When it comes to a Tender or Dinghy, everyone is looking for something specifically tailored to their individual needs... and we are no different. Here are our top 10 requirements when looking at a tender or dinghy, the 'car' for your boat.
When it comes to hulls on a Tender or Dinghy, there are three options, Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass or Aluminum. Here are our thoughts on which is the best hull material for our needs. We have five areas of comparison:
Though fiberglass hulls seem to have a lot going for them, in the end, we prefer the better durability of the aluminum hulls for beaching. Carbon fiber is a lot stronger than fiberglass, and more scratch resistant, so we did not rule out that option. Therefore, in the comparisons (below) all of the contenders have aluminum or carbon fiber hulls.
Inmar, Model 365R-AL
Next is the 12' inflatable from Inmar. She is a light weight boat at 185 pounds Hypalon even though she has twin decks and a deep V hull. This boat is listed as 6 passengers, which is less than we would like, but has a 1525 pound load carrying capacity, so we could squeeze in a couple more! Like our three top contenders, the 365R-AL has 18" tubes, so that's a big plus. The max hp for the outboard is 30 hp, so that works for our electric 24 hp outboard (18 kw).
In features, the 365R-AL compares well against the ZAR Mini and North Atlantic and comes in at a good price of only $5,595, plus tax and transport equals $6364.86 total. Because the dealer is fairly local, there are no delivery costs to us. That makes the 365R-AL the best priced boat we are considering if you take shipping and tax into account.
Non-skid aluminum hull with deep "V", bow locker (fuel tank space with straps), double wall floor, aluminum outboard mounting plate, self bailer, leafield valves, over inflation valve, molded handles, heavy duty full length rubstrake, (3) davit lifting points, bow tow rings, oar locks with oars, removable rowing seat, foot pump with gauge, repair kit.
Her only real negatives are that she is only 12' long, losing six inches to the Zar and N. Atlantic, and Inmar isn't a world wide boat distributor, like Highfield or ZAR, hence, the lower price. Still, there are advantages to the 12' length, as it will be an easier fit between our sugar scoops.
UPDATE: We have decided! We ordered our 365R-AL!
Zar Mini Rib, Model 13 HDL
The ZAR Mini is a twin deck aluminum hull boat with a double bow locker. She is 12'6" long, has a tube diameter of 18" and weights in at 201 lbs. She is rated for seven passengers, and has a payload of 1521 lbs. These are all excellent numbers for S/V Lynx!
Her main RIB competitors will be the North Atlantic and Inmar 365R-AL. It isn't the lightest boat on our list, in fact, the ZAR loses in weight to the Cadet by 38 pounds and the OC400 by 54 pounds. And compared to the other top contender, the Mini is about 16 pounds heavier than the Inmar boat.
Her length is six inches longer than the Inmar, giving her a bit more interior space and she is 5" wider, at 6'5". The width is desirable but the added length makes her harder to fit between our sugar scoops. Finally, by price, she costs $10,700 (with shipping and tax include). That is significantly more than the final price of the Inmar.
It was a close call between the Zar Mini 13, but we went with the Inmar 365R-AL due to a far better price and a little weight savings.
North Atlantic, Model ALA380L
Next is the 12' 8" inflatable from North Atlantic. She is a light weight boat at 175 pounds in PVC even though she has twin decks and a deep V hull. That weight will to up round 20 pounds once we switch to Hypalon material for the tubes. This boat is listed as a 6 passenger boat, but has a 1550 pound load carrying capacity, even better than the Zar and around the same as the Inmar.
Like those boats, the ALA380L has 18" tubes, so that's a big plus. The max hp for the outboard is 30 hp, so that works for our electric 24 hp outboard (18 kw). The ALA380L is likely about the same weight as the Mini in Hypalon, but loses to the Inmar.
In features, the ALA380L compares well against the ZAR Mini and Inmar 365R-AL with the exceptions of only having a single locker up front instead of dual lockers like the other two top contenders and being 12'8" which is a bit long for our desires.
Also, like the Inmar, the North Atlantic isn't a major boat name like Highfield or ZAR, who both have worldwide distributors. Finally, the boat must be shipped from Maine to us in California. That will add another $1400 to the price.
So, the total price of $6324. That is about the same price as the Inmar 365R-AL. However, with the Inmar we get to purchase locally and get our dual front lockers, and our preferred length, so that is the clear choice.
Highfield, Model CL 380
Like her smaller sister, the CL360 (see next entry), she is still a light boat at 183 lbs, but 8" longer than the CL360. The beam is 2" wider than her sister boat, coming in at 5'8" and the weight capacity is more at 1404 lbs. The hull is the same with a dead rise of 15 degrees with a moderate V hull. And, the maximum size motor is also 30 hp.
So, what makes either Highfield Classics so desirable? Well, like the ZAR, NA, and Inmar, it all has to do with the weight. If we go with one of these much lighter boats, it opens up the possibility to use an electric vs a gas outboard. That means, we don't have to store flammable gas on board the main catamaran and we can refill our fuel (batteries) off our solar panels. (More on this, in Electric Propulsion, below) and share them with the main catamaran when needed.
The price is a bit higher than the three top contenders since the CL 380 runs $7,214, without shipping and tax included, so it will likely be quite a bit more.
Still, this boat was one of the top contenders, in fourth place.
Highfield, CL 360
By going down to a bit in length, we can save a little weight and money over the CL 380. Besides shedding 18 pounds over the CL 380, the price also drops by about $600. At 165 pounds, she is only 18 pounds heavier than the lightest boat on our list, the OC400. As for ribs, the Cadet is 2 pounds lighter, but she comes only has 16" tubes, while the CL360 has 17" tubes. She is the same width, 5'6" as the Cadet. The problem with this smaller boat is that she is only rated for six passengers, with smaller a payload of 1237 lbs.
The main advantages are her weight and shorter length for an easier fit between the sugar scoops.
This is a decent boat, just a bit light on the load carrying capacity for us.
Zodiac, Model Cadet 390 DL RIB NEO
The Zodiac Cadet is the lightest twin deck aluminum RIB we have found, coming in at 163 pounds, that's 2 pounds lighter than the closest competitor we have found, the CL 360 but 16 pounds heavier than the OC400.
This boat is rated for seven passengers. If the Cadet has a downside, it is the 16" tubes, where the CL 360 or 380 have 17" tubes and the ZAR, NA, and Inmar have 18" tubes. The Cadet also has a smaller payload and will be a little less stable and wetter ride. The max payload is 1418, a little less than the CL380 by 103 lbs. Her length is also slightly worse for fitting between the sugar scoops, though the CL380 is only five inches shorter. Anything under 13' would work.
Like the N.A., Zar, and Inmar RIBs, this boat also includes a double forward storage locker. Her biggest plus is that her tubes slide off the hull in case they ever need to be replaced (unique to Zodiac boats).
The hull is a medium V, so good for plaining, but not our desired Deep-V.
The lighter weight really make this boat interesting for us, as does her low price. This would make an excellent electric propulsion boat! The maximum size outboard is a 30 hp, so the 20 hp Stealth electric outboard would work fine. The total weight of this boat, with the Stealth electric propulsion is 467 pounds. With the Spirit 1.0 plus (for beaching) this seven person, nearly 13' tender only weighs 207 lbs! However, those narrow tubes are a real issue for us so we will likely not go with this boat.
Offshore Cruising Tenders: OC400
This is an all carbon fiber, hard shell, boat. She will plane faster, but may have a slightly harder ride in heavy seas. Unfortunately, she comes with a single floor, so she will be wetter ride unless you sponge out al the water, immediately. The OC400 has a deeper V than other Offshore Cruising models, so that will help.
Most importantly, the OC400 is lighter than any of our other contenders, and 54 pounds less than our top choice of RIB! This carbon fiber hull should last as long as we own the boat and have good resale value. But a large negative is the initial cost, which is more than twice as much as the Zar Mini or Inmar. At $14,000, the high price was the main factor where we decided to go with the Inmar RIB.
Overall length (m/ft): 3.91 / 12.82ft
Overall width (m/ft): 1.72 / 5.64ft
Bow top side height (m/ft): 0.79 / 2.59ft
Stern height (m/ft): 0.61/2ft
Overall bow height: 0.60 / 1.11ft
Carbon hull weight is 67kg (147.7 Pounds)
Max recommended hp: 20hp
Preliminary Max load 602kg (1327.18 pounds)
|Zar Mini 13||201||16||7||5||Deep-V||7||18"||12||12'6"||7||1512||8||$10,600*||10||10 yrs||4||64|
|Zodiac Cd.||163||19||7||5||Modr._V||5||16"||4||12'11"||4||1418||7||$5,492||17||10 yrs||4||61|
Our top desires are low weight, double floor, large tubes, and 12' length. The total price also figures in heavily as well. So, looking at those factors, the Zar Mini RIB 13 and the Inmar 356R-AL were our top contenders.
They are very similar in features, with the main differences being that the Zar is 6" wider, and 6" longer, while the Inmar is 16 pounds lighter and $4,300 less expensive! (That was a big one).
Therefor, the Inmar 365R-AL came in as our #1 boat, 5 points ahead of the North Atlantic, 8 points ahead of the OC, and 10 points ahead of the Zar.
We will pare an electric 24 hp motor and 230 ah of 48v LifePO4 batteries built in waterproof cases (see our tender, see it here). Then, we'll add a Spirit 1.0 Evo as a backup motor (see below). As for which Electric motors we will use on our tender, that's up next.
Though we like the North Atlantic, OC, and Zar boats, the Inmar won out on a combination of price, weight, and having all our desired features, so that is the boat we ordered.
Sea trials and videos to follow in October, 2022.
There are advantages and disadvantages to these three options, as follows:
We have decided to buy an electric outboard. Our choice came down to having to deal with all the hassles of starting and warming up a gas engine, procuring fuel, storing a extra flammable fuel on the main boat, smelling nasty fumes, doing less maintenance, and having endless excursions without running out of fuel in remote locations. Therefore, electric won, hands down. Because of all these advantages, we are willing to pay the extra money to go electric. As for the electric jet, it is too expensive while offering less horsepower, but even if we were willing to spend the money, the fact that we cannot remove it easily to change to a smaller outboard ruled it out.
Note that the prices below are just the motor, we will have to add an additional $3,000 for our 11,000 watt lithium tender batteries.
Below are the electric outboard options we considered:
Torqueedo 10.0 R
Aquawatt Green Power E15.5 kW
Aquawatt Green Power 22 kW
Epropulsion Spirit 1.0 Evo
The choice is fairly clear and we based our winner on the power of the motor and cost to purchase, so the Stealth E18 is our choice! In fact, we ordered one! We have also purchased an ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 Evo for trips through the surf and as a backup motor to the E18 to get us home in a pinch.
Here is a wall of text if you want to know more about our choice of outboards:
Based on what we have learned, we went with the Electric Propulsion for our tender.
Note, if we were running a straight diesel catamaran, instead of a combo hybrid diesel/electric, we might have made a different choice (gas). However, this electric outboard's batteries can be charged by our existing electrical system on the main boat. There, we will have over 5 kw of solar panels, two 20 kw electric motors for regeneration, and a 10 kw 48vdc generator. Between these systems, we can easily charge the main batteries of the big cat and and the second bank of tender batteries. Therefore, an electric propulsion system on our tender just makes the most sense since we won't have to cart around, find, or purchase flammable gasoline. On long voyages, when we won't need to use the tender, we can tie the tender batteries into the main boat and increase by 1/3 to 690ah at 48vdc available for house and propulsion needs.
Gas motors have a farther range on one excursion, but far less excursions possible, let us explain:
1) Farther range on one excursion: Gas is more energy dense than batteries. Therefore, a gas engine will take you much further on a tank of gas than electric will on a similar weight in batteries. However, it should be noted that with an electric motor, you may sacrifice speed for distance. Our tender, with its electric outboard, will likely travel 7 miles when going 15 mph before depleting the batteries. However, if we slow down to 7.5 mph, it will takes us a lot further, up to eight times the range. Of course, that is in a perfect world. Yet, even if it only goes half that far, we could travel 28 miles. Therefore, we should always have sufficient power to get us back to the main boat. Besides, we never plan to be that far away (more than 10 miles or so).
2) More excursions: Consider this, there are times when you will want to make multiple runs over many weeks, like when you are in the remote Tuamotus Islands for two months. If you are running a gas powered tender every day, you will eventually run out of gas. If you carry extra gas on board your main boat, that is extra weight and a flammable fuel on board. However, with electric propulsion, you will always have sunlight to recharge the batteries form solar panels, giving you endless supplies of fuel for additional runs.
As for when we have heavier loads in the dinghy, in the tests for the Stealth motor, the boat weighed 1,500 pounds, and they added two people (360 lbs.). That means, if you total the boat, propulsion system, and passenger weight, you get 1860 pounds. Even with all that weight the test boat still did 15 mph on a plane. A light weight RIB tender, with electric outboard and batteries, weighs 500 pounds. If we add two average people, weighing 180 pounds each, we are at 860 pounds. That still leaves 1,000 pounds available! That means, we should easily get 4 divers and dive gear to a dive site since that total weight would be less than the LCC of this boat and engine, three hundred pounds under the target weight. Or we can take seven people (1260 lbs.) and add the boat and we are at 1739 pounds, still under the target weight of 1,860.
Now, their test was done in an ideal situation, on a lake with flat water. Still, if our 18kw of electric propulsion outboard can get our tender up on a plane with six people (1080 lbs.) we will be quite happy. Time will tell as we have the purchased the motor and will be doing sea trails soon! Keep an eye on our Youtube channel for those.
With Hypalon material tubes dinghy's can last about 10 years even in harsh tropic sun conditions. However, that doesn't mean they won't start to look a little dull and worn out over time.
Also, abrasion from lines or other things, like dragging scuba gear in and out, can damage the hypalon.
To the rescue come dinghy chaps! These are a cover you put over the tops of the tubes to protect them from abrasion and UV damage. With Chaps, we hope to extend the life or our dinghy for the entire double circumnavigation.
Where do you get chaps?
Unfortunately, due to variances in the locations of mounts and other protrusions, dinghies are not exactly the same. Therefore, chaps are not mass produced. That leaves two ways for us to get Chaps:
1) Hire someone, or a company, to custom make the Chaps by letting them have our dinghy for a time while the Chaps are created. This typically costs $2,000 or more!
2) Make them ourselves. Though far less expensive, this option does require us to own a sewing machine capable of sewing through multiple layers of thick UV resistant materials. However, we already plan to purchase such a machine for sail repairs and other needs. So, now it is just down to the knowledge and labor of sewing these chaps. Fortunately, there are 'how to' videos available, so that covers the knowledge, so we just need to set aside the time. Fortunately, two of our crew members are good at sewing!
These help you pull a relatively heavy dingy up onto a beach by letting wheels take up a large portion of the weight. The wheels are mounted to the outside of the dingy transom. When not in use, they can be retracted upwards so that they don't drag in the water. When approaching shore, the wheels can be extended down so that you are ready to pull the boat up on to the beach.
Here is our choice for boat wheels for our dinghy:
* The Patented BEACHMASTER Autolock system is light and strong as well as being extremely fast, easy and clean, and may be operated without touching the wheels.
* Beachmaster boat wheels unique over-center locking mechanism compactly encapsulates and locks the wheel against the transom when retracted, then extends in use to form a cross braced frame for high strength in all directions.
* They are designed to be used with outboards in shallow water drive mode so they can be operated close to shore.
* Their very fast and easy to use auto-locking action up and down is an essential feature for launching and landing on surf beaches and fast flowing rivers or when conditions afloat are rough.
* A reassuring click instantly lets you know the wheels are securely locked home in both the up and down positions.
* The retracted wheel is locked and prevented from spinning which provides a secure handhold for safety when working around the outboard.
* The easy to reach non-jamming up-and-away motion of the mechanism enables the wheels to be deployed and retracted in the shallowest possible water. Beachmaster dinghy wheels are not jammed by the buoyancy of the tire or grounding as can be the case with other systems.
* The low visual profile and compact retracted position of beachmaster dinghy wheels against the transom allows for normal unhindered operation the boat and outboard motor. The wheels are quiet and smooth running and are large, quality, Nylon reinforced, 4 ply rated pneumatic tires (10.5" diameter) with polypropylene rims and nylon bearings for durability in marine environments, using Butyl tubes for reliability.
* Being self contained there are no separate parts to stow or lose or pins to fit. They are always instantly ready for action.
* For strength, durability and light weight the wheel system is manufactured with marine grade boat building Aluminum.
* The mounting bracket measures 5.5" x 8" and is effectively designed to distribute the wheel loads to 4 widely spaced bolts.
* Recommended for boat lengths up to 12 feet. (3.6 m) [ours: 12'6"]
* Recommended for gas outboards up to 15 hp which weigh about 85 pounds. Our electric outboard is: 20 hp, but it only weighs 85 pounds, but more of the time we are beaching the boat we will be using our 3 hp, 43.4 ePropulsoin Spirit 1.0 Evo!
* Maximum load limit 440 lbs (200 kg)/set on hard smooth surfaces for both fixed and removable mount types. Our heavy version of the dinghy weighs: 505 pounds, but we would rarely, if ever, be on the hard with our dinghy in this heavy configuration, mostly we would weigh 244 pounds.
* Recommended tire pressures 5psi (soft surfaces) to 15psi (hard surfaces).
* Mount Weight: 10.5 pounds (4.8 kg) per set of two.
We looked at all the options for wheels to beach our RIB and the clear choice for quality and function are the Beachmaster wheels. Their is even an option for a removable mount, which we will choose as it offers us some options in configuration. We will post a sea trial and video review of the Beachmaster Wheels once they arrive from New Zealand, hopefully in October, 2022.
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