Getting a new dinghy and outboard is the cruisers equivalent of buying a new car.
Why did we want a new dinghy and outboard when our new to us sailing catamaran s/v LightSpeed included a Aqua Pro 11'5" Aluminum RIB dinghy when we purchased her? We'll first off I'm pretty picky about the performance of the dinghy in regards to speed and ride quality. Although the Aquapro dinghy seemed to have all the right attributes with a relatively long at 11'-5" overall length and a nice rigid aluminum hull I wasn't satisfied with the ride quality. The boat just didn't seem to have a deep enough 'v-hull' at the stern and thus the boat rode on the tubes instead of the hull. We added a new Yamaha 25hp and still the performance was lacking at high speeds. The boat was also a bit wet when on a plane and we would get a little spray even in pretty flat seas. When an opportunity arose to sell the Aquapro and Yamaha 25hp while we were Cartagena for a fair price of $4500USD we jumped at the chance.
So what we wanted in the new dinghy was:
1). Minimal overall weight (we are a high performance cat and need to keep the boat as light and nimble as possible.
2). We wanted a RIB dinghy with a deep V hull shape for the smoothest possible ride in rough seas.
3). The new boat has the big air tubes (18") and a nice sheer (rise at the bow) for a dry ride.
4). Be as long as possible while maintaining a total weight including engine of around 200 pounds.
5). Be readily available for purchase and delivery.
Ironically, the boat we decided on for the best overall fit is manufactured about one hour from Caratagena, but we purchased it for less in Panama.
Our final decision was an AB 10AL with a overall length of 10'-6", a beam of 5'5", 18" tubes and an aluminum rigid hull with a deep V and a weight of 125 pounds. The boat cost us $3648USD delivered to the Shelter Bay Marina in Panama. We purchased the boat through Marine Warehouse of Panama, but the transaction was routed through the Florida affiliate office so no international Credit Card fees. Overall the purchase price was nearly a push between Cartagena, Colombia and Panama. It came down to availability and we went with a stock in Panama vs. a three week wait in Colombia.
For the engine we decided on the Yamaha Enduro 15hp short shaft $1989USD from Agencias Mar Y Tierra (Panama Ph. 246-1468). You can only buy this robust and durable model outside the USA and Canada. The 15hp Enduro makes the most sense for us since we will be abroad for many years and its easy to get parts. However, with this model of engine you just don't need parts as it is so reliable.
Went for a test drive tonight and the boat rode nice. Certainly, a huge difference in power between the 25 and 15, but the 15hp is 40 pounds lighter so the overall package is about 205 pounds which is very light for a dinghy of this size.