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lorenzo b 07-08-2010 05:52

Tender Advice
Need some advise. Right now I'm using a 14 ft alum jonboat as a tender, but in rough and choppy seas it comes close to swamping. I'm thinking of maybe a hard bottom inflatable but am worried about cuts on oysters or coral. I have space for just about anything and a crane to put it on top. Would a Boston Whaler type fiberglass tender serve me better? I almost always anchor out and away from other boats and would like to feel comfortable going into town without worrying about a blow.
Do you feel secure and stable in an inflatable in rough seas? Lighter is better and I already have a small motor.

FSMike 07-08-2010 06:18

lorenzo b -
Morning. We've been using various RIBs for years on boats from 35' to 45' and have been very happy. You do have to be careful with the tubes but in reality that's not much of a factor. I worry more about nails sticking out of pilings than either oysters or coral. Good ribs with enough power to plane suit us well.
Boston Whalers are also seaworthy, plus they don't sink. They can beat you to death in a chop though. Something with more of a vee bottom might be more comfortable. If we had your size vessel we would consider one of the fiberglass catamaran dinghies. People that have them seem quite happy.
Too many choices!

TEE 07-08-2010 06:31

Giving advice on a tender is tough. I have found there is no perfect tender. All are either too heavy, too light, underpowered, or too wet. Not knowing the kind of conditions you sail in, I can only say I agree a flat bottom jonboat is likely to swamp if you take any kind of seas from any direction. I have been using a RIB for the past year and like it. The bottom is hard so it is not prone to puntures, and it is fairly light. Every dinghy I have been in always feels a litle uncomfortable and wet in rough seas, but the RIBS do have a bit of a keel which helps you motor through seas. My advice is if you believe you will find yourself in rough conditions from time to time, get the biggest and heaviest RIB you can comfortably handle, and the largest outboard. Bigger is always better for a dinghy when you are in them, and always increasingly inconvenient when you are lifting or towing. I can say I believe a 12 foot RIB would be far superior to your jonboat and probably easier to handle both during use and securing for a passage.

matauwhi 07-08-2010 13:09

G'day, mates. Our experience has been with a 10 foot dinghy, 21 inch diameter tubes, aluminum floor and 10 hp outboard. Most cruisers routinely are beaching their dinghys. We like the advantage of aluminum vs fiberglass to help reduce the weight when carrying it up the beach (flip up wheels can help also). We only need to bring the dinghy up on plane less than 10% of the time, so a 2 or 3hp motor will do the trick for short trips and again is less weight to handle (plus you have a spare motor). A small outboard that has both an internal gas tank and the ability to clip on an external tank gives you flexibility again to manage the weight. Your back will thank you!

Our recommendation, buy a RIB with an aluminum floor with the biggest tubes you can get, a 2 to 4 hp outboard for the short trips and a larger motor if you have the place to carry it on board.

rebel heart 07-08-2010 14:40

I loved my inflatable until some a-hole with a meat hook in his cable put a hole in mine, right up against a seam. The repair never held that well. I've got another inflatable but I don't trust it. They only work with outboards. Rowing one is like ice skating drunk with one skate on.

Next one is going to be a pram that's just under 7'4", the length of the dodger to the mast. I found kits online where parts + design + instructions are around ~400. The Pardey's have some good ideas on how to put a flotation collar around the edge, making it much more stable (as in you can climb in from the side).

We'll see how that goes, but I'm definitely in the camp that a tender should be:

- hard
- rowable (not drunk ice skating rowing)
- powerable via an outboard
- able to double as a life raft thereby saving me ~4K

MichaelC 07-08-2010 15:00

I read a book a while back by a couple who sailed way north and way south in a steel boat. They used an inflatable tender and visited penguin colonies, etc on the ice in Antarctica. They got up one morning to discover that a leopard seal had ripped a big hole in their inflatable. Had that happened on an ice floe, the book would never have been written ... I have had both kinds of tender, and while the inflatable was convenient, I finally got rid of it in favor of a good hard tender [that I built, actually, it is easy to do]. I downloaded the plans for Chameleon, a sailing nesting 12 footer, and I think I will build one this winter to see if I like it. Looks pretty good.

rebel heart 07-08-2010 15:52

When the inflatable + outboard combination works, it's hard to get anything better. Introduce a hole and/or engine trouble, and the combo becomes worthless. But you can't knock them for being damn handy when they're working properly.

Curmudgeon 08-08-2010 04:14

Well, if you want security in rough seas, I'd look into the Portland Pudgy. But if I had hoisting gear and if money were no object, I'd buy a Williams 285 turbojet.

Williams Performance Tenders :: Williams Turbojet :: 4-Stroke Jet Tender Range :: Jet Ribs :: Yacht Tenders ::

SailFastTri 08-08-2010 05:04

Boston Whalers are low-freeboard boats and the small ones under 13ft are just as likely (as your johnboat) to swamp in a big wave. I used to own a 13-footer and while it was nice to knock around near the harbor, it is not a good dinghy. Also, you'll find some dinghy docks in crowded places won't let you tie up a whaler or johnboat, but welcome a RIB.

An inflatable RIB with the biggest diameter tubes would give you the most buoyancy possible in a small boat. Yes the downside is risk of tube puncture, and if you beach it in shells or sharp racks you should install those beaching wheels on the stern that can be lowered so you don't drag the aft ends of the tubes.

barnakiel 21-05-2011 09:12

Re: Tender Advice
If the mother ship is big enough you can carry a proper hard dink for the rough landings and a rib or an inflatable one (folded) for all other jobs. An inflatable dink weighs only about 70-100 pounds so it can be easily handled, stored (e.g. under the hard dink) and deployed. It is also a back up, should you ever lose the main tender.


Minggat 21-05-2011 11:10

Re: Tender Advice

Originally Posted by barnakiel (Post 691108)
If the mother ship is big enough you can carry a proper hard dink for the rough landings and a rib or an inflatable one (folded) for all other jobs. An inflatable dink weighs only about 70-100 pounds so it can be easily handled, stored (e.g. under the hard dink) and deployed. It is also a back up, should you ever lose the main tender.


What he said.

The size of the mother ship always demanding compromises of us. I am on a 36 ft boat. It took some creativity, but I figured out how to get 2 dinks aboard. And both in very conventional ways. After all the head scratching I did to get there, I am still amazed at how simple it really was in the end for me. But finally getting a folding transom RIB made it all that easier.

Favorite toy-
8 ft Walker Bay sailing dink with my custom made flotation. Better (IMHO) than what Walker Bay sells.

Most used-
Achilles RIB lite... well, not quite true. I just got the new Achilles. But my former inflatable just got more use. They are simply better and getting the job done.

David_Old_Jersey 21-05-2011 11:50

Re: Tender Advice
If a RIB doesn't suit - then I would go for a hard dink (with a traditional V hull shape). if the same at 14 foot long then big enough to be seaworthy. Could also add an inflatable collar (Walker Bay style) or internal bouyancy for belt and braces........and even sails :thumb: Would also be rowable.

at 63 foot you've got some options :p

zeehag 21-05-2011 11:56

Re: Tender Advice
my combo now is a rigid kayak and a walker bay 8 ft sail rig......miss my avon with 3.5 hp engine..........will have to replace it

Fixer 21-05-2011 12:00

Re: Tender Advice
I like the idea of a hard tender that mimics a RIB such as the one below:
Sport Boats - Rigid Inflatable Boats - Inflatable Boat Alternative

The usual disclaimers apply.

markpierce 21-05-2011 13:15

Re: Tender Advice
Those rigid inflatables seem to be extremely expensive. The website doesn't show the prices for the boats, but the cost of options (like $895 for color) which can easily add up to several thousand dollars, imply that the basic hull would also be several thousand dollars. I imagine one might spend $5,000 to $7,000 for an 8-foot tender.

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