A year ago we got a great addition to the Corina IV. Thanks to Budget Marine we got our hands on a twelve foot AB inflatable and an eighteen horsepower Tohatsu outboard. I’ve had some time to use and abuse the little machine and have a few observations.
Firstly, the dinghy is a twelve foot Ventus weighing in at 156 pounds. This ultra light weight RIB is rated for six people and has ample room for extras and provisions. Made of weather resistant hypalon and double moulded fiberglass it is without a doubt a well built, top quality craft. The main attraction of the Ventus is it’s weight. At a 156 pounds it can be easily winched on deck or towed astern. Dragging it onshore or flipping it over for a scrub is effortless with two people.
However, the greatest asset is also it’s greatest downside. The light weight makes it very susceptible to gusts and strong wind. Towing astern has a risk of capsizing if there is any substantial breeze over thirty knots. As that may be, I have had it tied behind the boat in 45 knots with no problem. The greatest danger in my opinion regarding weight would be when driving, especially when driving alone. If you happen to accelerate to quickly into the wind it does take off!
A tip for driving but especially towing would be to tie the fuel tank or other weight to the eye bolt in the bow for a much more balanced ride.
So the Ventus has an achilles heal when the weather turns sour but when combined with decent tropical conditions it shines. The flat, channelled hull makes for an instant plane. The light weight delivers incredible speed even with little power. With the six of us onboard we cruise along as easily as with just three. One of my favorite features is the flat draught-less bottom. With the outboard tilted half way we draw no more than ten inches and can easily pass over sand banks or reefs that would normally only be accessible by kayak.
Secondly and by no means least is the power behind the craft. In combination with the twelve foot RIB we mounted the Tohatsu 18 horsepower two stroke. I remember when Mercury came out with the SeaPro 10 and 15 horsepower outboards, and they were great. Tohatsu has taken it to the next level. The 18 hp is the same size as the old 10’s used to be. At forty-one kilos it isn’t light but with two able bodies we get it on and off the dinghy without a lift. The best part, however, is the speed. As I mentioned, we plane with six people (a combined weight of over 1,000 kg) with ease. On top of that we use it to wakeboard (even though there isn’t an actual wake). I have had to rarely drive at full tilt as it is almost too fast for the dinghy. AB suggests no more than a thirty horsepower but I don’t think they were considering Tohatsu!
Being a two stroke it is more fuel hungry in comparison with it’s four stroke counterpart, but all things considered: weight, speed, cost, I still believe it to be the better bet. A last consideration for Tohatsu and more so to the two stroke line is ease of service or repair. They are alarmingly simple and most problems can be figured out just by popping the hood. That said, I have not had a problem yet, touch wood. A fun fact to add is that from the Caribbean all the way across the south Pacific there was a majority of Tohatsu motors, even in small islands like the Marquesas. A new prop, for example, would have been easy to source.
All in all, I have no complaints at all. It is a great product. Two tips I would consider though are: 1. spray the entire motor with corrosion inhibitor to prevent deterioration as salt will find it’s way in and 2. add a touch more oil to the fuel as this engine runs at higher RPM’s than most.
All in all after twelve thousand miles of sailing, AB and Tohatsu still stand as one of the best setups in my book. If you are looking for a well built and easy to manage dinghy, the Ventus will not disappoint. As for power that will not let you down on the water or in the bank the Tohatsu line from 2 to 50 hp will always provide the answer.