I'm just back from a fantastic day on board a giant Redbay (Admin Team have a Day Off
) with the mother of all cabins on board. We did comment that on what turned out to be a glorious day with virtually no wind the amazing protection of the cabin took some of the "adventure" out of the journey. It would be wrong to put that simply on the cabin though - a huge boat, with an well regarded hull, and suspension seats to iron out the slight swell all contributed to a much more comfortable experience than it would have been in even a 6m boat, and the huge chartplotters connected to an autopilot with inbuilt route calculation meant even the navigation wasn't a challenge.
It is certainly a different experience. If your idea of fun is squeezing into a tight rubber suit and putting a gecko on you might not like the cabin on a rib. Presumably you've discovered some of the joys of a cabin from the sports fisher - so you need to work out what it is about the rib you are missing. If it is the stinging salt spray in your eyes or not having to listen to your crew/wife because the wind noise is too high then you probably want to go for an open rib. Presumably a cabin adds quite a bit of weight and air drag - so if your number one priority is speed or fuel economy again it might not be for you.
The one major advantage that a serious boat with a cabin conveyed on our recent trip was we were able to set the date months in advance and stick to it without worrying too much about the weather. It sounds like you fall into the same camp as many of us where your boating time is dictated by other factors (work, family, etc) in which case an open rib in your part of the world is not exactly ideal as the chances of good weather synchronising with planned free time are not as good. If trips are likely to involve less committed members of your family/friends then all the more likely your will be restricted in times by the wind and sun gods.
It is of course all a matter of personal choice, and boats are always a compromise in some ways. However for me, if funds allowed, my next rib would have a lid. It was interesting talking to the guys at the Redbay factory who suggested that people on the West of Scotland and Ireland almost never go back from cabin to open and those who start off with the soft top option often upgrade to a hard cabin next time round when they realise that they leave the roof up most of the time.
Not everyone will agree with me, and of course they are entitled to their opinions. Historically all over the UK boats have evolved with quite different features to handle quite different seas, uses and conditions. I think RIBs are no different. The ideal rib for someone in the Solent and someone on the West of Scotland is not necessarily the same.
Whilst Redbay clearly know how to look after their customers I think the popularity of their cabin boats in the West of Scotland and Ireland has little to do with their friendliness or location and a lot to do with them servicing a local need - the weather. There are of course other people making Cabin Ribs although not too many with enclosed wheelhouses targeted at the consumer market - the Parker range might be worth thinking about too.
I say all this as someone who has just come back from spending an afternoon in the Forth on my silly small boat with no cabin. Don't get me wrong, its great fun and when it's just me on board I can grin and bear the spray and I've used it when I've had to dig snow off the slipway to take it out, but every trip is an adventure - and sometimes that's not what you want form your boat...