Tested: 4 of the best inflatable tenders

 

The Yachting World team take to the water in 4 new inflatable tenders to see which will be best for you and your yacht

Tenders are so much more than taxis. They can add freedom, sport and exploration to any stopover or anchorage, particularly if your yacht is large enough to carry a rigid dinghy, mini RIB or folding alternative. If not, however, that means investing in one of a number of inflatable tenders that are small and light enough to pack away in a locker when not in use.

Thanks to the invention of the high pressure air deck the latest generation of lightweight inflatable tenders are remarkably stable craft that can be rowed or powered by an outboard engine yet still be easily stowed.

We tested a range of different 2.3-2.4m inflatables, all with air deck floors and an emphasis on light weight and compact packaging, and picked out the best.

We rowed and motored all of the boats solo and with two aboard as well as weighing, measuring and comparing specifications. The size, shape and quality of the carry bag as well as the pumps supplied can also make a surprising difference to the speed and ease of inflating and deflating each tender.

Inflatable tenders tested

Crewsaver Air Deck 230

While the Crewsaver rucksack doesn’t have a front pocket for storing accessories, there are no zips to corrode and the adjustable webbing buckles mean the top opening of the bag is quite forgiving for repacking.

The safety lines are robustly attached to the hull, the rubbing strake also adds durability and the splash guards help keep water out of the boat. Hard plastic coned aft sponson caps enable vertical storage without damage and the rowlocks double as cleats.

There are davit rings in the bow and through the transom board, plus the bow handle is wide for ergonomic carrying. The inflatable deck feels sturdy but lacks the V-shape or inflatable keel so it’s not quite as comfortable in a chop.

Specifications:

Inflated size: 230x130cm
Packed size: 95x55x35cm
Weight overall: 23kg
Max engine: 4hp
Max load: 350kg

Buy it now from Crewsaver

YAM 240 STi Air Floor Sport Tender

The Yamaha features an inflatable keel as well as a floor section, plus two sponsons, and with that much to inflate a high quality pump would have been better. There is, though, a pressure gauge with the package to get everything sufficiently firm.

The seat is fixed but the long oars made it the nicest boat to row. The rowlocks double as cleats and the rounded aft end of the sponsons have protective, hard plastic caps. There are no safety lines fitted and the carry handles are spread far apart, which makes carrying it a little more awkward than it should be. But there is a good, ergonomic bow carry handle and the boat is rated to carry the most load on test (up to 400kg/5hp).

Specifications:

Inflated size: 240x123cm
Packed size: 120x60x30cm
Weight overall: 27kg
Max engine: 5hp
Max load: 400kg

Buy it now from Yamaha

3D Twin V Shape 230 Air Deck Tender

This French manufacturer was one of the earliest producers of ultralight inflatable tenders. This model sports premium touches, such as davit rings and the best pump on test (dual chamber hand pump). It packs away into a rucksack carry bag with a large front pocket for the pump and accessories.

The inflatable V-floor makes for a stable ride with easy handling under engine or oars and uses a single chamber design, keeping set-up time to a minimum. The rowlocks double as cleats and the rubbing strake provides extra protection for the tubes but little in the way of splash-proofing for passengers.

Overall a high quality tender that performs well and strikes a good balance between weight, convenience and price.

Specifications:

Inflated size: 230x130cm
Packed size: 90x45x40cm
Weight overall: 24kg
Max engine: 3.5hp
Max load: 350kg

Buy it now from Marine Superstore

Quicksilver Tendy Air Floor 240

This has an inflatable keel as well as a removable inflatable floor. A rigid slat athwartships between the floor and keel also helps to maintain its shape and rigidity but increases the weight.

The heaviest boat on test, the Quicksilver is one of the largest in packed dimensions but it is also one of the best equipped. It features a fuel tank strap, a robust keel strip to prevent damage on slipways, a decent bow carry handle, rowlock cleats and an adjustable seat. The rubbing strake is quite chunky and the carry bag very forgiving.

It doesn’t have carry handles on the sponsons and the safety rope fixings aren’t as solid as some of the other boats on test.

A smart and robust tender albeit with a weight penalty attached.

Specifications:

Inflated size: 240×132
Packed size: 110x50x31
Weight overall: 28.5kg
Max engine: 4hp
Max load: 390kg

Buy it now from Boats and Outboards


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Source: https://www.yachtingworld.com/yachts-and-gear/tested-4-of-the-best-inflatable-tenders-138336