The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Insanely Cool Anchorage Toys

As a dinghy sailor—once a 505 sailor, always a 505 sailor—I have long wanted a little sailboat that we could take along when cruising. However, our horror of deck clutter has kept me from ever pulling the trigger on any of the options.

But now I think Marion Excoffon (pictured above), who I met at the US Sailboat Show, has solved the problem by designing the Tiwal 2 for her partner, a cruiser with the same desire as me for a real sailboat that is easy to stow.

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Richard Elder

Hi John
A lot more sporty than the Tinker sailing inflatable I once owned!

For something entirely different: The Angus expedition rowboat. Holds the record for human powered circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. Long Northwest Passage sectors, & land and water European tours !
Check out the bike adaptation for land portage passages!

PS There is a sail version
PSII It would be possible to build a breakdown version like the Chameleon pram I once built.

Scott Arenz

Thanks for pointing these out, John. Both inflatable craft seem like they would be a hoot. The row-able SUP seems especially versatile. Sliding seat rowing is great a foundation for overall body fitness, IME.

My brother and his fiancé own a pair of inflatable kayaks that they rave about. Unfortunately I can’t remember the make, but they’re super convenient to inflate, solid in use, and easy to stow. Much preferable to something that needs a roof rack and garage on land or must be stowed on deck afloat.

Scott Arenz

Dartanyon Race

We have a pair of Advanced Elements expedition kayaks onboard our boat, and they have been fantastic additions for exploring all the thin water around the San Juan’s and Inside Passage. We leave them inflated in racks if we’re just hopping to a new anchorage, or if going farther, deflate and re-inflate with the help of a 12v pump. They are not as fast as our hard shell kayaks, but they are much more stable (handy when boarding from the midship ladder) and tons of fun. Perfect for a morning “run” around the anchorage.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I am 100% in agreement that good anchorage toys are a lot of fun.  The vast majority of the time, we cruise with a Trinka 10 hard dinghy that we have the sailing rig for.  While not a sportboat, when we are out cruising I get it set up for sailing at least once a week.  We are always the envy of of the anchorage and I happen to think that the vast majority of time, it is a better dinghy for coastal cruising than the inflatables that most people have.  Of course, when going somewhere that I don’t feel comfortable having it in davits, we have to switch to the inflatable that I hate.  This is not a solution for offshore but for coastal cruising in most places it is great.

Once you have tried a true shell, you won’t even want to go back to a wherry or whitehall, or at least for calm water.  The riggers shown are what is known as a “sliding rigger” style instead of a fixed rigger.  These produce a faster result as the blade stays more perpendicular to the boat but they are also illegal in competition so are pretty rare.  In the sizing that they gave you, I assume that the oars store separately?  Not a sliding seat boat but if one is looking for a boat that rows really well and is a decent tender for coastal cruising, I really like Ian Oughtred’s Acorn skiff, that is what my uncle cruised with for years.  It also sails reasonably well.


Dick Stevenson

Hi Eric,
I share your dislike of inflatables, davits was not an option and have cruised these last 6-7 years with a Danny Greene Chameleon nesting dinghy. It lives in front of the dodger abaft the mast thus freeing up our fore-deck where the inflatable was always in the way. With a set of Shaw & Tenney oars, I am quite happy poking around most any anchorage and get a bit of exercise.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Richard Elder

Hi Dick
I did enjoy my Chameleon. I built it with green hull and a Sapele bow pram section. Sold it when I moved to the mountains and tried to swallow the anchor after I found it was not really a river boat.

And now for what may be the world’s most advanced dingy:

Richard Elder

Hi Dick
On the davits of your 60′ all carbon Lightspeed catamaran!

Dick Stevenson

Hi Richard,
I am fortunate, in that there are few things in my life that I regret and, at the end of my life, there will be no regrets that I have never been at the helm of a 60’ carbon Lightspeed catamaran. That said, there is the experience of longing, a looking to the future, and that experience, for sure, continues to play a part as I look around the sailing world (especially if I could be at the helm in trade wind Carib conditions).
Similarly, I would love to play with most of these bathtub toys.
My best, Dick
BTW, your Chameleon sounds lovely i an green, in part because Alchemy is a dark green (British Racing Green I am told) and I have picked up a new word, Sapele, which sounds like a lovely wood for the bow.

Rob Gill

Hi Richard,
Thanks for the post – I hadn’t seen it. These boats are insanely popular in the SW Pacific, and not just with Kiwis and Ozzies, you see them everywhere on boats of every flag.
In case people don’t know, Hamish Wilcox (casually mentioned in the video) is a NZ olympian, current olympic coach for Burling and Tuke who are world and olympic 49er champs, and Team NZ helm and crew. Hamish himself is in the TNZ weather and coaching programme. I only mention this to underline that Hamish knows a bit about dinghies, and he LOVES his sailing version. Hamish picked us up in his one at Minerva Reef for sundowners, so we know first hand. These boats are built really light and super tough – I have a few friends with them and they are all raving fans, especially the fisher-folk.
Like John says, stowage is the biggest issue for me. With a RIB you can deflate the tubes to remove 80% of the volume, and once inverted on the coachroof, have a very low profile to minimise the effect of wave strike. We just couldn’t safely stow an AC Tender on Bonnie Lass, or I would have our order in tomorrow.
BR. Rob

Richard Elder

Hi john
Check out the photos of Colin Angus standing on the sheer of the Expedition Rowboat. It is a multi compartment fully decked boat so is unsinkable as well. The stowage compartment is large enough for a folding bicycle! And light at 85#.

Dave Warnock

For sailing without something as bulky or expensive as a Tiwal how about a wingsail with a SUP? Add a foil for speed.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
I’ve never tried one of those Duotone wing sails, but it’s said to be significantly easier than a kite, so I’m fairly certain that you discredit your abilities. Like when windsurfing, it’s not about balancing on the board. Balance comes from the sail. Similar to biking in a way. When you’re rolling it just goes by itself. Since you have the understanding of wind in your spine, your learning progress will be way faster than for newbie sailors.

Michael Lambert

+1 on the wing foil. I got a setup this summer and have so far tried the wing with a recreational sup, then my surf sup. Meh. Then I tried the foil behind a powerboat, and it was mind blowing. It is one of the most amazing feelings. It’s perfectly quiet! I’ve now tried the two together a couple of times and haven’t gained the speed to foil yet, but I get the sense that it’ll be very fun.

Stein Varjord

The Tiwal and the rowing SUP look like great fun and good exploration tools. I’m not fond of dinghies with an outboard, no matter what type, (they’re heavy, noisy, boring, hassle, etc) so alternatives are welcome.

For some decades inflatable catamarans been available. Some of them sail decently. They’re quite slow compared to proper beach cats, but still faster than most sailing monohull dinghies, and they’re easy to handle. I did try one in England some 30 years ago, which wasn’t too impressive for someone focused on racing, but still it was quite fun and easier for beginners. I don’t know which of the makers are the best, but it seems like this company has some market success:

For anchorage play, I still think kiteboarding ranks on top. It seems intimidating at start, but is easier than it seems and highly addictive. 🙂

Dave Warnock

There are a number of SUP rowing options. This one looks interesting as includes an option for forward facing rowing

George Pavlou

Dear all, I have a Portland Pudgy as a tender & a fun sailing boat all in one & it’s easy to row and stow⛵️

PS: it’s also a life raft !

Regards George
Lovette Bay NSW Australia


Our Feathercraft Java inflatable sit-on top kayak has been a fun and useful anchorage toy and tender. It’s very well made, not too heavy, pretty easy to set-up on deck, and packs down into a duffel bag. It paddles really nicely as a single, surfs well, and is much drier than many other sit-on-tops. Unfortunately they aren’t made anymore, but I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a used one if it was in reasonable condition.

Sam Kimpton

Hi John,
I was wondering if you and Phyllis might be willing to do a write up on your Whitehall. I clicked the link you provided to your Tango 17 and quickly lost an hour to the Whitehall website. Looks amazing! We are landlocked in Denver, CO and enjoy our indoor WaterRower. The misses wanted one a few years ago and I was hesitant as most exercise equipment quickly starts to gather dust but one or both of us use it daily and have so for years. The Whitehall or OarBoard would get us outside and we could take our pups. The Whitehall I noticed also has some sailing options available. Be still my beating heart. I could also do some mountain sailing! Any information you two or others would be willing to share would be much appreciated. Thank you

Sam Kimpton

Thank you John!
That narrows the scope of models to look into and provides the feedback I was hoping for.

Scott Grometer

I *NEED* a Tiwal–and a Boreal with the huge lazarette to stow it properly, as we all know that deck clutter is very unseamanlike! 😉

Rob Thompson

We looked for a good tender for voyaging that we could row well and sail well to go with our new cat build. We weren’t really happy with anything we found so, as you do, we designed one with the help of a young NA with multihull design experience who translated our ideas into drawings for an infused foam composite panel construction that is 60kg. It is a 3.6 M cat with high stability, easily driven hull shapes, a flat forward deck with ladder for easy entry from the water (we’re divers), rig & sails store in lockable lockers along the sides, takes an 8HP outboard or 6kW e-Propulsion electric, and has a removeable quick-fit 325W solar panel bimini that comes off our main ship davit mounted panels. Fuel tank or battery for the electric stores under the seat that is the rowing position.

From my experience from expedition canoeing on big lakes in Canada, I’m thinking if I rig a similar system of waterproof canvas that attaches everywhere down the gunwales with industrial Velcro in case of capsize ( also to be used as sun shade), it might make a pretty good alternative to a liferaft. Might even have its own mini JSD for that purpose.

Allan Gray

Hi John

We have a Walker Bay tandem inflatable kayak that comes folded up in a large backpack. We were pleasantly surprised at how easily it paddles and the attached skeg keeps it tracking well. It comes with a dual action pump with attached pressure gauge to inflate and deflate it, however paddles are not included. We have spent two winters in the Bahamas with it and so far it is no worse for the wear. While in protected waters we leave it tied on the deck but deflate it and store it below in rough weather. One tip we were given is to let some air out of the chambers if left in the hot sun for an extended period. We have discovered it’s a great way to explore the shallow areas of the anchorages while getting some exercise. The bonus of the tandem is that the seats can be moved so it can be used as a single.

Dick Stevenson

Hi all,
Since dinghies are being mention, friends speak highly of Takacat, certainly an interesting design. Wondering whether any first hand knowledge? I suspect I will have an inflatable dinghy once again sometime.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Tom and Deb Jarecki

We have had a 3.3m True Kit Discovery for coming onto 2 years. This is the one with the open bow. Previously we had a 3.1m AB Inflatables AL double hull aluminium RHIB.

Why we like the Discovery:
– Open bow is amazing. Easy to get in and out of the water, onto a beach, or a dock via the front. No need for silly flips or power lifts to get from the water back in over the tubes – swimming, snorkeling and diving from the dinghy is a pleasure. The bow is raised high when moving and no water gets in.
– Completely stable. I can put all my 95kgs on one foot on any point of a side tube and the dinghy barely moves. Very stable in waves. Awesome platform for fishing
– High pressure inflatable floor. Effectively forms a double floor so some water in the boat doesn’t cover the floor. We’ve even used it on its own as a super-wide SUP, or to layabout on.
– Relatively light, very high carrying 500kg capacity and large 50cm diameter tubes.
– We can completely deflate it and pack it away for passages – no dinghy hanging off our davits. Setup and take down do not take very long – about 20 minutes when using a double-barrel hand pump.

Problems with an inflatable catamaran dinghy generally (we have no issues with our True Kit Discovery itself)
– It skids when it corners
– You have to be active on the throttle when planing in big waves (though air time can be fun at times), no cutting through the waves
– No natural protection underneath against beach debris/rocks/oysters. With a 9.8hp motor or bigger it’s too heavy to easily lift with two people, so decent beach wheels are needed.
– Cavitation more likely
– Lots of back splash

We originally had a 2-stroke 9.8hp motor on it – planed with 2 but not with 3. We now have a 2-stroke 15hp and it planes with 4. We put a hydroplane onto the motor to avoid bow rise when throttling onto the plane.

Charles Kanieski

We have used the rowing oarboards in anchorages for the last three years summer cruises (British Columbia) and highly recommend them for fitness and exploring nooks and crannies

Michael Lambert

The Tiwal stowed is still a bunch of space. A sailing tender is the best option, but in order to make it fast, what about foiling Kit for something like a walker bay!?!!? They have them for lasers, why not?