Thieves described as "lowlifes" have stolen a tender, complete with outboard motor, from the Bay of Islands youth training ship R Tucker Thompson.

The Naiad rigid-hulled inflatable boat was taken from the back of the ship some time between 6pm Tuesday and Wednesday morning while it was berthed at Ōpua wharf, R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust executive trustee Jane Hindle saying bolt cutters were used to cut through a chain securing it to the ship.

The tender, she said, would be easy to spot because there were at most two other Naiad boats in the Bay of Islands. The missing inflatable is grey with 'Naiad 3.8' on each side, and a Yamaha outboard motor.

The outboard was only 10 months old, and the boat had custom-made lockers containing life vests.

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All up it was worth about $20,000, which Ms Hindle said the trust could ill afford after losing some of its summer business due to the Covid-19 crisis. It was insured, but the excess was still a significant sum.

"We're a charity. We take young people away to make their lives better, so this is particularly despicable. These lowlifes have stolen from kids," she added, urging anyone with information about the theft to call the police on 105, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555-111.

The R Tucker Thompson's tender, photographed before the lockdown. Photo / supplied