Love Me Tender
By Michael Vatalaro
Rigid-hulled inflatables are the SUVs of the boating world, built to haul lots of people and stuff in any conditions, while remaining safe and stable at the same time. If you're looking for a tender to a larger boat, or rugged runabout, these RIBs might be just the ticket.
LOA: 29' 10" | Beam: 11' 8 1/2" | Inside Length: 28' 9" | Inside Beam: 8' 8" | Weight: 6,750 lbs.
HBI 30The creators of the original hard-bottom inflatable, HBI has taken their 30-footer to the next level of style and sophistication, generously using teak and chrome and giving the center console contemporary lines. Built by Hunt Yachts, the HBI 30 comes standard with a pair of 225- hp Yamahas, giving it a top speed of 42 mph. Unlike some tough-as-nails tenders, the HBI 30 fits creature comforts such as a head with stand-up headroom and sink into the console, and is available with refrigeration and a bar. But this doesn't mean it can't run with its "mil spec" cousins. The HBI's seven-chambered inflatable tube slides over and is thru-bolted to a full-length hard chine that acts as a massive spray rail, keeping the boat exceptionally dry when the weather kicks up. From $184,500, www.HBIboats.com
Achilles HB-300FXUsing a RIB as a tender often means giving up space on deck or on the swim platform to stow it. But the folks at Achilles have designed the HB300FX with a folding transom that allows the 9'10" RIB to be stored in a bag only 12 inches deep with the tubes deflated. While not as compact as a true roll-up, the HB300FX offers the performance of a RIB, including a four-person capacity, and a 10hp maximum rating, and weighs just 91 pounds. It comes with a full-length storage bag so you can stash it in a bunk or transport it easily. $3,830, www.achillesinflatables.com
Zodiac RP 650Zodiac has designated their new RP 650 as a "crossover" model that straddles the recreational and commercial markets. With amenities for weekend fishing or watersports, plus a T-top, new console design that can handle more electronics, and a user-friendly rear arch with a towing stanchion and rod holders, the RP 650 should appeal to families looking for a tough, stable runabout or fishing boat.
LOA: 20' 8" | Beam: 8' 2" | Inside Length: 13' 8" | Inside Beam: 4' 5" | Weight: 1,256 lbs.
Capable of reaching impressive speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour with a single 150-horse Yamaha, it's available in red and grey. $53,995 with the 150hp and electronics package, www.zodiacmarineusa. com, or see it at the Miami Boat Show, Booth E85.
LOA: 10' 2" | Beam: 5' 5" | Inside Beam: 2' 6" | Weight: 135 lbs.
Walker Bay Genesis 310Walker Bay has updated their award-winning Genesis lineup for 2011, giving the boats a sleeker modern look. The aluminum transom is now anodized rather than powder-coated, and the handles have been streamlined. The Genesis still offers the same design features and construction that made it a standout when it was launched in 2006, including a fold-down transom, clever storage spaces in and belowdecks, plus wheels in the hull for greater portability. From $2,665. Go to www.WalkerBay.com, or see it at the Miami boat show.
Ribcraft 4.8Military, commercial, and rescue organizations demand a lot from their watercraft, which is why they favor RIBs for many applications. Ribcraft builds boats primarily for these markets, but when you buy a recreational model like the Ribcraft 4.8, you still get the exact same hull and tubes demanded by their toughest customers.
LOA: 15' 7" | Beam: 6' 11" | Inside Length: 11' 10" | Inside Beam: 4' 1"
Weight: 685 lbs. (without engine)
Designed for surf-rescue operations originally, the 4.8 can handle the slop and chop of just about any "pleasure boating" day. "We've found our boats replacing the old 13-foot Whalers as sort of the all-purpose family runabout that the kids could learn on," says Matthew Velluto, head of marketing for Ribcraft. With a T-top, wraparound seating, bait wells, and rod holders as just some of the available options, you can make this center console suit just about any need. From $25,000, www.RibcraftUSA.com
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