Time to get her wet so on with the chest waders looking rather like a beached whale, amazing how chest waders shrink in the wash, well that is my story and I am sticking with it, needless to say I am not on ANY of the photo's, instead I used Steve as the model, anyway he is taller, slimmer and better looking.
At 43kgs the 330 is light in the hand to carry in part due to the handles being easy in the hand. I had brought along my Parsun 15hp to do the test runs with and as there is a slipway at the lake, I just walked the engine into the water and fitted her to the F-Rib.
The combination of the 15hp and this hull really seemed to be a perfect match. The boat is very very smooth as the power is applied with an effortless lift onto the plane. There was no leaning forward to bring the bow down, she just lifted and away.
I did run at low revs then full throttle to see just how much bow lift there was, no drama there, quickly up and over and on the plane. Unfortunately I didn't take a GPS so I cannot say what speed we were doing at full throttle but a technical term would be BLOODY QUICK.
The hard chines really come into their own when turning in quite tight circles, none of the usual side slips, this baby just digs in and turns and that was impressive to say the least. In fact, impressive is the best word I can use for on water performance and although we were on a flat lake we were able to hit the wake at speed with a predictable and controlled small bounce. The F-Rib cuts it's way through these wakes time and time again with no twitching between the lifts. God I love this boat.
Here are a few photo's as Steve took the helm so that I could use the camera but again sorry for the picture quality, low light conditions made it tricky to get really good shots.
When we had finished to session, I popped on my little 34lb thrust electric outboard as Steve had forgotton to bring a Torqeedo 3hp, Oh, I am so pleased it is not just me that has senior moments. Okay it was very slow after flying around with the 15hp on the back but actually not bad at all and it gave me the chance to walk around in the boat as Steve was on the shore. Very stable, no movement of the hull, perfect for stand up fishing which I do quite a lot lure fishing for the pike.
Back on dry land, John the lake bailiff had been watching, his comments were 'that is seriously impressive '.
Deflating the boat is always a bit of a pain as you now just want to go home but even this process is different from any other inflatable craft. Open the valves to allow the air release for a few minutes while you sort all the stuff we take out on the water, pull in the side tubes so that they are within the grp floor, remove the securing bolt and fold over the bow section. Pressing down the grp hull section releases all the air left in that area and again folding over the middle section releases the air left in there (easy peasy) finally the two transom end tubes are folded over the grp hull and the retaining strap is wrapped around the tube ends and the now fully folded boat ready to pick up and put away.
While we had the boat folded up, I thought it would be a good idea to see how well it fitted in my VW Passat estate, no problem, in fact I didn't even have to drop the rear seats. Okay if the outboard was in as well, I would need to drop the seats but when it says on the web site, the folded size is 3' x 3' x 1.5', it really is and unlike most sibs, it goes back to this size every time you put it away.
One point I have to say is the build quality is superb, the hull alignment is perfect, so much so that unless you get very close, you cannot see the joints on the underside of the hull. To produce a folding flexible structure that fits so well together every time is a testament to the thought and detail that has gone into the design and manufacture of this boat.
Should you wish to speak to Steve Bruce at Foldable Ribs (FRIB), he can be reached on 02380 988 782 and email email@example.com
I would like to say a big thank you to Steve for taking time out in a very busy schedule to allow me to have a play with this amazing craft.
The all important price, £2,428.00 which is quite comparable to many Zodiac sibs and offers something that no other inflatable boat offers.
I will confirm that this so quick to put together and take down, in fact quicker than an air floor sib making that aspect of the job a hell of a lot more pleasant.
My final comments are that ----------------- I WANT ONE, I NEED ONE AND I MUST HAVE ONE, not sure how yet but as they say, ' where there is a will, there is a way '
I hope I have covered the main points but feel free to ask any questions.