3. Blow It Up
Rigid-hull inflatables have also gotten better, and better, looking. Add in custom features and the results are boat owners who can't wait to tie up so they can launch the tender. The use of high-tech composites has reduced weight, while improved designs have meant even better performance. And while the SEAL-team cachet is part of the appeal, it often has a decidedly teaked-out twist. The HBI 30 from Hunt (www.hbiboats.com) uses an efficient hull design and custom features to deliver a lightweight, versatile tender package. Depending on the tender's purpose, Hunt offers a selection of power options including single and twin outboards, inboard and jet power. Plenty of stowage and seating for up to 14 add to the utility while guest comfort is met with a stand-up head and shower in the console. Pure Yachting (www.pureyachting.com) of Newport, Rhode Island, builds a series of high-end RIBs ranging from 14 to 24 feet with the hull and decking fabricated from carbon fiber, Kevlar and Corecell foam coring. The 14-foot-9-inch Pure 450 can take a 70-horsepower outboard and weighs only 285 pounds. Even the 24-foot Pure 730 weighs in at a svelte 1,204 pounds. In addition to reducing the boat's overall weight, the higher-tech materials improve sound-deadening and strengthen the hull to provide a quiet ride in chop. Fully custom models in the Grand Tourers series from British manufacturer Rib-X (www.rib-x.co.uk) can be matched in color and style to the mothership. Distinctive designs set these boats apart. Williams Performance Tenders (www.williamsjettenders.com) use clever deck arrangements to seat the whole crew comfortably and safely, but also offer performance and speed with jet power.