Choosing the Perfect Dinghy or Tender Boat
Types of Tender Boats and Dinghies
These are divided into soft-bottom types, also known as SIBs, and Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs).
SIBs feature a flexible, inflatable floor, making them an excellent choice for calm waters and short trips due to their lightweight and easy-to-store constructions. On the other hand, RIBs, with their robust hull and inflatable tubes, offer improved stability and performance in various water conditions and can maintain higher speeds.
Both are popular due to the materials used in their construction. The tubes are typically made of either PVC or Hypalon – PVC is more cost-effective, offering durable and lightweight characteristics, but may wear faster with UV exposure. Hypalon, the pricy alternative, offers enhanced durability and resistance to UV, abrasion, and chemicals, making it suitable for heavy usage or harsher environments.
As the name suggests, these have a fixed structure, primarily aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum tenders are prized for their lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant traits, requiring minimal maintenance. Fiberglass models provide a smoother sailing experience and often feature varied, aesthetically pleasing designs, although generally heavier.
Foldable or collapsible tenders, crafted from wood, aluminum, or plastic, are perfect for limited storage space as they can be quickly disassembled or folded away. This type features foldable flooring options. Aluminum floors, lightweight and corrosion-resistant, form a strong base perfect for the tender. In contrast, wooden floors, providing a timeless aesthetic and comfort underfoot, may require added upkeep to prevent decay from moisture. Lastly, composite floors offer a balance of lightweight durability and a non-slip surface.
Common Uses and Applications
For those who spend a lot of time at anchor, tenders offer a range of practical uses and benefits. They ferry passengers to and from shore and are also used to transport supplies and equipment, help set anchors or mooring lines, and allow you to explore shallower waters or inaccessible areas. They can even act as a lifeboat or rescue vessel during emergencies.
Matching the Tender to the Yacht
Matching the tender to the larger vessel should be a priority; larger boats or yachts may need bigger tenders with higher capacity. Smaller vessels may require compact tenders that can easily be stored and towed behind.
Space and storage are important factors. Determine where the tender will be stored, whether on deck, in a garage, or using davits – ensuring it fits without obstructing access or causing inconvenience.
Consider how many passengers you typically transport and choose a tender with adequate seating capacity; also consider the total weight capacity, including passengers, gear, and provisions, so it can handle the load without impacting performance or stability.
Lastly, think about maneuverability and handling; smaller tenders are generally easier to navigate in tight spaces or shallow waters, while larger tenders provide better stability and comfort in rougher sea conditions.
Weight and Handling of Boat Tenders
- Impact on Primary Vessel: The weight of your tender can affect your primary vessel’s performance, including fuel consumption, speed, and maneuverability.
- Carrying and Handling: The weight of a tender directly influences how easy it is to carry, launch and retrieve. Lighter tenders are more manageable, especially for solo boaters or those with limited physical strength. In comparison, heavier tenders may necessitate additional equipment, such as a hoist or crane, or help from other people when handling them.
- Stability and Comfort: A tender’s weight impacts its stability and comfort levels when on the water. Heavier tenders may offer a smoother ride in rough conditions instead of lighter ones.
Manual handling is a significant factor as these vessels may need to be transported and carried by hand, inflated and deflated often, and used in various environments.
- Weight and Size: The weight and size play a significant role in manual handling. Boats that are lighter in weight and smaller in size are usually easier to carry and maneuver on land or water. Look for the right balance between durability, weight, and size for optimal handling.
- Carry Bags: Carry bags are indispensable for portability and storage. Consider features like design, handles, zips, and overall construction when selecting a suitable bag. Handles at the narrow ends provide comfortable carrying, while rucksack-style straps make it easy to transport on your back. Metal zips should be regularly rinsed with fresh water to prevent corrosion.
- Carry Handles & Safety Lines: Quality carry handles and safety lines make transporting, handling, and boarding easier. Ergonomic handles on the bow, stern, and sides make it easier to carry by one or two people. Safety lines attached along the sides also provide an extra grip for passengers and aid in carrying the boat from place to place.
- Inflation & Deflation: Pressure relief valves and powerful pumps ensure quick setup times when inflating or deflating.
- Storage: Keep an eye out for the packed size once deflated, as this affects how easily it can be stored away or transported around.
- Durability & Protection: Opt for boats made from strong materials with sturdy seams and reinforcements like keel strips or rubbing strakes that help protect against abrasion or impacts due to rough surfaces.
- Outboard Engines: Outboard engines are a highly popular choice. Their versatility and ease of maintenance make them a great option, as they come in various sizes and horsepower to suit different needs.
- Oars and Rowing: Oars and rowing can be a simple and cost-effective method for smaller tenders, ideal for short distances and calm waters.
- Electric Motors: Electric motors offer a quiet, environmentally friendly, low-maintenance propulsion option. However, they require regular charging and have a limited range, especially if you are fighting a strong tide.
- Jet Drives: Jet drives use a high-pressure water jet to propel the tender, offering a compact and maneuverable propulsion system with no exposed propeller. Generally, these are suitable for larger tenders or those requiring high-speed performance.
Additional Things to Consider
- Davit Systems: A davit system is ideal for quick launching and retrieving. When selecting a davit system, choose a model suitable for your tender’s size and weight.
- Navigation Lights: Remember to equip your tender with navigation lights for low-light conditions or night sailing. This will help ensure safety and avoid any potential accidents.
- Bimini Top or Canopy: Adding a Bimini top or canopy will provide shade and protection from the elements on hot summer days.
Choosing the perfect tender involves a detailed understanding of various factors. These range from the type of tender that best suits your requirements – whether inflatable, rigid, or foldable – to the material construct, size, capacity, weight, handling, and propulsion options.
Additional considerations like storage space, seating, and safety features are equally critical to ensuring your tender suits your needs. Making the right choices means ensuring that your tender has all the necessary capabilities, whether for ferrying passengers and supplies or cruising the shallows.
A boat tender or dinghy is a small, lightweight boat usually used to ferry passengers, supplies, or equipment from a larger vessel to the shore.
The main types are inflatable, rigid, and foldable. Inflatable can either have a soft bottom or a rigid bottom (RIB), while rigid can be made from materials such as aluminum or fiberglass.
These should ideally be lightweight and versatile. The material choice for the tubes is typically PVC or Hypalon, with the former being cost-effective and lightweight and the latter being more robust and resistant to wear and tear.
The size of the primary vessel, the storage space available, the ability to tow the tender, passenger requirements, and maneuvering are key factors to consider when choosing its size.
Outboard engines, rowing, electric motors, or jet drives can propel them. Each propulsion method has its pros and cons.
Other features to consider include the suitability of a davit system, the presence of navigation lights, sufficient seating and storage, and the addition of a Bimini top or canopy for protection against the elements.
Using a tender provides many advantages, such as going ashore, carrying supplies and equipment, anchoring or mooring assistance, going for a cruise to explore shallow waters or inaccessible areas to larger craft, and acting as a lifeboat or rescue vessel during emergencies.
Some critical factors to consider when assessing weight and handling include its impact on your primary vessel’s performance; its carrying capacity, maneuverability, stability on the water; comfort levels while out on the water.
Choosing the perfect one depends on various factors. You may want to consider the size, type, or whether it’s a jet tender or a RIB, and your specific needs. If you’re not sure, it may be best to consult with a professional who can help you select the right tender for your needs.