RIB Buyer’s Guide - Part 2

Read part two of our guide on buying a Rigid Inflatable Boat or RIB where we explore training, RYA qualifications, new vs used and more.

The second part of our RIB buyer’s guide takes you through the steps involved in buying a new or used RIB

You have narrowed down your search and found a number of RIBs you are interested in. They suit your budget and you want to arrange viewings. Big decisions are looming. Where do you go from here?

RYA Training

It’s time to have some fun. If you are about to buy a powerful boat you need to be sure you will know how to drive it. Ask yourself if you have enough boating experience and if not check out the RYA training schemes available for powerboat driving. See below

Buying a new RIB

If you are buying new you have the option of buying direct from the RIB manufacturer or via an authorised dealer or an agent.

Buying a used RIB

When buying through a broker, make sure the broker is a member of an industry approved organisation such as the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) or the Boat Retailers and Broker Association (BRBA).

Buying through a broker

While it is in the interest of a broker to make a sale, being a professional they will also want to build a good reputation with both buyers and sellers for being helpful, reliable and for acting fairly. A broker will know the state of the market and the prices paid for similar boats. They will arrange viewings and also put you in touch with local surveyors and can help with arranging finance. They will also ensure that any outstanding marine mortgage is paid off on completion of the sale.

Buying a RIB privately

RIB on fork lift Safe Skipper and TowergateRIBEYE

When buying privately you will need to be more careful with your checks as a broker will not be on hand to do this. However, if you and the vendor have experience of buying and selling boats then the process can run smoothly and you will have the added benefit of being shown over the boat by someone who knows it thoroughly.

What to look out for when buying a second had RIB

A second viewing and careful boat inspection of the boat you are interested in is advisable as checking it over with a more critical eye will help you decide whether to go for it or not. Here are some things to look out for:

Boat Inspection

two people out to sea on a ribeye boatRIB at sea
  • Check there are no visible distortions in any parts of the boat, especially the hull

  • Are the hull surfaces smooth - are there any indentations?

  • Check the prop for any obvious damage

  • How many hours on the engine?

  • Are engine hoses and connections all good?

  • Are the electrics corrosion free? Check the batteries and wiring are in good condition

Once you have done your visual inspection and background checks then the next step is to request a sea trial.

Sea trial your RIB before you buy

A sea trial is always advisable because until you get the feel of the RIB out on the water you cannot know for sure whether 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 experience of RIBs to give you an unbiased second opinion.

Your offer

If you decide to make an offer, make sure it is subject to survey.

Once you have agreed the price with the vendor, then it is normal for the buyer to pay the broker a 10% deposit which they then hold in a Client Account.

The contract

The next step is for the broker to prepare a standard agreement for the sale of a vessel that fully sets out the obligations of both parties. Once approved by both parties this is then signed with witnesses by the vendor and buyer. The broker then prepares a Bill of Sale which is then recorded with the British Register of Shipping.

If it is a private purchase then there are standard agreements which can be downloaded from the British Marine Federation (BMF) or Royal Yachting Association (RYA) websites:

BMF https://britishmarine.co.uk/Resources/Publications/Standard-Contracts

RYA: http://www.rya.org.uk

RIB surveys

However, honest and trustworthy the broker may be, you will still need to instruct a qualified marine surveyor to carry out a survey of the vessel and produce a written report. Not only is this important for you as the buyer but you will also need a survey for insurance purposes.

It is normal practice for the buyer to pay the costs of a lift out in order that the surveyor can inspect the hull.

The surveyor’s report will include a list of recommendations of any work that needs to be carried out. This is where your negotiating skills are important, because if the vendor or broker have not already advised you of any problems highlighted by the survey, then you can either insist the work is done and paid for by the vendor, or the price is reduced accordingly, or you can withdraw from the sale and have your deposit returned.


Moored RIBs Safe Skipper and TowergateMoored RIBs

The good news is that if they are well looked after, most boats hold their value pretty well, certainly much better than cars of the same age.

If you are buying your boat outright there are a limited number of finance providers in the UK specialising in marine mortgages or hire purchase agreements. Most require a deposit of at least 30% with typical repayments spread over 10 years, but these figures can vary up and down.

The RYA training scheme

The RYA Power boating courses are designed for operating small powerboats such as RIBs and sports boats. The courses start with basic boat handling at Level 1, through Level 2, Intermediate and Advanced, at which stage you will be able to drive by day and night in unfamiliar waters in demanding conditions.

RYA Level 1 Start Power boating Practical introduction to boat handling and safety. It covers boating techniques for launching and recovering a boat from a road trailer, everyday boat handling and use of safety equipment. The course may be conducted in a variety of boat types, both planning and displacement, and the certificate issued will be endorsed to show the type of boat in which the training took place. No previous experience required. 1 day
RYA Level 2 Powerboat training Provides the skills and background knowledge needed by the competent powerboat driver and is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence. It aims to teach boat handling and seamanship in powerboats. It focuses on low speed close quarters handling, man overboard recovery, an introduction to driving at planning speed, and collision regulations. The course can be taken inland or on the coast and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly. The course may be conducted in a variety of boat types, both planning and displacement, and the certificate issued will be endorsed to show the type of boat in which the training took place. 2 days
RYA Powerboat Intermediate Course Covers the practical use of pilotage and passage planning by day on coastal waters using both traditional and electronic navigational techniques. It aims to teach the standard required to complete a short coastal passage by day. This course builds on the foundation knowledge of the Level 2 course and is suited to those who aim to drive larger more powerful powerboats. During the course you will cover cruising at planning speed and more advanced boat handling. It is recommended for anyone considering moving on to the Advanced course. The course can be conducted on a planning or displacement boat. 2 days
RYA Powerboat Advanced Course Aims to teach boat handling, seamanship, pilotage and navigation up to the standards required to drive a planning powerboat safely by day and night in tidal coastal waters, with which the candidate may be familiar, in more demanding conditions. Given the nature of these passages Advanced Powerboat courses should be delivered on powerboats of a minimum of six metres and an engine size sufficient to enable coastal passages at planning speed. It is strongly recommended that candidates hold a first aid certificate and a VHF operators certificate. 2 days including night navigation exercise


Check out the full range of RYA courses in detail at RYA.

Check out a selection of RYA training schools in UK and Europe on Safe Skipper here.

Towergate Insurance have teamed up with Safe Skipper Apps to create a free to download boating app with invaluable tips and practical advice for on boat preparation,check lists, equipment, communications and emergency procedures. Check out the app at Safe Skipper.

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