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Old 11-08-2018, 11:06 AM   #1
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What is the best inflatable tender

Hi Everyone,
We have decided after much research and trial that we need a 10-12ft inflatable as a tender. We have looked at most all the different types and seem to like the aluminum rigid bottom for lightweight and durability. The problem is choosing the right manufacturer. Are there any ones that stand out for longevity and durability?
Thanks in advance,
Bud and Dawn
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:27 AM   #2
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We did a similar search a few years ago and ended up with an AB. It has proven to be an excellent little boat. We have no fear of running it up on rough PNW beaches and the build quality is good.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:40 AM   #3
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Hi Everyone,
We have decided after much research and trial that we need a 10-12ft inflatable as a tender. We have looked at most all the different types and seem to like the aluminum rigid bottom for lightweight and durability. The problem is choosing the right manufacturer. Are there any ones that stand out for longevity and durability?
Thanks in advance,
Bud and Dawn



They tell me that Hypolon are good for the tropics (?) definitely Alum. V bottom with largest tubes that you can get ( drier ride IMHO ) I would stay away from Zodiac !! We have a Highfield Alum. PVC here in Ontario and love it.



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Old 11-08-2018, 12:50 PM   #4
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We have an 11 foot Novurania and a 15 foot AB. You can't go wrong with either brand.
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Old 11-08-2018, 01:40 PM   #5
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If you're towing or beaching the dinghy, then Aluminum is a better material. The Aluminum has a beefy pad-eye welded to the hull. The fiberglass pad-eye is through-bolted with washers. If beaching the fiberglass will need a keel guard and potentially be subject to gouging.

I don't know about lighter. Looking at a few examples, the Aluminum looks heavier than the fiberglass for the same boat.

Mercury 280 (Fiberglass/PVC) (8' 10"): 82lbs
Mercury 280 (Fiberglass/Hypalon) (8' 10"): 89lbs

Mercuery 270 (Aluminum/PVC) (8' 10"): 132lbs
Mercuery 270 (Aluminum/Hypalon) (8' 10"): 143lbs
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Old 11-08-2018, 01:47 PM   #6
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I have been looking at a new inflatable RIB and I also believe aluminum hull is the best way to go.


Here's what I've found. I've been looking at three major players and there's plenty of regional ones, too. The ones I like the best are AB, Achilles, and Highfield.


AB is top of the line, extremely well built and quite a bit more expensive than the other 2. It has a "deeper" bow area which can be better for rougher areas. The one thing I don't like about the AB is the aluminum is bare metal. I honestly don't know why they do that.



The Achilles and Highfield are also well made and I think are about the same price and about the same level of quality. The hulls on both are powder coated inside and out with a keel guard factory installed. Of note if you want to save some money the Highfield is available with PVC or Hypalon tubes. The Hypalon being more expensive but longer lasting if the boat spends a lot of time outside (Don't they all?)


Most of the boats are available with or without a forward compartment. Also many are available with an additional interior "flat floor" as opposed to just the hull shape inside. Much easier to walk/stand on plus when there's water in the boat it still means you can get in without having to step in it (unless there is a lot of water).


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Old 11-08-2018, 01:55 PM   #7
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If you're towing or beaching the dinghy, then Aluminum is a better material. The Aluminum has a beefy pad-eye welded to the hull. The fiberglass pad-eye is through-bolted with washers. If beaching the fiberglass will need a keel guard and potentially be subject to gouging.

I don't know about lighter. Looking at a few examples, the Aluminum looks heavier than the fiberglass for the same boat.

Mercury 280 (Fiberglass/PVC) (8' 10"): 82lbs
Mercury 280 (Fiberglass/Hypalon) (8' 10"): 89lbs

Mercuery 270 (Aluminum/PVC) (8' 10"): 132lbs
Mercuery 270 (Aluminum/Hypalon) (8' 10"): 143lbs

Weird. Those Mercury's are unusually light for fiberglass hulled RIBs. My *Air Floor* Mercury 270 is 86lbs! And the aluminum ones have a forward compartment which will add some weight. The 280's I've been looking at are something like 140's for fiberglass and 120's for aluminum.


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Old 11-08-2018, 01:57 PM   #8
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Hypalon with fiberglass hull and a keel guard. I do not like aluminum in salt water.

I have an Achilles with a bow locker and a flat floor inside. A little heavier due to the double hull, but I think it rides better in a chop.
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Old 11-08-2018, 05:37 PM   #9
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Weird. Those Mercury's are unusually light for fiberglass hulled RIBs. My *Air Floor* Mercury 270 is 86lbs! And the aluminum ones have a forward compartment which will add some weight. The 280's I've been looking at are something like 140's for fiberglass and 120's for aluminum.


Ken
Pulled specs from Defender. They could have the airfloor specs on the fiberglass. I actually thought that was light as well, but double-checked the models.

I don't have a horse in this race, so didn't dig that much into it.
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Old 11-08-2018, 05:41 PM   #10
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Im not complaining. Did some digging and could find a few other random FG hulled inflatables that were pretty light. But I think I'd like my next one to be aluminum.



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Old 11-08-2018, 08:01 PM   #11
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I have a 15’ AB with a 70HP Yamaha. A great well build boat. I had a Novurina prior. Both great boats
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:55 PM   #12
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To the original question: What is the best inflatable tender? Besides just make, consider what you are using it for. Most people use their tender just to go from their boat to shore. After owning several inflatables, I have found that one that can get up on plane with four adults greatly adds to the utility and fun. It puts that waterfront restaurant that is five miles away within reach while traveling, or exploring places that are farther away. For 18 years a Caribe C12 RIB with a center console and a Nissan 30 hp has fit the bill. Large 18.5 tubes are important. A few specs. length-11' 6", weight-350 with engine, beam-5' 7", max load- 1450 lbs, hypalon fabric. I realize that not everyone can lift 350 lbs, but if you can you won't regret it.
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Old 11-09-2018, 02:16 AM   #13
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...I would stay away from Zodiac !! ...

my .02 CAD f
Last time I checked, if you get the Zodiac Pro series boats, you get the European made tubes. The PVC ones are thermowelded, not glued.

If you get the cheaper Zodiac boats (e.g. Zoom). These are made in China and the PVC is glued.

I had a Zodiac Pro 470 RIB with a Yam 40 and it was a great boat!
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:13 AM   #14
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We purchased a West Marine 8 foot with 17 inch hypolon tubes and an aluminum bottom this summer. Was reasonably priced. Very happy with it thus far. Floats high when empty so initially feels a little unstable. However any weight makes it float on the tubes and it becomes quite stable. Let you know on the longevity in 5 years or so.
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Old 11-09-2018, 08:02 AM   #15
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Last time I checked, if you get the Zodiac Pro series boats, you get the European made tubes. The PVC ones are thermowelded, not glued.

If you get the cheaper Zodiac boats (e.g. Zoom). These are made in China and the PVC is glued.

I had a Zodiac Pro 470 RIB with a Yam 40 and it was a great boat!



You may be right ..?.. all I can say is that I had Two ! The first I bought new, Zodiac brand, RIB fiberglass, the valves leaked, water kept getting into the false compartment under floor, very wet ride !!! and it was heavy like hell, was hard to plane even with a 15 HP !. The 2 nd. came with a boat I bought, exactly the same thing !! Since then I owned a Caribe, Titan and now a Highfield, all deep V Alum. and like them all. f
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Old 11-09-2018, 08:42 AM   #16
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I live in Florida and will only purchase a dinghy constructed with Hypalon/CSM. We love our Achilles LS4-RU. I mostly use it to row ashore, but it handles nicely with an outboard (rated up to 6HP). I needed an inflatable that was light and could easily be stored in a smaller boat.
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Old 11-09-2018, 08:53 AM   #17
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A 13' Boston Whaler? :-)

Seriously - we had an AB Inflatables 11' tender, with the little console, nice seating for 4, a cooler under one seat, and a 25 HP Yamaha. Fun little boat... for two people. It was crowded with four, and impossible for four with any kind of cargo, even snorkel gear. And it wouldn't plane with four, and it was a struggle with three. My point being - make sure you consider all the ways you'll use the boat, and get enough power to get on plane with whatever your "fully loaded" configuration will be.

(And we love the 13' BW - we have beached it all over the Bahamas over the last 8 months, and can take four people and our SCUBA gear!)
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Old 11-09-2018, 09:21 AM   #18
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I have had 2 ABs and both have been very good boats.
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Old 11-09-2018, 09:36 AM   #19
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Bud.

Have a look at a Bullfrog. You cannot beat them in my book.

Yacht Tenders, Utility Boats, Dinghies - Rigid Aluminum Hull Boats



Cheers Mate and best of luck to you.

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Old 11-09-2018, 10:14 AM   #20
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Im not complaining. Did some digging and could find a few other random FG hulled inflatables that were pretty light. But I think I'd like my next one to be aluminum.



Ken


No worries, it was a good call. Just explaining my possible oversight. I like the idea of aluminum because I occasionally like to tow the dink, and would prefer to beach the dinghy (I anchor it and wade in now).

At the risk of hijacking the thread (apologies to the OP). You and I are neighbors kchace. I live in Nashua.
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