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kayak as tender

14141 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  scottchop
Does anyone have advice on which type of kayak is best to use as a tender for a cruising sailboat? Would prefer a tandem.
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It really depends on how you want to use it, but for my wife and me, the inflatable Skedaddle tandem from WM is great. We don't need to go grocery shopping, so it's just to get from the boat to the shore when we're visiting on longer weekends. It has some storage room, so you can wrap up a change of clothes in a large ziplock bag to be more presentable on arrival.

The kayak folds into a large suitcase that fits nicely into the lazarette or quarter-berth, takes 5 minutes to inflate and is easy to launch and retrieve by way of a long polyprop line attached to bow and stern.

We've paddled round-trip to shore, about a half-mile each way, in a stiff cross breeze and it tracked nicely. I was concerned that an inflatable would just be blown sideways - didn't happen.

Got it on sale for $300 and consider it money well spent.
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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.
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It really depends on how you want to use it, but for my wife and me, the inflatable Skedaddle tandem from WM is great. We don't need to go grocery shopping, so it's just to get from the boat to the shore when we're visiting on longer weekends. It has some storage room, so you can wrap up a change of clothes in a large ziplock bag to be more presentable on arrival.
I'm also looking into a small occasional tender solution for a lake boat--mainly for landside trips for our Scottish Terrier. Could you carry a medium small dog in that, with or without a 2nd person?
I would recommend a kayak with more of an open cockpit. For awhile I used my wilderness systems tsunami and it could be tricky getting into the smaller cockpit. If you are using a kayak to ferry the dog to shore then absolutly an open cockpit so the dog and you can be comfortable. Get something short, wide for stability getting in and out, and light for getting on and off deck.

something like this:

or a sit on top like this:
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a few brands that come to mind:

Wilderness Systems

Perception Kayaks


and for sit on tops:
Ocean Kayaks

There are other, this is just what pops into my mind. Old Town makes some, but i think the are much heavier compared to other mfgs. There is one Old Town that is 10' but weighs 48lbs. That doesn't make sense at all. Maybe they put some lead ballast in that thing.

Old Town Canoe / Kayak
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I would go with something like the Hobie mirage i14t inflatable tandem w/ mirage drive

The two that we have on the boat are a OceanKayak prowler 13' angler and the other is a Hobie Revolution 13' w/ the mirage drive, both are a stable platform and both can carry lots of goodies but, it's two kayaks
They are expensive, but these are great kayaks:

Tarpon 120 Ultralite Angler - Wilderness Systems Kayaks

Good features: Comfy, only 12 feet long, < 50 lbs, 350 lb capacity, can put a very large dry bag (or the dog) in the well in the back.
We tried (rented) sit-on kayaks for a season or two... work well but come September I'm not sure I want a wet butt all the time.. in most of these it's tough to stay dry. We use the skirts when it's choppy or raining and stay quite dry.
I've buitl one myself.

Due to the obvious space limitatons in Fulô (my Piver Nugget 24 trimaran) it had to be quite small, but if you care enough to scale up the plans and fancy building something yourself this canoe makes a perfectly stable and very light (quite a lot lighter than the plastic types) dinghy that you can even tow arround in windless days with almost no drag.

I've built mine for arround 100€ in 4mm plywood, epoxy, fiberglass, paint and a couple of days of work and it wheighs arround 20Kg

Here are the plans

And here are a couple of pics of my brand new dinghy:

And here are a couple more of the building process

Hope this was of any help!

Best regards
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A couple of years ago I found a couple Advance Elements System's Advanced Frame inflatable Single Seat Kayaks on a deep dicounted sale at West Marine, cashed in a bunch of West Rewards and bought the things. West Marine: AdvancedFrame™ Solo Touring Kayak Product DisplayI Frankly, I was very skeptical about how good could a 10 foot inflatable Kayak could be but I have been very pleased but with caviats.

First off, no 10 foot kayak of any type will ever paddle as nicely as something longer and narrower. Its simple physics. But if you inflate the Advanced Frame Kayak fully (roughly 5 minutes) it paddles about as well as any 10 foot kayak ever will. I find the seating position comfortable. I have made round trips of roughly 4-5 miles in relative comfort, but mostly do explorations of less than 3 miles. The cockpit unzips if you want an open cockpit layout or closes for normal use (which is how I use the boat. I have paddled in stiff winds and the boat behaved well and with a little care, they handle small chop and power boat wakes quite well. I have yet to ship water. They are light and easy to haul aboard, they don't bang up the boat or leave marks and they are compact enough to leave on deck for short sails. They fit in a compact duffle. Once you get used to it, repacking is a cinch.

Advanced Systems also makes a tandem.Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak at I understand the tandem actually has a way to use it as a single and as such it is a better kayak for covering distances but I have not investigated this boat.

There are some negatives. These are not inexpensive to buy. I think I ended up paying something like $500 for the pair, but today they list for $399.00 each. The tandem lists for $660. These are cheaper than a high quality rigid single or tandem but you can often find used rigid kayaks for sale at much lower prices.

I would also say that a Kayak does not make as versitile a tender as a good dinghy. You can't row out a second anchor or a plant a kedge, or carry 3-4 people ashore. They are harder to get into or out of in a choppy anchorage. They are harder to launch in a surf. They are slower and so anchoring way out and going ashore is a chore. I have stayed dry while paddling, buy I wouldn't count on it as much as I would with a dinghy.

So while I have no regrets about my inflatables, if i were truly looking for a tender, I would get a good dinghy. If I were looking for something to go exploring and get some exercise, the Kayak wins hands down.

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Tom Yost

Tom Yost has a great tutorial on building rigid inflatable kayaks using inflatable sponsons, or aluminum tubing. They fold down into a golf bag for portability. He even rides his motorcycle with one on his back! I built one of his designs in cedar/nylon like a baidarka and it was awesome. Cost is about $300 in materials two years ago including the paddle (cedar). I highly suggest this route if you are a serious sea kayaker and don't just want a tender or heavy plastic boat. Not all of his designs are greenland style. Some have quite a bit of volume.

Yostwerks Kayak Building Manuals - Homebuilt kayaks by Thomas Yost

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