Rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) have a solid V-shaped hull surrounded by inflatable tubes that keep it afloat and add stability. These boats were used originally for search and rescue operations, but they soon became available to recreational users. Before purchasing a RIB, buyers should consider the hull shape, material and placement of the tubes, and engine.
Hull Shape of an RIB
RIBs have two main types of hull: one is a long, narrow, deep V-shape, and the other is wide and relatively flat. RIBs with flat hulls have more deck space, which is ideal for a family. They also receive more lift and plane at lower speeds than boats with deeper hulls. RIBs with deeper hulls are ideal for use in the ocean because they give the user better stability and control in choppy water with significant waves.
Tube Material for a RIB
The inflatable tubes on a RIB are important components. Some are fabric covered in a rugged synthetic rubber, called Hypalon, whereas others are fabric combined with PVC. Tubes that feature Hypalon are typically much more durable than PVC versions and are easier to repair. However, PVC tubes are typically much less expensive, which means that even if the user has to replace them more often, they are still a fairly affordable choice.
Tube Placement for a RIB
Some RIBs have inflatable tubes that sit above the water when the boat is at rest and others have tubes that are partially immersed. These lower sitting tubes are ideal for those that want to use their RIB for fishing trips because they add a great deal of stability when the vessel is at rest. However, they create drag and reduce the overall speed of the boat slightly. Above water tubes are great for speed, but when the boat is at rest, it tends to feel unstable.
Popular Brands of RIB
Avon RIBs are highly stable and able to achieve great speed. Yamaha RIBs are available in a variety of sizes and styles, and they are extremely durable. Zodiac makes a number of highly rated RIBs, and most models have a wide, shallow hull.