When looking at purchasing a small watercraft, many people face the same dilemma – whether to go for a rigid inflatable boat, or RIB, or a solid-hulled boat, such as a boat with a fibreglass hull. At this stage, weighing up the pros and cons of the RIB vs. boat debate is highly important, as this will ultimately determine which is the right choice for you.
The primary difference between the two types of vessel is the weight. A RIB will always be much lighter than a solid-hulled boat of the same size, so if you’re intent on carrying either aboard a larger vessel, this is an important consideration to make.
One problem which you’ll likely encounter with a RIB which doesn’t occur with a solid-hulled boat is leaking inflatable tubes, which make up the RIB’s structure. Usually tubes start to leak after five years or so, with re-tubing being performed at the seven-year mark. Although modern RIBs are much better than those being sold new just a few years ago, it’s still an important consideration to make. Naturally tubes aren’t an issue on a solid-hulled boat, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t need maintaining either.
People who have owned both RIBs and solid-hulled boats say that RIBs offer various advantages, such as stability when stepping on and off them, their equivalent performance to solid-hulled boat in rough seas, better seating arrangement for travelling with a number of people on board, and, as aforementioned, their lightness.
RIB Drawbacks and Conclusion
A drawback of a RIB over a similarly-sized solid-hulled boat is that they are designed for continuous movement – they’re not really vessels for laying anchor and doing a spot of fishing on. So while a RIB can be practical in a wide variety of scenarios, there are certain things which they’re not ideal for.
In addition, you’re also more exposed to the elements in a RIB than you are aboard a solid-hulled boat. To conclude, it’s probably best to consider a RIB as a craft you’ll go out on for a bit of fun in good weather, whereas a solid-hulled boat is for those seeking a craft that’s a bit more of an all-rounder.