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She's all grown up and floating at dock on Lake Champlain. Elle
by Lawrence Leonard
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Les Blackwell
The project was to add dinghy davits so that I could cruise with the dinghy secure to the boat. Note that the stern is wider than the dinghy which is an Avon R280 with an air floor (9'3", 63 lbs.) The boat is a 1999 Hunter 380 but I believe this project would work for any large sugar scoop stern. The dinghy davits are available from Defender at a good price.

The finished project with dinghy on the stern

The first thing to do is to ascertain the center of the stern of your boat and the center of the dinghy from bow to stern. You will need to take the dinghy home to place the connecting pads to it which will involve sanding and glueing.

I started by getting the two boats centered and deciding where to place the brackets on the boat. The Weaver dinghy davits were model 150 for a flat transom. I then installed the brackets and used 3M 4200 goop which stuck to everything. Getting the nuts tightened was a chore and you may wish to revert back to your military days for some choice words at times.

The dinghy hooked up and in the water

Once the brackets were in place, I then took pencil and brought the dinghy close in to decide where to place the pads for the dinghy hook up.

Be sure your dinghy is centered and use the pencil to mark where the brackets touch the dinghy. You'll also have to decide how high or low you want the hook up pads. The problem with the Avon is that the side tube begins to rise up whereas the West Marine inflatable continues straight. So for the Avon, you need to adjust where you place the forward dinghy hook up pad. Once you decide on the placement of the two pads, it's home to do the glueing.

A closer look at the bracket connection

This is the time of truth--did I mark every thing in the right spot? Did I glue everthing in the right place? I pulled the boat out of the water and it looked pretty good. It's a little tilted but that's because I didn't correct enough for the dinghy bow rising up. But it's not bad.

Houston, We have Lift Off

There are several options for attaching the support or connecting rods. The rods do not come with the dinghy davits and are another $60 item. To attach them to the stanchions I chose to go with items for dodger construction which look good and were easy to install. There is one on each side of the stern.

Connecting the support rods

The instructions tell you to install new connecting patches to the dinghy but I decided to use shackles and attach them to the rope hand rail on the other side (now the top). Most West Marine inflatables come with rings already installed at this point, but Avons do not.

Going this route was cheaper and a lot less work.

Shackles to the rescue

This is a close up of the connection between the rod and the shackle at the dinghy end.

Support Rod connecting to the Dinghy

This is a shot of the entire connecting or support rod to the stern of the dinghy. There is a similar one for the bow section of the dinghy. I thought about just tying it with line but thoughts of 30 to 40 knt winds came to mind (not that I intend to be out when that happens) and I believe this is a much stronger system.

It's coming together!

One problem I haven't as yet solved is what to do with the rod when not in use. While it is not in the way, it may clank (but then again, it might not). Maybe some Velcro would do the trick.

The rod when not in use for the dinghy

This is a shot of the dinghy finally in place with both connecting rods doing their thing and the skipper rather pleased with himself.

A look from the cockpit with the dinghy up.

While not a great shot, it does show that I can raise the helmsmen seat and/or get to the lockers on either side. I was trying to show that there was plenty of room between the dinghy when raised and the water below. There will be no problem when powering or sailing with the dinghy in up position.

A close up of the stern step.

For us, there will be several positive things that will take place. The dinghy is more secure when stepping into it and I suspect I'll have an easier time putting the outboard motor on the dinghy.

I wonder if this will take care of any slapping sounds on the stern while we sleep.

Another shot of the dinghy connected in the water

You can see from this angle that the dinghy is somewhat tilted but it seems to fit the stern of the Hunter 380. One person who has already done this project on a 380 says that it keeps engine fumes from coming into the cockpit. I sincerely hope this works. Hey, I'm pleased!

A final look at the project
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Installing dinghy davits for a sugar scoop stern
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