Originally Posted by kmarx12
Hi All! I am new here- college student from the US. I am trying to do some comparison shopping for parents.
I am just generally wondering your takes on why RIBs are so popular in Europe. I am looking into a tender/sport boat. Dealerships here in the states have steered me away from ribs and more towards comparably-sized fiberglass boats (I am looking at around 4 meters). I am getting grim reports of the durability, longevity, and resale value of ribs as compared to an entirely fiberglass counterparts. Coming from salespeople, of course I am skeptical.
From reading the threads it sounds like most people here use RIBs as their primary boat. I'm just sort of wondering how that caught on, and what the appeal is. The US market caries far less brands than are available in Europe. (Mercury, Avon, Zodiac, and Caribe seem to make up nearly the whole of the market) and also the size of the RIBs here don't seem to any where close to those in Europe. I have been on a Zodiac and I'd like to make a case for my family to get one (we live on a great lake in michigan over the summer) but I guess I'd like thoughts on why they seem to be so unpopular or at least new here in the States. Anyone?
In an attempt to return this thread to its genesis, and actually answer your question
It really does come to the question of your intended use. You mention that the boat will be used as a tender/sportboat. IMHO, ribs make great tenders, primarily due to the fact that the entire boat is a fender. No worries about banging hard hulls together. Also, most ribs will have much higher capacity to carry people and loads than a comparably sized hard boat. My 5.4m rib is rated for 10 passengers. Find me a hard boat in 18'-19' range that is legally rated to carry that many...
As a sportboat, it's a bit of a toss-up and a hard boat has a few advantages, particularly if you're talking about adding wakeboard towers etc. There's a bit of discussion at the beginning of this thread about the relative advantages of hard vs rib. I think it's a bit of a wash. In rough conditions, I'd rather be out in my rib than a comparably sized hard boat. I've been out in 30+ knots conditions on a 4m-ish rib as a coach/safety boat for sailors, and I wouldn't have wanted to be there on a like sized hard boat. I wouldn't have been as comfortable. The Great Lakes are lakes in name only, they're really fresh water oceans! You can have some nasty conditions there, but if you're not likely to venture out in that (nor get caught out), the comfort/safety is not a major factor.
I'd venture to say that most ribs weigh less than a comparable size hard boat, so the economy/acceleration should be better with a rib. You will have less interior space though, as the tubes take up a lot of interior volume you would have.
RIBs are catching on in the US. There are a growing number of them in my hometown, thanks in part to the fact that Ribcraft USA is located here. Though there are many other ribs on the water. Just as hard boats, different ribs are designed for different functions... some are deep V's some are shallow, different seating for different functions, etc.
As far as resale value, a rib will have a much smaller market than a hard boat. I.E. it will be harder to find a buyer. However, due to the relative scarcity of ribs, a buyer for a rib will have fewer choices and in the end, I don't think there will be a significant differrence between a rib and a comparable design and quality hard boat.
Durability is a non-issue in my mind and experience. In fact I would give the edge to the rib. Most common sources of damage to a hard boat are going to come from bumping into things like docks and other boats (particularly as a tender). The hard boat will chip, scratch and break in situations where the rib will merely bounce off. This is why the rib is so great for my use in coaching sailing. I can just bump it right up against a keelboat as it's sailing along, to transfer gear or crew, or chat with the sailors. I can easily side tow or push a boat with no concerns of damaging either boat. My ex-Coast Guard Avon is 15 years old, with probably original tubes, and they are in great shape and hold air an entire season... Repairs to tubes are argueably much easier than repairs to fiberglass.
As with most all decisions in life, there are trade-offs, you need to determine what's most important to you and your family. It sounds like a rib would suit your purposes, but so would a hard boat. IMHO, the edge goes to the rib. More info would help.
Hope this may have actually helped you!!
Marblehead, MA, USA