Rigid Inflatable Boats
A rigid inflatable boat is defined as a hard-hulled boat with air inflatable collars. RIB hulls are made of fiberglass, aluminum or composite materials. The soft bumpers or fenders, called "sponsons," can be air tubes, or all foam systems. These boats are powered by a variety of motors and usually come from the manufacturer as a package boat with tube, motor and trailer.
Rigid inflatable boats are more like traditional boats, with hulls supported by a rigid material. The main benefits of these boats are superior performance and easy assembly. To assemble, one simply has to inflate the tubes. However, storage can be a problem because they cant be made smaller than the rigid portion of the boat. Since an RIB is heavier, a davit system (crane like device) is usually required to bring it back onto the boat.
Rigid inflatable boats can accommodate larger outboard motors than other boats of comparable size, and perform almost as well as rigid boats, especially in tight turns, but without the bulk and weight. A one-piece hull and deck provides comfortable, non-skid footing and a stable platform for skiing, diving or fishing. Although the tubes deflate for storage, RIBs are not compact, and hence, many boaters keep them on trailers, on deck, on their swim step, or on davits.
Rigid inflatable boats are the best performers, and hence, the most expensive. Their rigid fiberglass hulls attached to inflated tubes combine the lightweight stability and buoyancy of inflatable boats with the speed, maneuverability, directional stability, and fuel efficiency of rigid boats.
The beauty of these hard bottom hulled and collared boats is that the tube/collar has flotation, adds stability, and self fendering meaning that the RIB wont scratch other hulls. These features of the sponson provide enhanced sea keeping ability, better absorption of shock from waves on impact, easier boarding of other vessels, high visibility, increased swamp buoyancy, and increased stability while stationary and under way.
Rigid inflatable boats have evolved from an all-inflatable dinghy to a deep V hard-hulled boat. RIBs are ideal for use in rescue operations, boarding operations, tenders for ships and yachts, and shuttle vehicles for tourist industries.