Love me Tender………..


Tenders are a necessary part of boating. Occasionally you will find yourself mooring  either on a buoy, a floating pontoon or anchoring in some isolated creek. In each of these instances failure to carry or tow a tender means enforced isolation.

During the busy summer months many marinas operate a water taxi service which can be irregular and expensive.  They are skippered by manic gap year students, wearing designer yachting gear and mirror sunglasses. Driven in the manner of a Parisian taxi driver high on E’s in a very battered boat with more dents than a stock car.

Therefore, tenders are a necessity.

Types of Tenders

Using the tender  with appropriate powerful outboard  requires much greater skill than the handling of the mothership itself. There are several types of dinghy available. All have the ability to provide  an adrenaline rush in excess of a bungee jump.

The simple humble type:- entirely manual and lacking in maintenance needs.  Normally propelled by oars and not an engine. Not popular amongst MOBO’s or the more affluent yottie, but it is unlikely to inadvertently break  the bank  or the harbour speed limit. Quite often made of wood or rigid plastic. Usually found tied up in the dingy park, full of water with a plastic container as a bailer. Owned by Yotties moored mid river.

The most common type:- The Inflatable. These tenders are stored inflated or deflated onboard, or towed behind. During the height of the summer, marinas are full of crew breaking into a  sweat inflating these up with a manual foot pump.

The  Macho dinghy:- Found attached by steel davits on the back of  huge MOBO’s  They rarely take to the water as its too much hassle to winch them on or off.  They boast a proper steering wheel and  the occupants sit astride a central console in the manner of a motor bike.

Guide to launching and engine starting.

Inflate the dinghy using the time honoured method, the foot pump. Get the crew to hold the dinghy aloft whilst you attach a line to the front. You gently kick the base of the dinghy launching it over the side, and walk to the back of the boat where you tie it on.

So far so good.

Dinghy engines are basic, and very heavy. It is suggested  that a typical 4 horse power outboard engine can be carried and fitted onto the back end of the dinghy with minimal effort.

Yeah right, if you happen to be a Bulgarian weight lifter on steroids.

Remember to put in the rigid floor before handing the engine to your crew member. If you don’t, the tender takes the on the attitude of a clam shell trapping said crew member. The crew will attempt to attach the engine without dropping it in or capsizing the tender.

Once the dinghy engine is attached, the engine can be started. This can be a source of amusement.

This involves standing unsteadily in the tender, perspiring and repeatedly pulling  on the starter cord. In the unlikely event that the fuel is switched on, the petrol tank vented, the choke correctly set, and the throttle set to idle, it is possible, just possible,  the engine will start.

Unless of course you own a Macho tender (see above). In which case you will casually throw a leg across your saddle, turn the ignition key, rev up the horses and ride off into the sunset.