In the summer of 1992 I brought the first set of Dinghy Dogs to the folks at Practical Sailor in Newport, RI for their review. What follows is the text of the article as it appeared in the December 1993 Issue in the CHANDLERY Section.
Harvey Waxman, a dentist who sails a 30-foot Gemini catamaran out of Wickford, Rhode Island, is according to his family, an inveterate tinkerer. For a number of years he's been fighting a familiar old battle - the quest for the ideal dinghy.
Dr. Waxman doesn't like inflatables. "Too hard to row and tow", he said, "and most rigid dinghies are too tippy".
He refused to accept the notion that there's no good answer. So, after several years of thinking and making prototypes, he's come up with Dinghy Dogs.
What they do is convert almost any hard dinghy into a very stable tender, without giving up the rowability of a rigid boat. Basically it's a kit to attach flotation bags to any 7-8 foot dinghy. What you wind up with is a rigid boat with flotation that won't sink if punctured and costs far less than an inflatable with a hard bottom.
The kit includes a stiff, D-shaped PVC channel, which is glued to the sides of any hard dinghy, at or slightly above the water line. The surface must be clean and free of wax. The channel, a stock item used for dodgers, comes with an adhesive strip that takes 48 to 72 hours to achieve maximum strength. Tape down the ends to make sure the channel conforms to the curvature of the bow and stern, or, if the dinghy sides have a lot of curvature, use small stainless steel screws which come with the kit.
A fabric tube with a PVC rod (sewed up with Gore-Tex thread) is inserted into the channel. Into the tubes, port and starboard, go a pair of bladders (made of the same material as body bags). Inflate the bladders via valves under flaps in the covers, port and starboard.
That's it. At winter lay-up time, if it needs a good scrubbing, deflate and remove the bladders and slip the covers out of the channels. Otherwise, simply deflate the bladders and leave everything in place.
When we stepped into Dr. Waxman's modified dinghy, we found it almost as stable as an inflatable. The Dinghy Dogs seem to have no deleterious effect on rowing, although we suspect that with three persons aboard or with a heavy load, the bags would be more submerged and might create some additional drag.
Dr. Waxman has worked hard to minimize costs. Considering that the materials must be high-quality, the retail price of $399.95 seems not unreasonable.