Dinghy Bottom Cleaning Made Simple

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2016 • all rights reserved

A much easier way to clean the dinghy bottom. Why didn't we think of this years ago??

Well, duh. Sometimes the simplest things really are the simplest.

The first time we had to clean the dinghy bottom — 15+ years ago – we didn’t even know it was bad until we hauled it up on deck to roll up for a passage. And not knowing better, we scraped it clean right on deck.

A much easier way to clean the dinghy bottom. Why didn't we think of this years ago??

DO NOT try this. It makes a horrible mess. Barnacles everywhere.

And so, for the rest of our time in the Sea of Cortez and down to El Salvador, Dave would take the dinghy to a beach, take the motor off and lay it somewhere that seemed to have the least likelihood of getting sand into the motor, take everything out of the dinghy, pull it up on shore, flip it over and scrape the bottom, rinsing with buckets of seawater he’d fetch.

Not as messy, but a bit of a pain. Particularly to to remove/replace the outboard once we upgraded to a 15 HP. And if you forgot to take any needed tools ashore, too bad. You either had to do without or flip the dinghy over, drag it back to the water, put the outboard back on and get your supplies. Then start over.

So when we saw our neighbors here in Boot Key Harbor cleaning their dinghy a much easier way (assuming you don’t want to do it with a snorkel), we could only marvel at how stupid we’d been not to think of it ourselves.

A much easier way to clean the dinghy bottom. Why didn't we think of this years ago??

Our friends on “Starlight” (I’m sorry, but I forgot to write their names down because I was positive I wouldn’t forget; I was wrong) simply took their outboard off using their crane and put it on the stern rail just as if they were going on passage. Much easier than hand removing it and carrying it up a beach . . . and a lot safer for the outboard. Then they took all the stuff out of the dinghy, and used a halyard to pull the dinghy up, twist it around and put it back down in the water . . . upside down!

Now they could kneel on the dinghy to clean it with plenty of rinse water within arm’s reach. And if you forgot anything, you’re right at the boat.

Since then, we’ve seen two other boats in the harbor use this technique.

We know how we’re doing ours next time . . .

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  1. Great technique! Of course it might not work quite as well for our bard dingy… 😉

  2. Obvious…now that you shared this. Not sure I would have thought of this technique. Thanks for sharing.

  3. We’ve always done it this way. All the crusty stuff goes right into the water. The downside is that we have have ended up with bloody knees from kneeling on the barnacles, so watch out for that!

  4. Of course. *grin*

  5. Haha cute, thanks!

  6. There’s got to be a morning after . . .

  7. That’s thinking outside of the box, er dinghy.

  8. The example is a mighty clean bottom, and I wouldn’t kneel on a barnacle-clad, slime covered REAL dirty bottom in my bare feet either! 🙂

  9. Make sure to remove the outboard motor BEFORE flipping over…..

  10. Good tip, thanks!

  11. Great idea! Thanks.

  12. It’s that simple shit that keeps us going!

  13. We hoist our dinghy up overnight once every 3 days even when we’re somewhere the dinghy is unlikely to be stolen specifically to prevent growth on the bottom. We either hang it off our beam using the spinnaker halyard, or hoist it in the davits. It takes 10 minutes, but I’d rather spend 10 minutes every few evenings than spend a miserable hour cleaning growth off. That said, if I ever have to clean the bottom, I’ll try it as you’ve suggested! Thanks!

  14. Agree with Liz….haul it out every 3 days minimum and hose off the bottom. MUCH easier than scraping!

  15. Sandy Gomes-Baker

  16. For those of us with larger, heavier dinghies with motors that rarely get removed it also works to scrape the bottom while the dink is hanging from the crane. (Our dinghy is stored on the boat deck of our trawler so there is a stage in deploying it when it is suspended above our heads while standing on the aft deck.) We tied bow and stern to the big boat so the dinghy wouldn’t move much and scraped away. The key is to work with the wind always at your back so the bits of barnacles don’t blow into your eyes!

    We also did our first scraping with the dinghy on deck and regretted that huge mistake 🙁

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