Choosing Your Yacht Tender Engines: Outboard vs. Jet vs. Diesel Engines
Browsing boat shows and yachting magazines sometimes makes it seem like all yacht tenders look alike. A plain RIB with little room for design and performance customization. But the good news is, there are other options that can offer more capabilities and luxury to better fit your lifestyle and your yacht–and it all starts with the engine.
When it comes to smaller boats, outboard engines are the go-to. Outboard engines are great--they are great performers and easy to maintain. But many yacht owners might want something a little more in a yacht tender. Maybe they don't want to see that engine hanging off the back, or they need a bigger boat that is more like a classic launch with seating and a swim platform.
At Argos Nautic, we believe each yacht owner deserves a premium design, maximum performance, and a completely customized tender to go with their mothership. It's one reason we offer three different engine choices with our boats.
Engine Characteristics: Outboards, Jets, and Diesels
Nothing affects the performance and versatility of your tender more than the powerplant you choose. When you build your custom Argo Nautic tender, you can pick between a reliable outboard engine, exhilarating jet power, or an efficient and load-toting diesel inboard engine. It's one great example of how Argos Nautic offers a unique yacht tender for every yacht owner.
Outboard Power – The Standard for Yacht Tenders
Trusty outboard motors are the most common type of yacht tender motor. Once upon a time, outboards were known for belching clouds of blue smoke and sputtering loudly. But those days are long gone. Instead, today's outboards are modern four-stroke motors that offer outstanding performance while running smoothly, quietly, and efficiently with very low fuel consumption.
Outboard engines have a few benefits over other styles. First, they're easy to install and repower. Since they are mounted externally, it's just a matter of bolting the engine on and rigging it. This keeps the overall cost of outboard boats lower than other choices. You can choose from several popular manufacturers who build the best quality and most reliable motors, and it's easy to spec out a new boat with more or less engine power.
Getting parts and service for an outboard is similarly easy. Outboards are widely used on tenders, runabouts, jon boats, and workboats–they're everywhere. So finding someone who knows how to work on one isn't a problem even in the more remote corners of the world.
Overall, outboard engines are a great choice. But for some, there are some small downsides to an outboard. If aesthetics are your number one, you might want a smaller engine that doesn’t distract from the clean lines we associate with high-end motorboats. And since they take up a lot of space on the transom, there is less room for a proper swim platform or lounge pad.
In shallow water, an outboard's lower unit is easily damaged if it hits rocks or foreign objects, unlike the more protected workings of an inboard or jet boat.
Outboards are also known to be more dangerous, especially for watersports like wakeboarding or wake surfing. With a simple prop cage, however, you can mitigate the danger of having the props near the swim platform and combat any worries about the safety of your outboard.
Jet Boats – A Fun Speed Machine
A relative newcomer to the world of tenders, jet boats are becoming popular for those looking to have a fun, responsive ride. A jet drive uses an inboard engine that drives an impeller inside a hull jet tunnel. They work like a giant water jet pump, bringing in water from under the boat and blasting it out the back like an aircraft jet engine does with air. The jet unit's water exhaust is vectored using a movable nozzle that makes steering easy, especially at high speed.
A jet tender drives and rides more like a personal watercraft than an outboard boat. They have excellent balance and get up on plane easily. In addition, their shallow draft and flat bottom allow them to access super shallow water other boats cannot. Since they have no propellers or delicate stern drives, there is less risk of damage. And there are none of the other dangers associated with a propeller boat, so they're an excellent choice for watersports enthusiasts.
Jet tenders are the fastest option, with high top speeds and grin-inducing acceleration. But, they're limited to smaller boats that bridge the gap between a wave runner or jet ski and a large tender that carries a lot of people. And at slow speeds in tight spaces, an inboard jet can be one of the trickier motorized boats to handle.
Diesel Tenders – Reliable and Powerful Luxury
Both outboard and jet boats run on gasoline. On many yachts, the tender might be the only gasoline-powered thing. Wouldn't it be handy to be able to refill your tender from the mothership? What's more, wouldn't it be nice to avoid having any gas onboard at all?
You can get a diesel-powered tender for the ultimate in convenience and luxury. Powered by a conventional diesel inboard marine engine, these tenders can be refueled from your big yacht. Plus, they give you the long service life, efficiency, and reliability that diesel engines are renowned for. For saltwater operations, their closed-circuit cooling systems mean less maintenance than option propulsion systems.
Diesel tenders are set up just like a conventional inboard-powered runabout. The engine is mounted midship for optimum balance and performance, and the steering wheel moves a conventional rudder for maneuverability. A diesel tender is a great choice if you're looking for a larger boat that carries a lot of passengers. They also have the power and space to double as a dive or fishing boat, and they're the only tenders large enough to offer a comfortable swim platform.
Which Engine Is Right for Your Yacht Tender?
Each of these motorized vessels offers unique advantages, so choosing between them can be tough.
Outboard motors offer the simplest installation and maintenance at the lowest cost. As a result, they're good all-around, general-purpose performers for most yacht owners.
Jet propulsion offers a fun driving experience and maximum performance. If you like watersports and consider your tender another water toy, a jet boat might be for you. They're great for small groups (four people or less) who want to play in shallow water and zip back and forth to shore.
Diesel tenders are bigger and designed to carry a load. Our Diesel 17 is a hefty 17-foot model that can seat up to nine. However, their inboard power setup needs more water, making beaching and shallow water operations a little more difficult. And they're heavier and larger, so they'll need appropriate accommodation on the mothership. They're best for bigger yachts that ferry large groups to shore and back, but they're also useful for yachts that need a practical tender capable of multiple roles.
Other Considerations for Choosing the Right Tender Boat
As with all decisions as a boat buyer, finding the right tender comes down to many factors. You'll need to analyze exactly how you use it and how you'll store it on the mothership. You'll have set weight limits if you crane your tender or hoist it on davits. If you store it in a garage, you may also have size considerations.
You'll also want to consider exactly what you'll do with your tender and where it will take you. For example, will you be tackling open seas? Making long treks? Do you want something small and sporty, or will you need a larger tender to carry up to nine guests?
Weigh all these considerations with the big boat in mind, as well. We think the right yacht tender should always complement her mothership in aesthetics, functionality, and overall quality.
Design Your Perfect Yacht Tender Today
Argos Nautic offers tenders with all three power options to suit your needs. Our GT Series tenders come with reliable outboards and are available either 11 (30 to 40 horsepower) or 14 feet long (50 to 70 horsepower). The Jet Series tenders are 9.5 or 11 feet long and come with a reliable 100-horsepower, inter-cooled, turbocharged motor. Finally, Diesel Series tenders come with a 110-horsepower Yanmar powerplant in either a 15 or 17-foot hull.