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What is a Boat Tender (also known as a Tender Boat)?
Boat tenders are small boats that accompany a superyacht or mega yacht and are meant to usher guests to shore and back. They are also used as recreational boats for water sports, fishing, diving, and other activities on the water. Boat tenders can be runabouts, rigid inflatable boats, sportfishing boats, center consoles, and more. They may be powered by oars, inboard outboard motors or one or the other.
Most yacht tenders will be stored in a tender garage on board, up on the top deck, or very occasionally, cruise alongside the main yacht.
What Size Boat is a Tender?
The size of a boat’s tender will depend on the size of the luxury yacht they are being used alongside. On average, most yacht tenders will be around 9ft to around 50ft. The number of people who can be on a tender for larger boats depends on the size of the vessel. Depending on the size, a tender for a larger boats can usually accommodate two to 12 passengers, however, it’s important to check the yachting rules for the region you are in as there are many safety caps on passengers on board.
Luxury yachts will almost always require a high quality yacht tender so they can navigate shallow water, or quickly and easily head into shore without having to move their larger luxury yacht. When cruising on larger boats and day cruising is something you’d like to do, a jet tender with a high quality inboard outboard motor will be able to zip across the water and take you where you need to go so reviewing the propulsion system that comes with you tender is very important.
What are the Different Types of Boat Tenders?
Yacht tenders come in a variety of types; we’ll explore some below:
- AB Inflatables
- Inflatable dinghies
- Fiberglass tenders
- Jet tenders
- Yacht dinghies
More and more tenders for larger boats are emerging, with some of the top brands below:
What Makes a Good Boat Tender?
When looking for a high quality boat tender, you’ll want to ask yourself a few key questions:
- Use – Will you be using the tender for larger boats and day cruising while onboard? Will you be taking the tender into shallow water? What’s the number of people you’d like to transport on your tender?
- Propulsion system – Will you require an inboard outboard motor? Will more basic, AB inflatable dinghies work? Do you need a more powerful jet tender like a Boston Whaler or Williams Jet Tenders? Do you just need enough power to cruise to shore, or will you be towing water toys? Most yacht dinghies will carry a certain amount of power, but you’ll want to be certain of your goals.
- Materials – Most tenders used for larger boats and day cruising will be made of fiberglass or steel, although there are still some yacht dinghies that will use AB inflatables for a day boat. Usually, the larger the yacht, the higher quality and more substantial the tender will be.
Do I Need a Tender for my Boat?
While even smaller sailboats will usually carry small inflatable dinghies (due to their long keels), super yachts will usually require a tender once they hit 70ft and above. You will usually have crew members who can help transport guests back and forth or use the tender to head into different ports for provisioning.
Again, the size of tender you need will depend on the size of your main yacht, the number of people you want to take on board, and a few other factors. If you want to do a lot of water sports with the tender, you’ll need a larger propulsion system, so you need to look at inboard outboard motors. Is the tender mostly for cruising in shallow waters and exploring islands off the beaten track?
With so many popular tender brands on the market, you’ll have plenty of options from Boston Whaler and Chris-Craft to Wally Yachts and Williams Jet Tenders, to choose from. Working with a reputable broker, even for your tender, is a smart decision since as your luxury yacht increases in size, a lot of tenders will end up being the size of a large boat themselves.