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Jet Ski vs. Dinghy – Which is the Better Addition to Your Boat?

Jet Ski vs. Dinghy – Which is the Better Addition to Your Boat?

Storing a dinghy (tender) on your boat has many advantages, as you can utilize them in many situations.

Since jet skis have increased in size over the years, now they’re real alternatives to smaller boats.  This is why you can see more jet skis on a boat’s swim platform instead of regular dinghies!

But let’s face it; jet skis are not for everybody.

When it comes to the jet ski vs. dinghy debate, many boat owners say that this is just simply an apples-to-oranges comparison, and dinghies are the only way to go.

Alternatively, many other owners are arguing that jet skis can be real alternatives to dinghies, as there are many models that can be stored on the swim platform, or can even be towed behind the boat.

What is the truth after sifting through all the facts and opinions?

It’s safe to say that there are pros and cons of both vessels, so it’s best if we compare them by their features and capacities! If you’re hesitating about choosing which one is the better addition to your boat, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have collected the major advantages and drawbacks in this unbiased jet ski vs. dinghy comparison post!

Jet Ski vs. Dinghy – 7 Factors to Consider

Purpose of Use

The first and foremost deciding factor you need to determine in advance is the purpose of use.

Are you looking just for fun on the water, or do you want to transport passengers or even gear regularly? If the latter, how many people? Can they ride the jet ski at all?

And what about the distances? Do you want to just ride nearby, or do you want to reach more distant destinations?

Do you like fishing, snorkeling, diving or other activities? You’ll need to answer many questions before you make your final choice!

It’s no doubt that riding a jet ski is tons of fun!  You can go really fast, or do spins, jumps or other tricks. What’s more, you can tow a wakeboarder or a tuber behind them.Alternatively, they’re not as versatile and practical as dinghies, which can be used for several different purposes!

Finally, this depends on personal preferences, so there’s no clear winner in this round!


When it comes to the weight of the vessel, this has to be one of the most important factors in your decision, especially if you want to store it on the swim platform.

Every platform has its load limit, which can vary from boat to boat, and if you overlook this factor, the weight of the jet ski/dinghy can damage the platform – or in the worst case scenario, the whole boat!

Also, beyond the static load, always keep in mind that dynamic forces caused by waves can stress the platform much more if you’re boating on rough water!

If you look at the weights, you can see that you can find the smallest dinghies from as low as 100-200 pounds, which includes the small outboard engine and the necessary gear and fuel.

By contrast, jet skis are much heavier. Even the smallest sit-down models weigh around 400-600 pounds, but these models have very limited storage or seat capacity.

If you want to purchase a bigger and more powerful jet ski, it’s safe to calculate the total to be at least 800-1000 pounds! That’s a considerable extra weight to your boat, so it means these large jet skis usually fit bigger (50+ feet) boats.

Beyond the sit-down jet skis, we also have to mention the stand-up models. Even if these models can’t be used as dinghies, if you just want to play around on the water, they’re definitely a good choice.

Their main advantage is their lightweight hulls, as these models weigh around 300-600 pounds depending on the model!


Another important factor is the capacity. If you consider a jet ski, you can take 1 or 2 passengers with you at a maximum, and the place for your gear is very limited.

And we need to mention the weight capacity, which is again very important. If you overload a jet ski, you can capsize it easily, which can even damage the engine!

Unlike jet skis, dinghies offer plenty of space for passengers and storage. They’re available in a wide range of sizes so you can choose the best based on your needs. The most common RIB dinghies can carry 4-5 passengers without any problem.


When it comes to jet ski vs. dinghy speed comparisons, as you may have assumed, the winners are the jet skis.

Even the slowest models can hit 40 mph, while the most powerful jet skis can reach 65-70 mph with ease. It’s safe to say that an average jet ski can go around 50-55 mph, even with passengers.

What about dinghies?

If you powered your dinghy with a small 2-6 HP outboard engine, don’t be surprised if it won’t be able to plane at all. This means these dinghies can’t cover longer distances!

Depending on the shape of the hull and the number of passengers you want to carry, you’ll probably need at least 10 HP to plane with a 10’ long dinghy, but many owners choose 15 HP engines for better performance.

According to real-world experience, a 10’ dinghy with a 15 HP outboard can go around 20-25 mph depending on the load weight, and the weather conditions, of course. With a more powerful outboard, you can expect higher top speeds!

Fuel Economy

Don’t forget that the higher performance uses more gas as well.

Jet skis can burn a ton of fuel; the smallest models can use around 2-3 gallons, while the supercharged models can use 20-25 gallons every hour!  Of course, these are the maximum gallons if you ride at full throttle, but if you don’t ride so hard, you can expect much less hourly fuel consumption.

Generally speaking, an average jet ski can go for 1-2 hours on full throttle with a full tank, while burning around 10-15 gallons of gas.

In contrast, the small outboard engines burn near zero gas. It means a 15 HP outboard engine uses around 1.5 gallons of gas hourly, even if you go at full throttle!

Purchase Prices and Ownership Costs

Jet skis are well known for their high purchase prices as well as ownership costs. It means beyond gas, you have to account for several other costs as well, like insurance, taxes, winterization, and regular maintenance.Don’t even mention the malfunctions! When it comes to high performance, it goes hand-in-hand with unreliability.  Because of this, outboard marine engines are far more durable and reliable than even the most reliable jet skis.If you don’t want to bother with servicing and taking care of a jet ski, you’ll be more happy with a dinghy. Maintaining a small outboard engine is really easy, so many owners do it on their own.


Finally, don’t forget that you have to store the vessel somewhere on your boat. Unless you have a larger yacht, you can place a jet ski mainly on your swim platform.

As we’ve already mentioned, it has many risks for your boat, as the jet ski adds a lot of extra weight to your swim platform! Dinghies are not just more lightweight but can be mounted in several places on your boat.

One common solution is to hang them from davits off the stern, but it’s also not uncommon to keep them on the top of the boat. It all depends on your boat design and your personal needs.

So, it seems you can store and handle a dinghy much more easily, and this also means fewer risks to your boat due to its small weight.

We also have to mention that there are a few owners who tow their dinghy or jet ski behind their boat regularly, but if we’re being honest, it’s not the best solution as it can result in many risks and hassle.

The best practice is to mount them on your boat when they aren’t in use!

FAQs about Dinghies

We’ve also collected some frequently asked questions about dinghies that you may find useful:What’s a tender in boating?A boat’s tender (called a “tender” in general) is a smaller boat that’s used for supporting bigger ships or boats. They’re usually used for transporting passengers to and from another boat or the shore. Tenders which support smaller boats are typically called dinghies.

How do you tow a dinghy?The best practice if you want to tow a dinghy is if you attach the towing rope securely to the approved attachment point (called a D ring).  It’s best if you use a bridle. Remove all of your equipment as well as the outboard from the dinghy. Keep your dinghy within the V-shaped wake, two waves behind your boat.

How fast can you tow a dinghy?Experts recommend towing a dinghy no faster than 8 knots. Higher speeds mean more risk flipping it over and putting much more strain on it. Because of this, it’s always recommended to keep your speed low!

What is a tender garage?Tender garages are secure places inside of larger boats and yachts which can house the tender or even other water vehicles like jet skis. They work well usually on bigger yachts, as on smaller boats they may decrease the living space significantly.

Is a dinghy a PWC?No, a dinghy is not a PWC, as a dinghy is a smaller boat that’s used as tender for smaller boats. They’re usually lightweight inflatable boats (RIBs) with smaller 3-15 HP outboard engines. PWCs are personal watercrafts, which are commonly called jet skis by the public.

What is a dinghy used for?A dinghy can be used for a variety of purposes. They’re often used for transporting people between the boat and the shore (or another boat), but you can use them for fishing, snorkeling or other leisure activities. If something bad happens, they can be used as lifeboats as well.

How fast is a dinghy?The top speed of a dinghy depends on many factors like its power, gross weight, size and shape of its hull, and the weather conditions. An average 10’ dinghy can go as fast as 20-25 mph with a 15 HP engine, while with a bigger outboard engine you can expect better performance.


When it comes to the jet ski vs. dinghy debate, there isn’t a clear winner as to which is the better addition to a boat since there are many pros and cons on both sides. Let’s summarize these factors in a nutshell!

Why choose a jet ski?Jet skiing always means tons of fun; you can tow tubes or wakeboards with them. They are much faster than dinghies so further distances are not an issue.

Overall, if you’re looking for fun, the jet ski is the way to go!

Why choose a dinghy?Dinghies have much better passenger and storage capacities and can be used for additional activities like fishing or snorkeling.

They’re much more affordable and have lower running costs than jet skis. What’s more, they need much less maintenance and attention, and storing them is usually much easier.

As you can see, the final decision is always based on personal preference. If you’re considering a jet ski, you can get a good start with our PWC model browser and comparison tool!______________ Related Articles:8 Simple Ways to Store a Jet Ski on a Boat’s Swim PlatformTowing a Jet Ski Behind a Boat: Complete Guide and TipsJet Ski vs. Boat: 4 Key Factors to Consider Before Buying2020 Sea-Doo, WaveRunner, Krash and Jet Ski Weights in One Chart