CAPTAIN MICHAEL HOWORTH TAKES A LOOK AT THE WAY THE ONCE HUMBLE RIB HAS BECOME AN ESSENTIAL PART OF EVERYDAY LIFE FOR SUPERYACHT CREWS
Love them or hate them, the RIB remains the workhorse of the superyacht industry. They are to yacht crew, what a horse and cart was to farmers in years gone by, or trucks are now, to the average construction worker. Those are my own analogies and I point blank refuse to use the suggestion that they are also the wheelbarrows of the superyacht world as one colleague once described them. But I do see his point!
From my own point of view, their job functions are as diverse as are their designs. They have moved on from being just the orange painted rescues boat demanded by SOLAS and have instead become the ultimate taxi. Like those private hire cars, they come in all shapes and sizes and with price tags that vary from; jolly reasonable to downright outrageous.
Rigid hulls topped with inflatable collars to add the buoyancy and stability are considered to be the defining attributes of a RIB. Their inflatable tubes provide excellent fendering protection when coming alongside the mothership and is perfect for choppy sea conditions. Engines powered by petrol, diesel and now even electricity ensure reliability and can be matched to the compatibility of the mother yacht’s fuel system.
Diversity is however the key when it comes to the evolution of the RIB and today there are a wide range of uses that they are put to depending upon their design. RIBS can be adapted to have drop down bow ramps making them ideal when it comes to setting up the picnic ashore and then ferrying the guests out to enjoy the amenities that have been shipped ashore for their gratification. RIBS are used as limousines and come designed to look and feel like their shore side counterparts that whisk owners and guests from private jets to docksides. From that point guests can enjoy the same creature comfort afloat as the speed across the anchorage, sipping champagne.
Other designs send RIBs dashing across open waters at thrill making speeds towing inflatables and skiers keen to enjoy all manner of watersports. The same RIBS can be used to marshal guests astride jetskis and even transport them out to dive sites.
Driven by propellors for the most part, there is today, an increasing demand for RIBS powered using water jets considered by most jet jockeys as being safer and more manoeuvrable. As electricity becomes the cleaner, quieter choice of propulsor, so too is the RIB adapting to this more silent form of water transport. Not that they are even confined to the water in today’s world. Once derided as just a passing gimmick, one brand of beach crawling RIB is catching on fast and making inroads into the tender market.
In today’s brave new world, RIBS are ordered trough specialist vendors at the same time as the construction of the mothership. This allows for tenders to be built to order and garages adapted to accommodate their easy storage launching and recovery.
In this feature we expand on what’s on the market and leave the choice of wheelbarrow up to you. Read on.