The Magic of a Dinghy Ride

It’s not just a rubber transport, it’s more of a magic carpet.  Looking at the photos from our time at Devil’s-Hoffman in the Berry Islands, Bahamas, I felt inspired to share a little about … the magic of a dinghy ride.  

For those who haven’t yet bought a boat, or haven’t yet set off on an extended cruise, haven’t truly lived aboard for a few months in foreign places, you may not know what majestic wonders your dinghy has in store for you. As a cruiser, your dinghy is your ticket to shore.  It is most often the vessel that carries you to a place you have never been before. It also brings you down, almost eye-level with the waters you are anchored in and often shows you for the first time the clarity of the water, the depth, the varied grass, rock, or sand that lies beneath you.  

The view at Little Harbour Cay in the Abacos 2018

It brings you closer to the marine life that is swimming, living, sleeping below you, even the Thalassophobian-creatures that might lurk beneath.  Phillip and I have seen starfish, reef sharks, and sea turtles, creatures very foreign to us at home, all while riding in the dinghy.  

Spotted via dinghy at Powell Cay in the Abacos 2017
Captured via dinghy at Manjack Cay, Abacos, 2017

Every time we pump up the dinghy and hop in to ride to a new shore I can feel my heart striking up a feisty chord.  The new-ness of the places we travel to is what we crave.  Phillip and I both have a passion for seeing, experiencing, eating, and immersing ourselves in things new.  And, it is often the dinghy that takes us there, to a new beach, where we walk a new shore, follow a new trail (sometimes after eight false starts), and find a new blue hole we have never seen before.  The feeling of experiencing something for the first time—a place, a song, a person, a dish, a creature, flower, scene, sight, smell. The newness of it all captivates us.  And, often it is all made possible solely by the dinghy.

Even in local, familiar anchorages, our dinghy offers us that 5 o’clock buzz around the anchorage, with a drink (better known as a “roadie”) in hand—always—where we stop boat-to-boat and catch up with, or meet for the first time, our eclectic, inspiring fellow cruisers out there.  

Picking up BaBaLu at our favorite home anchorage, Ft. McRee, for our costume-themed (Phillip is playing a sexy Captaint Stubing here) second annual Halloween Boozer Cruiser.

The dinghy is what enables us to connect with those around us, otherwise we would be isolated on the boat, never introducing ourselves to those around us, getting to know them, and letting them get to know us. In an anchorage, that all happens by dinghy.  

So, yes, while it is just Hypalon, valves, and glue … to some.  Our dinghy (lovingly named “Dicta” on Plaintiff’s Rest) is so much more.  The thrill of our dinghy ride into Hoffman’s Cay in the Berries to dive the blue hole made me realize how much I appreciate, and look forward to, the moment Phillip and I load into the dinghy and set off to a new place, and it inspired me to share with you all just how many roles—in addition to a magic carpet—that our dinghy plays for us.   

A conch-scavenging vehicle:

An any-reef, any-time scuba stop:

A protector from potentially-unfriendly foes : (

A keeper of gathered goodies:

A source of entertainment (pumping 7” of water out after a pour):

A source of more boat projects (they’re good for you, trust me – keeps you humble):

A provider of “whole-boat selfies” : ) Those are important!

A front row seat to some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen:

A floating scaffold for doing hull-side (big) boat projects:

A good, safe practice boat for Captain Annie (who often gets the backwards right-left tiller function mixed up and bumps into things):

A source of yet-more boat projects (you can see how we stay pretty humble):

A source of yet-even-more entertainment (you can see how we stay happy):

And (just for fun) the subject for an aptly-titled, badass video from our scoot around Powell Cay in the Abacos in 2017. Enjoy!

The dinghy does all of this for us, and so much more. Dicta is such a crucial part of our transportation, connection, and overall cruising experience. Do you agree? Share in a comment what your dinghy means to you!

BV10: Magic Moments at Powell Cay

It’s the little things.  That’s what makes this cruising life so magic.  Sure, we’ve sailed in big seas, when our boat is pitching and yawing but holding her own impressively, and that’s a heart-pounding, exciting moment.  And, yes, we’ve found ourselves struggling mightily to undertake a rather difficult but critical repair while underway.  And, that, too is a stressful, nerve-wracking moment.  Navigating vicious reefs while coming into a new harbor is what we call a “pucker” moment.  Many elements of life aboard while traveling to new places can raise your blood pressure and test your mental acuity and reaction-time, but not all of them.  Some days may feel like one big headache when you’re hot, tired, and sweaty, walking miles around a dusty, little town and can’t seem to find the right part you need to make a repair, or the beat-up washer at the laundry facility went kaput right after your clothes got wet and soapy, or the fridge goes out again, or the bilge needs cleaning again, or whatever.  There are plenty of those frustrating, infuriating moments too.

But, my favorite—because there are hundreds of them—are all of the little magic moments.  When you’re sitting in the cockpit alone, reading, and a turtle pops his head up and looks at you.  “Turtle!  Turtle!  A turtle!” you hear your own voice cry, giddy as a five-year old.  But he ducks back down just as fast and your partner doesn’t see him, which is almost better because that turtle moment was meant just for you.  I saw a turtle!  And another, when you’re diving down again and again, scrubbing the hull of your boat and a fish shimmies up to you, stops as if he’s tilting his head and asking a question (probably “Why are you wiping all of that yummy food off instead of eating it?”) and—absent an answer—he shimmies away and you have the distinct feeling you just had a conversation with someone with gills.  Did I just talk to a fish?  Or how about when you’re holding the helm alone at sunset and you swear (on your life!) you saw a green flash glint over a wave on the horizon just as the sun went down.  No one was there to witness it but you, so no one can say it didn’t happen.  I saw the green flash!  Moment like these steal your breath for just a second, and when you let it back out again, in a content huff, you realize you are in the exact place that you want to be, doing the exact thing you want to be doing—headaches, heart-pounds, contented huffs and all.

Powell Cay was one of those moments.  In fact, each island in the Abacos was one of those moments.  One of the very cool things about the Abacos is not only that each island is just a short 1-2 hour hop from the other, but each island also has something unique to offer.  Phillip and I had to start calling them by their “magic moments” so we could remember them.  Pensacola Cay became the “Signing Tree Cay.”  Manjack Cay became the “Stingray Cay.”  And, ironically, Hog Cay became “Snorkel Cay,” while No Name Cay became Hog Cay, or “Piggy Cay” to be exact, as that’s where the swimming pigs in the Abacos live.  Yep.  Stingrays and swimming pigs are coming your way.  As well as each of our little magic moments in the Abacos.  Today, we want to share with you Powell Cay, a.k.a. “Starfish Key,” where we found the biggest starfish we have seen in all of the Abacos.  What was intended to be a simple ride to shore to explore around the island turned into something magic and memorable, as did everything it seemed in the Abacos.  The smallest moments and simplest adventures brought us unforgettable pleasure.  Want a little taste?  Join us!  At Powell Cay, for a magic dinghy ride!  Where a trivial jaunt to shore brought us sightings of a sea turtle, a nurse shark (which GoPro was able to get a glimpse of underwater), a massive, mesmerizing starfish (which Video Annie thought might be an alien that would suck her face off), and another stunning Atlantic shore.  I’ll bet you find yourself singing along by the end: “This magic moment … ”