Boat name: Too many to list...
Length: 3m +
Engine: Yamahas - love em!
Join Date: Dec 2009
Clarky, good to see another Phuket member, I've been using small RIBs/ SIBs here for the last 5 years or so, here's my two pence worth -
I've been using an old 4m avon sib recently with either a 5hp or a 15hp yam depending where I was launching from, ie difficult launch take the lighter motor. I don't take the boat apart, just let some air out the tubes and squeeze as much into the back of my truck as poss, rope her in, transom with wheels hanging out the back, engine in the boat to help balance it out. I can manage it all single handed but it's still an effort and I'd prefer something lighter...
I also use a 4m RIB, mainly in Phang Nga bay, to get out to the islands. It's trailered, use an old ATV to launch, can launch single handed but recover with help of ATV. It's a tatty old ex-dive commercial RIB with a yam 40hp, well built and b**tard heavy, but I wouldn't use the SIB to go any real distance. More often than not there are local fishermen about and the ATV doesn't get used.
It quickly turns from sunny with nice, calm seas to blowing a gale, p*ssing with rain with 2m+ waves over here. There can also be a fairly savage tidal chop, which when broken up with rollers makes for some "interesting" navigation in smaller, tiller steer boats, especially when Phuket has disappeared in the rain and you have no GPS or compass. Believe me, I've been there, I now always take my handheld GPS, even if I'm not intending to go far.
RIB or SIB - If you're going for a SIB, I'd advise going light - if you go heavy you might as well get a RIB. I'm not saying don't get a SIB but be aware what you'll safely be able to do in it - ie. explore Phuket's coastline, bays, great for snorkelling but definitley not for going offshore, diving or getting out to any of the islands.
I would strongly suggest Hypalon over PVC here (someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think bar the military spec ones, Futuras are all PVC, albeit with a special Zodiac name) - it says something that the military ones are made from a different fabric. I'd use a cover either way - the strong sun will wreck tubes pretty quicky, especially if left out for any length of time.
I'd also look at what's readily available here - I've been down the costing route of importing SIBs, RIBs and it just doesn't work out viable in my opinion, unless you're spending 20k+ on your dream RIB. A good friend is currently being held to ransom by the tax office here, as they debate the value of the yacht he's just imported - a yacht that couldn't sell for 10k in the UK and he's looking at that in import tax alone...
RIBs/ SIBs, Big engines/ Small engines - It's all a compromise and depends entirely what you want out of your setup. It's very hard to tick all the boxes with one setup. For what it's worth I'm next planning on a 4.2m Cholamark RIB with a Yam 60hp on a trailer for all year round use and probably a 3m Airfloor SIB with either my 5 or 15hp Yam for beach launch/ inshore fun/ snorkelling during high season.
If I wanted a compromise between the two, Cholamark Chalong, make some really light, single-skin hull, RIBs which probably come in lighter than the heavier SIBs of the same size. Worth checking out, much better for the wave conditions here. I know the Futura owners won't like this but I'd go for one of these over a Futura anyday, cheaper, lighter and has a proper hull. You can't pack it down like a Futura but why would you if you've got a pickup?
Outboards - go for Yamaha 2 strokes everytime out here, they're by far the easiest to service and best for re-sale. I've had 7 different yamaha 2 stokes of different ages and all have served me well.
Wooden transoms /Boards - I've had 2x transoms nearly destroyed by termites here, always check for termite repairs if buying 2nd hand. Be aware, they can eat a transom in couple of days and are rife in Phuket. The main reason I like the 4.2m Cholamark is that it has no wood in the construction at all. If wooden transom, get one that's fibre-skinned at least.
Happy Sib/Ribbing, it's a great place to do it, I've had some great adventures here... if you want to try launching/ hefting around engines to get a feel for weight let me know, you can launch/ recover for me next time I'm going out!