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Advice wanted on buying a lighter, smaller inflatable tender

Poignard

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8 Oct 2018
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12,756
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Singapore-on-Thames
I want to replace my old Achilles 2.3m inflatable tender with something that will weigh less and take up less space when in its bag (an important consideration in a 28’ Twister of slim dimensions)


1. I am wondering whether a 2.0m inflatable would be adequate as we never have more than the two of us in the tender and neither of us is fat.

It’s only use would be in sheltered waters for going ashore from an anchorage, exploring narrow rivers and, heaven forbid, running out a kedge if I get aground.



2. The old Achilles has a plywood transom, fixed plywood thwart and ply floorboards all of which accounted for a good deal of its weight.

I was looking at a tender in a chandler in Brittany that had a slatted floor and a removable lightweight thwart and was impressed by how light it was.


Any recommendations, personal experiences, opinions would be appreciated.
 
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PhillM

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15 Nov 2010
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3,387
Location
Solent
I bought one of these last year. Its small, light but only oar powered. At 1.8m it really can only hold 2 people ( you do need to be good friends) and a little luggage. It folds up small, which was important for me and I can easily inflate it on my fore deck. I also like the captive oars.
 

Stemar

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12 Sep 2001
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13,957
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Home - Southampton, Boat - Gosport
I got an Excel lightweight 2.3 tender (can't remember the model) with an inflatable floor. The towing eyes were far too flimsy and tore out. I got them replaced by Zodiac ones, which have turned it into a good tender. An inflatable floor adds to comfort (dry feet), takes up less space and weighs less than slats and the feeble towing eyes might not matter if you never tow it - or you change them.
 

MoodySabre

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24 Oct 2006
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15,041
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Bradwell and Leigh-on-Sea
I had a Bombard AX2 which I bought because of the lower weight. Two issues: less weight = smaller tubes = wet bum and no seat so rowing was from the kneeling position.
 

Gin

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17 Apr 2005
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Bromley,Kent
“I had a Bombard AX2 which I bought because of the lower weight. Two issues: less weight = smaller tubes = wet bum and no seat so rowing was from the kneeling position.”

I too bought one of these after selling my Redstart with a previous boat,as it too was of Hypalon construction - the rationale was the AX2 was lighter and packed smaller for cockpit locker storage.

I did not take to it- it was narrower, uncomfortable to steer under outboard and very tippy; the aluminium oars and integral locking rowlock fittings worked ok but felt flimsy- I wished I’d gone for another elderly Redstart it was a much better experience
 

ashtead

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17 Jun 2008
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Surrey and Gosport UK
Look at a small cheap Seago - you can carry it down below or into loft for winter storage and carries 2 fine but for 4 of us we have a quicksilver which is far more solid but needs winching out the stern locker however takes up to 15hp
 

James_Calvert

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6 Oct 2001
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1,923
We have an AX2 as one of our collection of inflatables.

We got a Zodiac brand inflatable seat for it to improve the rowing experience, now OK.

It's too small for us as a main tender: the tubes are a bit slim which makes boarding our Sadler 32 from alongside too high a step, so we have to use the ladder; there isn't much space inside because it's quite narrow beamed, and the rear sponsons project well aft of the transom - good for taking an outboard and one would think also longitudinal stability, but it remains the only boat I've been pitch poled in (Salcombe, Sunny Cove, breaking swell).

It's fine for what we bought it, as an additional tender to provide an adult or a couple of kids some independence when we're at anchor or on a mooring.
 

Zagato

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2 Sep 2010
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2,588
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Chichester Harbour
Some makes are rubbish, especially the lighter versions with thin pvc and cheap fittings etc. I would only go HonWave or Waveline at the moment from research. Waveline do a lighter SU version of their 2.1 at 15KG and they give a 4 year warranty on it. Careful not to mix it up with Waveco!! From memory about 8 years ago... Avon, Zodiac were not the same as they used to be, especially as Hyperlon was no longer used. Waveco,Bombard, Excel, Seago were not not good from feedback on numerous YBW posts, some were made alongside each other in the same Chinese factory, although others had a better spec, thicker material, stronger fixings etc. This may have all changed hopefully in the last years BUT I would go by make rather than just lightness. Good luck, we need more feedback on inflatables as a whole.

My 2010 2.3 Waveline is still going strong. Too small in a chop.
My very old Avon Rover 2.8 is still good, recently sold.
Would like a Waveline 2.7 or Honwave T27 with a Honda 2.3 package deal for my 26' IF Boat. Both 33KG.
 

Babylon

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7 Jan 2008
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Solent
I can only relate my own experience (similar size small yacht to the OP, and similar needs):

3yrs ago replaced the old Seago 2.3m (was falling apart) with a Zodiac 2.3m. This has a rigid plastic transom and narrow plastic floor-slats which can therfore stay in place permanently and a light aluminium thwart. The dealer fitted fold-down rigid plastic wheels which I find enormously helpful as a singlehander dragging the dink up a slipway or rough beach with a 2.5hp two-stroke on the transom. The whole thing is considerably lighter than the old Seago, and very easy to hoik up onto the foredeck. The wheels compromise the foldability a bit, but this is not a major issue as I cruise with it towed astern or lashed down capsized in inflated state in front of the mast for offshore passages. When putting the boat away on her mooring, instead of trying to pack it into the cockpit locker as I used to do, I just roll it up and leave it at the bottom of the companionway steps.

Inflation and deflation takes no time at all with a 12v pump - horribly noisy for a minute or two but very fast and effective even with limited deck-space.

Size-wise it has very limited internal carrying capacity, but I have no need for a larger inflatable, as I'm only ever 1- or 2-up plus small dog for runs ashore.

It rows perfectly adequately for short distances but in anything except protected waters with little tide/stream running the outboard is a must.
 
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sailingmartin

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28 Nov 2017
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16
Location
Bristol
We had an Excel 2.0 for exactly the same reasons you state. It’s very small after a 2.6 but just about ok for two men and a dog ( which was our load). Takes a bit of getting used to and only really useful in calmish waters. Used with a Torqeedo outboard. Best thing about it was its weight and folded dimensions. Now have a bigger boat and a Portabote dinghy.
 

andsarkit

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27 Aug 2015
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Dartmouth
I had a roundtail Lifeguard 220 which served me well for over 30 years. It was hypalon and rolled up very small.
I replaced it with a Seago 240 with transom which I found was too short inside to row sucessfully and so this was replaced with a Seago 230 roundtail which actually had more internal space and could be rowed. This is important unless you have a 100% reliable outboard that never runs out of fuel. The PVC material is stiffer than hypalon and so it doesn't roll up as compactly but I don't think anyone makes a small hypalon inflatable.
A PVC inflatable of this size only weighs about 27kg so is quite manageable.
 

Plum

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6 Jun 2001
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2,312
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UK East Coast
I have a WavEco 2.3 and have been very happy with it for 5 years although only used occasionally. I got the roundtail version as it is a bit lighter, folds smaller and has more legroom for rowing. I don't use the outboard very often. I would not like to have less than 2.3m even with just 2 slim adults. I dispensed with the forward floor slat and made a lightweight thwart which together saved just over 2kg

Www.solocoastalsailing.co.uk
 

capnsensible

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15 Mar 2007
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27,805
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Atlantic
Have recently bought a Plastimo tender. It's no lightweight. I bought it more for robustness after wandering around the marina seeing what other people use.

It must be my fifth or sixth dinghy and certainly looks robust. Downside is that several I've owned have had inflatable decks to give a bit of a v shape to the hull. Going back to a flat one I certainly notice how much more skittish they are. I can cope with that if it doesn't fall to bits in a couple of years!
 

Skylark

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4 Jun 2007
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Home: North West, Boat: The Clyde
I have a small Plastimo. I can’t recall it’s size as I seem to have forgotten absolutely everything about sailing since lockdown 😩

My Tohatsu 2.5 pushes it along nicely with 2 aboard. It has slotted floor and a removable thwart. It only takes a few minutes to pump manually and it’s light enough to handle alone.

I’ve probably had it over 10 years. I always clean and dry it before folding it away.

To be honest, it can be pretty wet in even small waves but it feels safe enough. My original buying criteria was “light enough to get into the water and back on board single handed”.
 

anoccasionalyachtsman

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15 Jun 2015
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I had a Bombard AX2 which I bought because of the lower weight. Two issues: less weight = smaller tubes = wet bum and no seat so rowing was from the kneeling position.
Me too. I have the airdeck and it's lighter than anything else I've used. Very well made, but yes, wet bum potential is there.
 

longjohnsilver

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30 May 2001
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17,203
I know 2 people who have recently bought 3D ribs. Both are very happy with the quality. They have a large number of sizes, maybe worth a look. I think they are popular in France
 

pvb

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16 May 2001
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41,248
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UK East Coast
1. I am wondering whether a 2.0m inflatable would be adequate as we never have more than the two of us in the tender and neither of us is fat.

It’s only use would be in sheltered waters for going ashore from an anchorage, exploring narrow rivers and, heaven forbid, running out a kedge if I get aground.
Only my opinion, but I think a 2.0m inflatable is rather too small for safety; perhaps 2.3m or 2.4m would be a better choice. An airdeck floor is a good feature to look for - drier and potentially more directionally stable if it has a "keel" type effect. And slightly bigger inflatables have slightly larger tube diameters, making them a bit drier and a bit more stable.

There's very little difference in packed size between a 2.0m and a 2.3/2.4m inflatable, so I'd go for the bigger one.

I bought a Zodiac Aero 240, it only weighs 27kg and packs up neatly. In use, it feels very stable and secure.
 
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