BOAT TEST: WALKER BAY 8 RIGID DINGHY


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A rowing boat, sailboat and motorised boat all in one. Is there such a thing? Well, yes actually, writes Kevin Smith. Walker Bay managed to achieve that feat with its multi-purpose Rolls Royce of tender boats, the 8 Rigid Dinghy.

BOAT TEST: WALKER BAY 8 RIGID DINGHY
WALKER BAY 8 RIGID DINGHY

TEST: WALKER BAY 8 RIGID DINGHY


So what do you reckon is a typical tender boat? Usually it's some small and simple monohull that transfers crews to and from larger vessels. It's generally fitted with oars or a small outboard for propulsion which means there just isn't anything fancy about it. Or is there?

That belief was blown right out of the park after I tested the new Walker Bay 8 Rigid Dinghy. These craft have taken the standard tender or general runabout to the next level and I can tell you they're one of the most versatile little boats I've ever come across.



FEATHERWEIGHT

The Walker Bay 8 is an injection-moulded polypropylene hull. That construction process makes it as tough as anything yet it only weighs 40kg. At 2.75m in length it is easily hoisted onto larger vessels or loaded onto the back of a ute or a roof rack. The hull also has a roller built into the keel of the stern, making it very easy to manually launch or pull out of the water.



GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM

As mentioned, the Walker Bay 8's high number of functions make it a very versatile little craft. The first is that of a standard rowing boat with the oars and oarlocks in place. Being a displacement hull, this helps it glide effortlessly through the water when rowing, while the optional tubes definitely stabilise the hull and improve overall safety.



I'VE GOT THE POWER

If rowing is not your forte then powering up the Walker Bay 8 is the next option. Our test craft was fitted with a 2.5hp Suzuki four-stroke that had ample power to get from A-B. The hull is rated up to 4hp but the fact that it's a displacement hull means you can't get it to plane anyway, so I'd be quite happy with the little 2.5hp. The engine weighs just 13kg so even the youngster or the missus could plonk it onto the transom without blowing a seal.



SAIL AWAY

The sailing part was definitely the highlight for me even though I do prefer engine power. I know squat about sailing but I reckon I could get the setup right on this one. Basically, it's just a matter of securing the telescopic rudder system onto the transom (obviously the motor has to come off), placing the centreboard into the middle bench seat, fitting the mast into the mast tube up front, and then connecting the necessary ropes to the boom and sail. Setting up takes no more than five minutes and that's if you're really taking your time.

Next it's time to sail. I could imagine this being the perfect little boat to learn to sail on or to teach the kids. Again, my knowledge of sailing is very limited but the first thing I realised was that you definitely need a bit of wind to sail with… Well that was an easy one to work out and already I feel like I'm on the road to sailing super yachts across the ocean.

Unfortunately we had no wind blowing at all which was a bit of problem. Without a breath anywhere it was going to be a towing exercise to get the boat out into open water for a few pics. Luckily while doing that a tiny breeze appeared from nowhere - probably about one knot of wind in total. Well that gentle breath was enough to get the boat going and tracking quite easily against the incoming tide, something that shows just how little wind is needed to get these things going.

It looked really simple to control and is probably heaps of fun if you know what you're doing. Deep down inside I was quite grateful that there wasn't a substantial wind blowing as I'm probably one of "those" that would be a professional downwind sailor, the kind that has to be collected or towed back…



THE WRAP

As a full package with the sail kit and motor the Walker Bay 8 might not be the cheapest small boat out there but what you have to consider is its versatility, durable construction and added safety features. One bonus here is that you can buy the standard hull and add to it when the budget allows. It's also user friendly for all ages and besides being a super tender boat for a large vessel is also a great little boat the whole family could enjoy.



On the plane...

Durable construction
Stability from the fitted pontoons
Easily transportable



Dragging the chain...

Lacks a handle on the bow
Quite pricey but you're paying for something unique
Can't sit on bench when sailing (what would I know if that's right or wrong in the sailing world?)

 



Specifications: WALKER BAY 8 RIGID DINGHY



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $5080
Options fitted: Pontoons, performance plus sail kit, 2.5hp Suzuki four-stroke
Priced from: $1255



GENERAL

Type: Tender / general runabout displacement hull   
Material: Polypropylene injection-moulded hull
Length: 2.75m
Beam: 1.72m
Weight: 40kg   



CAPACITIES

People: 3
Rec. HP: 2.5
Max. HP: 4



ENGINE

Make/model: Suzuki DF 2.5hp
Type: Four-stroke carburettor   
Weight: 13kg
Displacement: 68cm³
Gear ratio: 2.15:1   
Propeller: 4.5 - 5.375 (aluminium)   



MANUFACTURED BY

Walker Bay Boats USA
Web: www.walkerbay.com



BOAT SUPPLIED BY

Walker Bay Australia
Unit 6/698 Ashmore Road
Ashmore, Qld, 4214
Tel: (07) 5564 7560
Web: www.walkerbay.com.au



MOTOR SUPPLIED BY

Whitewater Marine
10 Hinde Street
Ashmore, Qld, 4214
Tel: (07) 5532 4402
Web: www.whitewatermarine.com.au

 


Originally published in TrailerBoat #270.

Find Walker Bay boats for sale.

 


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