What happens when you’re cruising on a tight budget and your inflatable dinghy loses its bottom? You improvise!

Have you ever dropped out the bottom of your car? As in, have you at one moment been pulling up outside your home and the next found yourself sitting on the road beneath? Albeit still in the driver’s seat and within the realms of the vehicle, but having fallen through the bottom nonetheless?

I have. Only the car was an inflatable <a class=”linkTargets-processed” href=”https://www.cruisingworld.com/tags/dinghy”>dinghy</a>, and home a small sailboat anchored off the Grenadine island of Bequia.

Of course, in my scenario, I ended up in the water. Having stood up at the bow of our little tender to tie us on to <em>Blue Eye</em> — the Nicholson 32 my friend James and I had sailed over from England — the soft flooring came all too easily apart from the inflated tubes, and it was only an instinctive pirouette that prevented me from dropping right the way through in a Jack Sparrow-esque escape.

There is never a good time to fall through the bottom of your dinghy. Especially not for frugal sailors like ourselves who stubbornly anchor in all manner of wind and swell to avoid marina fees, and thus the purchasing of a dinghy — which is astoundingly expensive when new, and painfully rare to find secondhand — became an unwelcome priority during our Caribbean cruising.

Fixing the pathetic pile of PVC that sat dejected on <em>Blue Eye</em>’s foredeck, we decided, was beyond us. In fact, it was “fixing it” that had led to this situation in the first place, as we had ourselves ripped off the entire floor in order to reglue the PVC together, thus putting a stop to what was at the time only a modest water intake. It so happened that the morning ride ashore to clear customs and immigration in Bequia was the first run out for our newly “repaired” tender, and as we know now, also its last. Another $90 for some pricey PVC adhesive and a day of toil and sweat was not in the least appealing, especially when the likeliest outcome would be more wet-footed ­pirouetting the next time I stood up at the bow. The heat and humidity of the Caribbean, by the way, had been convenient scapegoats for our lack of success.

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