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Old 04-17-2014, 03:56 AM   #1
garandman OP
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Rigid Inflatable Boats - Reviews?

We have an 11' Achilles roll up but I'm thinking about getting a larger one. The largest one Achilles makes is 13'8, not really large enough to have real seating. I had a 12' Apex with a 30hp two stroke and it was fun and seaworthy but not comfortable or remotely dry.

The larger boats are very expensive: over $50,000 new as you get to 20 feet or more. There are some used boats out there but I worry about the costs of tube replacement.

Anyone have one of the larger models? We have three kids and would mostly use it to tear around the Boston harbor islands.
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:00 AM   #2
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All you ever wanted to know:

http://www.rib.net/

Cheers,
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Old Yesterday, 04:52 AM   #3
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I've played in plenty of smaller ribs like you have and some of the much larger yacht tender versions. For the money, you give up a lot of space and convenience to have a bumper boat. If you are using it just to rip around I would think you can a lot more for your coins in a whaler 17 montauk or something similar.

I remember going aboard this 250' yacht in Rhode Island once as I was with a semi famous person who was invited by the owner. The yacht sent over this ridiculous 30+ foot RIB with twin 300 hp yamahas, glass panel nav screens, radar. And teak decking.. As soon as we got to the yacht, the tender was hauled, cleaned, wiped down including every spot of water on the windscreen. I know because that was my crappy job once in a day, and I said to the deckhand as he dropped us back off. It must have been a $250k tender but I have no idea. It was a open checkbook boat though. The yacht was pretty sweet too.
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Old Yesterday, 06:29 AM   #4
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I can't think of ANY reason to get a rigid rib other than you want a boat of XYZ size but your tow vehicle MUST be something incredibly small.

I had a small roll-up Zodiac. Just big enough to put a 15HP motor on it. It had a rigid floor in it, but an inflatable bottom. Me and two buddies could set it up and then carry the boat over the dune from our beach house. Then another trip for the three of us got the motor and gas tank and rigging materials. We could set it up and launch it in the surf and fish from it, all the while being VERY careful not to puncture a rib since fishing involves lots of sharp hooks and knives for various things.

It was a tight fit for the three of us. No adding another person to the mix. Certainly only worked on pretty calm days, which we didn't get many of where we stay each summer (though it's two weeks, so we'd get a few days, anyway). Beat shore fishing, but still wasn't great.

So I "upgraded." Got a 17' Zodiac with a rigid bottom. 75HP 4 stroke, console, and small T-top with four rocket launchers on it. Towed like a dream, was supposed to seat six, IIRC. Now if I wanted to fish surf side I had to go through an inlet from the soundside. In a boat that size you could do it on the same calm days that worked for the tiny boat, BUT you had to make sure you timed your inlet passages to work with current and wind direction, because even on those days there were times the inlet could be 10-15' seas. We made that traverse ONCE (I'm not kidding, we were literally disappearing down in the swells) and while the boat was rock solid it was still scary as hell. Never again.

As far as size, you could add one adult and it felt full and just as tight as three on the tiny boat. Lots of walking around on the tubes. Lots of worrying about the tubes still while fishing thanks to the sharp objects. I think I was at about $45k all-in with new stuff.

The only other advantage I could find for it was stability over a similar sized boat. Particularly if you're in the swells near shore but outside the breakers (obviously stay outside the breakers) and running parallel to shore. For some reason the Zodiac would ride up and down the waves but will NOT bob side to side. It's uncanny. I "upgraded" to a center console fully rigid fishing boat that's 21' and it doesn't do that. No other boat I've seen does that. It's a REALLY nice thing, even though it doesn't sound like a terribly big deal.

And now that I have the big boat, I'm thinking of selling it, and if I buy anything again I might get another tiny Zodiac that we can just haul around and launch right in the surf. Everything else is just too aggravating for how much *I* use it. That particular inlet we're at is dangerous, and if you only have the two weeks per year to be a sea captain, well, it's just not enough to stay experienced enough to be safe, IMHO. I didn't grow up on the water and it's not easy to read where the sand has moved from one year to the next.

Anyway, like I said, I see NO reason to buy a rib unless you just really need a larger boat than you have tow vehicle for. But in most cases you'd STILL be better off just getting a bigger tow vehicle than living with the negatives of the light boat. You might get the size, but you do NOT get much internal room in exchange for your size. Most rigid boats seem rated for the right amount of people or LESS than what could physically fit and enjoy. Ribs are the opposite...don't expect to get more than 2/3 of what it's rated for on it comfortably, IMHO. And you have to live with "tube-anxiety."


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Old Yesterday, 10:29 AM   #5
garandman OP
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I live 150 yards from the ocean and walking distance to a yacht club with moorings, docks and parking lot. And had a 21' center console.

RIBs cost a lot more than a similar-sized solid boat, have a lot less interior volume, and aren't as durable: tubes seldom last more than 10 years.

As far as positives, they have much higher load capacities, are much easier to beach on harbor islands, go faster with a smaller engine and consume much less fuel.

I'm looking at 19' plus-sized boats. I agree with you that a 17' RIB is "Too big to be small, and too small to be big."
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Old Yesterday, 12:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
As far as positives, they have much higher load capacities, are much easier to beach on harbor islands, go faster with a smaller engine and consume much less fuel.
Similar traits to a welded aluminum, without the RIB trade offs. I've never understood RIB's.
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Old Yesterday, 12:57 PM   #7
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I have a 12' Zodiac MKIIC. It's been in the family since the 90's and I've really enjoyed it. I mostly launch into mountain lakes where it is nice to be able to carry it and beach it easily.

I've never been super concerned about puncturing the tubes, it would take quite the feat of carelessness to do so. It draws very little water, gets great economy, and the little 9.9 on it scoots it along just great. Some of the best times I've had with it were when I lived on Flathead Lake in MT.

That being said, now that I'm back in CO it hardly sees any use.



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Old Yesterday, 02:18 PM   #8
garandman OP
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Originally Posted by VxZeroKnots View Post
I have a 12' Zodiac MKIIC. It's been in the family since the 90's and I've really enjoyed it. I mostly launch into mountain lakes where it is nice to be able to carry it and beach it easily.

I've never been super concerned about puncturing the tubes, it would take quite the feat of carelessness to do so. It draws very little water, gets great economy, and the little 9.9 on it scoots it along just great. Some of the best times I've had with it were when I lived on Flathead Lake in MT. //
They are handy little buggers. It's hard to do this:


With one of these:


But it's hard to go tubing behind an 11' inflatable.


Spent quite a bit of time in a 20' Nautica race committee boat and I really liked it.
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Old Yesterday, 03:05 PM   #9
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Here's the 17' I had. I actually had a 90, not a 75 like I said before. She would scoot, I know that.



Can't locate a pic of the little one yet.


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Old Yesterday, 03:10 PM   #10
djb_rh
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HAHAHAHAHA, no kidding, right after I posted that, I found my old boat for sale right now:

http://eastnc.craigslist.org/bod/4414898344.html

That's kind of hilarious. There is no mistaking, that's my old boat.


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