We use two 9.5 foot "Perception" brand plastic kayaks. I'd recommend a couple of short ones for deck storage rather than a longish tandem, esp on any boat under 30 feet.
We use them exclusively as tenders unless we have company, when getting 4 people ashore raises some issues... then we inflate our dinghy.
The kayaks are GREAT for everything else - running stern lines ashore quickly, landing on barnacle/rock/oyster beaches, exercise, access to nooks and crannys otherwise inaccessible. kids love them and these beamy boats are virtually uncapsizeable by a small child (but adults can do it if you 're not careful)
We get in and out of them off the stern ladder without difficulty.. they each weigh only 36 pounds or so, they are easily manhandled up on deck. Tied amidships they behave themselves and being plastic are soft enough to be easy on the boat.
In 7 weeks of cruising this past summer we blew up the dinghy once - for a couple of days.
A comment on the inflatable kayaks... obvious storage advantages, but recently we went on a two hour "cruise" with a group of kayaks in slightly breezy conditions - those with inflatable kayaks were exhausted half way through.. the seating position is lower in the boat so the paddles are more awkward to use. The flexiblitly means a lot of lost energy. If you can't possibly carry some hard kayaks on deck, then they offer an alternative.. but otherwise a hard kayak is miles ahead on all other points. Those inflatables with rigid frames probably fall somewhere in between.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
Last edited by Faster; 09-17-2009 at 04:15 PM.