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Bullfrog Boats

The secret is out, there is a dinghy/yacht tender option that has been, up to now, somewhat exclusive to the Pacific Northwest. Introducing Bullfrog Boats, a special line of boats that have been built in the hundreds as yacht tenders since the 1990s. Now, Seattle Yachts offers this line of rugged boats to cruisers all around North America.


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Quick Facts about Bullfrog Boats

  • Bullfrog Boats offer inflatable utility boats, tenders, and support boats.
  • The Bullfrog Boats factory is located in Anacortes, Washington.
  • Bullfrog Boats was first founded in 1997.
  • Bullfrog models range from 10 to 22-feet.

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As every cruiser knows, a dinghy is the vital link between one’s cruising boat and the rest of the world: shoreside services, provisioning, transferring crew, visiting other boats, getting to the best dive spot, even working on the mothership. The tender is also used for fishing, crabbing, and exploring creeks and interesting local sights. They operate quite well in shallow water; many can be beached.

By far the most popular are inflatable boats, from the most basic, made up of inflatable tubes glued together, with either an inflatable or fabric floor with wood slats, to the latest generation of RIBs, with large diameter inflatable tubes glued to a fiberglass or aluminum hull.

Hard rowing and sailing dinghies are another option but are not nearly as practical. While they row much better than inflatable boats, they are not particularly stable, and don’t allow for outboard propulsion except at the lowest available horsepower.

Despite their popularity, every cruiser soon learns that inflatables and RIBs have serious issues. The glue and seams of the fabric of the tubes eventually leak or break down, and the harsh UV in the tropics destroys the fabric and seams.

The brochures of new inflatables and RIBs handed out at boat shows picture beautiful people running these white boats around luxury yachts in a marina or anchorage, crew dressed in the latest nautical fashion or swimwear. And the inflatable boats are always tied up nicely at a floating dock or anchored in crystal clear water.

Unfortunately, that is not the real world of cruising. And that is where Bullfrog Boats excel. Using hulls constructed of marine grade aluminum, they are bolted to indestructible, roto-molded polyethylene collars that are filled with foam. The foam makes the boats unsinkable, and the roto-molded collars have five time the impact resistance of fiberglass. They also will not mar the finish of the yacht when tied alongside.


Think of the safety factor of the Bullfrog concept when reading some experiences where inflatable boats did not stand up to the harsh realities of cruising. A Bullfrog tender will handle or eliminate these challenges without concern:  

  • A couple explores the picturesque back creek shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore in their dinghy but are suddenly stranded when they run over an oyster bed, which shreds their fabric floor and holes one of the tubes. They are able to wade ashore but have no way to get back to their boat until they hail a local fishing boat some hours later
  • Voyagers arrive in Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands from Mexico, only to find their brand new, shiny white RIB is no match for the barnacle-encrusted concrete bulkhead they must use to get crew ashore. The beaches are too rocky and abrasive for the fiberglass hull of the pristine tender. In no time, the RIB is covered in muddy footprints and the tubes are scuffed and scraped 
  • In the Bahamas, Mexico, and Caribbean, crews routinely land ashore on sandy beaches, but unless the tender has a solid fiberglass or aluminum floor, abrasive sand gets in between the tubes and floor, and is impossible to keep clean until they get home and deflate the boat
  • Cruisers come to see the bear activity from the famed observation post in Anan Bay, Alaska, but they need to land their dinghy on the rocky shore. It is not for the faint of heart in an inflatable boat, so one crew decides to stay with the tender as it is too fragile. He will go back to the yacht and wait for their call to come get them
  • A family heads south on the ICW to winter in Florida, but as they proceed through the Carolinas they find there is a slow leak in one of the tubes near the transom. After dinner ashore they have to sit with wet shoes and shorts for the return trip back to the big boat so they can bail out the water and pump up the tube once again. When they get to Florida, they will need to get the dinghy repaired yet again
  • A senior couple buys a RIB to enjoy cocktail cruises from their waterfront home, but the wife finds it difficult and dangerous to step over such large diameter tubes to get aboard. She can’t step on the tube and is deathly afraid of falling, with nothing to grab to steady herself
  • A well-known professional sailor prepares to take his boat on an extended cruise. He deflates his 11-foot inflatable to transport it to the service shop for a thorough inspection and detailing. The repair shop tech later calls him and reports that deflating the boat broke the seals of the tube materials and the pieces fell apart, the glue long since expired. The boat is not repairable, and it is just one month out of warranty. They have to throw the expensive tender in the dumpster.


These real incidents are typical of the inflatable experience. Visit any RIB service center and you’ll see RIBs lined up for tube replacement, which is an expensive, ongoing repair. None of these issues would occur with a Bullfrog product.

Bullfrog boats come in five lengths and six models to fit the needs of most any trawler and motoryacht with a crane or davit system. Bullfrog Boats inventor Craig Henderson was keen to develop a rugged, seaworthy, and unsinkable utility boat that could handle rough weather, and the conditions of boating and cruising in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, his design was so unique it received a U.S. patent for an aluminum polymer boat that incorporates an aluminum hull with a foam-filled roto-molded collar. 

Bullfrog boats are the ideal tender for the cruising and workboat communities around North America. It is a classic case of form follows function. And the larger models are great utility boats as well, that serve law enforcement, workboat companies, and other commercial uses. Rugged, unsinkable, stable.

The boats come standard with outboard power matched to each model. The polyethylene collars can be stepped on without worry as the stability of the boat makes it easy to get on and off without having to deal with large diameter tubes. Sturdy handrails are strategically located around the boat for added security. The marine grade aluminum hull allows one to safely beach the boat on sandy, pebble, or barnacle-encrusted shores without worry, and there are no hidden corners to trap sand and gravel inside the boat.

One can easily stand in these boats, which makes them an ideal platform for fishing.

At an additional cost, the foam-filled collars can be ordered in high visibility colors, making them perfect tenders for high latitude cruising and exploring remote wilderness areas. 

Made in Bellingham, Washington, Bullfrog Boats are the Humvee of yacht tenders, just what an owner needs when cruising and the dinghy must perform without compromise. For the yacht owner who wants to be self-sufficient and not worry about the safety of his family and crew, a Bullfrog boat is the right choice.

And they look mighty fine tied up in that luxury marina as well. Contact your nearest Seattle Yachts dealer to find out more and see how you can put your crew in the safest and most versatile tenders around. 

Bullfrog Boats by Seattle Yachts. The best yacht tender for the real world.

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