Owning a small inflatable tender adds an entirely different dimension to boating. Our used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best tender garage boats.
Having an inflatable tender is not just about convenient ship-to-shore transport when you’re in the middle of a harbour, or access to the beach when anchored in a cove.
A decent tender is something your children can play with (and hone their own boating skills on) and something you can go exploring the shallows or little creeks with.
The problem comes when you have a smaller boat, and dragging a sopping wet inflatable aboard, deflating it and wrestling it into its storage bag becomes a chore that largely outweighs the fun such a vessel offers.
Having tender garage boat solves this issue. Here is our pick of the best tender garage boats.
Princess had a V48 in the range before, but the nomenclature and the fact that it floated were about the only similarities. The new model, launched in 2013, was the first pod-drive boat from Princess, something the manufacturer combined with every trick in its armoury to create a boat that was substantially larger.
The big news was a full-beam master cabin, the first sub-50ft Princess sportscruiser to get one. In fact, even the forward cabin, now relegated to guest cabin status compared with the forward master of the original version, was larger than the previous boat as well as featuring scissor berths as an option. Between them, the large dinette opposite the galley could be swapped for a third cabin when the boat was ordered, but it was a rare option.
Outside, you could choose from two versions, a deck saloon which puts a fully enclosed large saloon on the main deck, or a more traditional Open derivative, which stretches a cockpit beneath an open-backed hardtop for maximum day space. It’s this model you must choose if you want the garage, the deck saloon doesn’t have one. Hidden beneath the aft sunpads, it will easily accommodate a Williams 325.
Whichever version you chose, the engines were the same: a pair of Volvo Penta IPS600 pod drive motors which utilised the 435hp version of the 5.5 litre Volvo Penta D6 engine. The top speed should be more than 30 knots, but only with clean pods – efficiency drops quickly as they foul.
High sides mean that a Princess V48 can catch the wind when manoeuvring at low speeds, but IPS has the answer in the form of a joystick that powers the boat in any direction you choose, even completely sideways. Out at sea, it’s a capable performer with low noise levels that make it a great cruising boat.
LOA: 50ft 10in (15.5m)
Beam: 13ft 6in (4.1m)
Draught: 3ft 9in (1.1m)
Displacement: 14.2 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,325 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel engines
Article continues below…
Windy 39 Camira
With a 40 Maestro sportscruiser already in the range when the 39 Camira launched in 2014, the manufacturer was free to create what is unashamedly a driver’s machine. It is pure, undiluted Windy – very fast, very capable and very well put together.
If you think of the 39 Camira as the ultimate cuddy cabin sportsboat, its lower deck layout makes perfect sense. There is no pretence at seating, with nowhere to sit and relax at all.
And there’s no galley either, just a small utility area that houses a fridge (two on earlier boats) and a microwave. The payoff is two really decent cabins – far larger and more comfortable than you might expect from the sleek external profile, and a large heads with a separate shower stall.
The cockpit is what this boat is all about. Full beam its entire length (to access the foredeck you step up and through the opening windscreen, there are no side decks at all), there’s an entirely driver-focussed helm with a double-drop bolster seat plus a third seat adjacent.
Originally the boat came with two semicircular seats (that could slide together on tracks) facing a bench seat aft, but Windy later launched the version you see here with a more conventional C-shaped seat around a table.
This second version also gets a larger garage, allowing a 2.4 metre inflatable to be stowed. In both cases, catering is done via a wet bar and since this is also effectively the saloon, an easy to deploy canopy lifts into place over it and power tensions once you clip the sides in place.
Windy initially offered twin D6 engines with either 370hp or 400hp, although it’s hard to imagine anyone choosing the former (and indeed, no one did). The 400hp motors pushed the top speed into the mid 40 knots.
A 24-degree deadrise at the transom indicates a very deep-vee hull and gifts the boat tremendous ability. Ultimately it’s not how fast it is that impresses, but the way the speed is maintained as conditions deteriorate.
LOA: 39ft 4in (11.9m)
Beam: 12ft 0in (3.7m)
Draught: 3ft 3in (1.0m)
Displacement: 7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 810 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6 400 400hp engines
Contact: Berthon International
Article continues below…
Fairline Targa 40
Launched in 2001, Fairline’s new Targa 40 replaced the previous Targa 37. The basic two-cabin twin-diesel family sportscruiser layout remained, but that extra few feet allowed the builder to incorporate something the 37 never had – a tender garage.
Often referred to as the “golden period”, early noughties Fairlines are always exquisitely finished, and the Targa 40 is no exception, a feast of rich, highly polished cherrywood, pale leather and brushed stainless steel greet you as you descend to the lower deck.
The layout doesn’t throw up any surprises – a central double bed awaits you in the forward cabin with space for two guests aft in the mid cabin in beds that run transversely beneath the cockpit. The dinette opposite the galley can be used as extra sleeping space. The heads features a rotating shower screen.
The cockpit is a surprisingly good size considering the space-sapping tender garage aft (you gain some of the length back by not needing a bathing platform long enough to take a tender).
Cunningly, Fairline has left the sunpad on top of the garage fairly short, but equipped the aft cockpit seat with a backrest that folds forward so that you can sacrifice seating for lounging when the mood takes you.
Twin Volvo Penta KAD44 (260hp) or KAD300 (300hp) were the motors of choice when this boat was first launched. We tested it with the smaller motors and achieved about 32 knots in some pretty testing conditions – Fairline claimed 35 knots on flat seas.
But in 2005 Volvo Penta launched its D Series range, and the larger and more powerful D6 350hp engines fitted to this boat ought to push 40 knots.
Those testing conditions (force five with a large residual swell) gave ample opportunity to check out the sea-keeping. “A joy to drive,” is how we described it on our test. “Try as we might, we couldn’t get the boat to jump or skip, except off the top of the larger swells.”
LOA: 41ft 6in (12.6m)
Beam: 12ft 0in (3.7m)
Draught: 3ft 2in (1.0m)
Displacement: 8 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 746 litres
Engines: Volvo Penta D6-350 350hp diesel engines
Contact: JD Yachts
Cranchi 41 Endurance
The Cranchi 41 Endurance lives up to its name, having evolved from the successful 39 Endurance, a boat that dates back to 1994. The most obvious difference is a forward sloping arch rather than the original’s rearward inclined arch, but the bathing platform is also longer. It’s a sportscruiser with the emphasis firmly on the “sport”.
Despite being over 40ft long, Cranchi eschewed the traditional two-cabin interior with a separate sleeping cabin at either end. Instead, Cranchi opted to leave the bulk of the accommodation open plan with a big horseshoe of seating forward that converts to an occasional double and just the one separate mid-cabin aft. If you really need two cabins, this boat isn’t for you but if you only need one, this is a great layout.
Despite a design that now dates back over a quarter of a century (or perhaps because of it), the 41 Endurance has lines that look just right. Sleek and well balanced, with a beautiful sweep of stainless steel windscreen frame, it’s one of those boats that looks like it’s doing 30 knots while still in the dock.
Three forward facing seats at the helm is a rare and welcome bonus, although the lounging area is a little cramped. However, the payoff is a sun lounger, and beneath it a shallow garage capable of swallowing a 2.4m inflatable.
The upgrades from 39 to 41 were not all cosmetic. The launch of the new boat coincided with the introduction of Volvo’s new D Series engines, together with drives capable of handling more power.
So rather than a pair of perfectly sufficient KAD series that topped out at 285hp with the KAD 300, the 41 pilot could enjoy twin D6 motors that topped out at 370hp for a top speed in excess of 40 knots!
Uncompromised by the need for that forward cabin, Cranchi has been able to keep the forward hull sections sharp, allowing the performance of the hull to match the performance of the engines.
LOA: 42ft 6in (13.0m)
Beam: 11ft 5in (3.5m)
Draught: 2ft 10in (0.9m)
Displacement: 7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 780 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6-370 370hp diesels
Contact: One Marine