Nautical Expert

Motor yacht magazine

The good reasons to fall in love with RIBs

The good reasons to fall in love with RIB boats

Updated on February 18th, 2024

On the opposite end of those who hate RIBs are those who adore them. And it seems that there are more and more fans of motorboats of this type.

Indeed, the popularity of RIBs is currently growing. Most likely, this trend will continue in the near future due to the emergence of new technologies, materials and well-thought-out designs, which together offset the main disadvantages of RIBs.

In this regard, there is every reason to seriously think about purchasing such a boat. And for novice boaters this may be the most relevant, because RIBs easily forgive many mistakes that can be made on the water due to inattention or lack of experience.

And this is perhaps the main advantage of RIB – safety. At the same time, soft inflatable tubes along the perimeter of the boat’s hull not only make it unsinkable, but also perform many other functions, including damping impacts from waves, a spray barrier, maintaining stability, and simply comfortable places to sit while diving or relaxing.

Of course, safety also implies high seaworthiness, that is, sailing in difficult weather and wave conditions with the ability to maintain high speed. For RIB there is no equal here. That is why they are called marine off-road vehicles. And that’s why these boats are used by special services, rescuers, offshore workers and researchers. In short, rigid inflatable boats are used by everyone who goes out to sea to do serious business and not drink beer.

Cabin RIB

However, RIBs were immediately appreciated in the boating industry, including the luxury yachting sector, so supply to meet demand was not long in coming. As a result, these days we see an incredible number of models from a variety of manufacturers, in all sizes and price categories. RIBs are the main type of tender for sailboats, trawlers and superyachts, so it can be as luxurious as you want while still retaining all its benefits.

But what about using a RIB as an alternative to a cruiser motorboat? Well, there are some nuances here.

Advantages of rib motorboats

Obviously, to match the internal volume and habitability of a fully rigid-hulled boat, you will have to select a much larger RIB. The difference in price will be quite noticeable. And it is far from certain that the RIB’s advantage in fuel efficiency will compensate for this difference. In addition, if you decide to moor in a marina, then every additional meter of boat length will require an increase in the budget.

Another nuance is the inflatable tubes themselves. Despite their main role in ensuring the safety of the boat, they require the care and attention of the owner to prevent cuts and punctures, maintain the required air pressure (however, this can be trusted to automatic pumps), monitor the serviceability of the air valves, and also protect the fabric from ultraviolet radiation and aggressive chemicals.

It’s not a difficult task, but many boaters don’t like the idea of extra work when they want to completely relax and enjoy the cruise, minimizing any distractions or worries. And they don’t like doing it even more outside of a cruise.

This is where all the nuances end and the full benefits of owning a RIB-type motorboat begin, the main of which are somehow related to seaworthiness and which can only be appreciated in rough water. A little courage, throttle forward, and a light rigid-inflatable boat instantly goes into planing mode, flying along the crests of waves, while all the other boats around are forced, on the contrary, to go into displacement mode.

Of course, with the caveat that you bought a properly designed and well-balanced hull, the manufacturer of which did not skimp on the material of pipes and seam welding equipment.

Some manufacturers do not use welding for seams, but glue the pipes together by hand. In this case, with a combination of factors such as highly qualified gluers, the use of high-quality components, compliance with production standards and the use of additional mounting tape to completely seal the seam, the result is pipes that practically do not etch air.

However, gluing takes much longer than welding, so this manufacturing process almost disappears. In addition, although welds do not provide the same high tightness, they are much less susceptible to degradation and destruction associated with exposure to high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation, since they do not require the use of glue, and human error is also minimized.

Yes, many people still associate RIBs exclusively with work boats. And those that do not evoke such associations belong to the luxury segment and have corresponding prices. Other than that, it’s just like other boats: some models look amazingly beautiful while others are terribly ugly, some have fantastic performance while others float like an air mattress.

Regardless, the huge fan base of RIBs (not to mention divers) around the world has good reason to love them. At least because of the feeling of peace and safety that they give to the owner. In general, when the weather gets out of control, we would rather be on board a RIB than any other boat.