (facing E)]
Nasty dinghy growth
Adding wet sand(paper) Nature's wet sandpaper on the beach. I've already used the scraper a bit to get some of the growth off.
[17°4'24.66"N 61°40'19.63"W (facing E)]
Adding wet sand(paper)
Windsurfers on the beach Windsurfers packing it up for the day because the winds are just too light.
[17°4'24.66"N 61°40'19.63"W (facing W)]
Windsurfers on the beach
Dinghy bottom after sanding After several rounds of sanding the bottom and scrubbing with a green Scotch pad the bottom is looking a lot better.
[17°4'24.66"N 61°40'19.63"W (facing SW)]
Dinghy bottom after sanding
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