SV Seamlessly anchored by Treasure Cay, Bahamas
Ahoy, mateys! Ever been excited about a shiny new toy and then found out it had a couple of screws loose? That’s kind of what happened when we took our 2022 Highfield Classic 360 for a spin. This dinghy, which we dropped a cool $18,124.73 on, turned out to be a mixed bag of treasure and trials. Our Highfield, when not at sea, snoozes under a snazzy cover we snagged from Amazon. It’s the dinghy equivalent of a superhero cape, shielding it from sunburn and rain-soaked bad hair days.

Highfield’s Hiccups

Highfield Classic 360 More Non-Marine Fuse Holders
All set to set sail for the Bahamas, we soon found our Highfield was more of a mischievous pirate than a trusty first mate. First off, the steering assembly. It’s like someone played a prank on us. The steering cable had a weird love affair with the guide tube, rubbing against it non-stop. Not the kind of friction we were hoping for, especially not at sea! And then came the fuse holders. Apparently, they had a serious fear of salt, because they started rusting faster than you can say “Ahoy!” This led to a blackout, and not the fun kind – our lights and bilge pump just stopped working. Next, we noticed the steel plugs in the fuel filter assembly getting a rusty makeover, leaving telltale red stains. Hey, at least it matched the sunset!
Highfield Classic 360 Steering Issue

The metal-looking thing is supposed to be inside of the tube, but apparently it rubbed through and now, it gets stuck when we turn the wheel one way.

Highfield Classic 360 Non-Marine Fuse Holders
Highfield used non-marine automotive fuse holders, which aren’t meant to be in wet environments. Once we replaced them, the lights and the bilge pump switch worked again.
Highfield Classic 360 Unfinished butt-connectors

We pulled these out as well, and as you can see, Highfield used marine-grade butt connectors, but forgot to heat them up, so they would create a watertight seal.

Highfield Classic 360 Non-Marine Grade Hose Clamps
Marine-grade hose clamps cost a few cents more, probably the reason Highfield decided to go with these standard rust-loving hose clamps.
Highfield Classic 360 Non-Marine Hardware
Instead of using marine-grade stainless steel plugs, we got cheap non-marine ones, they are better for rust creation (Wait, we don’t want rust!).
Highfield Classic 360 Non-Marine Grade Hose Clamps

Instead of using 3 screws to secure the bilge pump, using the 3 drilled holes, someone (Highfield) decided to glue the bilge pump down — making it VERY hard to replace the bilge pump.

Navigating the High Seas of Warranty and Lessons Learned

When we pinged Highfield for some warranty love, we ended up playing an exasperating game of ping-pong between them and the dealer. The warranty turned out to be more like a ghost ship, almost impossible to find. Now don’t get us wrong, we’re still smitten with our dinghy. It’s just that we didn’t expect to play ‘spot the issue’ from day one. So, here’s a little dinghy wisdom for you – if you’re going for a Highfield, get someone to swap out all the non-marine bits. Actually, scratch that. Do it, no matter what brand you choose. Oh, and here’s a fun fact we discovered a tad late. The Yamaha 30 and Yamaha 40 are practically weight twins! Nobody clued us in, and we could have done with that nugget of knowledge before shopping. But hey, sales folks gotta sell, right?

Summing it up

Our Highfield Classic 360 journey has been, well, a rollercoaster. We’ve had our share of sunsets and salty breezes, but also a good deal of, well, rust. But, hey, isn’t that what makes a journey memorable? So, remember folks, do your homework before you hop on that dinghy. Because it’s not just about the destination, it’s about having a boatload of fun along the way!