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Winterizing: Doing good for the dinghy

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Tender boats are patient comrades who do their job without complaint and patiently allow themselves to be dragged in the wake. But at the end of the season they shouldn’t be neglected either.

Easy to care for but reliable, that’s how you imagine the ideal dinghy. The symbol for this are hard-shell boats made of polyurethane, which probably don’t need anything apart from a wash before they are laid down on two logs behind the storage shed in order to survive the winter. The other extreme would be the classic clinker brick thing made of wood, which is not just a dinghy, but also a status symbol that often travels nobly on deck or in davits on larger yachts. In between there are still small GRP dinghies on which – maybe – one or the other gelcoat damage needs to be repaired before the winter break.

Yet the majority of tenders carried on recreational yachts are inflatable and are often towed in the wake where they are fully exposed to the elements. Hoses are versatile, robust and inexpensive and can also be stowed compactly if necessary. With such high utility, it is not surprising that these boats were able to establish themselves as the gold standard. In terms of price, they also have a good shelf life, but also not forever. Small repairs can be done with the patches yourself, but if seams cause problems, the boat should be taken to customer service or the inflatable doctor newer RIBs offer replacement hoses that are attached to the GRP fuselage with a rail system.

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Clean the boat with suitable means that remove dirt without attacking the material (PVC or Hypalon). Either a mild soapy solution or specially developed inflatable boat cleaners, which can often be diluted, and even should be used, are suitable. Before washing, remove shelves and seating and after rinsing, remove all water, along with the sand and stones that have collected in the bilge or in the folds.

Allow yourself the luxury of rubbing the boat dry. If there is still dirt residue, such as black rubber strips or tar stains, a special cleaner must be used to remove them. Avoid using acetone or other harsh solvents that will remove stains but damage the tubing. If everything is shiny, go for the preservation with inflatable wax. Do not forget to inspect, disassemble, clean and dry the valves. Then put it back together again, inflate the boat slightly and let it hibernate in a dry place.

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