Rigid inflatable boats are quickly becoming the preferred choice for many marine professionals. Why? They’re incredibly versatile and offer a surprising number of advantages over traditional hard-hulls. Not only are they cost-effective, but they also offer performance and reliability that you can’t find in other types of vessels.
If you aren’t familiar with rigid inflatable boats, here’s what you need to know. RIBs get their name from their construction — a hard v-hull with inflatable siding. The unique design is what gives them their versatility and toughness. Originally developed at Atlantic College in Wales as a high-performance, rough-water rescue craft, RIBs can handle any conditions, and their functionality has led to wide public use. Many groups from the United States Army, Navy, Coast Guard and law enforcement to recreational boaters recognize the benefits of RIBs.
Here at Fluid Watercraft, we use the most advanced materials available when constructing our military-tough RIBs. We make our hulls out of a composite laminate — they have a low-resin, high-fiber construction that results in a void-free matrix and an unparalleled strength to weight ratio. We make rigid inflatables with materials that allow for the ultimate speed and damage resistance.
Throughout this article, we’ll go over some of the reasons to choose rigid inflatable boats and the advantages that have made them a staple in the marine world.
RIBs are very lightweight because of their inflatable siding and laminate hull construction. This not only increases their fuel efficiency, it greatly increases their carrying capacity.
Whether you’re using your vessel as a workboat, carrying passengers for hire or transporting soldiers and supplies, it’s important to always stay within the safe working load range. Rigid inflatable boats have a high capacity that allows you to load up your boat with more stuff while still being within the safe working limit, which lets you operate more efficiently and more safely.
The hard-hull, inflatable-collar combination gives RIBs their superior stability compared to traditional boats. The buoyancy of the tubes makes them virtually unsinkable and also very stable. When you’re running at high speeds, you don’t have to worry about stability issues that arise with some other types of lightweight watercraft.
Marine professionals trust RIBs because they’re so seaworthy. No matter the operation — military, law enforcement or passenger boat — a more stable vessel lets you operate more easily and more effectively.
3. Easy to Maneuver
One problem with inflatables without the hard v-hull construction is they don’t hold their course well. The hard v-hull on rigid inflatable boats let them track just as well as a traditional vessel. Whether your marine operation needs the deep v-hull for longer range trips or a shallower hull that gets up on plane faster, there’s a RIB that will work for your unique situation.
Also, the decreased weight of rigid inflatable boats makes them extremely responsive and easy to maneuver, especially when running with an empty load. Combined with the protection from their inflatable siding, RIBs are excellent to maneuver in tight spaces and around other boats because they’re so responsive and precise. This makes docking and side-tying to other vessels much easier and safer.
4. More Powerful
The design of RIBs is made to support more powerful motors. These boats were designed for rescue missions in intense ocean conditions and have the performance needed to save valuable time.
Because of their lightweight construction, rigid inflatable boats require comparably less horsepower than traditional vessels to reach the same speed or get up on plane. This means you’ll be operating at a more fuel efficient RPM and will be able to achieve faster speeds more quickly.
Military and law enforcement use rigid inflatable boats because they have the power to get the job done. Some lightweight vessels require motors that are less powerful, but RIBs are designed to support more horsepower, making them the first choice of marine professionals like the Navy Seals and towing companies.
Because of their lightweight construction and compatibility with more powerful motors, RIBs are extremely fast. For rescue and military operations, every second is precious. If your work requires a vessel that can get you to where you need to be as quick and safely as possible, look no further than rigid inflatable boats.
As described by the United States Navy Seals, these boats are powerful, high-performance vessels made for operations in rough seas. The U.S. military and law enforcement favor rigid inflatables because of their performance and reliability. When you’re performing a high-risk, high-importance mission, you can’t be worried about the capabilities of your vessel.
6. Fuel Efficient
Because of the lightweight construction of RIBs, they are more fuel-efficient than other types of vessels. It takes less power to get the boat up to speed and you can get up on plane faster and with less energy — this increases your range and means you can get more work done with the same amount of gas.
If you use you RIB for a passenger-oriented business like touring or whale watching, cutting down on your fuel costs has an instant and extremely positive impact on your profits. Fuel is often the largest expense for commercial boating operations, and RIBs are an excellent way to cut costs without sacrificing functionality.
7. Variety of Uses
Boaters use rigid inflatables in many different marine sectors. Besides being the number one choice for military, navy and rescue operations, they are quickly becoming a popular option for recreational boaters too.
Here’s who uses rigid inflatable boats:
- First Responders: When you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice, you need complete confidence in your vessel. First responders and marine rescuers use RIBs because they know these boats are designed to handle any situation safely and effectively. The United States Coast Gaurd saves thousands of lives every year and responds to tens of thousands of distress situations.
- Military: The United States Coast Guard, Navy and Army trust rigid inflatable boats for every mission. Our expert engineers and ex-military specialists design boats that push the boundaries of function for rescue and tactical operations. Whether it be transporting soldiers and gear, or for training exercises and special operations, RIBs are built to handle it all.
- Law Enforcement: Police officers and marine patrol vessels need boats designed for performance and precision. Rigid inflatable boats have the toughness and smooth ride to perform in any situation. Whether for inshore patrol or rough seas, Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs help officers get the job done.
- Workboats: Marine professionals trust RIBs because of their dependability. When you work aboard assistance vessels like a towboat, you don’t want to worry about having issues with your boat while you’re on the job. Rigid inflatables are not only resistant to trauma but also their parts are easily repairable and replaceable when necessary to keep your business running smoothly.
- Commercial Passenger Boats: No matter where you take your passengers, there’s a RIB that’s perfect for your operation. Whether you’re on calm lake waters or watching for whales in the open ocean, RIBs are easily customizable — from seating configurations to sizing and power options.
- Recreational Boaters: Because of their versatility and wide range of benefits, recreational boaters have realized how capable and fun rigid inflatable boats can be. They’re perfect for watersports, diving, exploring or as a dinghy for private yachts. RIBs are also great for families. They’re not only designed to give your passengers a safe and comfortable ride, but they’re also equipped for a full day of adventure, no matter what you like to do. Powerful motor capabilities make waterskiing and towing inflatable toys easy, and if you’re teaching the young ones how to dock a boat, it’s nice to have the protection from the inflatable collar for little bumps and nudges. Finally, there are RIB options that don’t sacrifice style for functionality.
8. Used in All Types of Water
Marine professionals and recreational boaters use rigid inflatable boats in all types of water. No matter where you are or what kind of boating you do, there’s a rigid inflatable boat to suit your needs. Just like with traditional boats, they come in anything from small tenders up to powerful workboats that can hold many people and a lot of gear.
While marine engineers designed rigid inflatable boats for rescue missions in rough ocean conditions, the design has adapted into many different layouts. Some RIBs have all open deck space for day trips and leisure trips, while others have an enclosed cabin and deep v-hull for intense ocean operations. There are also a variety of different accessories available for RIBs, so you can outfit your boat exactly the way you need it.
Safety is always the priority in any boating situation. An advantage of RIBs is their increased safety due to the inflatable collar that surrounds the boat. Having inflatable siding not only helps protect your boat and other boats while docking and maneuvering in tight spaces, but it also reduces the impact if you ever happen to get into a more serious collision. Rigid inflatable boats are extremely tough and virtually unsinkable. Their inflatable collar keeps the vessel upright, even when taking on water.
While rigid inflatable boats were initially designed by engineers for extreme rescue purposes, the inflatable siding makes life easier for everyday boating operations. Whether you’re using the boat as a workboat or for recreation, having inflatable siding makes everything easier — you can pull up to a dock or another vessel and not worry about damage like you would with a hard-hull boat.
If you use your vessel for towing or side-tying purposes, you don’t want to worry about damaging the boats you assist. Even professionals get in awkward situations sometimes when operating in rough seas and heavy weather, but with inflatable siding, you don’t have to worry about a small mistake causing damage to your client’s boat.
If you use your rigid inflatable boats to carry passengers for hire, it provides a safer environment for your guests — especially if your passengers are inexperienced boaters. In rough conditions where everything is moving around, it’s great to have the protective, cushioned siding of rigid inflatable boats as opposed to the hard fiberglass of traditional hard hulls. Your passengers will be safer, and you won’t have to worry as much about an injury or awkward missteps.
10. More Comfortable
A comfortable ride is essential for anything you do on the water — whether you’re working or having fun, you don’t want to be uncomfortable when things get a little rough. The hard hull and inflatable collar provide excellent shock absorption compared to other boats. When you have a comfortable, stable ride, you’ll be able to work more efficiently.
Comfort is especially important if you use your boat to carry passengers for hire. If your guests can’t focus on their adventure because they’re uncomfortable, it won’t be a pleasant experience. The stability and shock absorption from RIBs makes for an excellent experience for your guests, even in rough water. Also, passenger RIBs are specially designed to give your guests a great view and a comfortable seat.
Learn More About Fluid Watercraft’s RIBs
Here at Fluid Watercraft, we pride ourselves in giving our customers top-of-the-line RIBs at affordable prices. We manufacture all of our tenders in our 100,000-square-feet headquarters in Europe, where a team of experts, ex-military and aeronautical engineers craft industry-leading designs. No detail is too small to stress, and we take pride in knowing that we equip our customers with the best.
There are cheap RIB options available, but you often get what you pay for. We offer a wide range of affordable, high-quality tenders and we never compromise quality. You depend on your RIB, and we manufacture every product we make with this frame of mind, using the latest technology and only the best materials. We maintain a National Marine Manufacturers Association certification and all of our boats undergo rigorous quality assurance checks.