Sunday, 22 September 2013

Things That Work For Us # 4 - Caribe C10x RIB Dinghy

Taking our Iban friends for a fast ride on Sungai Tulai, Sarawak
Explaining our cruising lifestyle to land lubbers, we say that we do own a "car", it just happens to travel on water!  We drive the dinghy to the shops, out for dinner and visiting friends.  With the Tohatsu 18hp engine we travel quite long distances, exploring rivers, coastline and small islands where we cannot take Crystal Blues.  Our first experience with inflatable boats was an almost-new PVC Zodiac that came with the boat. It self destructed quickly, slowly deflating daily.  At a boat show in Los Angeles we spotted the Caribe boats, built in Venezuela, and ordered one for delivery to Sydney in 1999.  It had proper Hypalon tubes and a double skin fibreglass hull.  We loved the dry and fast ride it gave us - fitted with lights and extra fuel tanks that boat covered thousands of miles.

Arriving For School On Sungai Tulai - Children From The Longhouse Rumah Lidam
 As my friend Jim Cate would say, it was always "ridden hard and put away wet", but it never complained.

On the rivers in Sarawak (Borneo) it worked incredibly hard for years, and I do remember 12 children (and more) being delivered to "school" on Crystal Blues on most days, for weeks on end.

We patched it when necessary, had canvas covers made in Thailand to protect the tubes, and it served us faithfully for 14 years.  Hats off and congratulations to Caribe.

This year it started to need more frequent care, and we found ourselves applying frequent patches - the Hypalon fabric was failing at last.  Contemplating a new dinghy was daunting.

New Dinghy Ready For Work
The new boat had to be light weight - I'd already suffered one hernia lifting the Caribe with the big engine, and was keen to avoid another !  Hypalon tubes were of course essential, nothing else lasts in the tropics.

While the Caribe weighed 75 kg, we found a Highfield of the same size that weighed only 46kg.  It was the right color, and exactly the same dimensions as the Caribe (within 1cm in all directions). 

The Highfield dinghy has hypalon tubes the same (large) size as our old Caribe, but is has a very lightweight aluminum hull, so we can easily pick it up and man handle it.  Cholamark in Phuket supplied the dinghy and also provided custom made Sunbrella covers to help protect the tubes from UV damage.

The Admiral With Our New Transport
Slowly we have been setting up the boat - adding extra lifting points, plus tie down points for the larger 20 litre fuel tank we carry.   Ley has made a custom bag for the anchor and chain plus a new cover for the fuel tank.

Today we're celebrating after completing the fitout yesterday, bolting on new Beachmaster retractable dinghy wheels. We tested them this afternoon on the softer sand here at Nongsa Point, and we were able to haul the unit well up the beach with minimal effort.

So we're mobile again, and I can't help wondering if the Highfield will last 14 years - it has a lot of work ahead of it, and when when I remember the Caribe, it has a lot to live up to.

1 comment:

  1. Loved our Tohatsu 9hp. Didn't miss a beat and used it every day for about 6 years, with very little maintenance. Have recently bought a Tohatsu 18hp, 12 years old, but virtually never used, and hoping for the same good service.


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