My dinghy got stolen

Last week, I woke up to find my dinghy had vanished in the middle of the night, leaving behind a neatly cut line.

Listening on the radio it seems like the big catamaran next to me had woken up in the night due to their dogs barking to find someone standing in their large dinghy with a 15HP motor trying to free it from the wire they had used to chain it to the boat. On being discovered, the person in the dinghy fell in the water while his friend (in a small skiff with one homemade paddle) paddled slowly away towards the rest of the fleet at anchor (including my boat).

Inexplicably, that boat crew then went back to bed, without bothering to sound the foghorn, shine a spotlight, bang pots and pans together or do anything to alert anyone else, meaning that the two thieves drifted the ~200 feet to my boat and stole my dinghy off the back. (can you tell I’m actually SUPER annoyed at the neighbouring boat).

Luckily I had my friend Davy staying who speaks really good Spanish, and another boat lent me their dinghy for a few days (everyone was really nice and I had several offers of dinghy loans and help). We spent the next couple of days going around the local fishermen and other local people who knew people, handing out bits of paper with my number on and showing them a picture of my dinghy.

And four days later, I got a call and went and pulled my dinghy off the beach!

The motor, fuel tank and oars were all gone (well, 1 and a half of the oars anyway) and the boat had two rotten fish in (which left a generous helping of maggots when moved) as well as a bunch of sliced up fishing net, meaning that I think the thieves probably stole a bunch of fishing gear out the ocean as well after they stole the boat.

I’m relieved to get the dinghy back, as that’s by far the hardest thing to replace. Not totally surprised it showed up – it’s basically useless for anything anyone local would want to use it for, and it’s really distinctive and weird looking. Surprised they even took the motor as well – it was only 4HP (way too small to drive a panga) and really not working super great. The only thing I can think of is that they were targetting the fancy dinghy on the catamaran next to me and then when they got disturbed they just grabbed the first thing they could find. Really bad luck all round.

I was going to replace the oars anyway and managed to find a deal on a pair of really nice oars – cost me 40CAD for the pair!

They row way nicer than the old ones but are too big to store easily, so I need to find a way to make them disassemble without affecting the strength. I am also going to beef up the oarlocks at some point.

I was going to hold off getting an engine till next season – but then someone was selling a Tohatsu 3.5HP 2 stroke for really cheap (125CAD!) so I had to grab it.

It’s a total piece of garbage, that is made out of more rust than metal at this point but I love it. Somehow it puts out more power than the old 4HP Evinrude and starts 2nd or 3rd pull every time. Somehow.

The throttle is on the engine itself, not the tiller for god knows what reason, so changing speed involves using both hands and turning around while motoring fast and hoping you don’t hit anything. Also the throttle lever doesn’t stay in the right place so you have to use a bungie to hold it up. And it only runs with the choke left wide open permanently, in complete opposite to how it’s supposed to work. And the spark plugs appear rusted in place. And it chuffs out white smoke constantly. Also doesn’t really turn to the left.

On the plus side it has a kill switch unlike my old one, it’s still light enough to one hand despite being made of mostly metal and has an internal fuel tank so I don’t have to buy a new external fuel tank/fuel line (although I’d prefer an external one).

I am leaving for Mazatlan very very soon (today or tomorrow) so I am really not going to get to use it much, but next season (or in Mazatlan if I have a break from prepping the boat) I will give it a good service and see if I can stop it being so explody-sounding or belch less white smoke. 125CAD though!

And ~two weeks till Canada!




  1. So sad you lost the motor but blaming the neighbors is a little rough. Yes, they could have done more but they locked and chained their dinghy. Suggest you do the same. We never go to bed at night without lifting and locking the dink. It is part of the job. We hope the thieves in the area will go after the lower hanging fruit. It is not our responsibility to warn others who should know better than to tempt fate. It is their responsibility to lock up their stuff if they don’t want it stolen. Sorry. The truth hurts.

    • I agree that one should take precautions. I would also hope that one would see it as part of their responsibility within a community to warn others when thieves are operating in the area rather than only looking out for #1.

    • Hi guys, not blaming them for the dinghy being taken (obviously that was the fault of the thieves), but if I’d disturbed two people trying to steal my dinghy, and then watched them paddle slowly off (with one oar!) to steal someone elses, I absolutely would have done something – sounded my foghorn to wake people up, illuminated the thieves with a spotlight, or even got in my dinghy with an engine and whizzed around neighbouring boats waking them all up. I can say I definitely wouldn’t have watched them paddle off to a neighbouring boat, thought ‘ah not my issue’ and then gone back to bed, esp since half the fleet had their dinghies in the water (although not now, hah).

      As for locking the dinghy, I don’t really have any way to do that, so I now have to take the motor off and pull the dinghy on deck by hand. Not really an issue just a pain, although it’ll probably end up making me row more!

  2. A real gem of a motor you got there, and ONLY $125CAD, ha. I hope it treats you well! Sucks you had to replace the motor in the first place.

    • Gem as in ‘looks like it got dug out of a pit’?

      It’s actually probably going to be pretty good once I’ve had a chance to pull it apart and fix it up a bit – it really seems to put out a lot of power, and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to plane the dink with two people in (which would be amazing).

      Really not digging the internal tank thing though – I’ll see how I feel about it next season. If I sell it it’ll be because of that.

  3. One of those bad news/good new things? I mean come on…shiny new oars? That’s got to be worth something 🙂

    For every group there is an outlier who doesn’t want to belong. Fate just made you the next victim. I can also see a scenario in which those people were so clueless that they really didn’t realize that a thief wouldn’t just go home and give up for the night. Still, a little effort wouldn’t have hurt anything.

    2 weeks to Victoria! I bet you have a LOT of work to do 🙂

    • Well, they were close enough to my boat they could probably actually see the dudes stealing my dinghy! Anyway, still annoyed about it.

      And yes, lots to do… not least heading 160 miles back upwind 🙁

  4. Man, when I saw the title… I used profanity! When mine was stolen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Same with my bike. You see it missing… rub your eyes and look again… and it’s still missing. !
    But you got yours back! Plus a new motor to play with. I know someone with the same one… he can start it by spinning the prop with his finger!

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