“Bugger – this tender does not work” or “It is to small” or “To heavy to pull up” or “it is new and it is falling apart” etc…. I often hear people make the statement that the wrong tender has been bought and does not suit purpose.  In order to enjoy your principal vessel, it is important to buy the right tender. It is what you use to go to shore, play around fish, visit your friends and so on.  I will provide a few tips which hopefully will help you to buy the right inflatable tender


Prior to even considering what to buy it is important to know what you and your family expect from the tender. Everyone one might have differing opinions. Get together and make a note of what the tenders needs to be in terms of,

  • carrying capacity
  • performance
  • what it needs to do (eg fishing, snorkelling, crab pots etc) or is it merely a ship to shore means.
  • type. Whether you require a RIB (whether it be a fibre glass hull or aluminium hull) or a soft bottom inflatable


The end result will be a compromise and an experienced inflatable boat specialist with be able to advise as to the best buy to suit your needs.

Once this exercise is done it is important then to take some practical notes. The pointers below will give you an idea of what to note.


  1. Where
    Where will the tender sit on the principal vessel. The main methods are,
  • The bow
  • Top deck on the aft side (either port to starboard or for and aft)
  • On davit clips on the duckboard
  • On a hydraulic platform
  • On a duckboard using a method like the Hurley system or Boat Ramp.
  1. Constraints
    1. Firstly it is important to demarcate the area within which the tender must fit. This includes the leg and propeller of the outboard. In this regards ensure that the tender would not impede hatches that are needed to escape if there is a fire. Secondly to ensure that equipment use on the principal vessel is not hampered.
    2. What are the maximum dimensions, in terms of length, beam and height of the area where the tender must be accommodated? This will give an idea of the maximum size of tender that you can have.
    3. What is the maximum weight that the tender can be?
      1. If using a crane what is the maximum working load of the crane
      2. if it is to go on davit clips what is the practical weight that can be swung on the davit clips and very important what is your physical capacity to pull up the tender
      3. If a hydraulic platform, what is the weight bearing load of the hydraulics taking into consideration the weight and leverage of the tender. Also take into account the weight on the transom and how it effects the propeller of the principal vessel.
      4. If you are going to use a Hurley or Boat Ramp you need to measure the dimensions of the duckboard and ensure the bracing of the duckboard will take the weight of the tender.
  1. Method of launching
    How will it be launched

    1. If on a crane you need to note the height of the jib, the height of the rail and how it will need to swing over the side.
    2. If on davit clips you need to check the height of the duckboard to ensure that the right type of snap davits are used so that the tender pivots in the most effective way and also to ensure that the tender does not drag in the water .
    3. If launching with a crane, does it have a manual slew and can you practically handle the crane lifting the tender. You need to check to ensure you can get the tender over the rail.
  2. Quality required
    How long do you intend to keep your inflatable tender and what longevity do you expect. For this reason alone, it is important that you ensure you speak to an inflatable specialist. Some facts,

    1. It is always best to buy reputable brands from reputable dealers who a good business history and are recognised specialists in the inflatable boat industry.
    2. Cheap nasty purchases normally do not last long and will place you and your family at risk – too many people have drowned at sea. Do not save a few dollars and place your family at risk
    3. To many people have discovered that once inflatable tenders are bought off the internet, that when problems arise, the seller is nowhere to be found. Do not buy from overseas. Internet sellers do not normally provide proper warranty support or any after market assistance.


RIB Force Inflatables – We know inflatable boats.