How-to Make Dinghy Chaps

We just left the world of inflatable dinghies after a very frustrating and costly few years dealing with our problematic Takacat.


The Takacat and the ongoing problems of the seams coming unglued.

There will be more info about our experience and disappointments coming up, as well as our reflections on our new hard dinghy from Porta-bote. 


The New Dinghy!

But if you’re still in the blow up boat camp and are looking for a good start of the season project check out my how-to article about making a pair of stylish and practical dinghy chaps for your inflatable, as appeared in Cruising World Magazine in March 2017.

CW Dinghy Chaps






“You don’t know what you can do until you’ve done it, right?”

I recently had a virtual catch up with a dear friend of mine and she wrote that sentence in her letter. It jumped off the page at me.

She and her husband are working through the same problem that we are; trying to find a balance between the sailing life and working to fund that life. Except they have a kid, which I can only imagine adds so many more complications to things. She commented I was brave to be staying on the boat in the water, alone. She has a toddler and has spent several months as a “temporary single Mom” since he was born when her man is away working. I think she has beat in the bravery department hands down.

But I do believe in what she said; in life you need to constantly push and test yourself. These tests don’t have to be monumental, scary or record breaking, just doing something beyond your comfort zone is enough. You’re capable of more than you think. Way more.

I know, I have been testing the theory recently. Continue reading

Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

We’ve been doing a fair bit of rowing over the past few days. Not because we’ve been trying to be super quiet so not to disturb the animals as we meander down that gentle stream. Or because we’ve been so close to shore it only takes three strokes to get there. It is not because we have one of those hard pram dinghies that row so well… although now I wish we did.

No, we’ve been rowing because our trusty 6hp Mercury outboard, the one we’ve brag about starting on the second pull after 18 months of neglect under the cockpit when we had an old 15hp Johnson on the back of tender, suddenly just stopped working.

And no amount of pulling the start cord, or changing the spark plug or checking the oil or metering the electrical connections is going to make it start. Steve has deduced, much too technical for me to explain how, that the CDI unit has failed.

For those not in the know about outboards (that would include me up until recently) the CDI is the perfectly sealed little black box that is the brains of such a machine. And once it fails the only magic way to get the engine to start again is to replace it. Which in a boom town like Noumea with both a Mercury and a Tohatsu dealer (interchangeable parts) wouldn’t seem to be a problem. But so far Steve has struck out with numerous phone calls and broken English/French conversations. Nearest we can figure we could order one in and it will take 6 days to 6 weeks to arrive and cost three times what is should.

We are not however letting this recently turn of events stop us from our usual daily dinghy trips. And as it turns out our Takacat dinghy is a pretty good rower, which is good because it sounds like we’ll be doing a lot of it in the coming month or so.

In fact the other day Steve, the perpetual fisherman, merrily went for an afternoon row around the bay dragging a lure. He must have had a pretty good trolling speed up, he even caught a couple.

But I can hardly complain…This life is but a dream.



* Steve would like me to note the use of the royal “WE”, since he has been the one holding the oars.


Hope floats

We use our dinghy a lot. It is more than just the “family car” that carries us to and from shore. It is our “off-road”exploration vehicle, our means for mobile entertainment, our backup plan and more recently our escape pod.

When we bought Kate she came with a Zodiac Zoom, how long it had been baking in the California sun fully inflated on the dock we don’t know. It was a little worse for wear but held air, and after I made a set of chaps to cover the worn pontoons it didn’t look that bad.

Continue reading