Inflatable Dinghies or Hard-Hulled Tenders?

For going ashore for groceries or a bit of beach fun, inflatable dinghies are must-have small craft for tendering larger boats. With oars or just a small motor, they are capable of doing everything their hard-hulled cousins can do. Or can they?

How They Compare

If you’ve experienced lashing rain swamping a hard shell dinghy as it plays submarine while dragging like a sea anchor behind your big boat, you’ve probably thought seriously about investing in something less rigid — like an inflatable dink.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of inflatable dinghies compared to hard hull boats? Let’s take a look:

Inflatable Dinghies

Pros:

  • A soft-sided dink won’t bang your boat when you come alongside
  • Easy to lift
  • Won’t slow the big boat down when under tow
  • Dinghies can be deflated and stowed, or secured upside down on deck
  • More stable and buoyant
  • Highly maneuverable
  • Very shallow draft
  • Attractive enough for yacht tendering

Inflatable Dinghy

Cons:

  • Not fast (especially loaded to capacity)
  • Not as dry a ride as a hard dinghy
  • Not a boat you want to row for long distances
  • Though it is incredibly tough, the hull material of inflatable dinghies can by punctured by coral, or by sharp shellfish

Rugged and Reasonably Priced

Here’s an ideal dinghy that fits all of the pros listed above: Sea Eagle’s 8.10 Yacht Tender. It weighs just 59 lbs, inflates in minutes, and is very easy to board. As for stability, you and your family can stand on the inflatable drop stitch floor without fearing the boat might taco in the middle of the bay.

Sea Eagle Inflatables – Factory Direct

Other Choices for Tenders

Sea Eagle 10.6 SR Dinghy

You aren’t restricted to inflatable dinghies to tender your sailboat or yacht; there are several other designs of inflatable rafts that can do the job. For example, if you don’t fancy paddling across vast distances of water, a small motor mounted on one of Sea Eagle’s Sport Runabouts is a welcome solution. If you have a frequent desire to explore beaches up and down the coastline, or just want something that will fly across the water, these dinghies are a lot of fun.

The smallest of the Sport Runabouts, the Sea Eagle 10.6 SR, is a rugged boat that can carry five adults and gear, with a weight capacity up to 1200 pounds. The dinghy comes with a 6" V-shaped inflatable keel for great maneuverability, even in tight quarters such as getting between several moored boats. This gorgeous little runabout sells for $1,349 (without the motor).

Inflatables Beat Hard Hull Boats

As you can see, inflatables have come a long way from the rubber rafts of decades ago. If you are frustrated by the drawbacks of a hard-hulled dinghy, or will miss cruising around the bay powered by a decent size outboard, you have many good options in inflatable dinks. One last alternative we should mention is a rigid inflatable keel boat, such as the Sea Eagle 10.6 SR RIK, which offers many of the same advantages of inflatable rafts in terms of being lightweight, compact, easy to assemble and launch. Moreover, it has the benefits of a hard-hulled boat, in terms of speed, plus the lightweight pros of inflatable dinghies. In addition, it will tow better and, depending on the size of the motor, it will plane even when loaded with guests and gear.

Reviews

Sea Eagle 10.6 SR Sport Runabout - A multi-purpose inflatable boat for family outings, fishing, ship to shore tendering, and more. A quality watercraft that is both attractive and versatile.

Sea Eagle 10.6 SR RIK Sport Runabout - Impressive value for the price. Rigid inflatable keel provides stability and responds quickly to direction changes.

Sea Eagle 12.6 SR Sport Runabout - You can depend on the Sea Eagle 12.6 SR to deliver high performance and reliability at a reasonable price. Takes 30 hp outboard, good for 4 adults, easy to launch.

Sea Eagle 14 SR Sport Runabout - A solid investment and a good choice for an all-around, multi-purpose watercraft. A rugged, yet comfortable inflatable boat that can go anywhere.

Sea Eagle 8.10 Yacht Tender - Lightweight inflatable dinghy weighs just 59 pounds and inflates in 7 minutes. Tows behind boat or store below deck. Takes 5 hp outboard motor or use oars.


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