When a big boat finds its limits, it’s often a dinghy, sometimes called a tender, that comes to the rescue. These small boats — which include rowboats, inflatable boats and even small sailboats — are carried or towed by larger vessels such as houseboats, cruisers and motor yachts. When waters are too shallow or ports too restricted for the ‘mother ship,’ the dinghy gets the call for a commute, making it easy to reach a port, visit an island or try out a shallow fishing spot.

Dinghies come in many configurations. Some are rigid-hull boats made of fiberglass, aluminum, plastic or marine plywood. Others are inflatable — either fully inflatable or one of the increasingly popular rigid inflatables. Storage, deployment and towability all influence a boater’s choice. Some dinghies accommodate a simple sailing rig, but they’re most often powered by oars or a small outboard engine.

Quick Stats

  • 5 Max
  • 5 - 12 ft
  • outboard engine
  • man power
  • trailerable