Used Sailing Dinghy Buying Guide

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Used Sailing Dinghy Buying Guide

Sailing is a sport that is enjoyable for a broad range of ages, and sailing a dinghy is a simple pleasure that appeals to experienced and beginning sailors alike. Sailing dinghies come in a number of different styles, which referred to as classes; classes are usually defined for competition purposes and to distinguish boat types. Dinghies also come in a variety of sizes, ranging from two to six metres in length. Sailing dinghies are propelled by wind caught in one or two sails and normally carry one or two sailors onboard the craft. As the boats hold their value well, dinghies are generally a good investment; the purchase of a used dinghy in particular can result in good value for the money spent. One can buy used sailing dinghies from sailing clubs, private owners, and used boat dealers.

Those in the market for a used dinghy should consider eBay, which offers a good selection of used dinghies at competitive prices. Buyers always benefit from knowing the various dinghy types, sizes, and features to be certain they get the dinghy that best meets their sailing abilities and interests.

Dinghies for Beginning Sailors

First-time sailors want a dinghy that is easy to pilot and provides a platform that allows one to learn sailing techniques. There are a number of features that first-time sailors should look for when purchasing their starter dinghy. Single-sail dinghies are a good first boat for beginning sailors; moreover, the size and hull construction of a dinghy has an effect on its manoeuvrability and stability in the water.

The Optimist for Youth Sailors

Starting to sail at a young age is a great way for youth to learn responsibility and discipline and to develop a competitive spirit. The perfect dinghy for young people is the Optimist. Youth sailing competitions are conducted for Optimist sailors up to the age of 15; even sailors as young as eight to nine years old can pilot the boat. Generally constructed with a wood or fibreglass hull, the Optimist has a single sail and is easily maneuverable in winds up to 30 knots. Optimist dinghies are 2.31 m long and 1.13 m wide and have a weight of 35 kg; their sails measure 3.5 square metres. These dinghies are relatively easy to transport: one can easily move an Optimist about on a hand trolley and the boat fits nicely on a car top carrier.


The Topper class of dinghy is an ideal starter boat for adults just learning to sail. Construction of the Topper hull is injection moulded polypropylene which makes the hull very sturdy with a minimum amount of weight. Another smaller boat, the Topper dinghy measures 3.4 m in length and 1.2 m in width and weighs 43 kg. The sail area of 5.2 square metres gives the Topper the ability to catch a fair amount of wind and thus attain moderate speeds. A topper can be carried by two adults and fits a car top carrier on most vehicles. The single sail and the easily steered rudder give the pilot a great deal of control over the boat. The Topper is a single-sailor boat for racing purposes; however, it affords enough space for two people, for example when a trainer is accompanying a beginner. Topper class racing is one of the biggest competitive sailing classes in Britain.

Topaz Vibe

When beginning sailors are ready for a step up a class, the Topaz Vibe is a good boat to consider. The Topaz Vibe is generally equipped with two sails, the main sail and a spinnaker. The Topaz Vibe easily seats two sailors, allowing an instructor to accompany the pilot and teach multi-sail techniques. The Vibe is 3.8 m long, 1.66 m wide, and weighs approximately 70 kg. The main sail is 9.11 square metres and the spinnaker measures 8.41 square metres. Hull construction is polyethylene for durability and stability in the water; due to the chine of the hull, he Vibe is hard to capsize. Heavier than other beginner dinghies, the Topaz Vibe requires a trolley to move and launch and is best transported on a small tow behind the car boat trailer.

Other Dinghies

For more experienced sailors, a large list of dinghy classes provides a number of options to satisfy individual sailing styles. Generally an experienced sailor knows exactly the type of boat they are looking for along with the features they expect the dinghy to be equipped with. Both novice dinghy buyers and experienced sailors benefit from following a checklist of things to look for when considering a purchasing a used dinghy.

Shopping for a Used Dinghy

A buyer of a used dinghy should ensure that the boat he or she is considering will perform up to expectations. Features to check include the condition of the hull, sail, and mast and boom, as well as looking over any extra parts that may be part of the purchase. First-time buyers may wish to enlist the help of an experienced sailor or sail club member to evaluate the boat on their behalf before making a final purchase decision.


One should inspect the hull for scratches, dings, or damage, remembering to look for repaired damage spots and inquiring about the specifics of the need for the repair. Turning the boat over allows one to inspect the bottom of the hull in a similar manner. One should question anything that does not look right and, if repairs were made, ask if they were done professionally or by the boat owner. The boat as a whole should appear well maintained, rather than showing signs of excessive wear. A dinghy that looks worn out might in fact be worn out: if the boat shows a definite lack of proper care, it may not be worth the investment.


A close inspection of the sails closely reveals whether they are crisp and tight or flimsy and threadbare, as well as the presence of holes or rips in the sails or stretch marks, especially around the edges and seams. How the sails are stored is another consideration. Sails are stored folded or rolled last longer; stuffing sails into a bag does not show the level of care that most sailors afford to their sails. Mould or mildew on the sails along edges and seams indicates sails that were stored without being properly dried, while damage and excessive wear on the sail eyelets suggests that the sails may have been abused or not properly maintained.

Mast and Boom

A good, solid mast assembles and erects properly and has mast attachment points that are solid and not worn or wobbly; the boom is unbent and ropes and pulleys are well maintained. One should also check the fitting for wear and any signs of damage and the entire rigging of the dinghy for worn or damaged parts, as well as ensuring that the cleats work properly and have good tension. Lack of proper maintenance is a warning sign of potential problems or excessive wear on the boat that may lead to future breakdowns.

Extra Parts

Some sellers part with their dinghies because they are no longer interested in sailing. In such cases, buyers may be able to pick up accessories such as trolleys, trailers, extra sails, rigging equipment, boat covers, and other accessories at very reasonable prices. One should always ask what comes with the used dinghy when it is purchased. Add-on items included in the sale add to the value of the transaction.

If Unsure, Ask an Expert

There are sailing clubs in any area of the country with members who are willing, for moderate compensation, to inspect a boat and provide an experienced sailor’s opinion on the sea worthiness of the craft. First-time buyers or buyers from a considerable distance away would do well to consider paying an expert to assist in helping them make an informed buying decision. The few pounds invested to confirm the integrity of the dinghy under consideration for purchase may well save hundreds in repairs if a problem is discovered later on.

How to Buy a Used Dinghy on eBay

Sellers know that listing their boat for sale on eBay exposes the dinghy to a large audience of potential buyers, which makes eBay a popular choice for buying and selling used dinghies. Buyers shopping for a used sailboat can enter 'dinghy' as a keyword into any eBay search bar and pull up a listing of all dinghies offered by eBay sellers. One can narrow the search by adding keywords. Reviewing the seller’s feedback rating allows buyers to have confidence in a particular seller. Feedback is provided by members who have purchased from the seller previously and then rated their satisfaction with the seller's handling of the transaction.

Buyers who are not going to travel and pick up the dinghy themselves may want to consider hiring a local expert to inspect the dinghy before making a final purchase decision, and then paying to have the boat shipped to them. Using PayPal to fund the purchase transaction provides a safe and secure method of payment for both the buyer and the seller.


Buying a used dinghy for the first time or upgrading to a new class of boat is an exciting event, whether one is a novice or an experienced sailor. For the first-time buyer, it is especially important to select the right style of dinghy. A dinghy that is easy to sail and that responds well even under a beginner’s guidance is important for someone learning to pilot a boat for the first time. Equipping youth sailors with their first dinghy and seeing them progress and learn to compete with other young people their age is a rewarding experience for a parent or sailing mentor.

Understanding what to look for when selecting a used dinghy for purchase helps buyers avoid potential problem boats and makes sure they select a craft that will provide fair value for the money they spend to acquire it. Looking for used dinghies on eBay provides buyers with a selection of sailboats to choose from than might be wider than that available in their immediate locale.

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