A luxury yacht tender is a support vessel. Which is used for service and entertainment. They provide transport for yacht owners and crew. And can be used for high-speed entertainment and pleasure. They are used to transport supplies or to service the main yacht.
Tenders used to be relatively simple, such as an inflatable boat or a rigid hull inflatable. But they are getting more complex nowadays.
With large yachts using custom-built limousine tenders or special purpose catamaran tenders.
Smaller tenders are often inflatable boats. Which have outboard engines or are propelled by an inboard/water jet combination. But the more complex tenders have large engines. And can reach top speeds of more than 30 knots.
Tenders are uses for water skiing, dive trips or dragging floating toys. They are also used for support with berthing or to bring guests from and to shore.
Some large yachts have a helicopter or even a private submarine as an additional tender. Some very large yachts also use chase boats, which follow the yacht on their own power. The 104 meter superyacht Lady Moura for example has a US$ 10 million Mangusta 92. She also carried a very large Sikorsky helicopter.
Paul Allen’s Octopus has a 19 meter dive tender and a large submarine. Both float into the inside hangar.
Graeme Hart’s 116 meter expedition yacht Ulysses carries a 21 meter Princess 68 yacht on board.
The larger yachts need these luxury tenders. Because their size prevents them from entering smaller areas with less water depth.
Nowadays almost every large yacht has a dedicated hangar or garage for the tenders. Some float in, or some are craned on the deck or in a dedicated tender storage inside the hull.
Roughly we can distinguish the following types of tenders:
Simple lightweight tenders
Such as an inflatable dingy or a rigid hull Zodiac. This kind of vessels are mostly used on smaller (< 30 meters) yachts or sailing yachts. Which have less space available for storage. They are often powered by an outboard engine.
Limousines are used for the transport of owners and guests. These are fully enclosed high powered and high-speed vessels. They transport passengers in full comfort and high luxury.
In a custom build interior. They are equipped with air conditioning, a fridge, a drinks cabinet and a full leather and wood interior. Limousine tenders offer complete privacy when underway or in port. Hodgdon is an example of a well-known builder of these luxury vessels.
These are the most common. Often the tender is an open, rigid inflatable, fast boat with inboard engines. They can operate in shallow waters and have easy access.
A Castoldi 21 is a nice example of this kind of vessels. It has a 240hp inboard engine and can reach a top speed of more than 30 knots.
Fast tenders are used for fast transport and entertainment. They are used for water skiing and towing inflatable toys. The X-Craft is an example of a fast high-performance yacht tender. She is powered by a 400 hp engine and reaches a top speed of 60 knots.
The larger (100 meter+ ) yachts have dedicated workboats. They are only used for (technical) service of the mother vessel. They transport equipment and supplies. The yacht Eclipse has a large catamaran. And Sailing Yacht A has a catamaran workboat built by Lloyd Stevenson.
Classic Vintage Tenders
Some yachts carry classic tenders like a Riva Aquarama. Richard Duchossois’ yacht Blue Moon carries a restored Riva Aquarama. Which was built in 1972. The yacht Ace carries a vintage J Craft Torpedo.
Larger yachts carry SOLAS approved rescue tenders. Yachts larger than 85 meters even have to carry dedicated lifeboats.
Eclipse for example carries a custom-built lifeboat tender.