Dave thought he was losing it. “It” being his strength. He’s always been a strong guy and it really bothered him.
Every day, it was getting tougher and tougher for him to raise the dinghy on the davits.
- Should we take the motor off separately every night? Well, that’s not why we have davits.
- Should we change the blocks and lines to have more purchase? Maybe — I mean, he can lift the dinghy as is, but there’s no way I could in an emergency.
- Are our davits just poorly designed? Well, the same ones are on most other Geminis, and the owner’s group doesn’t have people complaining . . .
A few days later, and totally unrelatedly, Dave complained about having to bail out the dinghy . . . for the third time that day. Just going from our boat to shore we’d have a little water in the bottom.
That evening, Dave pulled the “second” drain plug once the dinghy was up on the davits (the plug that drains the area between the inner and outer hulls). Water gushed out for several minutes — Dave guessed at least 7 or 8 gallons, or 55 to 60 pounds of water. I guessed closer to 10 gallons.
Well, now we knew why the dinghy had been harder to hoist. Maybe Dave wasn’t losing it.
We began looking for a crack in the hull. Didn’t find one. Could it be rain and dew getting in through the screw holes for the gas tank tie downs? That would actually be a pretty easy repair.
Or we knew we had a very slow leak in one tube. Could water be getting into the tube? That would be a tougher repair, especially as we need our dinghy every day.
But suddenly I noticed that when I pulled on the dinghy painter, the padeye wiggled.
The back side of the padeye was in the bow compartment of the dinghy, where we store the life jackets. And when we opened it, the life jackets were soaking. I stuck my tongue to one and yep, salt water.
We went to tighten up the nuts on the padeye and Dave discovered that there were just regular nuts on the back. No lockwashers or locknuts. Not even a washer of any type, let alone a backing plate. Out came the hardware box and we found washers and locknuts that would fit and tightened everything down. Super-easy 5 minute repair!
We still get a trickle of water in. We need to add sealant to the fitting, but need to have a day where we don’t need the dinghy in order for it to cure. It may wait until we haul the boat for summer storage — we can live with draining a cup of water every few days.
And the dinghy is much, much easier to hoist. Dave does it with ease. He hasn’t lost a thing. In fact, he’s probably gaining strength just from all the “boat chores” that involve lifting and pulling.
The lesson? If it seems like you’re getting weaker for no reason, maybe the dinghy is gaining weight. If it’s double-hulled, pull that second drain plug and see if you’re carrying around a bunch of extra water.
And if you are, there can be several different causes. But be sure to check the padeye and other hardware — we wasted a lot of time looking for a hull crack, and this was so simple to fix (and didn’t require the dinghy to even be out of the water).