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Old 22 August 2006, 16:55   #1
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Country: USA
Town: Marblehead, MA
Boat name: Bouncy Pumpkin
Make: Avon Searider 5.4
Length: 5m +
Engine: Evinrude 90 E-TEC
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 390
My RIB Comparison: Ribcraft vs. Zodiac Pro Open & Cherokee vs. Nautica

I just had an interesting week involving a variety of RIBs. I was in Newport, RI, USA for a qualification regatta for the US Disabled Sailing Team for my wife. The 25 year old Merc 80 Hp on my Searider had been giving me fits, so we left it at home

I arranged to borrow a 15' Zodiac Cherokee with a 40 hp Yamaha 4 stroke to coach from and use as a tender to get to and from our sailboat where we were staying at night. Fine boat for calm conditions. Though I did a long fast run in some 1'-2' seas into a 12-15 knot breeze and back. That was a bit of an adventure in this boat, as the breeze would want to lift it and flip it over as I came off a larger wave. Required close attention on the throttle. I was really wishing for my 5.4 Searider during that high speed run for spare parts. Bench seating too far aft made it difficult to get the boat planing once it got some water into the hull from over the transom, it hides up under the deck and takes forever to drain to the sump. Took a long time to manually pump it all out! Worst boat of the lot, no surprise.

Also spent the better part of a day in a Zodiac Pro Open, must have been a 550. Center console with a dual jockey seat and a Suzuki 50 four stroke. Not a lot of feedback about this boat, though it was pretty roomy, though hardly dry in similar conditions. The 50 horse was not up to the task of getting the boat planing with 5 sizeable adults aboard and a large deck mounted fuel tank. With a 90+ I suspect it would be a nice boat. Seemed to handle like a bit of a tank, but I suspect that was due to all the bodies on board more than the fault of the boat.

Next up was a Nautica, couldn't tell you the model probably around 5.5-6 mR, but it was an open center console with a bench on the front of the console and a leaning post aft, A frame and a 90 hp two stroke. The 90 seemed be be a bit underpowered for the seemingly heavy boat, though it handled well in slightly rougher conditions 2'-3' seas and 15 knots of wind.

Best of the bunch was clearly the 4.8 Ribcraft. While I was aboard this one in easy conditions, calm seas and >10 knots, it was clearly the class of the field. Rigged with a 50 Honda four stroke, it got three good size adults moving quickly and was really responsive. Nice ride in the powerboat chop. Nicest build quality of all the boats. Much roomier aboard than my bigger Searider. Definitly got me thinking how it would be nice to replace the Searider with one! More room to carry spare sails and parts to the racecourse.

There was another ex-mil 5.4 Searider running around with other coaches aboard, powered by a 70 hp Suzuki 4 stroke. I was looking longingly at it, wishing for Evinrude to come through with a donation of a new 90 E-Tec for the sailing team! It looked a little wet (as I know it can be!) at low speed in the wind and waves, but looked very comfy at speed in the same conditions. I've got come up with a reliable outboard for the boat! We rafted the Pro Open to it on the dock and the difference in interiors was astounding. SO much more room in the Zodiac, but a very secure feeling on the Searider, due to the low deck and large tubes.

Just thought I'd share my RIB experiences and impressions of the week. It was nice to be able to compare so many boats in a short period of time. It was also nice to learn that my Searider is the second best of the lot!

Dan
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Old 22 August 2006, 17:12   #2
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Yeah, but how'd the wife do?


Thanks for the reviews.

jky
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Old 22 August 2006, 17:49   #3
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Searider only 2nd best? Still not bad for something prob 20 or 30 years old!!! Saw one being launched today - about a mile from where they are built - they certainly seem to have got around the globe quite well.

Sounds like you had good fun though - beats work any day!!!
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Old 23 August 2006, 11:57   #4
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Country: USA
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Boat name: Bouncy Pumpkin
Make: Avon Searider 5.4
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After posting, I thought to go back and edit. The ex-mil Searider is #1 on the value scale at <1/10th the price of a new Ribcraft! The interior volume of the Ribcraft is the handy bit.

I'd have to spend some more time in the Ribcraft in some rougher water to really say if it handled better or was more seaworthy than the Searider. I tend to doubt the Ribcraft is any more seaworthy, though I don't doubt it would be drier, with the higher bow. Others here with more RIB experience than I could chime in.

All in all, spending time in the various RIBs served to convince me the same, that old Searider design is the cat's ass! With a new, reliable motor it'll be fantastic. Of course, I'll be out in the street tinkering with the 25 year old Merc today, trying to get spark and get it running again.

Here are a couple of pics of my boat, towing my wife's SKUD-18 in from practice, and a close-up, showing the typical load aboard while coaching. Two kid's, the quadraplegic's helper, stoller, and I. Not sure you can see the Labrador Retreiver service dog though. Earlier in that session we also had a newspaper reporter and photographer (who took these shots). Maybe that explains why interior space is an important factor in my mind! The Searider still jumped up quickly to a plane with the old 80 hp and SmarTabs, and handled fabulously. The reporter was amazed at how fast the little rubber boat was
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Old 23 August 2006, 12:30   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyasaki
Yeah, but how'd the wife do?


Thanks for the reviews.

jky
Well, the last day of practice, another skipper was hospitalized with a kidney infection. I got to jump in and sail her boat for four practice races, and went 4-0 vs. my wife and the other boat sailing that day. It was nice to establish (to her skipper!) that I'm qualified to coach.

When it came to the regatta, they placed second, and earned the #2 ranking on the 2006 US Disabled Sailing Team. The good news was, after a chalk talk on tactics after the first race day, they really ramped up their performance, and took 2 wins on day two, and really put the heat on the regatta winners, not letting them sail away to easy wins.

We're quite pleased with their performance, having identified a number of areas that we can train on to improve a good deal more. We're not convinced the #1 team is capable of improving as much as we will. We're looking forward to going to Beijing! (God willing!!) Oh, it was the skipper with the kidney infection who won the regatta!

If you're interested, you can learn more at:
www.teameagle.org
www.ussailing.net/clagett

That's Maureen in the front seat of 003 (red kite), leading a race against the regatta winner in 004 (lite blue kite)
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Old 23 August 2006, 13:35   #6
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Congrats to the Mrs. are in order.

But I thought that you, as husband, were supposed to let her win to keep her confidence up?

jky
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Old 23 August 2006, 15:46   #7
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Country: USA
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Boat name: Bouncy Pumpkin
Make: Avon Searider 5.4
Length: 5m +
Engine: Evinrude 90 E-TEC
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 390
Quote:
Originally Posted by jyasaki
Congrats to the Mrs. are in order.

But I thought that you, as husband, were supposed to let her win to keep her confidence up?

jky
I will pass along the congrats. Thank you.

We were joking about it being the Intergalactic Spousal Championship. My beating her would have no impact on her confidence. She had pretty low confidence to begin with, but this regatta made a big impact on improving that. OTOH, my beating her 26 y.o. overconfident skipper paid huge rewards in his realizing that I know a thing or two, after 20 years of racing sailboats. I did not just beat them, I controlled them around the entire race course. It was good fun! He started listening to me a lot more closely, beginning that very evening!

When they start beating me, it will be time to start paying another coach!
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