Dinghy and outboard motor: what you need to know

DIscover everything about these boating extras, invaluable on your next sailing vacation.

We put together all the essential information about inflatable dinghies and outboard motors for rental boats — professional and layman terms, what to inspect when receiving them, where to stow them, how to use them correctly, how much they cost to rent, and how to order them. Check out our comprehensive guide covering everything a charter boater should keep in mind when it comes to these two pieces of gear. 

As they go hand in hand, we'll be covering both dinghies and outboards. An outboard motor on its own won't be of much use on a sailboat, and a dinghy without a motor can get pretty exhausting from a week of paddling to and from the shore.

A dinghy has many names

Tender, skiff, rubber dinghy, inflatable boat... there are plenty of terms for the dinghy you get with a charter boat. But for our purposes, they all refer to the same thing.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Beware of the term "dinghy", as it can also refer to all small vessels, i.e. even small sailboats such as the Optimist, Fireball and small motorboats.

dinghy racing

In English, the term dinghy can also refer to a small racing sailboat like this.

What is an outboard motor?

In the charter business, an outboard motor is an additional motor — not the motor on the yacht itself, but for use with the dinghy. The motor is smaller, and you will usually find it attached to the rail at the stern.

What are dinghies for?

While a dinghy is most commonly used by sailors as transport from a boat at anchor to the shore, it also has an equally crucial rescue function. Although not strictly considered a rescue or safety device, a dinghy can be a lifesaver if your boat sinks. While inflatable dinghies come with two paddles, paddling can be extremely strenuous, particularly if you have two or more people aboard. For this reason, boaters typically opt to order an additional motor.

YACHTING.COM TIP: If you're looking for an added incentive to explore the local area, we recommend checking out our magazine articles on what delicacies to sample in Croatia and GreeceThere's nothing better than discovering the local restaurants and cuisine.

Dinghy capacity

The number of people that a dinghy can comfortably carry depends on the weight of the crew members. A group of children or women will require a different number of people compared to a group of men weighing 100 kg. Typically, however, 3 to 5 people can fit comfortably on an inflatable dinghy. It's worth noting that every charter boat is equipped with a different dinghy, so you may be provided with a large dinghy that can comfortably fit 6 people, or a small rubber dinghy that is can barely hold 3. The best way to determine the right fit is to try it out on the spot.

Ordering a dinghy and outboard

A dinghy is included in 90% of charters, so there's no need to worry about arranging one separately as it will be automatically provided with the boat. However, only a limited number of charter companies offer an outboard motor as part of the basic price, and most do not. If you require one, simply ask our sales team and they will arrange it for you. The cost of renting an outboard is around €80 to €120 per week.

YACHTING.COM TIP: While some sailors may attempt to save money by not ordering an outboard motor for their dinghy, we don't recommend this. A rubber dinghy can be very difficult to maneuver with just paddles, and we empathize with whoever is tasked with bringing all of the crew members ashore for dinner. 

dinghy at the pier

The most common use of a rubber dinghy is for going ashore. You can moor your dinghy at a small pier.

Where to keep the dinghy on the boat

Captains frequently face the challenge of determining where to store the rubber dinghy on the boat and ashore to ensure that it doesn't get in the way, isn't lost, and can be accessed quickly and easily when needed.

Some boats come equipped with a special holder on the stern where the dinghy can be stored, allowing for easy access and a worry-free boating experience. If you're lucky enough to rent a boat with this feature, you can simply lower the dinghy to the surface with a pulley and set sail. However, the majority of charter boats do not have this system, and finding a suitable place to store the dinghy can be a challenge. It's worth noting that boats with dinghy holders on the stern often do not have a swimming platform at the stern, meaning you'll need to climb into the water using steps. It's a trade-off to consider.

Another option for storing the inflatable dinghy is to attach it either under the boom at the entrance to the boat or on the bow. However, this method has its drawbacks, as it can obstruct the view or passage to the bow, and in high winds or when heeling, the dinghy can slip and shift in various ways. To avoid this, it's important to secure the dinghy properly with ropes, bottom up, and ensure that it doesn't fall into the water when the boat is heeling. It's surprising how many dinghies have been lost at sea due to improper storage, so it's important to take the necessary precautions.

The last resort for storing the dinghy is to deflate it and stow it in a storage compartment. However, if you plan to go ashore frequently during your holiday, inflating the dinghy each time can be a hassle. The foot pump that comes with the dinghy can be quite challenging to use and may require a lot of effort.

YACHTING.COM TIP: While sailors often remark that the best place for a dinghy is to leave it in the marina, it can also serve as a life-saving device, so it's not best to leave it behind.

dinghy on the bow of the ship

Often a dinghy is put on the bow.

Where to keep the dinghy when you go ashore

Once boaters come ashore, they usually leave the dinghy on the beach where they disembark, transfer it to the pier, or tie it to a bollard on the shore. Wherever you choose to leave it, make sure it won't float away or get in the way. It's also important not to forget the to bring the "kill switch" or a "safety lanyard" — a small safety device that is essential for the engine to run.

YACHTING.COM TIP: When tying a dinghy at the pier, you need to know about sailing knots so check out our guide to 9 essential sailing knots. Do you know them all? And if you're still a bit unsure, be sure to read our article on how to moor your boat correctly and safely before you set sail.

Where's the outboard motor?

The outboard engine is always removed from the boat when the dinghy is not in use. On charter boats, it is attached to the rail at the stern, where there is a plate adapted for this purpose. Never place the engine in the saloon or a storage compartment as gasoline could leak out.

seagull on the engine

The motor is so firmly attached a seagull can sit on it.

What can go wrong with an outboard motor and dinghy?

What do we recommend checking and the dos and don'ts in relation to the dinghy and outboard motor? 


Unfortunately, some of our clients have had the experience of the charter company demanding a refund or deposit for a damaged outboard motor, even though they hadn't used it at all. The additional engine is a very sensitive issue, and the check-out staff from the charter company inspect it very closely and make note of every scratch. Therefore, it's important to carefully examine the outboard motor when taking over the boat, take pictures of everything, and report any issues. This will prevent the blame for any damage to the motor from falling on you. Speaking of check-in, be sure to check out our articles — Inspecting your rental boat: a complete checklist and guide or Charter boat check-in: a step-by-step guide. It's worth it.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Still not sure whether to take out deposit insurance? Almost all sailors have found it worthwhile. Check out out 5 reasons to take out deposit insurance.


The draught of a dinghy and outboard is significantly less than that of a yacht, but it is still possible to get stuck on the seabed. This often happens when returning from a restaurant to the boat in the evening when a sailor may hit a rock or other obstacle. Since a rubber dinghy does not have a depth gauge, it is necessary to visually inspect the water ahead and below the boat.

YACHTING.COM TIP: In popular sailing spots, like Komiza, dinghies can easily run onto rocks just below the surface that may not be visible in the evening. To avoid this, we recommend having one of the passengers shine a headlamp in front of the boat to help navigate safely.

Pulling the dinghy behind the boat

Towing a dinghy behind a boat is a common practice among sailors, but it is not recommended. Inflatable dinghies are not designed to withstand being towed at high speeds, and can easily become damaged. The dinghy rope can also become tangled in the propeller or caught between two boats during harbour manoeuvres. This adds another level of difficulty for the skipper to manage, especially in crowded marinas. At night in the bay, an unmarked dinghy can also pose a safety hazard for passing boats.

dinghy behind the boat

While towing the dinghy behind your boat may seem convenient as you don't have to take it out of the water, it can actually become an obstacle when mooring at the harbour.

Sunken motor

It may come as a surprise, but one of the most common accidents reported to insurance companies involves a sunk outboard motor. Typically, the motor is stored on the stern attached to a special plate during a boating holiday. However, when being handled, it can fall off the stern and into the water and because it is quite heavy, there is usually not enough time to jump in and catch it. As a result, a large number of these motors end up lying on the seabed. So, when moving the motor from the sailboat and placing it on the dinghy, have at least one extra pair of hands. Handling the motor alone can result in an accident in an instant.

YACHTING.COM TIP: When an motor falls into the water, all you can do is dive for it. But what do you do if a crew member falls in? Check out Man Over Board (MOB): a step-by-step guide to find out what to do.

Wet rear end

This advice may sound obvious to many experienced sailors, but we've learnt that it is best to repeat it. Before your crew gets on the dinghy to reach the restaurant, inform them that they are likely to get their trousers, shoes or other items of clothing slightly wet. When riding the dinghy, water may splash, the sides may be wet, or water may get on the floor. By alerting the crew, you will avoid the inconvenience of complaining about soaked luxury boats or wet backs. What are the other 7 essentials to tell your crew before setting sail.

A puncture is no joke

What to do if you find that you have a hole in your rubber dinghy? Some boats have a repair kit with patches or glue that you can use, so you can repair it yourself. If you can't find the kit or if you can't stop the leak, seek advice from the nearest marina or repair shop to assist .

Now all that's left is to choose a sailboat. Don't forget the outboard motor!

Would you like to set sail? Give me a call.

FAQs: Dinghy and outboard motor