A tender is an often overlooked accessory to many yacht owners. But, your tender plays many roles on any given yacht voyage. Your tender can be called upon to ferry passengers back and forth from the dock to the mainland, to pull water-skiers, to explore dive spots or other environs that your primary boat is too big to get into, or any combination thereof!

With all that in mind, your tender must be reliable, and perform well, but also must be the right match for your yacht and your needs.

Size Does Matter

The most common mistake that yacht owners make when shopping for a tender is to get one that is the wrong size for the primary boat. You would be surprised at how many yacht owners simply do not measure the exact dimensions of where the tender will be housed on the yacht. Dimensions can be deceiving. You need to take into account the tilt on the tender’s outboard for example, and also keep in mind, that while a 13 foot tender may fit in 14 feet of space, it may restrict access to boarding or maneuvering about the boat. When looking for a tender, it may be a good idea to take your engineer, or captain along, or trust the advice of your yacht manager, to ensure you get the right size.

Dual Outboard Tender

Other Considerations When Buying Your Tender

Once you understand the right size, you need to think about your budget, the material the tender is made from, and the type of propulsion. These considerations will largely be based on what you intend to use your tender for. If you envision that it will be mostly sitting up on the davit, or swim platform, unused, these things are less of a concern. But, if you will be using your tender often, then things like power and comfort take on more significance.

As far as budget goes, remember, like in all things, you get what you pay for. So, if you do not intend to use your tender often, it’s OK to shop on price. But, if you will be relying on the smaller craft to get your friends and family around often, you do not want to cut corners.  Remember, if you are going to be using your tender to deploy to many shore excursions, you will be spending a lot of time on her once you get where you are going.

The next place where owners often make mistakes, or do not give enough thought, is in powering the tender. It is easy to place an engine that is too big or too small on a tender. In addition to how you intend to use the tender of course, the total lenght, the material, and the transom height, should all factor into the amount of horsepower your tender really needs.

Finally, the material. Most modern yacht tenders are “RIBs” or Rigid Inflatable Boats. A RIB is constructed with a solid, shaped hull and flexible tubes at the gunwales. Different materials are used to make up those tubes, and they have varying durability. Again, how you intend to use your tender will play a lot into your materials choice. Where your boat is docked also plays a major role in your material. The two main choices are PVC, or a more durable, and more expensive material known as hypalon.

Tender cruising to shore

If you are using your boat in the Northeast, in the Pacific Northwest, or, in and around the Great Lakes, you probably can get away with PVC. But, if your dockage and use is here in South Florida, or other more tropical climes, you want to avoid PVC. It does not do well in strong sun and tropical heat.


Finding the right gear and equipment for your yacht can be challenging. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.