After much research, we chose a new Achilles dinghy and outfitted it with a new, 6 hp Tohatsu outboard. We needed a dinghy that could be rolled up, yet we needed a solid floor and a keel so we could get it on plane and be able to come in and out of the surf. Also, we wanted something that would roll up small and was as light as possible. The Achilles fit these parameters well, and is made out of Hypalon, which has very good UV resistance. The Achilles we chose is 8’6″, has a high pressure inflatable floor, and weighs 65 lb. There is just barely enough room on deck to inflate it! The 6hp Tohatsu 4 cycle outboard weighs 57 lb. A local dealer told us that Tohatsu is the exact same engine as Nissan but because of the branding, it sells for about $350 less.
We tested our dinghy deployment system at the dock to see if our plan would work. We rolled out out on the foredeck, where we had just enough room. It is the only spot on Cool Change that has enough space. The dinghy came with a small foot pump, but with years of rafting experience we knew it would not be adequate, nor could we afford to give up space to one of our higher volume raft pumps that we use for our whitewater adventures. We decided to use a small 12V electric pump to fill it up and then top off with the foot pump as a solution. We connected to a 12V accessory plug by the Nav station that I had installed. It all worked but the cord on the pump was not quite long enough so we decided we would be installing another 12V accessory plug in the forward section of the cabin for this purpose.
Once inflated, we used the main halyard to lift the dinghy over the foreward lifelines into the water. Now it was time to test the 4-to-1 lifting system we put together with some help from West Marine… This is the system we will use to lower the outboard from its position on the outboard motor mounting block on the aft pulpit to the dinghy in the water. I was in the dinghy and Cindy was to lower the engine down to me to attach to the transom of the dink. We used some old cam straps as a makeshift harness and attached them to a shakle on the 4 to 1. Our lift system worked very well and I was able to receive and attach the motor to the transom of the dingy without incident. I filled the oil and attached the fuel line and was ready to start the engine for the first time. I put the gearshift into neutral and gave it a pull. When the engine started up, the dinghy lurched forward into the stern of Cool Change, luckily, or I could have been tossed out. Something was wrong with the transmission linkage so that what appeared to be neutral was really forward. The safety devices on the engine are supposed to prevent it from being started in gear and obviously that didn’t work either! Lesson learned. I should have bought the motor from our local dealer and spent a little more; that way it would have been serviced tested and ready to go. Instead I had ordered it from somewhere in North Carolina and it arrived in its original factory box, and minus any dealer prep. I ended up taking the motor down to my local guy and paid him to make the adjustments so it would be ready for our trip the following week to Ayala Cove, where we would use the dinghy to visit our “B” dock friends, and go to and from shore. Out of the exercise, we realized we needed to order both a new outboard mount block for the pulpit, as ours was deteriorated, and a real harness that we could leave affixed to the motor. We had both of those in place on our next visit to Cool Change.