Choosing the right dinghy: size, type and propulsion

22 February, 2021 by
Choosing the right dinghy: size, type and propulsion
Clémence Vollaire

When cruising, your tender is an indispensable shuttle that allows you to get ashore or explore creeks. To be able to use it easily and safely, however, this small boat needs to be chosen with care. Size, type, materials, propulsion: what criteria should you use when making your choice? TEMO guides you step by step to help you select the tender best suited to your type of boating.

Finding the ideal size for your dinghy

A never-ending puzzle: too small when you’re using it, and too big when you’re trying to fold it up to stow it in a locker. The right size of dinghy depends above all on the size of your main boat and the use you make of it. Here are some useful guidelines: 

Boat size, dinghy size and number of passengers

- Boat from 6 to 12 m => Dinghy from 1.80 to 2.50 m long (1 to 3 people)
- Boat from 12 to 15 m => Dinghy from 2.60 to 3.50 m (3 to 4 people)
- Above 15 m => A dinghy of 3.80 m and over (4 or more people)

Understanding your type of boating

Take the time to ask yourself the right questions! If you opt more often for anchorages than for nights alongside a pontoon, if you are used to having many people on board and/or with young children, opt for the next size up. This avoids dangerous overloading and multiple return trips.

Choosing the type of dinghy: rigid, inflatable or a RIB?

To reach your mooring: a rigid dinghy

Sturdy, equipped with wheels, it can easily be put it in a safe place ashore and can be left attached to your buoy awaiting your return. The rigid dinghy is essential for mooring areas not served by a water taxi.

For cruising: an inflatable dinghy or a RIB

- Inflatable dinghies with a slatted floor
These are the most common models and offer a good price-quality ratio.

Usage: Occasional or regular.
Deployment: Quick.
Stowing: Foldable, compact.
Pros: The slatted floor provides stability during passenger transfers.
Cons: The absence of a keel makes them sensitive to wind and current, making them tricky to manoeuvre in choppy conditions.

- Inflatables with an inflatable floor
When inflating, the DropStitch hull of these tenders adopts a rigid V-shape, increasing stability.

Usage:  Regular.
Deployment: Easy and quick.
Stowage: Foldable, compact and easy to transport.
Pros: A lighter and more manoeuvrable solution than a slatted floor dinghy.
Cons: The craft is still sensitive to wind and current.

- Inflatable dinghies with aluminium floors
These models, which are great for transporting heavier loads, are equipped with interlocking aluminium floorboards and an inflatable keel.

Usage: Intensive.
Deployment: Easy but requires more time.
Stowage: Foldable, medium size.
Pros: A more stable solution for transfers and easy to manoeuvre.
Cons: Weight, space requirement and longer time required to deploy.

- Rigid-hulled inflatables (RIBs)
Very resistant thanks to their aluminium or fibreglass hulls, these boats have a V-shaped hull which makes them stable and easy to manoeuvre.

Usage: Intensive.
Deployment: Easy and quick.
Stowage: Non-folding. Secured on davits.
Pros: A handy, comfortable, and safe solution that allows more speed.
Cons: Heavy and cumbersome, these tenders are suitable for large boats equipped with davits.

Note : other watercrafts such as kayak or SUP paddle can also be good alternatives for transfers between the shore and your boat.

PVC or Hypalon: the choice of material

Inflatable dinghies are made of either PVC or Hypalon. While PVC offers excellent value for money in temperate zones, it is recommended to opt for Hypalon inflatables in tropical regions or the Mediterranean, for example. It is more expensive but offers better heat and UV resistance.

Choose a propulsion system suited to your tender

Important: Please refer to the dinghy user manual for information on not exceeding the maximum authorised speed.

Oars and paddles

Used alone, in pairs or for sculling, the oar is essential on board a dinghy, even one with an engine. It can be the main propulsion for small boats when conditions allow: light loads, calm and current-free water. 

Petrol outboards 

Regularly overhauled, the combustion-engine outboard is an efficient, reliable and robust solution over time. However, its heavy weight makes its installation perilous. 
Note:  Petrol outboards are prohibited in certain protected areas.

Electric motors

Today, electric motors offer propulsion that is perfectly suited to small boats and generate less maintenance and pollution than combustion engines. It is worth noting the arrival on the market of new formats that are more compact and suited to light boats such as the TEMO electric oar which differs from conventional motors and provides the   TEMO.450 Its light weight and easy to install design allows most tenders to be manoeuvred efficiently and safely. With its one-hour range and an average speed of 3 knots, the TEMO offers sufficient power and ideal sailing comfort for a boat tender.

Make the right move! Now that you have made your choice, take a look at your  equipment and the rules of good dinghy use., This is the best way to ensure that boating remains above all a pleasure.

Choosing the right dinghy: size, type and propulsion
Clémence Vollaire 22 February, 2021