There is no denying that the number of inflatable toys and accessories offered to yachts is increasing. This is in line with the rise in owners’ and guests’ awareness of toys and the increased focus on having fun on board together with the improved quality and suitability of inflatable materials. The beauty of inflatables, of course, is the small pack-down size compared to equivalent rigid products and it seems that no matter how big your yacht they always seem to have less storage space than everyone wants.
Whilst we are all familiar with the inflatable yacht slide, climbing walls, sea pools, towers and towables there is a new focus on inflatable docks – gaining usable decking on the water which is then used for lounging, swimming from and berthing tenders and jetskis.
Whilst there are some excellent stock products available that do just this from suppliers such as NautiBouy Marine, Henshaw Inflatables, FunAir and Freestyle. SYTT have a number of large projects which are taking this to a new extreme. These have been led by innovative owners’ teams who have a focus on having a large usable area on the transom of the yacht for closer interaction with the sea.
The Supersized concept
Superyacht Tenders and Toys (SYTT) have recently been commissioned to design and supply some supersized docks for a number of vessels over 100m, identified by the owners as the best possible value acquisition of ‘retail estate’ on the water. These docks attach to the yacht in modular sections, hugging the hull shape and can be configured in any shape to suit the conditions and requirements with berthing for large tenders, toys, jetskis and more. They are joined with ratchets then have removable covers over all joins to ensure the most seamless flush feel.
Once the initial concerns over stowage are resolved and the storage space has been agreed SYTT have been free to design the best possible deck configurations. At approx. $500 per metre squared (as a very rough guide) when using the highest quality Drop Stitch (the same material as stand up paddleboards are built out of so able to be inflated up to 10 P.S.I) and either 20cm or 30cm thick (30cm the thickest possible giving maximum stability) these docks can provide ample space off the transom of the yacht giving owners a multitude of configuration options. SYTT offer these docks in PVC (lightweight, better looking with welded seams and better value) and/or Orca Hypalon (heavier, more rugged appearance due to glued seams and more durable) and they are being built in the UK, China and Europe as required.
D rings/attachment points:
With docks becoming larger the D rings/anchor points have needed to be increased in quality and size. This has been achieved by using webbing straps which are glued, stitched then double RF welded onto the inflatable. Previously the problem has been that these have been directional, thus if crew pull on this in the wrong direction it can fail. New D ring attachment points have been made so that these can now be pulled in varying directions, ensuring that whatever way they are pulled, or lifted with cranes they do not break. Adjustable dyneema rings can be used instead of stainless D rings as required to avoid any damage to the mothership when deployed or handling.
Above left – multi directional pull
Above right – reinforced webbing strap, ideal for lifting points
With the first of these currently in production these are a hot topic, as we strive to create a secure and stable walking/lounging area for guests. Wave breaks have been designed to be removable (so can be chosen to be used only when conditions require it) and attach to the bottom of large inflatables. The wave break is achieved by weighted net and vinyl deflector plates which push the wave outboard keeping the dock as stable as possible. These are in addition to water ballast bags hugging the docks to the water.
Lashing ropes to inflatables on cleats on the transom of a yacht can look untidy and lead to people catching hands and tripping. They can also snag and chafe on paintwork. For the supersized docks, due to the high loads SYTT have built lightweight removable composite sleeves, lined with neoprene which fit over the transom curve, securing to any cleat and/or railings, taking the connection points right down to water level, keeping the docks butting up against the transom ensuring no gaps.
Any shape, any size, with sections made to fit the transom curve for stability. This is highly scalable for any sized yacht.
With modern materials and innovations the only limit to what is achievable is the imagination. The beauty of inflatables is that anything can be designed within reason and there is no need for any mould tools. Any inflatable can be made to fit the yachts transom or hull shape. With these new floating marinas life on board can be lived closer to the water, and it is cheap fun compared to extending the yacht to achieve this. Decks, pools, toys, mooring space can all be kept on the doorstep.