Tougher fabrics, lighter accessories and more powerful engines have continued the trend of making today’s tenders and RIBs more versatile than ever. For some, a RIB is their only vessel, a do-it-all wonder that is easy to operate, gentle around other boats because of the rubber collar, and filled with features (like a head) that make them comfortable for all.
Here’s a look at some of today’s top RIB builders and their models, and how one may perfectly suit your needs.
Without further ado, our Top 15 Tenders and RIBs! While the highly functional 12-foot RIB has become popular, one builder has expanded the idea further to make a RIB that also goes on dryland—Sealegs’ Interceptor 9000. Equipped with three retractable wheels, the Interceptor 9000 can transition from the water to shore and the roads, and back again. While a boat with wheels may not be what you’re looking for, today’s top RIB models for 2017 are sure to offer a surprise or two.
—By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating Magazine March 2017
The new Nautilus 12 DLX (12′ LOA, 6′ beam) blends thoughtful design, striking lines and elegant style. Powered by a 50-hp outboard engine, the Nautilus 12 DLX has snappy maneuverability that makes it an exhilarating ride behind the wheel and good range with the 13-gallon NMMA-certified aluminum fuel tank. The boat’s V-hull design cuts through rough water and offers a dry ride. Key features include a mechanical steering system, stainless-steel steering wheel, LED navigation lights, and LED anchor lights that extend around the boat. In addition, comfortable upholstery, built-in coolers and ample storage make days on the water exploring coves more enjoyable. Models in AB Inflatables’ flagship Nautilus line range from 11 to 19 feet. abinflatables.com
The new HB-310AX (10’2″ LOA, 5’2″ beam) takes the builders’ popular HB-AL series to the next level by adding a full-length deck liner and a roomy bow locker both of which have non-skid patches for better traction, safety, and comfort. The bow locker provides both ample storage and acts as a “step”, making it easier to get into or out of the boat from a dock or another boat. The tough powder-coated marine-grade aluminum hull with keel guard will stand up to frequent landings on rocky coastlines or beaches, and the double heavy-duty rubbing strake offers additional protection from docks and pilings. In addition, standard features include Achilles’ CSM reinforced fabric, four-layer seam construction, and powder-coated aluminum hull with keel guard. achillesboats.com
Airship 330 As the largest model in the builder’s line, the Airship 330 (33′ LOA, 10′ beam) rides on a twin-step hull design that is built with a vacuum-resin infusion process. The tapered tubes offer the benefits of a RIB yet also provide unique styling that makes the Airship 330 stand out on the water. This construction features varying density foam cores and vinylester resins that help make the boat lightweight and extremely strong. A result of the lightweight structure is a 50-mph cruise speed and fuel economy of two miles per gallon. The 200-gallon fuel capacity allows for extended time for cruising, fishing and water sports. With the standard tow eye the craft exhibits excellent towing characteristics for use as a yacht tender. The base Airship 330 comes nicely equipped and has numerous options to support virtually any use for this rugged SUV of the water. airshipribs.com
Aquascan Storm 17 The Storm 17 (17′ LOA, 7′ beam) serves as a yacht tender to take guests from the yacht to shore in safety. The fiberglass hull of each model is carefully designed and made of hand-laid composite materials. Quality and performance have been carefully constructed in this rigid hull inflatable tender following the exact specifications of the client. Aquascan Storm 17 tubes are made of Hypalon neoprene and double-seamed at the hull with two trims providing a double-barrier point. The Storm 17 offers a dry ride even in the worst sea conditions or at full speed with large waves. Maximum power for the Storm 17 is a 115-hp outboard, and the boat carries a 30-gallon fuel tank. All Aquascan inflatables are hand-built to customer specifications at manufacturing plants in South Florida from the highest quality materials. aquascanribs.com
Argos Nautica 396
Argos Nautic’s new flagship is the 396 (13′ LOA, 6’8″ beam), which offers contemporary styling from the pen of famed yacht designer Patrizio Facheris. A master of the use of space, Facheris created a boat that seats five and has ample storage. Powered by a single outboard engine ranging from 40- to 70-hp, the 396 runs to a top speed of 36 mph. Weighing in at approximately 925 pounds, the boat offers the stability needed when going ashore. High-end components on the 396 include stainless-steel Italian cleats and fittings, a tilting Isotta steering wheel, supple upholstery, teak and holly flooring, and an audiophile-quality Fusion sound system. Argos Nautic builds semi-custom luxury RIB tenders, including the 11-foot long 305 model. argosnautic.com
The new Seasport 400 Deluxe (13’1″ LOA, 5’10” beam) is one of eight boats in the Seasport series that is the evolution of the proven Zodiac Yachtline Deluxe. The 400 Deluxe and her sister ships range from the 320 (11’2″ LOA) to the new 490 (16’11” LOA). They offer improved styling and added comfort, which are the crowning touches to an already successful deluxe tender line. The Seasport 400 Deluxe benefits from the aid of Zodiac-Nautic’s “slide on, slide off” tube system. This allows the Seasport Deluxe line to be available in three different shades of tube sets, with a choice of grey, blue or camel accent tubes. The Seasport 400 Deluxe’s standard features include bilge pump, navigation lights, lifting points, color matched upholstery, courtesy lighting, internal fuel reservoir, glove box, and 12-volt receptacle. The Seasport 400 Deluxe is powered by a 50-hp outboard for a top speed of 35 mph and a cruising range of more than 100 miles. avonmarine.com
Caribe Nautica DL11
The Caribe Nautica DL11 (11’1″ LOA, 5’7″ beam) is one of more than 35 models built in 13 different sizes by this manufacturer that’s been in business since 1983. The DL11’s construction places a premium owner usability, with a fuel tank located in the bow compartment allowing for easy access for maintenance and fuel service. The DL11 also has a built-in water tank that feeds a handheld shower attachment for rinsing off after a swim or a dive, and the boat is also equipped with a swim ladder. Other standard features include a bilge pump and an ice box for storing drinks, food or the day’s catch. The DL11 carries a maximum of five passengers including the driver and is powered by a 40-hp motor equipped with a 20-inch shaft. caribenautica.com
The new DL340 (11’5″ LOA, 5’7″ beam) is the latest in the builder’s deluxe line and the smallest in the lineup that includes eight models, the largest of which is the DL640 with an LOA of 21’1″. All Highfield RIBs feature aluminum hulls and transoms—a lightweight alternative to heavier fiberglass-hulled RIBs. While marine-grade aluminum is highly resistant to corrosion and does not rust, Highfield goes one step further and powder coats all aluminum parts. The powder coating process electrostatically bonds the powder to the aluminum. Every Highfield model includes a high-volume air pump, aluminum paddle and a repair kit, and tubes feature a heavy-duty fender or rub rail, flush-mounted valves for each chamber and are available in either CSM synthetic rubber or PVC fabrics. highfieldboats.com
The M350 (11’5″ LOA, 6′ beam), a blend of comfort and performance, is the smallest in the M-Series line that includes the M400, M570 and M620. The M350’s hull consists of a deep-V and strategically placed lifting strakes. This results in a race-engineered aft-hull geometry for outstanding performance. Powered by a Mercury 40-hp FourStroke outboard, the M350 runs to a top speed of more than 40 mph and weighs 675 pounds. The M-Series is manufactured in the U.S. using state-of-the-art fiberglass techniques such as resin infusion and bagging, and materials used in the construction include vinylester and foam core. A custom interior, designed to impress tender owners, features marine-grade stainless steel, LED lights and a carbon-fiber gauge panel. The EPA-approved, pressurized eight-gallon fuel tank eliminates overflow and hazardous fumes. mercurymarine.com
Novurania’s newest addition is the Catamaran 24 Diesel IO (23’7″ LOA, 8’6″ beam), and is powered by a Volvo Penta D3 220-hp diesel engine. This engine package pushes the Catamaran 24 to a top speed of 45 mph; cruising speed is 30 mph for a range of 271 nm. This 24 Catamaran is a versatile vessel with a twin hull design and inflatable collar. The opening bow ramp is operated at the push of a button and fulfills many functions for loading or offloading guests at the dock, on the water or at the beach. The construction process includes a fiberglass, vacuum-bagged and cored hull and deck. Standard features on the Catamaran 24 include a self-bailing deck, navigational and deck lights, boating steps, compass, and fresh water tank with pressure pump and extendable hose. The Catamaran series is available in several lengths from 18 to 28 feet with various configurations, options and engine packages to meet the needs of yacht owners. novurania.com
The newly designed Ribcraft 9.0 (29’7″ LOA, 10’3″ beam) is built for rough offshore conditions. The 9.0 is a performance machine featuring a deep-V hull and full-length lifting strakes. Powered by twin 300-hp Yamaha outboard engines, the Ribcraft 9.0 runs to a top speed of 64 mph; cruising speed is 42 mph and a range of 400 miles. The 9.0 features an updated deck arrangement, and the new layout includes a large wraparound bow seating area, teak table that converts into a generous sunpad and improved comfortable helm and aft seating. An oversized T-top with hard top helps protect occupants from the sun and weather, and the boat features an onboard head. Ribcraft is a leading manufacturer of professional-grade RIBs for military agencies, safety professionals and recreational cruisers. ribcraftusa.com
The Interceptor 9000 (30′ LOA, 10’3″ beam) is the largest amphibious RIB ever built according to the manufacturer. The Interceptor 9000 follows the proven Sealegs’ formula, constructed with a marine-grade aluminum (5083) hull and flotation via two, three-chambered Hypalon tubes. Where it breaks from the mold is the size—the Interceptor with wheels up offers users unparalleled internal space for seating, gear and more. The Interceptor 9000 is powered by a single Yamaha 300-hp outboard engine and has a 66-gallon fuel capacity. The Interceptor runs to a top speed of 40 knots, with a cruising speed of 28 knots and a range of 158 nautical miles. A large center console allows for all manner of electronics, while the transom bulkhead offers space for rod holders, lights and tow-eye for watersports. Sealegs operates out of Bristol, Rhode Island. Other Sealegs models start at 20′ LOA and come in both RIB or full aluminum hull versions. sealegs.com
In celebration of Walker Bay’s 20th anniversary, the builder launched the Generation 525 (17’2″ LOA, 8’4″ beam) RIB that drives like a sports car. The proprietary polyurethane composite, micro stringer system makes for a smooth ride as the Generation 525 hops on plane. The builder’s proprietary jig-and-alignment process absorbs wave chop and makes the boat easier to handle. Powered by a 115-hp outboard engine, top speed is 44 mph. Practical features include a 32-gallon fuel tank, flip-up driver’s seat, hydraulic tilt steering, stainless steel handrails for boarding and safety, and five gear lockers. Stylish luxury features include teak boarding steps, fresh water shower, insulated cooler locker, stainless-steel cup holders, and deluxe cushions. Retractable ski pole, boarding ladder and sunpad are optional features. walkerbay.com
Williams Minijet 280
The new Minijet 280 (9’2″ LOA, 5’1″ beam) is the latest model to join the extensive range of Williams jet tenders. This lightweight model has been designed to function as an exhilarating and practical tender for yachts 38 feet and longer. With a dry weight of under 500 pounds, the boat is powered by a 45-hp Rotax ACE 900 engine and runs to a top speed of 36 mph. The Minijet 280 offers seating for four including the driver. The Williams model lineup of jet propulsion boats allows for a much larger tender in the space available onboard the yacht because there is no tilted outboard or outdrive wasting valuable space. williamsjettenders.com
ZAR Tender ZF-3
The ZF-3 (13′ LOA, 6’8″ beam) is in the Tender Line by ZAR and offers improved design, function, performance, and reliability. The ZAR ZF-3’s deep-V hull offers a sharp entry, and the rigid bow allows for a more spacious interior and longer waterline length. With its generous interior space, the ZAR ZF-3 has room for seven people in seats with cushions. Powered by a 60-hp outboard engine, the ZF-3 comes on plane with a full load of passengers. For owners who want more speed, the ZF-3 is available with up to a 70-hp engine. The boat’s reverse chines on the hull not only act as large spray rails to offer the driest ride possible, but they also work as lifting rails to allow the boat to get on plane with minimal bow rise. zar-tender.com