Category Archives: Fishing Dinghy

Upgrades and projects on our 11′ Redova RIB that is also our new fishing boat.

New Dinghy Cushions

With the tubes repaired, and the outboard repairs well undweray, the next major upgrade for the fishing dinghy was to replace the worn-out cushions. We’ve reupholstered most of our boats, so we had little concern that we could perform this job ourselves. So, with a rainy weekend forecast, we ordered zippers, naugahyde, and phifertex from sailrite, and also rented a couple movies from Redbox.

This was the dinghy condition before we started any of these ugpgrades. This photo gives a good idea of where the cushions will be installed, as well as the design.

After taking the cushions home, the complete extent of damage to the cushions became apparent:

After determining that nothing from the original cushions would be salvageable, we began the project by doing some test seams to figure out the best way to join the two colors of vinyl. We decided to go with a french seam with white top-stitching, and using the phifertex as the reinforcement fabric on the underside:

Three of the four cushions were simply oblong squares, a fairly easy cushion to build. After making the top panel out of two-colors of vinyl, the bottom panel was cut out of phifertex mesh to allow drainage, a zipper panel was built for one side, and finally the remaining three sides are also cut out. Then it’s just a matter of sewing all the parts together.

The 4th cushion, the seat back for the main seat, was much more complicated, with armrests and a boltrope. So it required deconstructing the existing cover to use each panel as a pattern on the new material.

Some of the details of the cushions include the phifertex mesh bottom for drainage, and the zipper panel:

The front-side panel stitched to the top panel:

And a closeup of the french seam:

At the end of the first day, the living room was a cushion construction disaster:

But at the end of the weekend, three of the four cushions were completely finished. The 4th and last cushion yet to be made is the smallest and easiest:


Who says you can’t paint an inflatable dinghy?

When we bought our boat, the RIB came with it, and we did very little to check it during the survey except to turn the outboard over and make sure it ran, but we obviously noted that the starboard tube was deflated. Every time we used the RIB we would fill that tube full of air, but a day or two later it would be deflated again. Clearly there was a leak.

Well, with the RIB out of the water for at least a few weeks, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to find and fix the leak, and hopefully work on the cosmetic issues at the same time. I have a quote for new tubes at $4000, which isn’t a bad price for a re-tube, but I wanted to see if I could do any better.

The first step, so as to not disrupt Dr. D’s work too much, was to bring the existing tubes home to work on them.

That. Sucked.

Let’s not discuss that process any further. But, now that the tubes were off, and in my garage, I could begin the repair process. The first step was to remove the old, faded registration numbers and logos, which a heat gun and a spackle tool made quick work of:

Followed by a good scrubbing with soap and water:

And behold! A leak:

After letting the tubes dry overnight, I followed the rules that came with the hypalon patch material. The area around the leak was sanded with 60-grit sand paper, ad the first layer of glue was painted with a chip brush to both the patch and the tube, and allowed to dry for 90 minutes. Then, another coat of glue. Finally the patch was applied. The excess, leftover glue was painted around the edges, per advice on a forum. It wasn’t pretty, but the next day it held air.

At this point, despite the nay-sayers everywhere online, I had decided that I was going to attempt to paint the tubes to improve the look. I decided to start with West Marine liquid rubber. I chose it because, if I decided the liquid rubber was ugly, there was also the option to paint the tubes using West Marine top coating for inflatable tubes. Spoiler alert: the liquid rubber looked great, and we didn’t bother.

To prep for the liquid rubber, I wanted to seal all the nicks and scratches in the tube fabric. After researching for quite a while online, I decided that the easiest way was to simply spackle clear silicone over the holes:

After drying overnight, the next step was to prep the surface for painting (rubbering?). The tubes were fully inflated, and sanded with 60 grit paper until rough. Then the tubes were wiped down with Acetone to remove any oils or residue, and then wiped down with Xylene to prep for the liquid rubber. Remembering how difficult it was to take off, I didn’t want to paint the bolt rope, so masked it off. I also masked off the rub rail:

The instructions said to paint the liquid rubber on with a chip brush… in about 2 minutes I decided that was a horrible idea, and I switched to an epoxy compatible foam roller. The best technique I found was to paint the liquid rubber on thickly with the chip brush, and then follow up with the foam roller to spread it evenly.

Within a couple hours, I had the bottom half of the tubes painted. I found that the liquid rubber did a fantastic job self-leveling:

I let the tubes cure for 48 hours, flipped them, and did the other side the same way:

I’ll skip over how difficult it was to re-install the tubes a few days later as well. Even with copious amounts of dish soap and two people, that, too, sucked.

We will see how well the liquid rubber holds up over time, but the final product speaks for itself:

Ethanol Hell

Soon after taking possession of our boat, and delivering her to our home port, we wanted to get the RIB up and running.  Starting with the basics, I replaced the battery and filled the integrated fuel tank with fresh fuel. Sure enough, with those two updates, we were soon zooming around Commencement Bay, checking out potential fishing locations, timing how long it takes to get to certain places, and learning how she handles in different conditions.

One evening I took Tay and two of her friends out for a quick ride, showing off the seals and sea lions. Once clear of the marina, I throttled up, and we were soon on a plane, heading towards Brown’s Point.

And that’s when the trouble started.

The boat simply slowed down, and came off of plane. No bang. No smoke. Not much change in how the engine sounded. Just no power.

Not sure what had happened, I slowly motored everyone back to the dock to safety, and I spent a few minutes seeing if I could debug the issue. Later that weekend, after googling the symptoms, I was worried that maybe the “fresh fuel” that I put in caused the problem, since I simply filled a jug full of gas from a local gas station, which had at least 10% ethanol (I didn’t bother to look). But I am sure there was ethanol in the fuel, as EPA regulations make non-ethanol, or E0, gasoline extremely rare.

We share a dock with Doctor D, an outboard mechanic; we had already chatted about having the dinghy serviced since we had no documentation on how it was maintained, but now I also needed to have him diagnose my problem. In a few minutes he was able to determine that one of the three cylinders was not producing any power, and the suspect (later confirmed) was a clogged carburetor due to ethanol fuel.

Ethanol, I now know, is a serious problem for older outboard motors. I’m not going to pretend to be a mechanic, so I won’t go into details as to how or why, but BoatUS and other sources have some very good reading material to explain it if you care to understand. If not, suffice it to say, avoid ethanol-fuel like the plague on your outboard powered boat. There are websites available that map out where you can find pure gas in case you have a classic vehicle, or boat, that is incompatible with the new fuels.

Oh, but my anger with the EPA wasn’t over yet.

I still had 7 gallons of fresh, ethanol-blended fuel in my RIB’s tank. And I didn’t want to spend all the time, energy, and money fixing the problem, only to have it come back as soon as I started burning that gas. I needed to siphon it all out. After failing to get the siphon tube into the tank via the inlet, Dr. D let me borrow an attachment that allowed the fuel line from the engine to be used. After a few minutes I had a fuel tank full of E-10 fuel.

Modern cars can burn E10+ fuel just fine. You would think that putting the fuel I just siphoned out into a truck tank would be easy. But you would be wrong.

The new “clean air” nozzles, designed to prevent fuel vapors from leeching into the atmosphere, also don’t fit into the fuel port of a truck. I am not sure how long it takes to leech a few cups of gasoline into the atmosphere using the old-style gas cans, but I know exactly how long it takes to pour a few cups of liquid gasoline straight onto the ground using the new-style cans: about 4 seconds. Once again, Dr. D. came to the rescue, this time with a long funnel. We unscrewed the cap, and simply poured it into the tanks of our trucks.

I’m someone that likes clean air and water, so I want to support the EPA. I also want to keep this blog non-political. But this situation has really soured my opinion of the agency, and this meme (not mine) says it all:

To finish up this chapter, though, the dinghy is in Dr. D’s shop, and we will soon have her back in the water, this time filled with E0 gasoline.

Dinghy Project

Our new to us Bayliner 4788 came with an 11′ Rendova rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that is stored on the flybridge, out of the way of the main salon and cockpit.

We expect to primarily use the 4788 as a floating 2nd home, a dockside condo if you will, so most of our time aboard will be while we are tied up to our home dock. We’re very excited about the RIB, as it provides a quick, easy, and cheap way to get on the water for a couple hours and zip around the sound. In fact, even in the first few months of owning this boat, we’ve taken the dinghy out quite a few times.

There’s a davit crane on the flybridge that lifts the boat in and out of the water. We are still figuring out exactly the best way to put the RIB in and out of the water, but each time gets a little bit easier. The problem we run into is that we like to keep the big boat in the slip bow-in, so that the pilothouse has the great view of Commencement Bay, but that makes our home dock a port-side tie, and the crane is also on the port side. We either need to back the boat out of the slip half-way (our current preferred method), or push/lever the RIB past the finger pier (what we did the first few times, though that process won’t work if/when we have a neighbor boat in that slip).

And while we’ve been having fun playing on this little boat, as you can see, it does need a bit of cosmetic work and some upgrades.

There’s also another motive for this project: fishing.

For some odd reason, Megan doesn’t want me putting the new, expensive, big boat where the fish are…. near rocks, a few feet from shore, along the edge of a rip current, next to 30 other boats. Strange. So the RIB will be rigged as a fishing boat too, where we can zip out to the fishing grounds at 30kts, troll or drift for a few hours, and then run home when we get cold, tired, or otherwise finished fishing.

So this new series of posts will walk through the repair and upgrades we make to the SS TaylorTot, as we get ready for a summer of exploring, fishing, and micro-cruising aboard our RIB.