Passagemaker Dinghy as tender for 40' sailboat

I built a Passagemaker Dinghy primarily as a mess-around sailboat about 4 years ago, in the back of my mind I thought that if I ever had a boat large enough it would also make a great tender based on its design.  Well this year in Feb we purchased a 1995 Catalina 40’ sailboat so I finally got to give it a try.

Admittedly an 11.5’ rigid dinghy is a lot of tender for a 40’ monohull and after measuring and re-measuring I finally gave it a try this past weekend.  Couple quick reflections;

-It’s to large to secure on the foredeck as a regular place of stowage

-It tows very nicely, exactly as promised

-Some photo’s to go along w/ the discussion below


Over the course of July and August I made a couple modifications to the PMD along with some much needed TLC as I hadn’t done much to it since finishing construction in 2018;

1.       Re-varnished outer hull bits up to 4-5 coats, including some epoxy work and spot sanded, epoxied and painted the green bottom paint

2.       Installed 2 low point hull drains that CLC sells as vents. I overdrilled, filled w/ thickened epoxy then bedded with marine silicon sealant.

3.       I removed and re-applied the epoxy filet around the daggerboard  trunk that had leaked a bit when I first was using the boat. I spot repaired by drilling holes and applying more epoxy but wanted a clean start.

4.       2 coats of varnish on the inner bottom and sides before applying SeaDeck non skid – that stuff is awesome!

5.       Installed a bow eye for a tow point

Towing impressions

1.       Here is a video of the PMD under tow at about 6.5kts in about 12kts bow seas and 1-2’ waves

2.       I need to refine my towing line and bridle, particularly for entering and leaving port when my aft cleats are already in use.  I also want to be able to quickly lengthen or shorten the two w/o having to tie knots so I’m thinking a stainless caribeaner that rides the bridle and bowlines tied at different spots along the towing line

3.       On the fly I cut a pool noodle to length then slit it open, it worked admirably to keep water from porpoising up through the slot.  Doesn’t look fantastic but works.

Foredeck handling and storage;

1.       The lifting of the PMD via a bunch of dock line’s rigged as a bridle was easier than I had expected with a spinnaker halyard, snatch block and winch.  However doing it solo I did have trouble keeping it from banging on the big boat’s rub rail and lifeline stanchions.

2.       My forepeak is 12.5’ mast to forestay… I knew the anchor locker would be blocked but I was hopefull that the taper of the PMD bow would make it possible to work around.  I come away saying it is ‘possible’ but not something I want to do on a regular basis. Also the blocking of the anchor locker means that I’d always have to do this operation while underway which seems like a hassle.

Other notes;

1.       The bow of the PMD, near the towing eye kept banging into the transom of the big boat, the gunnel guard  was essentially to high and not the first part of the dinghy to make contact.  I think I can rig a small fender on the bow almost like a mustache that will address.

2.       Getting from the big boat swim platform to the PMD dinghy was easy, the PMD was very stable and predictable in its motion and the Seadeck provided firm footing

3.       Rowing close to the big boat, and around docks for that matter at the marina, is very awkward with the big oars. I ended up standing in the boat using one oar like a SUP paddle when I got close most of the time

Whats next;

As we are cruising with a dog and a 6 year old and really want to do a fair bit of anchoring I really want a dinghy and the PMD does a great job and looks awesome. I’ll look into davit options… I don’t like getting that ‘square’ at the stern as it makes backing into tight slips more risky but I think having the dinghy is worth it. 

I’ll update this post as I learn more and if I change anything else.


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RE: Passagemaker Dinghy as tender for 40' sailboat

We  used our Passagemaker (take-apart, lug rigged) as a tender for our Menger 19 catboat with great success.  Obviously, we weren't going to hoist the dinghy aboard, either whole or taken apart, but she towed splendidly.  Even with a small cruiser like the catboat, there is much to be said for having such an able, versatile dinghy along.  We spent many happy days anchored back in our favorite cove with some grandchildren aboard and the dinghy nestled up alongside, ready for sailing or rowing action at the drop of a hat.

For maneuvering around docks, we found that she was very well behaved lashed up along either quarter like so:

We found that, if the water wasn't too rough, she'd tow along at moderate speeds in this position with a spring line rigged from the off-side transom grip of the dinghy to keep her gently pressing into the catboat's topsides.

This might not work in a tight marina slip, but in your case having her on the foredeck might work in that situation where you aren't likely to need access to your anchor locker.

I wish you all joy of having the BEST LOOKING dinghy wherever your cruising takes you!



RE: Passagemaker Dinghy as tender for 40' sailboat

   Michael, your Catboat+PMD look fantastic! Nice to see someone else enjoying their PMD as a tender.  I"ll have to play with a quarter side tow position underway.  I did bring mine up alongside like that for the overnight at anchor and it kept the banging down to a minimum.

Did you store the PMD sailing rig and oars onboard the dinghy while towing? If so did you make some kind of cradle to secure them?  Or find space for it on the boat?   For our first trip I only brought oars and i stored them up on the big boat while we were moving.


RE: Passagemaker Dinghy as tender for 40' sailboat

We generally kept the sailing gear and oars secured in the dinghy, with the sail and yards wrapped up in a cotton painter's drop cloth to keep the sail from being soiled or chaffed.  Sometimes, if we moving the catboat under motor power with no thought of getting the sail cover off and hoisting the sail, I'd put the dinghy's bundled sail and yards and the mast up along the catboat's boom, hanging in the lazyjacks.  I tried leaving the dinghy's mast stepped while she was under tow once, but I could hear it banging around in the mast step and partners with every wave such that I was concerned about undue wear, so we stopped doing that.

If you look in the Passagemaker Standard photo gallery at  #35 of 97 currently (Winkle is a take apart, but that isn't obvious in that photo), you can see her resting on her tow line while we stopped to admire the sunset.  You can see the bundled sail lying atop the seats and the mast poking over the starboard quarter.  Worked okay, even if she was jumping over motorboat waves as long as everything was secured with shock cord or some such.

Yes, we had a lot of fun playing with the two boats together, something I do miss now that the "mother ship" Virginia Mae has passed on to new caretakers.  We still have Winkle, much less of a handful to manage and keep in comissiion, and I had a rollicking good six hour sail in her on our local Corps of Engineers lake this past Wednesday, more's the Lord's blessing.


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