I decided to sell my Cadet 350 and Mercury 15 motor, the pain of re-assembling and disassembling the boat every time was too much of a hassle.
Given that, I'm keen on upgrading to a RIB before next summer hits. I'm hoping for knowledgeable suggestions on what I should be looking for.
When it comes right down to it, I want a boat that's going to have sporty performance characteristics and be a blast to run around in. Moderately fast (40mph+), nimble, and sturdy/stable are what I'm after.
As far as size, I think around 5 to 5.5 meters is the sweet spot. I'd like to be able to comfortably seat at least 4-5 adults (including the Captain).
My research thusfar has led me to be seriously looking at the Zodiac Bayrunner series. What concerns me about these boats are the seats, especially on the 550 which lacks the handholds, they just don't appear to be "secure" feeling at higher speeds on choppy waters. Granted, I could have a bare hull outfitted to a similar layout with better seats, but I wouldn't have a clue as to what would fit or look/feel superior to the stock seats. What would be super-nice is a bench seat at the helm which could switch between being a seat, and a nice bolster for stand-up operation.
Another concern about the Bayrunner is how to power it. The Mercury 75, 90, and 115 HP four-strokes all weigh the same and use the exact same chassis. I know that if I bought a 500 hull I would really want to power it with a 90 (20HP over the 70HP stated), and the 550 with a 115HP (25HP over stated). Would slightly "overpowering" the boat in this manner create a significant structural integrity risk? I'm not certain if the stated HP is determined by what Zodiac thinks a given outboard weighs so that it doesn't overload the transom, or by some function of how much power they deem is "safe".
Anyway, knowledgeable input from experienced RIB operators is more than welcome