What You Need to Know About Tenders
By Jason Y. Wood
Where and how you will carry a tender limits its size and weight. While some boats are designed to carry a certain type of tender, there are many production boats out there that will suit your needs. It may sound simple, but one key to preventing disappointment in your tender choice is to find a boat that seats your desired number of guests comfortably. To determine the minimum-size tender you need, try sitting in a prospective boat and envision your crew. Or better yet, bring them along: They can provide great insight.
Another obvious factor is whether or not a given tender can fit in your stowage area properly. If the tender will set on your chocks, but partially block a walkway you use all the time, you need to rethink your real-life size requirements.
Garages accessed from the transom are an excellent way builders free up deck space and ensure the tender does not muck up a boat’s profile, but they impose very specific restrictions on tender LOA, beam, engine choice, and height. If your production or semicustom boat has a tender garage, chances are the builder has already figured out the absolute largest tender that will fit into it—other owners of the same model as well as your boatyard manager may be aware of other common choices for your boat, too.
A word about weight: Rigid-hull inflatable boats, or RIBs, are considered a great combination of light weight, seakeeping, and load hauling. Now high-tech construction is making them even better. “Carbon-epoxy RIBs are stronger and more rigid, and tend to take more of a thrashing than others,” says Whitey Russell, president of Pure Yachting in Bristol, Rhode Island. “Big advantages of the weight savings can be greater fuel capacity for longer range, the addition of a water tank and freshwater washdown, or the ability to carry larger payloads.”
Not everything is as it appears to be, however. Some tenders look a bit like RIBs but aren’t inflatable at all. The hypalon or PVC tubes have been replaced with a closed-cell foam collar that provides cushioning and some of the flotation advantages. Tenders from Rendova Boats, Carbon Craft, and Novurania’s Chase line all use this design element to reap the benefits and take up less space onboard.