Dinghy Bottom Cleaning Made Simple

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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26 Comments
  • Keith Davie
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Jim Cosgrove
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Nicola
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    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!

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    Of course. *grin*

  • Michelle Rene
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    Haha cute, thanks!

  • Keith Wood
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    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! 🙂

  • Bill Brut
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

  • Anne Ellingsen
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    Good tip, thanks!

  • Sarah
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    Great idea! Thanks.

  • Prism Polish
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    It’s that simple shit that keeps us going!

  • Liz
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

    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!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 06 March 2016 Reply

      We pull ours up every night (not just every three) and it has to be cleaned every 4 to 6 months. Depending on where you are, stuff can still grow.

      • Liz
        Posted at 06 March 2016 Reply

        Wow! That IS a lot of growth!

  • Cindy
    Posted at 05 March 2016 Reply

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

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 06 March 2016 Reply

      We pull it up on davits every night. Still, it has to be done periodically — maybe every 4 to 6 moonths here in south Florida. Some places just have a LOT of growth.

  • Wellesley Gomes
    Posted at 06 March 2016 Reply

    Sandy Gomes-Baker

  • Louise
    Posted at 08 March 2016 Reply

    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 🙁

  • Susan Kam
    Posted at 09 May 2017 Reply

    Good idea, but a bit more difficult with a rigid bottom dinghy.

    • Mike Sweeney
      Posted at 10 May 2017 Reply

      More difficult, perhaps, but still possible. We just did this with our RIB a week or so ago.

  • William Maness
    Posted at 09 May 2017 Reply

    Probably not recommended on a hard sailing dinghy 😉

  • Carl Hibbard
    Posted at 10 May 2017 Reply

    Well, darn

  • Carl Hibbard
    Posted at 10 May 2017 Reply

    Use the beach stand in water, get cool this summer. Agree hard bottom more work.

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