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Old 01-03-2018, 02:25   #1
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Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I am at a point where I am diversifying my interests and I am looking at importing some dinghy's to sell, ongoing, long term, but need some advice from the experts here (or should I say, potential customers )

What floats your boat when it comes to tenders.... or perhaps, what is your ideal wish-list for a tender? (stick with inflatables for now please)

Generally speaking, sizes range around the following, give or take a few inches depending on the manufacturer:

230 (7'6") 4hp max
270 (8'9") 10 hp max
290 (9'6") 10 hp max
320 (10'6") 15 hp max
360 (11'9") 20 hp max

It would help me out a lot if you could reply to this thread to "place your virtual order" here, so that I can best plan for different models and continue with my research.

The brand will be a new brand, not yet seen before, keeping in mind that it will be much like most of the others and will be aimed at a budget, but yet practical market.
  1. Ideal length:
  2. .9 or 1.2mm fabric:
  3. PVC or Hypalon (hypalon is pricey):
  4. Aluminium panel floor or airbed:
  5. Fibreglass hull (pricey$, esp. freight costs) OR fabric with inflatable keel:
  1. Front storage bag Y/N
  2. Under seat storage bag Y/N
  3. Attachments for davits Y/N
  4. Spare valves Y/N
  5. Storage compartment / box Y/N
  6. Anchor & rope Y/N
  7. Life jackets and safety gear Y/N
  8. Rego numbers Y/N
  9. LED nav lights Y/N
  10. Dolly wheels Y/N

Standard accessories would be, carry bag, foot pump, oars, repair kit, spare valve

Is there anything else on your wish list that it needs or should come with it, like life jackets, storage devices or safety equipment?

Feel free to elaborate on WHY you chose certain items, like the length which would be a good one.

Thanks very much if you can find the time to reply, it will help me immensely!

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Old 01-03-2018, 07:30   #2
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

My response will be different than most. I single hand a small boat so 99% of the dinghies I see wouldn't work for me.

Currently have a hypalon air floor 230(ish) rolled up and seldom used. First red snapper I caught punctured the floor with about a dozen pinholes.

Also don't like an engine davit. So if I was to buy another dinghy it would be a light weight hypalon rib with a folding transom, and smallest 2 stroke I could get up on plane with. I could store it uninflated on deck.

Achilles makes the one I should have bought.

Anyhoo I've converted to a sit on top kayak.

As far as I can tell, the biggest problem you'll have to start with is brand name recognition. AB, Achilles, Avon etc. (and that's just the "A"s) are known entities.

My favourite rib was a lightweight Achilles 9 foot with fibreglass bottom and an 8hp 2 stroke yammie on it. Too big and heavy for current boat and life style.

Good luck on your quest, not that useful a response I guess, but hey, free bump.


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Old 01-03-2018, 08:40   #3
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

my favorite deflatable is avon, OLD. i have redcrest and was recently gifted a roll up for the material. i am in heaven. as for transportation i rely on no deflatable. i use hard dink and oars. no carb rebuilds every week. no rips on riprap, and i am actually able to get to shore with dry clothing. novel concept.
when i was a mooring princess i used caribe 9.4 vee bottom. used a nissan 9.8 with electric start to run it. the sport model cannot tow nicely. was useless to me. i found the transportation of the rib and engine required to run it was not practical as a sola female.
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Old 01-03-2018, 08:47   #4
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I am not seeing much in your list that would differentiate you from the established manufacturers, so I'm not sure why I would take a chance on a new brand. You would have to be cheaper than for example the once or twice a year deep discount sale at West Marine - I don't think their dingies are top notch but they do have pretty attractive prices at times - or offer something different.

For me the ideal would be a 230 hypalon panel-floor that would take 6 hp and have the performance of a rib. My current dingy meets all those requirements but the last - it won't plane with two on board and can be a wet and wild ride with one if you don't manage speed closely while planing.

I don't think a successful business model is as easy as plunking down the cash for a container load of dingies from Alibaba, but I could be wrong. Best of luck.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:01   #5
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

Simple: NONE - use a GRP dinghi to avoid these deflatables.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:14   #6
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

This is an established market. That means you need a big marketing budget or a very low price. Establishing a new brand for direct sales is near impossible, IMO your should be talking to distributors.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:35   #7
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I think the answer greatly depends on the size of the boat and on how one wants to store the dinghy while cruising (specifically, davits or storing it on deck).
In our case, we have a 35' and are storing the dinghy on deck in front of the mast.
In general, our ideal dinghy is:
- Aluminum floor
- 7'6" long (and as narrow as possible)
- As light as possible (Weight is the major consideration, I would say, if you plan to store on deck and have to lift it above the lifelines shorthanded)
- 4hp outboard (also as light as possible), stored on the stern rail
For us it is easy, these characteristics narrow it down to only one dinghy on the market... :-)
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:38   #8
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

The market is already very saturated with distributors of Chinese origin inflatables.

I would consider this to be an unwise decision.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:50   #9
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

Keep it simple. Small outboard, like those strokes 4HP, that you can handle with a single arm, roll up inflatable, 230 or 250.
Do not listen those telling you need hard bottom and 15 hp for speed. Unless you want to continue the rat race.
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Old 01-03-2018, 11:13   #10
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I'm using a Minn Kota Riptide 45 V/T saltwater version with a Powermax 700A Peak 18000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter to push our 10' dinghy around. They don't weigh half what a gas engine does, let alone the battery, don't smell, cheap and work well. That said, we don't use the dinghy to drive around islands; with shallow draft we're in close anyway.

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Old 01-03-2018, 11:47   #11
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

Last thing the market needs is another imported no name inflatable. You really want to compete with Cabela's, West Marine, Defender and whoever else?

We're lousy candidates for your product as we only use jet RIB's and we have one or more of each of the following:

325 with 100 hp Weber/Textron
385 with 100 hp Weber/Textron
445 with 120 hp Weber/Textron
445 with 110 hp Yanmar
565 with 180 hp Yanmar
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Old 01-03-2018, 12:28   #12

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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

Import them to WHERE?

That may make a difference.

I'm guessing this is a new brand from China with no market credentials, which can be problematic. Buyers may want a warranty and some backing for that besides "ship it back to China".

And if you get involved in accessories, you can put up a lot of money trying to keep five makes and three colors of PFDs and three choices of anchors and...etcetera in stock. Probably not worth doing, even if you just offered a "mandatory safety kit" with no choices, just a generic set of PFDs, regional required lighting and anchor, etc. in a "one size suits all" package, to minimize the inventory issues.
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Old 01-03-2018, 12:45   #13
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I have both a GRP dinghy and an inflatable. I use the GRP dinghy to get out to my boat which is on a swinging mooring. The half mile journey is too wet in a rubber dinghy.

I use the rubber dinghy when cruising in case I am anchored or on a buoy or river pontoon and need to get to shore.

The boat I bought last year came with a 2.4m Zodiac – a good make. It was much lighter than the 2.3m I had had for 10 years. But I sold the Zodiac on as the oars were badly designed. They were short and stubby and went through loops on the dinghy and were held in place by tight fitting rubber rings either side of the loop. Those rings were hard to get on and off the oar. Without them the oars could disappear over the side. And it was easy to lose those rings too. I didn’t want to be in a position where I lost an oar or two and the engine was playing up.

So I bought a 2.4m rubber dinghy with oars with the pins and screw caps – a fairly common arrangement. So, no chance of oar loss. The new 2.4m one neatly folds up into a zippable bag which will fit into my cockpit locker if need be. It was also very well priced. It’s a bit heavier than the Zodiac. But not overly so.

It those sorts of design details that are, for me, deal breakers.
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Old 01-03-2018, 13:17   #14
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

I've owned a bunch of different inflatables and have some strong opinions on the matter.

WEIGHT - I'm going to be manhandling this thing on the boat, so make it light and small as possible when deflated. If it can come apart into pieces thats even better (like removable inflatable floor).

DURABLE - I want welded seams and a rub rail that doesn't peel off. I want double thickness on the bottom of the tubes where I drag it up the beach.

TUBES - I want BIG, oversize hypalon tubes.

OARS and OAR LOCKS - Don't give me some crappy bit of folding plastic and skinny tube oars. AVON boats have the right idea, a simple robust oarlock and wooden oars. I am actually going to row my dinghy, so give me something that is not going to break. Let me use generic (wooden) oars.

VALVES - I want a reliable valve that doesn't leak. And I want an overpressure release valve for those super hot/sunny days.

SEAT - Don't bother me with fancy seats. If I have an outboard I want NO SEATS. When I row I want ONE SEAT positioned for rowing while I face forward. Yes, you can row facing forward. Works great. I'm not in the olympics, so I want to see where the hell I'm going.

TIE DOWNS/HANDLES - Give me handles and tie down points all over, so I can secure my bags, cooler, kids, whatever. Have you ever been on a rough ride in a boat that's just smooth all over?

ACCESSORIES - Don't. Don't make or sell any accessories. Focus on making a better boat. I can get a little anchor and a diaper bag elsewhere.

The outboard mount increases the size and weight of the boat. If I'm going to row, don't make me buy the smallest size. Offer me a 10 foot boat with both ends rounded, raft style, that rows well. Maybe even with 2 people rowing.

And how about some an electric drive connected directly to the bottom of the boat (no transom) and a flat battery that goes under the inflatable floor...adds stability and doesn't waste space. Or a boat designed for 2 people rowing. What about built in LED lights with solar charging Lithium Ion batteries? How about clips to secure my boat hook? And could I please have 3 loops for securing the boat to a dock (bow, both sides aft).

Currently, I like these guys: although they could use better oars and oarlocks.

Of course after saying all this, many people just buy the cheapest one available. Price sells. If you make a good boat at a good price, everyone will want one. Even me. And I don't like anything.
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Old 01-03-2018, 13:33   #15
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Re: Your ideal inflatable tender - please reply

Originally Posted by KD8NPB View Post
The market is already very saturated with distributors of Chinese origin inflatables.

I would consider this to be an unwise decision.
I would agree.

You would have to approach this as a long term business with 10 years of building your reputation. If I was in the market for a new dinghy, I would want a brand with at least 5 if not 10 years of happy customers. Most of the problems with dinghies spring up after 5 years of daily use.

My last purchase was a Swift hypalon aluminum RIB. It had a good reputation. After 5 years it still held air and the joints to the aluminum did not separate, but the attachments such as handholds and oarlocks turned to gooey messes and fell off.

If you want to be successful, you will have to have good quality control over ALL the materials and processes. You are not going to get that in Asia unless you live on the factory floor yourself. The industry abounds with horror stories, like Aquapro, Achilles PVC models, and AB's move to Columbia. If you get quality issues, it will take decades to recover.

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