Are RIB Boats Safe?

As with any topic related to water and watercraft, safety must always come first. Rivers, lakes, and the open sea are challenging environments, and you need to know that your craft is up to the job. So, are RIB boats safe? This blog post answers some of the most common questions we get asked about whether RIB boats are safe.

One of Sirocco Marine's safe RIB boats out on the water.
A Sirocco Marine RIB boat makes an ideal inflatable tender or a safe, yet exhilarating adventure craft in its own right.

What is a RIB boat?

A Rigid Inflatable Boat — or RIB — is a highly versatile craft great for achieving high speeds and impressive levels of agility while out on the water. They are also flexible and can quickly and easily deploy in the water. These crafts can also be customised with additional seating and storage units where required.

The RIB consists of a solid or rigid hull that displaces water on the surface. Above this hull is an inflatable gunwale that sits upon the water and forms the upper portion of the boat’s sides, prow, and stern. We can think of this kind of boat as a hybrid, combining the best aspects of a fully rigid boat and a fully inflatable boat to sit somewhere between the two.

This is one of the reasons why rigid inflatable boats tend to be more expensive than other types of crafts. In addition, the construction of the RIB requires multiple materials to provide both the rigid hull and the more flexible upper section. At the same time, the craft itself tends to have more features than a standard wooden dinghy.

Is a Rigid Inflatable Boat a Safe Craft?

Yes, a Rigid Inflatable Boat is a safe craft. RIBs are designed and built according to the National Regulator’s specifications, which means all boats for sale — or all boats currently in operation on Australia’s waterways and coastal areas — need to meet strict requirements. Ongoing servicing and assessment are required to make sure this is the case. If the boat passes its inspection, it is safe to use out on the water.

This servicing and assessment also extend the lifespan of your boat. With proper care, a synthetic rubber RIB can last for more than 15 years of operation before it becomes unsafe.

Is a Rigid Inflatable Boat Unsinkable?

Of course, there are different definitions of the word “safe”, so what exactly do we mean here? Do we mean that a RIB is unsinkable — that the craft cannot sink or have an accident in any event? No, we certainly do not.

For a Rigid Inflatable Boat to be safe, it needs to be operated safely. We’ve already talked about maintenance and assessment to ensure the craft is up to code, which is certainly part of safe operation. However, operators of RIBs need to go further than this, ensuring that they are using their craft safely and responsibly whenever they take it out for a spin. This goes for all RIB operators — from highly experienced commercial operators to more casual boat pilots using their craft on recreational trips.

Operating a RIB Safely

Unsafe operating procedures can be dangerous and put you and your boat at risk. While safe RIB operation is a vast topic, and there are many different aspects to bear in mind, let’s look at a few of the key points for staying safe.

  • Keep speeds low when you are close to land or a dock.
  • Remain aware of currents, winds, and channel markers.
  • Conduct research into the area where you will be operating.
  • Assign lookouts and a second-in-command to assist the boat pilot.
  • Never overcrowd the craft.
  • Keep lights, floatation equipment, fire extinguishers, and other pieces of safety kit on board.
  • Always wear lifejackets.
  • Ensure all your crew and passengers are prepared before you accelerate and secure all your equipment.
  • Don’t operate the craft under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Monitor usage among your passengers too.

Bear in mind that these are just a few basic rules to follow when operating your RIB. Conduct thorough research into piloting your craft safely and responsibly and make safety your top priority whenever you head out onto the water.

What Are RIB Boats Best For?

RIBs are highly versatile crafts that work for many different applications. They are agile enough to make piloting easy when heading in or out of the dock or operating at slow speeds in close quarters to other vessels. The inflatable gunwale on all sides also means that small nudges — for example, against the side of the dock during landing — will not cause damage.

However, to get the best from the RIB, you need to head offshore. This is where you can open-up the throttle and achieve high speeds when using the craft — although always remember to pay attention to safe operation and piloting best practices.

Find Your Ideal RIB With Sirocco Marine

To discover the range of RIB crafts at Sirocco Marine, visit us at our dealerships in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, or Victoria, or get in touch with our team to learn more.