Revisiting The Walker Bay 10
The Changes Are Impressive

By Captain Thom Burns

Back in the June of 2002 issue, some Northern Breezes Sailing School instructors and I reviewed the Walker Bay 10. We liked how it rowed. We liked how it towed and it was reasonably manageable to move around on land with the built in keel wheel. None of us liked it much as a sailboat because it was easy to slide around if the floor got wet, the main sheeted in the middle of the boom which greatly lessened the area available to move from side to side, and the tiller telescoped but did not raise up for a quick duck under or behind the back transfer move.

Rigid Inflatable
The new Walker Bay 10 RID for rigid inflatable is the same boat with several significant additions. The most important are the inflatable tubes that attach to the sides of the dinghy via tracks using sewn in bolt ropes or equivalent. After the tubes are on, they are inflated using a foot pump. The whole process of assembling the Walker Bay 10 including the tubes but without the sail rig took about 40 minutes. The second time around would be a little faster. These tubes stabilize the dinghy to the point that I, at 170 lbs., can stand on the edge without tipping the dinghy.
The next big addition to the boat is a non-skid floor. The floor keeps the boat dry and it gives the rower a bracing pad. It also potentially keeps your groceries dry.
The oars are light and of high quality with two locking positions. This boat rows well even when loaded. It has good carrying capacity. The inflatable tubes make it friendly to the mother ship when boarding and disembarking.

 

Michele Pufahl rowing the Walker Bay 10 RID

How We Used It
We used it as our primary dinghy for our Islander 36. We never had a problem towing it even in 4 - 5 ft. seas. I pulled a swimming kayaker right over the rail and then her water logged kayak was rolled over the bow to drain it. The point is that this boat is incredibly stable. So much so that in rougher water we tied the 14 foot kayak upside down on the Walker Bay 10. The Walker Bay never missed a beat, and I didnít have to bother hoisting a long kayak aboard.
I put a motor on it for a short period of time. It worked pretty well. If you are by yourself, you may want to get a tiller handle extender for the outboard so you can sit farther forward and reduce stern drag. The item is an accessory on Walker Bayís website. I took the motor off for simplicity. Because it rows so well, this was a good option for me.
So how do I like it as a sailing dinghy? It is much better than it was because the floor keeps it dryer and it is far less slippery when wet due to the non-skid floor. It is also much more stable with the tubes, and it doesnít heel much even in a gust. It adds a little drag, but the stability is worth the drag trade-off. The bottom line is that I would change the main sheet attachments to the back of the boat and the end of the boom. This would open up the cockpit by getting the mainsheet and hardware out of the center of the boat. This is how the smaller dinghy kit sail plan is attached. Another answer is to shorten the tiller by sliding it inside itself the extra space gained near the transom makes it easier to pass the tiller behind the back as you transfer to the other side. The larger the person the more awkward this maneuver is.
 

Conclusions
The Walker Bay 10 is one of the better values in tenders you can buy. Especially if you are going to tow it a lot and you appreciate the wonderful characteristics of a rigid, hard dinghy and, now you get the stability of an inflatable. Walker Bay has got this one right. Two of my dock neighbors went out and bought them. Possibly the best news is that all you folks who have the older Walker Bay eights and tens can retrofit them with a kit to a rigid inflatable (RID).


Captain Thom Burns publishes Northern Breezes and Sailing Breezes.
For more info:
www.walkerbay.com

See June 2002 Review

The Walker Bay 10 RID tows well. Here the Cape Lookout kayak is just in front of the Walker. The Walker would handle the Cape Lookout upside down on top of it in bigger 3 - 4 foot waves.