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Old 12-03-2023, 11:40 AM   #1
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Sitting in my dinghy

I vacillate back and forth between making do with our 2019 Highfield CL310 and buying a new one with a factory bench seat and helm. When I'm in the making do end of the swing, I imagine all sorts of seats, custom and otherwise, to make the dinghy more comfortable. Weight is important, but adding a pair of seats is in the weight budget.

The Highfield has an aluminum hull and floor that makes bolting components in place relatively easy. Those components can be pretty robust with the right backing plates. Having a pair of seat-sized aluminum boxes with hinged backs fabricated is the working plan. Those seats would be offset to allow as much floor space as possible. Helm seat to starboard and middle-forward seat to port.

These pedestal seats would also work, may cost less, would allow even more floor space (albeit less securable storage if those boxes had lockable doors), and easier to swivel. These are pretty standard seats and have been around for decades. Beside whoever took the picture below, anyone have seats like this mounted in a dinghy?
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Old 12-03-2023, 11:50 AM   #2
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The seat on the aluminum box could also be a swivel seat, of course. It would look something like this. The aluminum box "base" would make accommodating the angled edges of the floor easy.
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Old 12-09-2023, 08:22 AM   #3
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No one has improved the seating in their tender?

Wonder what I am missing? My back doesn't last long sitting on the inflatable tube. We like to explore in the dinghy and often have it out for hour or hours long excursions. I think that is pretty common. Is my back that much worse than others? Could be.

Maybe the answer is to sell our 2019 CL310 and buy the new FCT model with its integrated seat and helm? Our Dinghy Butler can handle the extra 80 pounds and I'd get another 5 horsepower and a battery charger to run my depth sounder. I'm just not convinced that the wife and I could sit side by side on that bench seat for hours at a time.

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Old 12-09-2023, 09:29 AM   #4
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I haven't felt the need to upgrade the seating in our tender, although being a rigid hulled skiff, we have bench seats to sit on, not tubes. Ours is 12 feet long, so it has 3 benches. The forward one is mostly decorative, so seating is normally me on the aft bench to run the outboard, if the admiral is with me she sits on the center bench. The dog sits on the floor between us, and if there's a third person with us they share the center bench (which is the widest one) with the admiral.

I think the longest I've run the dinghy continuously is close to 1.5 hours and I wasn't uncomfortable. If anything, the outboard vibration was bothering my throttle hand more than the seats were bothering me.
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Old 12-09-2023, 09:36 AM   #5
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Our CL310 has one bench seat and my rear sits part on that and part on the starboard tube. Wife sits forward on the port tube. Sitting on the tube mitigates impact in chop, but it's less than comfortable. My goal is to have two seats with backs.
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Old 12-09-2023, 09:42 AM   #6
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Attaching a seat to the bench is easy, there are seats commonly available for that purpose used in small fishing skiffs. Adding a forward seat may be harder, but a pedestal like you showed earlier in the thread would work, as would an additional bench. Just a matter of figuring out how to add and secure them.



Good seating in an inflatable will always be harder for a given size dinghy due to the space consumed by the tubes. So whatever you add for seating may end up limiting you to 2, maybe 3 people at most. Although we can only carry 3 people comfortably anyway (4 in a pinch) and 3 has us pushing the weight capacity limit for our dinghy.
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Old 12-09-2023, 09:45 AM   #7
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I will be happy with two seats; additional passengers are rare and can sit on the tubes when aboard. And more than two passengers virtually means idle speed travel from anchorage to dinghy dock.

The seats are commercially available, but it looks like I will need an aluminum fabricator to build the mount boxes to fit the CL310's odd dimensions and contours.
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Old 12-09-2023, 10:22 AM   #8
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I have a Highfield Classic 310 with FCT center console. It’s a comfy ride. Took it on a two hour cruise from Tacoma to Lake Union in Seattle through the locks in the winter. No way I could have done that without the console.
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Old 12-09-2023, 10:34 AM   #9
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I've heard that the console and steering wheel make it a boat, where the tiller steer and pull start keep it a dinghy. Do you have two adults comfortably sitting side by side on that FCT bench seat?

Highfield sells the FCT seat and helm as an $1800 kit. Not bad. I went a ways down that path, but stalled out converting the motor to remote steer and throttle. I was okay with pull start and manual tilt, but the surgery required to convert the Yamaha 15 from tiller to remote is involved. In the end it was a no-go because it made more sense to just sell the tiller outboard and buy a new one. That landed me back a custom seats.
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Old 12-09-2023, 11:14 AM   #10
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Haven’t had a partner out on the dinghy yet. Probably ok with two on the console seat but I think the weight distribution would be better if they sat at the front. Working on a pad for that eventuality.
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Old 12-09-2023, 11:22 AM   #11
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Highfield and my tape measure tell me that the center of gravity shift is not what it seems as the tiller seating position is at least 13" aft of the FCT seat. It's probably more like 16" as the seat back is angled and has some cushion.
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Old 12-09-2023, 12:39 PM   #12
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Bought a 310fct this year, love it so far. Ample for two and a dog. The 20 tohatsu is fast and easy, love the power trim and elec start. Seat is comfortable for two. Haven’t gone as far as Tacoma to lake union—that’s a 35 mile trip! Glad to know it could be done.
Not my money but I think you’d be happy with a new fct set up and a 20 elec, sell the 15 to defray cost. Whole new boat is spendy. Good luck!
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Old 12-09-2023, 12:47 PM   #13
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Always had a tiller until the current Rigid with a seat and helm. It allows instruments and a small mfd. think sitting facing forward is huge improvement. Can easily see to both sides and explore for hours without discomfort. It rides flat with just one. It has a 40hp on the back so zips along. Sitting facing forward makes it much less likely I’ll be kicked out hitting a bumpy patch.sitting on a tube I’d be worried.
Think would do whatever you can to improve th comfort and safety of your dinghy.
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Old 12-09-2023, 07:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by HeadedToTexas View Post
No one has improved the seating in their tender?

Wonder what I am missing? My back doesn't last long sitting on the inflatable tube. We like to explore in the dinghy and often have it out for hour or hours long excursions. I think that is pretty common. Is my back that much worse than others? Could be.
Your back problem could come from the twist, you sit sideways/athwart on the tube but your head and upper back needs to face forwards to look where you are headed. Try sitting at an angle forward on the tube?
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Old 12-09-2023, 07:40 PM   #15
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Yes, at maybe a 45 degree angle. My back has been a lot better since giving up golf almost ten years ago, but it's less than ideal. Thanks though, Bruce.
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Old 12-09-2023, 07:53 PM   #16
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Yes, at maybe a 45 degree angle. My back has been a lot better since giving up golf almost ten years ago, but it's less than ideal. Thanks though, Bruce.
It`s accepted people working facing a production line and lifting items off, feet staying in place, to pack items into a box, get back issues due to the repetitive rotational twisting. That`s what you are doing, albeit fixed in place. It could cause or aggravate disc issues, much like golf.
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Old 12-09-2023, 08:35 PM   #17
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Highfield sells the FCT seat and helm as an $1800 kit. Not bad. I went a ways down that path, but stalled out converting the motor to remote steer and throttle. I was okay with pull start and manual tilt, but the surgery required to convert the Yamaha 15 from tiller to remote is involved. In the end it was a no-go because it made more sense to just sell the tiller outboard and buy a new one. That landed me back a custom seats.
I can't see any need to swap your 310 for a new 310 FCT. Get the FCT kit and have a pro modify the motor, or swap it for new with elec start and trim. That'll cost a lot less than a new boat and give you the same outcome.

I haven't seen any other good options for the operator. There really isn't an alternative to sitting on the tube until you have something like the FCT that incorporates steering and engine controls.
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Old 12-09-2023, 08:48 PM   #18
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Your back problem could come from the twist, you sit sideways/athwart on the tube but your head and upper back needs to face forwards to look where you are headed. Try sitting at an angle forward on the tube?
In calm conditions I'll often sit on the tube with my left leg extended forward, my right leg tucked under with knee extended outboard and my right hand on the outboard hand hold. I find this more comfortable for longer trips because it minimizes twisting. But it does require hanging on
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Old 12-10-2023, 10:06 AM   #19
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I can't see any need to swap your 310 for a new 310 FCT.
There are a few upgrades that really make it a close call. The new 310 has a more squared bow and that means a much larger bow locker which holds a 6 gallon fuel tank instead of only 3 gallons.

The 15 and 20 horsepower outboards weigh exactly the same, so it's a 33% increase in power with the new motor. Electric start would be nice too.

And while my solar Hawkeye depth finder works well, it would be far better to have a more traditional battery and an alternator on the outboard that keeps it charged. The electrical system also powers lights on the new model where my clip on hacks leave a lot to be desired.
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Old 12-10-2023, 11:19 AM   #20
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It got to the point that I couldn't tolerate more than 15 minutes sitting on the tubes. I tried kneeling, sitting on cushions on the floor, etc.

Got an 360FCT and love it. Plenty of room for two on the seat. Lots of legroom with the simple tube (rather than box) console design. We can cruise for hours comfortably.

The only downside (minor) is that tiller steering is quicker when maneuvering in tight quarters. That said I'd never go back to sitting on the tubes.
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