Things that Work: Dinghy Sling

I bought a 9-foot inflatable dinghy to take cruising, intending to carry it in davits when island-hopping. Its plywood transom had a secure attachment point for a davit hoist line, but there was no provision for hoisting the forward end. I tried attaching lift lines to the port and starboard towing rings, but realized they would chafe the tubes over time and might stress the glued-on D-rings.
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I bought a 9-foot inflatable dinghy to take cruising, intending to carry it in davits when island-hopping. Its plywood transom had a secure attachment point for a davit hoist line, but there was no provision for hoisting the forward end. I tried attaching lift lines to the port and starboard towing rings, but realized they would chafe the tubes over time and might stress the glued-on D-rings. So I designed a wraparound lifting strap, which works well.

The strap is made of heavy-duty 3½in nylon webbing covered with some chafe-resistant material my canvas shop had lying around. It passes around the entire front end of the dinghy, with a seamed joint at the sides to shift the angle so that it lays flat against the tubes. The ends overlap on top—amidships, level with the flotation tube tops a foot or so abaft the bow—and are strongly stitch-bonded together, making a sturdy joint through which I installed the eyebolt to which the davit hoist line clips. To prevent the sling from slipping forward, it is lashed to the dinghy’s port and starboard towing rings. The strap’s eyebolt is also tensioned with a line that runs aft through the transom’s midship attachment point and is brought up tight with a rolling hitch.

Although the lifting sling can be easily removed, I find it convenient to just leave it on when the dinghy is in the water. In fact, when the dink is tied behind the boat I habitually clip on the davit line as a second “safety painter.” As an added bonus, whenever rainwater collects in the dinghy below its transom drain, I can drain it in a minute by lifting the bow with the davit line.

Photos by Tor Pinney

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