With FPB

FPB Dinghy Decisions

For the success of the FPB 64 program, it is essential that we standardize nearly all of the details to ensure we can deliver the highest quality vessel for the best overall value. One of the items the owners do have free reign over is the choice of dinghy. In the photo above, the owner of hull #4, Osprey, chose a variation of the dinghy designed by Circa Marine specifically for the FPB 64. His focus is fishing. There is a functional cleaning station aft of the helm, with plenty of built-in rod holders along the gunwale and on the station itself. With its diesel-powered outboard, the owner is able to venture long distances – while utilizing the large diesel reserves aboard the main vessel.

The dinghy seen above for hull #3, Iron Lady, is a similar Circa Marine dinghy with a few variations that better fit her owners’ typical use. The main goal here is ease of use and safety for many passengers. There is a generous boarding step forward with grab rails. The owner often has family aboard and significant thought was given to those wanting to explore. To provide better security and safety, the red fabric rolled on her gunwales can be set over the forward grab rails to afford shelter from wind and waves. The red fabric also creates a more visible target if the dinghy is ever used as a lifeboat.

In this photo, I’m driving the tender to FPB 64 hull #2, Sarah-Sarah. This is the initial custom aluminum dinghy designed and built by Circa Marine. Note the tough but forgiving foam collar, held in place with an extruded piece of UHMW bolted to the hull. This adds buoyancy as well as eliminating the need to carry separate fenders for docking or coming alongside. The floors are just slightly above resting waterline and create integral tanks for further buoyancy. (This is the case on all the dinghies with the exception of Osprey’s, where a section is used to accommodate diesel fuel.) The transoms have self-draining “socks” to allow shipped water to drain quickly and effectively.

The latest Circa dinghy, launching along with her mother-ship Tiger (FPB 64-5), was designed for her very experienced Pacific Northwest owners. You can see that comfort in foul weather is paramount. With a zip-on curtain across the back of the bimini frame, the two forward seats are well protected from “liquid sunshine”.

Not all owners have opted for the Circa aluminum dinghy.  FPB 64 hull #1, Avatar, chose a 13 foot aluminum RIB, better suited to the owners’ desire to spend time using it for diving. The photo below illustrates this well, with Brian Rickard giving it a test. The dinghy’s maiden dive was to retrieve a tool lost overboard during Avatar’s initial launching.

For more information on the FPB series, contact Sue Grant: Sue.Grant@Berthon.Co.UK.

Posted by Todd Rickard  (July 25, 2012)

22 Responses to “FPB Dinghy Decisions”

  1. Pete Rossin Says:

    Hi Todd

    We have made a few mods based on some things we have seen on the other Circa dinghies to Iron Lady’s dink (affectionately named Beer Can by our children). We have added stops to keep the gas tanks in place after some wild weather tossed them all the way to the forward end of the dinghy (while it was aboard Iron Lady – pretty wild night). We have added some flush mount rod holders to the rear deck for fishing and trolling and we have also added the stern extensions that John put on his dinghy – we tended to get a bit of porpoising when heavily loaded with people aft and this should make things more stable as well as make the boat easier to board from the water.

    Even with just a 30 HP Yami 2 stroke, we can plane nicely with 5 aboard – just a great addition to the cruising program.



    Harald Reply:

    Hi Pete,

    could you please describe the stern extensions and/or post a picture of them? Thanks from Germany!

    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi Harald.
    If you look closely at the picture above of hull #5’s dinghy (t/t Tiger) with the Honda outboard, you will see the port side extension pod. Hull #4 was the first to receive this treatment due to the weight of the diesel outboard. This extension of the hull – is both port and starboard of the outboard.
    -Todd R.

  2. David Sutton Says:

    Those Circa tenders are mighty cool!
    What is the difference to the one aboard Wind Horse?
    They must be a considerable weight though.
    Did this influence the sizing of the rigging on the booms?

    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi David.
    The dinghy aboard Wind Horse was designed to allow for taking ashore through small surf – though it has yet to see such action. The Circa dinghies have higher freeboard, more initial stability, and a higher sub-floor. Steve and Linda’s dinghy is a bit lighter and more efficient.
    – Todd R.

  3. marcus petraska Says:

    i trust most of the boats are also carrying a smaller/lighter dinghy that can be manhandled up a beach?

    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi Marcus.

    Yes, typically smaller/lighter dinghy’s are carried, varying based on personal taste – from smaller RIB’s and roll-up inflatables, to rowing shells and kayaks. A post on these secondary dinghy’s would make for a great future post – thanks for the idea!

    -Todd R.

  4. Tim McLean Says:

    Could you provide details of the diesel outboard? This seems to be the holy grail of cruisers.

    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi Tim.
    Originally I thought the same about the Yanmar diesel outboards. In truth – they tend to be a bit temperamental and heavy. I believe hull #4 (shown above) has a 36hp version. It does provide the unique ability to utilize the mother ships extensive fuel supply and eliminates the need for storing petrol aboard. The owner of hull #4 sourced the outboard in Australia. Yanmar discontinued production a few years back, but I believe all parts are still readily available.
    -Todd R.

  5. Tom Tripp Says:

    Hi Todd — Wondering if you know any more about that diesel outboard on the Circa dinghy? That sounds like an attractive option for many long-distance cruisers who would rather manage only one type of fuel aboard, especially if it’s the safe, diesel kind. We ran an informal poll of readers on our website asking whether they would buy a diesel or propane-powered outboard and 63% said yes. I know they’re probably heavy, but since most long-distance cruisers are using davits/cranes of some type anyway, maybe that’s not a show-stopper.

    What are your thoughts?


    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi Tom.
    See my thoughts in other reply in this comment section. My guess is the premium pricing on these diesel Yanmar outboards negated much of the positive aspects they afford.
    -Todd R.

  6. Brian Stokes Says:

    Todd – what is the brand of the foam collar – is it readily available in New Zealand or imported by Circa
    Regards Brian

    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Hi Brian,
    The collar is made from an available foam extrusion Circa sources in New Zealand. They then do an “in-house” coating with a product similar to the truck-bed liner “Rhino-Liner”, to give it a tough and durable finish. -Todd R.

    Peter Barnard Reply:

    Hi Todd – Details of the fenders http://www.fendersolutions.com/


    Todd Rickard Reply:

    Peter Barnard of Circa Marine forwarded the web-site above – of the company Circa sources the foam collar material from.

  7. Steve Says:

    As my interests tend towards extreme high latitudes (four passages across the Drake and one from Ross Island to NZ – all in large vessels) the thought of getting into a raft after the unlikely event of hitting ice or a whale is pretty daunting, particularly with the extended rescue response times. I am intrigued by the Tiger dink, wondering about a smaller version of one of these (http://www.fassmer.de/index.php?id=65) for a combined tender and lifeboat. It would be an interesting exercise to see how small and light you could get it and still have the stout self righting configuration while still being able to get on and off. My guess is that is a tall order for something that would fit on a 64 – but the 97 is a different story.

    Of course you would probably keep it in storage somewhere and use an open boat most of the time, carrying it only for the occasional extreme trip.

  8. Lyle Says:

    I like a nice solid tender that we aren’t afraid to take out exploring, and solid enough for taking a half dozen divers and gear out, with a driver to watch the tender while we dive. All these dinks look a little small for that.

    Could I just two a larger dinghy/tender? I have heard stories about folks towing fishing boats half the size of their mother ship.

    How big is the biggest tender that has been mounted on a 64? Size, and weight. What the limitations, considerations for towing?

    I am coming to see you guys. I have a 40 meter out of commission for 8 months getting a full paint job. Paintless, teakless life is now a siren song for me.


    Steve Dashew Reply:

    Howdy Lyle:

    The Circa dink carries a lot of payload, but I doubt it will handle half a dozen divers and their gear. Three for sure, and maybe four. Circa has experienced divers on staff and we will get them to answer you directly. This dink is about 13.5 feet long and weighs in about 800 pounds as launched. If the stern pushpit rails were changed to the same system as the FPB 97, then the dinghy could be extended and hang over the swim step, in which case you could probably add two or three feet to the length. We would not suggest towing other than in protected waters.

    Lyle Reply:


    I will go talk to Todd in Seattle soon to get a better handle on dink trade offs. My wife and dive alone occasionally, but mostly with at least one other couple, and in many locations, with a local guide. Five divers and a driver would be my target.

    But I always have crew now, and want to figure out how to cut that umbilical, so maybe I need to solve the problem without a bigger dinghy.

    Thanks for the answers.


    Steve Dashew Reply:

    Hi Lyle:
    With some mods to the rails aft Circa could lengthen their dinghy a foot or two. It would overhang the port swim step, but that would not be the end of the world.

    Ed Firth Reply:

    Hi Lyle
    The tender that has been built for the FPB64’s is a solidly built craft with lots of reserve buoyancy but with the current size and seating configuration it would not handle 7 adults and 6 sets of scuba gear.
    As Steve pointed out there is a possibility that with some modifications to the lifeline arrangement a slightly longer tender (2 to 3 foot) could be squeezed on.
    It would be interesting to look at a model with dive bottle racks down the middle and remove the aft seating so there is more room for gearing up.

  9. David Law Says:

    Want an Inboard engine and a tender ? http://www.tadroberts.ca/services/small-boats/tender-launch/jigger11 have a look