Our Great Loop research led us to think that we needed a dinghy for getting ashore from anchorages and as a fun runabout to explore marinas, ports and islands.

When we purchased R&R, the boat deck on the aft end of the flybridge was empty, but it was clear that a prior owner had used that boat deck store to a dinghy. So we bought Dinghy #1, a new-to-us 9.5 foot Highfield aluminum hull rigid inflatable boat (RIB) with a 9.9 hp outboard motor. We and family used it as a funabout on Lake Macatawa in Holland the summer before we embarked on the Loop.

John, Katy and Drew on Dinghy #1

But as Yacht Basin was outfitting R&R, they told us that Dinghy #1 was too large to fit on the boat deck and still allow the flybridge hatch to open. Dinghy #1 was a Dominating Dinghy.

So, on very short notice, just before we left on the Loop we traded Dinghy #1 for a new-to-us 8.5 foot AB aluminum hull RIB with a 5 hp outboard motor. The motor seemed small but Dinghy #2 fit easily on the boat deck…and we really were not sure how much we would use a dinghy anyway.

As we traveled the rivers South and then headed East along the Floroida panhandle we dropped Dinghy #2 into the water and used it a few times, only to learn that it was very small, very tippy and (at least for us speeed demons) unbearably slow. Dinghy #2 was a Disappointingly Dinky Dinghy.

Rick and Lorraine on Dinghy #2 in Niceville FL

When we reached Fort Myers, Florida in January 2020, I explored options for a larger dinghy that would better meet our needs. Looper friends Pat and Marcia own a near-clone of R&R, removed the flybridge hatch, bought an AB Mares 10.5 foot fiberglass hull RIB, and love it. Long story short, we worked with Suncoast Inflatables in Clearwater to trade Dinghy #2 for Dinghy #3, a new AB Mares 10.5, and we love it! Dinghy #3 is a Dandy Dinghy!

Like the three bears, Dinghy #1 was too long (we thought), Dinghy #2 was too short, and Dinghy #3 is “just right” (even though it’s longer than Dinghy #1).

Dinghy #3 resting comfortably on R&R’s boat deck in Everglades City
Dinghy #3 with Captain, First Mate and Lorraine in Key West

Though we wish Project Dinghies was not as time-consuming and costly, the third time was a charm and Dinghy #3 has been useful and a lot of fun for us and guests.