Henry Gilbey
Cape Cod - 1010.jpg


Henry Gilbey blog

So why on earth are RIBs such good sea boats ?

You will most likely guess by the tone of the above question that I don't have that much clue about the whys and wherefores of boats, but after another great experience on a RIB last week in France (they call them zodiaks out there), albeit in the most extreme sea conditions I have ever been fishing in from a boat, I can't help but wonder why on earth these open-style rigid inflatables seem to be such good sea boats............

I am pretty sure that the first "serious" fishing I did from a RIB was a few years ago out in Jersey when we bombed over to Les Minquiers and spent a night there. I remember thinking how good the boat was to fish from, but you must also bear in mind that somebody like me who knows little about boats, navigation and finding fish in a big ocean is of course making sure to go out fishing/photographing with people who do actually know what they are doing - be they charter skippers or highly competent private boat owners. I will never forget a friend once asking me to steer his charter boat on a compass bearing while he nipped below for a few minutes. Have to say that I thought I did a pretty good job until he came back up and asked me what on earth those squiggly lines were on the plotter !!!! Apparently I was heading to France when we were meant to be heading back to Plymouth. Two words - shore fishing !!

I asked Nick last week when we were close to holding hands due to the somewhat scary nature of the sea if he would ever have contemplated taking his own (good but "conventional") boat out in sea conditions like we were in. "Not a frigging chance" was the reply I believe, or something along those lines. But there we were, and for all that we both found it somewhat disconcerting to start with, I was amazed at how well the RIB dealt with the conditions, and how stable it seemed to be - granted, the boat was in the hands of one seriously competent Frenchman, but I remain convinced that more "conventional" boats would have rocked and rolled a lot more. Is that right or am I barking up the wrong tree here ?

OK, so you're completely open to the elements on a RIB and I guess that has to be a downside in some respects, but on the flipside we have access to such incredible foul weather clothing these days, and it continues to astound me what I can get away with wearing compared to a few years ago, yet remain warm, comfortable and highly mobile. I believe Matt's RIB had a 2-stroke 175HP engine on the back and I can't remember a boat jumping on the plane so quickly - Matt literally had to nudge the throttle and we were up there bombing along if conditions allowed. I noticed that one morning as we came out of the little harbour on Ouessant that we were doing just under 40 knots, and the whole rig felt to me like she wasn't even trying. Sure, we weren't doing quite those speeds in the scary waters, but the ability to get out of tight/potentially dodgy situations so quickly and with such ease of manoeuvrability was amazing to watch - once Nick and I had manned up of course..............

I expected to be rolling around a lot more than we did, so I have to guess that a fairly deep V-shaped full and the lack of high sides (no cabin etc.) must be giving a RIB like the one we were on such incredible stability. Nick and I pretty quickly worked out that we were with a guy who was at one with his boat and although on a few occasions I might have felt a bit scared, never once did I feel remotely worried - and especially not when the bass were hammering the Black Minnows and Matt repeatedly brought us close in to that alarmingly large wave that was smashing over a particular rock head. Amazing what fish fever does to one.

Many years ago I used to do a lot of boat fishing, indeed I remember very well saving up my money and taking the train down to Plymouth on numerous occasions to go out on various charter boats. I loved it, but I guess that eventually I had had enough of the long steams required to get out to the distant wrecks - which in turn led me to start really enjoying the lighter tackle, more inshore sport that we have around so much of our coastline. But of course most UK charter boats for various reasons are not going to be bombing along at 30+ knots. You must understand then that for me it's always going to be a thrill when you are on a boat like we were last week that is accessing the fishing grounds at such a rapid pace, and a part of me still can't actually believe that we got away with the weather like we did and that a boat like that could do what it did. Please, if any of you have RIBs or know more about them than me (not hard), I would really appreciate it if you could fill me in more as to why they seem to be such incredible sea boats - and if it helps, I have absolutely zero desire to own a boat myself and there is nothing remotely underhand about me asking - I simply want to know more..............