A Tear in Tadpole

A dinghy is a vital piece of cruising equipment.  It is your mode of transportation and in many cases your only way off the boat.   I was recently reminded about how important a dingy is to this lifestyle.  A dingy is independence.  Without a dingy you rely on other cruisers or boat boys to go shopping, take in trash, see sights or simply get off your boat for awhile!  

In Roseau, Dominica while tied to the Dominica Marine Center doc (a dodgy dock, but one of the better ones in town) my dingy received a 2 inch slash that completely deflated the front tube.  I was out exploring Roseau with other cruisers and came back to the Loft Restaurant to do a little wifi when I got a facebook message from Mark on Nancy Lu, that my dingy was flat and to call when I am ready to leave and he would tow me back.  Well my mind was no longer on wifi, though I had things that needed to be done, my number one priority was to assess the situation and determine what’s next.  

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I went down to the doc and sure enough Tadpole (my dingy) was in a sorry state.  Marcus the security guy in the area was sitting waiting for me, he was very anxious to tell me that my dingy was cut by the rusted poll under the dock.  But right off things didn’t seem right.  My dingy was 3 feet from the dock, stern anchor still firmly in place.  There was no signs of chafing or even a visible hole.  It took some work to get the dingy close enough to the dock to get on board.  Once on board I tried inflating it and that is when I found the clean slice.  No rub marks or rust near the cut.  The back two tubes were still inflated and since it is a RIB, the rigid bottom helped to keep it floating.

Luckily Claudette of ProfASea came walking down the dock at the same time and offered to tow me back to my boat.  It was a slow ride, trying and keep the water out of the dingy and the hole.   Carl on Brilliant met us halfway and helped get me tied up to Sea Frog.  

I was shocked and bummed. Delphinus, Brilliant, Nancy Lu and ProfASea were all wonderful, offering materials and expertise.  It was late afternoon so there was little I could do that day.  We were headed to Portsmouth the next so I told everyone I was going to process the situation, investigate what materials I had on board and then deal with it in Portsmouth.   

That evening it started to hit me just how much I depended on that dingy.  I knew I had my kayak, fellow cruisers, and boat boys to get me where I needed to go, but it didn’t stop the feeling of isolating and it is quite powerful!  

I realized how much I took little Tadpole for granted.  It was a workhorse, with an incredibly reliable engine and tubes that held like champs!  

After a restless night sleep we headed to Portsmouth arriving mid afternoon.  I had determined I had all the materials to fix the dingy so I just did it.  What’s the worst that could happen, it didn’t work, well that’s no worse than the current state. I prepped the dingy by roughing up the surface with sandpaper and cleaning it up.  Mixed the adhesive and marked where the patches will go making it easier to put the glue on.  It is a two part process, you have to put the glue on the patch and the dingy and let it dry for 40 minutes, then reapply to both the dingy and patch wait 5 minutes until tacky then press them firmly together.  

The challenge is that you then have to wait 48 hours to put any pressure in the tubes and 7 days before you can put full pressure.  

Those first few days were a bit hard, but honestly with all my cruising friends close by and the fact we were doing tours, where the guides picked us up on from our boats, it was the best possible place for this to happen.  The two days went by quick and I inflated the front about ¾ of the way and it held!!!  I was able to use the Tadpole again even if it wasn’t fully pressurized.  I was back in business.  

The patch has some air bubbles in it so I am not putting full pressure on the tubes yet, waiting until I get to Antigua where I can have it professionally fixed in case the patch comes loose.  Till then Tadpole remains at ¾ its normal self and has been as reliable as before!

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