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RIBs / Dinghies

Ribs, Dinghies and Inflatables

Ribs (Rigid Inflatable Boat)

Rigid inflatable boats, better knows as RIBs, are similar to dinghies, but have a hard bottom (rigid hull) and are usually slightly larger.  Over the last few years their use has become a great recreational hobby.  They are mainly used at sea, as the majority of RIB owners usually like to drive their boat at great speed over the choppy seas.  RIBs are also quite commonly used for day cruises, and due to their safety and stability they are quite commonly used by the RNLI as lifeboats. 

RIBs are similar to speed boats in that they are usually much faster than most other boats on the water.  A RIB (typically 6 metres) with a 120 HP outboard engine is likely to have a top speed of around 35 knots.  Very powerful RIBs can operate at much higher speeds, from 50 to 75 knots.  Almost all RIBs have outboard engines and steering wheels, and are generally thought of as one of the safest boats on the sea.  The inflatable collar ensures that the boat stays afloat even if a large amount of water is swept aboard.

The price of RIBs varies depending on a host of factors, but does not necessarily make them the cheapest alternative.  RIBs can be expensive, with current market prices varying from £12,000 to £15,000 for a RIB of about 15 to 20 ft.  Balanced with the fact that maintenance is somewhat limited to the engine; they do not require anti-fouling, and RIBs are usually trailered, they can be good value. 

Dinghies and Inflatables

In contrast, dinghies or inflatable’s do not usually have rigid hulls, and are manufactured of a softer, rubbery material, with some types having thin wooden planks that are slotted inside the boat to increase stability; in some instances the hull is blown up.  They should not be used on rough seas, as they are usually much smaller than RIBs, between 3ft and 6 ft.  In most instances they do not a have a steering wheel; they are helmed by a handle at the rear of the outboard engine.  In keeping with their overall size, engine size tends to be very much smaller, from 2 hp to about 20 hp.

Quite often dinghies are used as tenders (boats that used as a second boat) by motor cruisers and larger sailing yachts.  There are many beaches along the UK coastline which do not have moorings, and the tender is typically used to go ashore.  Many owners find that their tender can also give hours of enjoyment to the children, as while you are anchored up and enjoying the sunshine the children can be pottering around in the tender.

If you are considering the purchase of a tender (inflatable boat) for your yacht or motor cruiser then you should be aware of the beam (width of your boat) and ensure that you buy a tender that is not longer than the beam of your main boat.  You should consider where you will store the small outboard engine of your tender - this could be somewhere in the cabin or under the seat or you may attach it to the boat.  Boat davits are often used to attach the tender to the main boat and these are usually glued onto the inflatable boat with special marine glue. 

Dinghies and inflatable’s are often used as tenders, but they are not limited to this use.  They make great starter boats, providing a great day out on the river.  Most are capable of taking 3 to 4 passengers, so make sure there is room in yours for all the family! Purchasing costs vary.  The new dinghy itself can range from £400 to £600; in addition to this is the cost of the engine, which obviously depends on the engine power, (hp, higher costing more) but is usually between £500 and £700.  If budget is an issue, then look out for a bargain with a second hands dinghy and outboard.  Whichever you choose, do check how tightly they pack, as most will fit into most reasonable size cars, but some don’t fold as compact as others.
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