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A couple of weeks ago I shared that, come the end of July, Rebecca and I will be living aboard and working on a Leopard 4600. One of our current jobs is to research and decide upon the great many upgrades that the boat will be receiving before we make her available for crewed charters next season. The largest of these upgrades, both in size and in dollars, and the most urgent given that the Leopard does not come with one, is a new tender.

While most of the bareboat charter vessels tend to be supplied with 10′ RIBs with 8 HP engines, Michael, the boat’s new owner, is looking for a tad more. He wants a center-console RIB with a suitably sized engine, and who are we to argue?

A lot of research went into finding the perfectly sized RIB (rigid inflatable boat) for the job. We needed to take into account the number of people that the tender might need to transport at any one time, the maximum length that can fit between the hulls of the catamaran and also the capacity of the Leopard’s davits. With these things in mind, we selected a 13′ aluminum-hulled RIB from AB Inflatables, one of the more popular manufacturers in this area.

The aluminum hull offers a significant weight reduction over the fiberglass models, a feature which is very important for us. I had read about some issues with early models but the people that I know who presently own the aluminum RIBs love them. We also came across the website of another Leopard 4600 charter boat and they are using the identical RIB as their tender. Great minds think alike, right?

Sexy, isn’t it?

Where will we be acquiring this dinghy? From Budget Marine in St. Maarten. Budget is the official AB distributor in the area and once I got ahold of the manager of the store, I found him to be extremely helpful in looking after our needs. Now, as for engines, I wish I could say that I’m having an equal supply of luck but I’m not. I’m still working with the various Yamaha dealers to pin down exactly who will be getting our money for a new outboard. Even though we won’t be taking delivery for a little over 2 months, I’d really like to have these decisions sorted.

By the way, we have already had 3 inquiries for charters based solely upon the one post that I made here on our blog, and word of mouth. That is exciting! Wouldn’t you like to be one of the first to get a ride like this behind out new tender?

Note: If you haven’t already read it before, check out my related post titled The Perfect Dinghy.


  1. Agree 100% with the center console tender…..With a 46 footer captain and crew charter, people expect more than a hard bottom tender……I would assume you would also say “tender operated by crew only”

  2. Can’t you get a physically smaller, much lighter, inboard engine of the same power?

    I thought I had seen one or two such that looked very good.

    The only plus for outboards is that you can have two! and you can go up to quite silly amounts of power. Fun maybe, but very hard to service etc etc.


  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different prop pitches. We got a new Yamaha 15 four-stroke for our 11′ AB inflatable (a little heavy) and it would barely plane with two people. I switched to a 9 1/4 x 8 prop, and the dinghy now performs like a jet ski!

    • Interesting. Since we had our 9.9 tweaked by our friend in SXM, our little 8.5′ RIB is now a ROCKET. I have joked that I think I could take a jet ski. πŸ™‚

  4. I know the davit systems on the leopards have often failed and bent under much less weight than this tender. You may have to look at reinforcing or strengthening the davits in some way.

  5. Hi Mike
    I am coming out of the closet. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now. You can count me as the 4th official inquiry for the charter boat that you and Rebeca will be operating. I have been trying to convince my wife that we should be doing the same thing you are doing after we retire in a few years. Without much luck! She is convinced though that we should try the charter to see what it is like. Please send me info when you have things figured out.
    Thanks, Tim

    • That’s awesome, Tim. We’ll make sure she has an incredible experience.

      I think I am now at the point where I’d better create a database for these inquiries. πŸ™‚

  6. Things are moving along well – congrats.
    How do you handle the issue of being a non-resident working down there? I’ve heard there can be steep fees to get a work permit.
    Stay warm!

  7. You probably already know about this but if not, you may want to check out the Yahoo Leopard Catamaran Owners Group

    There has been alot of discussion about dinghy and weight issues on davits. Real good source for info.

    Good Luck


  8. That seems to me way too much dinghy for that size boat. Also, part of the fun of a charter is driving the dink. I don’t think you should get something too precious for the charterers to drive.

  9. Noticed your comment said Sexy, isn’t it? A boat is not an IT Should be Sexy, isn’t she?

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