RIB Buyer's Guide

This buyer's guide provides useful tips on buying a rigid inflatable boat (RIB), and how to make sure you buy the best boat for you.

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What is a RIB boat?

A rigid-inflatable boat, or RIB, is a lightweight, high-performance and high-capacity powerboat, with a stable and seaworthy design. It has a solid hull and flexible inflatable tubes around the outer edge.

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Why buy a RIB?

A RIB has a solid hull and floor, which is perfect if you are looking for a fast and versatile powerboat. These vessels are incredibly popular and have an excellent reputation as fast, rugged boats that can cope with challenging conditions.

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Considerations when buying a RIB

When looking to buy a RIB it is important that you determine what you will be using the vessel for, as this will help you to make sure you get the right boat to suit your needs and budget.

One of the first considerations you need to make is whether you want a RIB or a soft inflatable boat (SIB). 

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Buying a new RIB

If you are buying a brand-new RIB you have the options of either buying direct from the manufacturer or via an authorised dealer. Some people choose to appoint a surveyor to ensure that the RIB is built to the correct specification; this can help to limit the chances of you having serious problems with the RIB after purchase.

There are a number of considerations you should take into account when buying a new RIB such as:

  • Ensuring you receive a builder's certificate from the boat builder
  • Making sure the boat is built to minimum RCD standards
  • Ensuring the contract as an agreed delivery date
  • Making sure sea trials are included as part of the contract
  • If you agree to stage payments make sure you are covered if the builder becomes insolvent during the construction of your boat

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Buying a used RIB

If you have a more restricted budget, you can purchase a used RIB. As long as your checks are thorough you can still end up with the perfect boat to suit you.

If you decide to buy through a broker you must make sure that they are a member of an industry-approved organisation. They will be able to put you in touch with local surveyors and also know the state of the market which will help you to get a good price.

You can buy your RIB privately, but if you do this you will need to be thorough with your checks as a broker will not be on hand to help you. One of the advantages of buying a RIB privately is that you will have the added benefit of being shown over the boat by someone who knows it thoroughly. Inspect the boat carefully and look out for the following:

  • Check there are no visible distortions to any part of the boat, especially the hull
  • Check the propeller for any obvious damage
  • Ensure the engine hoses and connections are not damaged
  • Find out how many hours are on the engine

If the RIB passes this inspection it is important that you find out as much as possible about the boat. It is important that you see the RIB's history and check if there is an outstanding mortgage against the boat. You should find out whether the boat has been in any accidents and if so where it was repaired.

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Give your RIB a sea trial

A sea trial is always advisable because it will help you to get a feel for the RIB out on the water, and this is the best way to ensure this is the boat for you. You should expect to pay the launching costs if the boat is out of the water. To make the trial as thorough as possible, consider taking along a surveyor, or someone with plenty of RIB experience.

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RIB surveys

You will need a qualified marine surveyor to carry out a survey of the vessel and produce a written report. You will need this for insurance purposes as well as your own peace of mind. It is normal for the buyer to pay the costs of a lift-out in order for the surveyor to inspect the hull.

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RIB Insurance

Once you have made your purchase it is important to get your RIB insured so that you are protected should something happen either in or out of the water. At Towergate we offer four levels of RIB insurance so you can choose the right cover to suit you.

To find out more about our RIB insurance call us on 0344 892 1987 to speak to a specialist RIB insurance adviser. Our teams are expert and are undergoing RYA training so you can be sure to get the best advice.

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About the author

Adam Summersby is a respected leader with 11 years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including caravan, site operators and excess reimbursement, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.