How to find the right inflatable boat

How to choose a suitable dinghy

Dinghies, whether with or without an outboard motor, are ideal as a low-cost entry into the world of water sports. Often the first charter vessel you'll use is a tender with an outboard engine; making it ideal for exploring secluded beaches and coves on holiday. Get a feel for it!

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What is a dinghy?

The dinghy is a watercraft, which consists of an air-filled tube. This tube is divided into several chambers, in order to guarantee optimum stability, even if it is damaged.

When were inflatable boats invented?

People first started making air-filled boats from a very early age. The first rubber dinghy was developed in the middle of the 19th century. However, the dinghy which we know today is mainly the product of further development and optimisation by manufacturers and brands such as: Zodiac (Bombard), Hermann Meyer, Dunlop, Goodyear and Wiking. The French company Zodiac is considered to be one of the most famous manufacturers of rubber inflatable boats – so much that the name Zodiac has even managed to become a synonym for inflatable watercrafts in France.

Dinghy on board
Inflatable boat in port

Why inflatable boats are the perfect introduction to the world of water sports

Did you know that within Germany on rivers and lakes you only need a sports boat driving licence if your engine has a power rating from 15 HP? Compared to a motorboat or sailboat, a rubber dinghy is a very inexpensive way to get started in water sports. Inflatables are also comfortable, practical and versatile, depending on their size and quality, and they have (almost) no depth which means they can be used in shallow areas worry-free. Rubber boats up to a length of 2.5 m can easily be packed up and stored in the boot of a car or on the roof of a caravan, which makes them easy to bring along on a family holiday.
But beware: not every European country adheres to the under 15 HP limit for unlicensed boating! France, for example, requires boaters with motors of 10 HP and up to possess boating licenses.

Why you should have a rubber dinghy as a tender on board

The dinghy is also the ideal yacht tender aboard a sailing ship or larger motorboat. Depending on the size of your own boat and the available space on board, fully inflatable rubber boats, with or without solid hulls are viable options on board. Having a dinghy on board also gives you the option of quickly moving from A to B, without having to break away from mooring your vessel as well. Additionally, when it comes to working on the hull of your yacht, the dinghy provides a practical platform on which to perform your work.

How do I find the right dinghy?

How do I find the right dinghy for my needs? How many people can fit on board and what is the maximum weight capacity? Here are a few tips on purchasing a dinghy from the SVB water sports experts

Dinghy sizes

The size and capacity of the dinghy

Before buying an inflatable boat you should think carefully about how many people and how much weight you want to carry, seeing as inflatables do not offer a lot of space and they have a maximum payload Overloading a dinghy doesn’t just lead to accidents occurring, but it can also get you in trouble with the river police. If you don’t have much space available to accommodate your new dinghy, pay due attention to the specified pack size of the dinghy - seeing as every centimeter of a dinghy counts on a sailboat! On sailboats, we recommend stowing the dinghy on deck or on the roof of the cabin, in case it cannot be rolled up and packed into in a locker. Another important point to consider when purchasing an inflatable is the maximum outboard motor weight that the dinghy can handle. This will also be a deciding factor in how fast and powerful your new dinghy will be. For example, the Torqeedo brand offers an electric outboard motor, which impresses with its lightweight, excellent maneuverability and its ability to propel inflatable vessels of up to 2.5 m in size.

Inflatable floor

The bottom of the dinghy

The bottom of the dinghy is meant to provide driving stability and comfort. Compact inflatables, which are primarily used as dinghies are usually manufactured with slatted bottoms or inflated bottoms This is also the case with our SEATEC series NEMO and YACHTING dinghies. The so-called high-pressure air floors of our brand-new AERO TENDER inflatable series consist of two V-shaped converging high-pressure air chambers. The great advantage of this is its high stability, despite its very light weight. Another type of dinghy bottom is the multi-divided aluminum plate, which ensures a firm grip while on board. At the same time, these bottoms are relatively easy to remove as well. For this reason, the vessel remains compact and easy to store. We also offer the SEATEC DOLPHIN with aluminum floors. This model is probably the most rugged type of inflatable which we offer. This rigid inflatable has a solid, double skin GRP hull, which provides a high degree of driving comfort. The rigid inflatable boats which we offer from SEATEC are the PRO SPORT and the SPORT GT. Rigid inflatable boats also offer the best drivability amongst other types of dinghies and they provide the user with a variety of installation options, such as the attachment of a sunscreen.

The material of the dinghy

Although many people still call dinghies „rubber boats“, very few dinghies are currently made out of real rubber. In order to produce functional and durable dinghies, materials such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or a combination of hypalon and neoprene are used. Robust dinghy tubes consist of double-coated support fabric which is made up of several layers. Our SEATEC rigid inflatable boats are made out of inflatable tubing, separated by several air chambers and a solid, double-layered fiberglass hull. Maintaining the correct air pressure is essential to the upkeep of your vessel. This is especially true if the bottom is inflated and not reinforced by slates or boards. You should always make sure that there is sufficient air pressure before you finish inflating your dinghy. For this purpose, we offer a high-quality air pressure gauge in our SVB online shop.

Dinghy stow away
Dinghy sailor

How can I stow my dinghy on board?

Depending on the specific boat size and the available space on board, the dinghy can be inflated and mounted on deck or it can be carefully rolled up and stowed in a locker. When storing it in a locker, make sure that the dinghy is completely dry, otherwise mold may form! The SVB water sports experts don’t recommend folding up your dinghy in the long run, because constant rubbing and wrinkles can cause leaks in the tubing. In addition, the tender should not be stored in an overly cold environment because this can make the material brittle. When it comes to storing the tender on deck, our water sports experts recommend using tarps or tarpaulins to protect the dinghy from UV rays and saltwater.

How do I clean and care for my dinghy best?

In order to keep the material of your dinghy looking nice, soft and flexible, PVC dinghies should be regularly treated with special care products. We offer many different products from many different brands to suit your needs. In order to get the perfect value for your money, we offer a range of products from our house brand - SEATEC. In cooperation with the cleaning and care specialists – Dulon, we have developed highly effective products for the cleaning and maintenance of dinghies.

How can I repair my inflatable boat?

Despite loving care, your inflatable boat has a hole? No problem with our repair kits! You will receive two large patches in the colour of your inflatable boat, and a PVC adhesive to fix the patches. Our SEATEC inflatable repair kits also include a key for the valve. Other inflatable repair kits contain sandpaper for roughening the adhesive surface instead. In addition to our inflatable boat repair kits, you can also order spare parts for inflatable boats, such as valves, handles and brackets as well as benches and paddles online. 


Comparison Table for SEATEC boats

Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot NEMO
Schlauchboot PRO ADVENTURE
Type NEMO 230 YACHTING 225
Weight 31 kg 32,5 kg
46,1 kg
35,15 kg
41,06 kg
42,48 kg
51 kg
54 kg
74 kg
84 kg
93 kg
101 kg
125 kg
291 kg
39 kg
48 kg
58 kg
Dimensions 2,25 x 1,31 m 2,25 x 1,34 m
2,50 x 1,56 m
2,41 x 1,37 m
2,56 x 1,57 m
3,10 x 1,57 m
2,24 x 1,53 m
2,43 x 1,56 m
2,74 x 1,68 m
3,08 x 1,54 m
3,48 x 1,76 m
3,79 x 1,76 m
3,28 x 1,69 m
4,05 x 1,91 m
2,42 x 1,59 m
2,65 x 1,59 m
3,07 x 1,59 m
Carrying-capacity 270 kg / 2,5 Pers. 300 kg / 2,5 Pers.
440 kg / 3 Pers.
440 kg / 3 Pers.
610 kg / 3 Pers.
620 kg / 3,5 Pers.
350 kg / 3 Pers.
460 kg / 3 Pers.
500 kg / 4 Pers.
500 kg / 4 Pers.
600 kg / 4 Pers.
720 kg / 4 Pers.
550 kg / 5 Pers.
730 kg / 5 Pers.
380 kg / 3 Pers.
425 kg / 3,5 Pers.
495 kg / 4,5 Pers.
Max. engine output KW (PS) 2,5 (3,3) 2,5 (3,3)
4,6 (6,0)
3,7 (5,0)
6,0 (8,0)
7,4 (10)
3,7 (5,0)
4,78 (6,5)
7,4 (10)
11,2 (15)
11,2/18,4* (15/25*)
22,1 (30)
36,8 (50) 3,7 (5)
7,4 (10)
14,7 (20)
Air chambers 3 3
3 + 2
3 + 2
3 + 2
Tube-Ø 35 cm 35 cm
43,5 cm
37,5 cm
42,5 cm
43,5 cm
39 cm
41 cm
44,5 cm
44,5 cm
47,5 cm
47,5 cm
42 cm
47,5 cm
42 cm
42 cm
42 cm
Pack dimensions 1,02 x 0,58 x 0,29 m 1,03 x 0,58 x 0,28 m
1,13 x 0,60 x 0,33 m
1,06 x 0,58 x 0,31 m
1,12 x 0,59 x 0,34 m
1,13 x 0,65 x 0,33 m
1,96 x 1,11 x 0,48 m
2,15 x 1,11 x 0,44 m
2,78 x 1,12 x 0,46 m
2,80 x 1,12 x 0,46 m
3,11 x 1,26 x 0,54 m
3,42 x 1,22 x 0,51
(1,38 x 0,52 x 0,77 m)
3,80 x 1,65 x 1,09
2,91 x 1,26 x 0,54 m
2,13 x 1,11 x 0,46
2,51 x 1,11 x 0,47
2,79 x 1,11 x 0,47
Hull / bottom Slatted bottom Slatted bottom Inflatable bottom GRP-rigid hull GRP-rigid hull GRP-rigid hull GRP-rigid hull
GL certified?
Seating board

* Jockey-seat version