The Easiest Dinghy Launch and Retrieval – Wickedly Simple


Among the very first things we look at in designing a yacht is dinghy storage, launching, and retrieval. This design aspect is as fundamental to successful cruising as anything else aboard. We have had a simple and reliable system since the first FPB first launched seven years ago, modified only recently by the advent of deck winches that power out as well as in. With booms easily controlled by permanent guys, locked off with rope clutches if required, and the dink stowed at deck level, the process is easy enough to get into and out of the water that we usually stow it aboard each evening.

As simple as this is, we still consider this to be potentially the most dangerous job on board.

With the Wicked FPB we have refined the dinghy process to make it significantly easier and more controlled.


Let’s walk through the process. We’ll bring the dinghy back aboard as this is somewhat more difficult than launching. Step one is to grab the always attached lifting bridle with the boathook, snap on the halyard shackle from the three-to-one tackle, and put the halyard tail on the electric self-tailing winch. As the dinghy is lifted, its weight naturally heels the mother ship and the boom runs out automatically, until the afterguy stops its travel at a  pre-marked position.

Hoist the dinghy until it is high enough to clear the deck edge. Notice the life line section has been removed (remove two pelican hooks and remove one stanchion). Keeping the dinghy low like this, rather than lifting it over the life lines, opens up a series of new possibilities.

Next, we take the dinghy bow line through a snatch block on deck to one of the electric winches (there are six aboard). The remote control has buttons for these winches, and pushing the bow line winch pulls the dinghy and boom across the boat.


One of the keys to the process is the dinghy rotating around this after life line brace. As the winch pulls the dink and boom across the boat, the angle is constantly opening up around the turning stanchion.


The dinghy is now far enough onto the after deck that the pick point of the halyard is over the centerline of the storage chocks.


The dinghy is now trapped between the engine room air intake/BBQ structure (adjacent the steps to the boarding platform) and the life line system after brace.


If the boat rolls, the dinghy cannot travel to starboard as the bow line is locked off with the deck winch. If the boat rolls to port, the dinghy cannot go more than a short distance before the outboard motor catches on the rub rail.

Prior to removing the bow line from the winch, the afterguy on the boom is snugged down in its rope clutch. When the bow line is removed from the winch prior to rotating the dinghy and dropping it into its chocks, the afterguy keeps the boom from significant movement.


Release the dinghy bow line from the winch, rotate it in line with the chocks, and lower.


Tie off a few pre-rigged lashings, and you are ready to go to sea. On Wind Horse, this entire process would take two of us five minutes. With the Wicked new FPB we expect this to be even quicker. Wickedly simple, right?

It is, in calm conditions. But what happens when you have to get the dinghy back aboard and the mother ship is bouncing around? You know that this is going to happen in the dark, with a rising gale threatening what was once a safe anchorage.


Rather than a calm, stable platform, we now have a rolling deck with a 900 pound/400kg dinghy hanging from a pivoting boom. This is the scenario that all serious cruising yachts are going to face sooner or later. Your choices are stark: put to sea towing the dinghy and probably lose it, wait out the onshore gale while anchored and perhaps end up on the beach, try to get the dinghy out of the water and back on deck, or cut the dinghy free and then exit.

Boom control with those permanently rigged fore and afterguys, plus the new retrieval procedure that traps the dinghy to minimize its movement, greatly expand the conditions in which the dinghy can be controlled and brought aboard.

But much more importantly, the ease of launch and retrieval means there is no reason to leave the dink in the water in exposed anchorages. Bringing it aboard every evening is a snap. In which case, with the dinghy secured on deck, should a swell begin to sweep into the anchorage there is no hesitation in getting underway, to the security of deep water and the open sea.


Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 7, 2012)

23 Responses to “The Easiest Dinghy Launch and Retrieval – Wickedly Simple”

  1. Matt L Says:

    How big is the dinghy depicted? 15 feet or 16 feet?

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Fifteen feet.

  3. Matt L Says:

    I would like to amend my guess of LOA from 29 meters to 28 meters…

  4. James Buchanan Says:

    Looks very like an Australian National Flag in DInk-Retrieve-3.JPG.
    The New Zealand National Flag has red stars, not white.
    Is Wicked for an Oz client?

  5. Steve Dashew Says:

    We have a variety of flags for the stern.

  6. Paul Says:

    My guess is 87ft including the swimstep; a great design; at this rate another 10 days to finish:))


  7. Erik Says:

    Hi Steve, have you ever considered a fold away slip-way type of thing, which the dingy sits on and slides down the stern of the boat into the water? with a winch mechanism to pull it back out? think of it like a boat trailer kind of thing!

  8. Steve Dashew Says:

    We have thought a lot about ramps and winches. However, unless you house the dink at a low level, which involves a whole series of negatives from access, to size limits, to making the engine room much less user friendly, they don’t work out.

  9. Brad Says:


    Did you think about giving the transom a little reverse rake so that you have some additional shoulder room when standing on the swim platform? It looks like it would move the engine room air intake forward a bit and cramp the chocks for the dingy but it would make the swim step feel much bigger if you could stand anywhere on it and not bump your upper body on the transom.


  10. Steve Dashew Says:

    The swim platform is over a meter in length. Dinghy rotation requires engine air intake t o be where it is. The platform is a touch longer than either Wind Horse or the FPB 64s.

  11. brian Says:

    Hi Steve,

    In the previous designs of the FPB you’ve put an emphasis on the ability to minimize the height of the boat with masts that can fold down. You seem to have given up on this approach in this design – and I was wondering what the thought process was as you’ve moved in a different direction in this regard.

  12. Scott Evangelista Says:

    surprised not to see any Swimstep level access to storage in the transom…like a garage for the BMW r1200 GSA 🙂

    This ship looks amazing by the way

  13. Steve Dashew Says:

    There is a garage.

  14. Alex D. Says:

    Hi Steve,
    a little bit off topic about tender retrieval, more about Solar plannels etc. Do you think it would make sense to have 2 wind-turbines in addition to the solar plannesl where the sat-com domes are located?

  15. Steve Dashew Says:

    Wind mills are always possible, but tend to be noisy and have safety issues associated with them. If we were to fit them, they would g o in stern sockets for ease of maintenance and tieing off when required.

  16. Martin Says:

    It looks like there’s very little room outboard of the dinghy; I can understand not shipping the stanchion and lifelines once the dinghy’s aboard (although I don’t like it), but how are you going to tie the lashings down from inboard only? Are they permanently rigged on the outboard side and you have to sort of flip them over the dinghy ends?

  17. Steve Dashew Says:

    Lashings are pre-set, attached to outside of chocks, forward on center and the stern. The abridged life lines are a trade off. We think the safety of handling the dink this way, particularly when in a rolling anchorage, far outweighs the inconvenience of pre rigged tie downad and R and R of the stanchion and wires.

  18. Iron Lady Says:

    Had to do it both ways – and we were fortunate to get it back aboard in the 2 AM squall situation.. Your last piece of advice was the best. Put the dink up every night.


  19. Holly Jennings Says:

    Hi Steve,
    Will the new design be able to accomodate Hundested CP propellors?

  20. Steve Dashew Says:

    No CP props – too inefficient in this environment.

  21. Stedem Wood Says:

    Another benefit of easily shipping the dink every night, is security.

    It is much harder to steal the dinghy, or the outboard, and much less of a temptation strapped on board, than when sloshing happily out of earshot, a sliced painter away from disappearing into the night.

  22. Daryl Lippincott Says:

    A friend of mine has his dingy on top of a tall Hatteras LRC (built from a burned out hull. It represents most of their net worth) lost both engines to bad fuel. Very light onshore breeze and 1.5-2 meter onshore swell. The boat lay parallel to the crests and was rolling very aggressively. He managed to change the fuel filters (while puking from the motion) 4 times and ran out of spare filters. He said that he was convinced that they would get seriously hurt if they had tried to launch the dingy and would have lost his boat if help hadn’t arrived in time. He put in a day tank with 24hrs of fuel and is working on a different system of stowing the dingy.

    A dingy that can be launched and retrieved in a sea to a very good thing.

  23. Alain M Says:

    My guess is more about 95 feet, hard to calculate, depending on the rendering of the perspective…
    Earlier I was thinking about 100 to 105 feet… Hard to say!
    Steve have found one good way to drive us crazy, I hope he enjoy it 😀 !!!
    And like I have said many times, when you take a nap, or go sleep, in one anchorage, you have to be ready to leave for high sea in 5 to 10 minutes. With all what that means about boat status!
    One dink should never stay in water if not in use for a time, and never at night.
    I have adjust my before process to the last one from Steve, and I will adapt it again, as it is clearly another safety step. You can only contain a 300 or 400 kg things hanging on one boom with aft and fore guys line or some structure, those who I have see trying by hand or body force, they just have fly away if they not hurt themselves.
    Thanks Steve!