Rescue SOLAS tenders have been a mandatory item onboard large yachts for many years. in this article, Nigel Upton from Superyacht Tenders is going to take us through what they are and the purpose they serve. 

So What Is A SOLAS Tender?

And what are they for?

Regulations for large yachts state that all yachts over 500gt have to be equipped with a rescue tender adhering to SOLAS requirements.  

SOLAS stands for – Safety of Life At Sea.  

A rescue boat is designed to act as a man overboard recovery boat and provide cover for life rafts in the event of abandoning the mother ship. 

They must comply with very stringent commercial regulations:

  • Capable of carrying at least 5 passengers with space for an injured person on a stretcher – they typically vary in  length from around 4.0m to 8.5m
  • Must be stowed onboard and easily deployable in an emergency
  • Either self righting or capable of being righted manually by a minimum of two persons

These regulations have a direct consequence on all aspects of the boat from the construction of the hull upwards. Testing of these boats involve a great deal of time and include drop testing, swamp testing, heavy weather testing, self righting testing…to name but a few of the requirements.  

How The SOLAS Has Evolved

Over the last 10 years the SOLAS tender has massively evolved from being a very stringent, one dimensional type of craft. It had a bright orange colour scheme that was the mainstay on commercial vessels. It looked very much out of place on a Superyacht and were generally hated by owners and crew. Now, it’s a much more adaptable type of tender for large yachts.

Where it’s going

The goal now for manufacturers is to offer a true multi-purpose tender that complies with all the necessary SOLAS regulations. However, it shouldn’t look out of place on a large yacht and is used frequently for guest runs and crew use which, until relatively recently, was unheard of. Today’s boats can be offered in a variety of colours with white now probably being the most popular. They can be rigid, semi rigid, or inflatable.  

Many prominent tender manufacturers offer a fully compliant range of rescue tenders to their line up and demand is high. Today’s market is teeming with all manner of SOLAS options. Today’s boats can be offered in a variety of colours with white now probably being the most popular. They can be rigid, semi rigid or inflatable. Powered by an outboard in inboard engine configuration.  

Which Type Of SOLAS Model Is Best?

This question is more difficult to answer.  

When considering the choice of which SOLAS tender to order there are some important considerations to look into taking into account logistics, operational needs, timescale, and budgets. 

The positives

Clients who want a practical, and economical version tend to opt for the semi rigid 4.5-4.8m outboard versions. Generally supplied with white tubes, powered by a 40hp-70hp outboard. They are small, light, compact and easy to store, and are more economically priced. These models can be ordered quickly within around 4-8 weeks and are popular as a small crew tender. We generally see these boats ordered by owners who require a SOLAS compliant vessel onboard. These come with a minimum lead time but without sacrificing additional stowage space to accommodate a larger SOLAS tender (that would take the space of a preferred guest or owner’s tender).

As soon as we go over the 5m+ size range we start to see the outboard replaced by inboard diesels. These tenders offer practical seating for guests and a far higher level of comfort. They are considered multi purpose so these tenders satisfy all the SOLAS requirements whilst being practical for guests and even watersport activities. They are built to adhere to low profile dimensions for storage compatibility and are very similar in design to traditional tender designs. 

The downside

The downside of these versions are the additional costs involved with their production.

Far greater than that of its non SOLAS counterparts. Additionally, the time it takes from order to delivery is quite often somewhere between 8-12 months depending on configuration. It is very rare to find a SOLAS boat of this type in build or in stock that can be purchased and delivered quickly as they are generally only built to order. So any client looking for a quick replacement or short order time may be disappointed.  

At the other end of the scale are the the truly bespoke versions. Nowadays, owners can define exactly what they want their design criteria to be. They are designed first as a yacht tender that adhere to SOLAS certification and compliance rather than the other way  around, meaning owners get exactly what they want without the any  of the compromises generally associated with SOLAS boats. 

These versions can take any form and are constructed at great expense and are quite often unique one off versions built to individual  tastes but with all the necessary SOLAS certifications. Something that only a decade ago would have been unheard of. 

The market for SOLAS approved rescue tenders has rapidly advanced over the years and the choice of boats now available in the market cater for most criteria. 

Superyacht Tenders is the place to go for your next tender.

For a discreet, confidential discussion as to how we can best assist you in buying, selling, or upgrading your tender, please contact Nigel Upton on


Phone: (London) +44 7756 867 806 OR (Barcelona) +34 659 556 991

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