SUP - Yacht Tender?
Love My Tender - SUP Paddle-board suitable as Yacht Tender and fun no petrol vehicle?
Written by Marc Lessen – Na Jomtien, Thailand - for Amara Watersports
Ah, those meditative days on the water, lost in the environment, the moment and the natural beauty. A beautiful sailing yacht is resting serenely at anchor, slightly off shore, in a glassy bay. Then suddenly, this moment of idyllic silence is broken by the belching of a tender’s outboard (or, in the case of a 2 stroke engine, the profanity of the skipper) as the boats occupants make way under power.
Yachts of all kinds, seeking the seclusion and peace of a quiet anchorage, carry all manner of water sport equipment on deck, from windsurfers and kayaks to the less environmentally friendly dinosaur juice powered vehicles. Much of this gear often plays a secondary role as a ship’s tender, or in other words, an easily launched support vessel to the mother ship.
The tender serves many purposes: conveyance of passengers, maintenance platform for hull cleaning and repairs and, perhaps most regularly, for recreational water activities. While the ideal anchorage should be nearly wind free, silent save for the sounds of the natural environment and, under ideal circumstances, free of the noise and pollution generated by marine engines, the standard employment of a ship’s tender is a direct contradiction to the primary intent of setting the hook in such a location.
As an avid sailor and one who has recently discovered (and embraced with religious fervor) the joys of Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP-ing), I cannot help but feel like the shot gun wielding father of a pregnant daughter in my enthusiasm towards the marriage of these 2 personal favorite activities of mine.
An SUP offers a perfect tender platform for the types of anchorages most of us dream of. While personal requirements and water conditions are obvious factors to bear in mind before leaving the safety of a deck, I would like to point out a few of the reasons why an SUP makes so much sense as a tender for the types of anchorages I prefer to spend my water time hooked in.
1. Maintenance and Upkeep – the sea is not kind to craft featuring moving parts, multi-laminate hulls, delicate mechanisms and more than anything, outboard engines. Short of the post paddle rinse, an SUP requires virtually no maintenance. Simply consider the average operating costs and annual maintenance requirements on a simple 12 foot dinghy with 5 hp outboard engine. While a SUP can never replace a dinghy for specific needs (man over board rescues, ferrying groups of people and transferring supplies from shore to ship) the venerable dinghy is more often used for purposes other than necessity. With no moving parts, worries of laminate blisters, bottom paint, sail deterioration, etc an SUP offers a “fun to maintenance ratio” that nearly surpasses that of the bedroom.
2. Water Sport Versatility – Leading SUP manufacturers, such as Satrboards, offer a mast track in many of their models allowing for the mounting of a wind surf rig. This solves a great contradiction in yacht mooring. A captain will want to anchor in a calm, wind free zone, while passengers may want to enjoy the thrill of jumping on a sail board and breezing away from the mother ship. An SUP with optional windsurf rig provides the best of both worlds and more. No wind? Hop on an SUP and enjoy the serenity of a quiet paddle in your secluded anchorage. Wind pipes up? Attach the rig and go for a sail. Swells or waves? For a real thrill (and one of the key design intents of the SUP) go for a surf!
3. Fitness – I tend to be one of those “no beer spill” sailors, and while this type of sailing offers great advantages for the beer budget, it can be a passive activity at best. The fitness aspects of riding a SUP are obvious and well documented, but put into the context of an on deck tender, they acquire a new dimension. Following an afternoon whose main physical exertions are limited to sheeting in sails, a good paddle provides simultaneous aerobic and anaerobic work-outs as opposed to the single pull of the outboard rope. Despite initial appearances, a SUP ride is more than just an upper body work out since acute tensioning of micro muscles take place constantly in order to maintain balance. Since a SUP work out is, by its very nature, self paced, the “burn” of the exercise can go almost completely un-noticed by the paddler as they concentrate on technique, balance and the absolute wonder of being so intimate with the marine environment. Compare that for a moment to sitting for 20 minutes in a smoke belching dinghy ankle deep in dirty water and 2 stroke motor oil.
4. Yacht Tender Versatility – When at anchor, those of us without the benefit of a paid maintenance staff, tend to take the opportunity to, at the very least, have a hull inspection / cleaning. An SUP offers a superb platform for in the water maintenance of this type. The complete lack of freeboard allows access right down to the waterline without leaning over the side of a dinghy and its width provides the stability for a slop bucket, rags and other cleaning accessories to be carried worry free. Launching and recovery require no davits, towing is not needed and, as mentioned above, maintenance and environmental concerns are virtually non-existent. The light weight and maneuverability of an SUP around the hull makes solo water line jobs a breeze. The biggest down side is resisting the temptation to go for a paddle rather than clean the dirty carbon sludge generated from the motorized dinghy staining your hull.
Many SUP models offer a beam (width) which brings a level of stability rivaling that of the yacht from which they launch, at least in scale. This stability in the water translates into a learning curve which means even the most aqua phobic of passengers can stand and paddle almost immediately. This also greatly improves the paddler’s ability to haul supplies from shore and offer rides to other passengers, all without burning any dinosaurs.
Living in the tropics, deck space is a premium on any boat. Little if any time is spent below. Giving up valuable deck real estate to myriad of water toys is a compromise the sailing water sport enthusiast begrudgingly makes regularly. However, for most costal anchorages, the SUP provides a single platform for the vast majority of activities favored by sailors at anchor: wind surfing, boat to shore transport, wave / swell surfing and of course, paddle boarding. Add to this the ability to easily access the entire water line of your vessel with no launch and recovery hassles, and an SUP becomes almost required equipment.
There will always be an SUP tied to my deck ready to ferry passengers and supplies, ride a wave, catch the wind, clean my hull and, mostly, paddle around the beautiful places in which I am fortunate enough to drop my hook. The stillness of the moment broken only by my humming, “love my tender…”
This Article was published by -SEA YACHTING MAGAZINE
Best SUP for Yacht
If you wish to use as Windsurfer also - Starboard SUPer 12'6"
If you would like a simple stable board which is also good for catching waves - Starboard Whopper SUP
If you have great Balance and would like something really small and compact - Starboard Pocket Rocket
Also consider reading Which SUP is best to help with your decision