DooYoo recently contacted me, and asked me what I would suggest to improve their boat section. After looking around, to see what I could suggest, I realised, they had very little to do with boats on here. This surprised me as, in case it had escaped your notice, we are an island, and a very small one at that. We have one of the ... largest boating communities in the world, with most big boat names based in the UK, including, Princess Yachts, Avon, etc etc.
Anyway I made a lot of suggestions, and they have added 1 or 2 of them. The big one I mentioned was RIBs. And this is what this opinion is based on.
You will notice now, they no longer list the RIB under 'Inflatable Dinghies'. This again was some thing I suggested, as a RIB, is a completely different type of boat to your common dinghy.
So What is a RIB?
Well apart from tasting good on the BBQ, it is also a type of boat. RIB stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat. Sounds contradicting doesn't it. Well let me explain a little.
The RIB was invented, back in 1963 I believe by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI see op), and the US Coastguard, in an attempt to produce a vast versatile rescue craft for working inshore. The larger lifeboats, such as the 37foot Oakley were to big and had to big a draft to be useful close in shore in shallow water. They wanted a boat that was small enough to fit into small inlets and run in shallow water, and can be taken out the water easily and stored safely. Enter, the RIB.
The basic design of the RIB as a standard monohull, just like your everyday Fletcher or Bayliner. But it had its sides removed, and they were replaced with an inflatable collar that ran around the boat.
This was a basic design, but revolutionised boat design and was soon to take off as the next big thing in leisure craft.
The advantage with this design as a lifeboat, was its extremely good stability in rough water. I am sure you are aware of what the RNLI d oes, and you can probably imagine, they wanted a boat that could handle anything the sea threw at them, in order to save a life. The RIB gave them this boat.
The standard monohull, like a Fletcher was no use for the type of work they wanted it for. They don't perform well in rough water, and stability leaves a little to be desired. However by sticking a big tube round the boat, in a sense, this overcome that problem. The collar or 'tubes' provide excellent stability, by providing a very buoyant area. If you have ever tried pushing a balloon, or beach ball under water, you will notice it isn't easy and pops straight back up. If you then pushed an open icecream tub under, you notice it goes under very easily, and when it fills, it doesn't come back up! Not a good design for a lifeboat. The large volume of air inside the tubes, which were about 50ft long roughly, in total around the boat, you can imagine, are very buoyant, and take a lot to push under. This was the key factor in the RIB design, and set the RIB in motion. As well as buoyancy, they also provide a very good working platform. Much lower sides than that of a standard solid boat, so recovering people from the water was easy, and because of the tubes, you could hang a heavy load over the side, like a large sailor, and not fear the boat tipping over or becoming unstable. If you look on the Avon homepage, or you probably seen it around on the net, you will see a picture of a fully laden LandRover and a crew, being carried on an Avon boat! (http://www.avoninflatables.co.uk/page/about) click on 'about Avon products' on the left, then click the adventure picture on that page, and you will see it in full.
That's basically what a RIB is, I am sure you are probably thinking now, ohhhhh one of those boats. Its common people know what they are, just never knew what they were called or what they did, well now you do.
So, the Avon RIB. Who is Avon?
Avon, were one of t he first manufacturers to start producing RIBs on a commercial scale. They have been in the business longer than most. One of the leaders in RIB manufacturers throughout the World.
Based in Llanelli in South Wales, UK, they build their boats via franchise. This basically means, the boats are built in pieces all over the country, and then assembled and sold as a complete boat. For instance, one of the places that builds the hull for Avon is Dale Sailing, in Neyland, Pembrokeshire. They build the hulls, then send them off to have the tubes fitted etc.
I believe Avon build their own tubes, or it could be Henshaw, but I am not sure on that, so don't quote me.
They merged with another big brand, Zodiac, a few years ago, I don't know the exact dates. And now produce Zodiac and Avon RIBs. Zodiac generally being the smaller PVC RIBs used as tenders for larger boats, or messing around in bays by kids. Where Avon are more the big boys, producing small boats as tenders, up to large 6.5 meter offshore RIBs.
They produce the RIBs for the RNLI, including the Atlantic 21, and the newer Atlantic 75, as well as the smaller boats used. A good reputation and if the RNLI trust them, then you can too. Although hopefully you wont have to use them to the extent the RNLI does.
So, I know what a RIB is, and I know who Avon are, so what about their boats themselves?
Right, now we are getting into the main point of this opinion.
I have used many Avon RIBs in my time, from small 4 meter JetRIBs (don't worry, I will explain these later) up to the 6meter offshore RIB. But my main experience has been with the 5.5meter RIB.
When I was doing my RYA powerboat certificate, and RYA safety boat handler certificate, I was trained in an Avon RIB. A 5.5meter RIB with a single 40hp Honda outboard. The nature of the training is to teach you how to handle a boat in all sorts of conditions, and the safety boat steps up this training into things like, holding the boat 5inches away from a rock in very heavy seas. A task I can tell you. And exercises 12miles off shore, in a Force 6 (the Irish ferry even stayed at home that day, great fun :o)
All this means, we had to really rely on the boat and its capabilities in order to stay safe, as well as our own. The Avon did it lovely, only let down by the relatively small outboard it had on.
So, tell me more. Construction?
All Avon RIBs, are constructed from GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) or fibre glass as it is sometimes known. This is a very strong material, and also very easy to shape, before it cures obviously. These properties make it ideal for boats, and you will find it is the common choice of material for most boats on the water, even the 60odd foot Sunseekers (and they fetch over £1million sometimes).
It is ideal for the RIB as it can be moulded into flanges for the tubes, and consoles etc easily all in one piece. Aluminium and Plywood is also used on some RIBs, but this is usually specialist boats.
The tubes are constructed from a Hypalon based material. The tubes are actually constructed in layers, with a layer of Polychloroprene CR, and a high tenacity basic textile glued on top of that with adhesive, and then a Hypalon (fancy name is Polyethylene Chlorosulfonated CSM) layer glued on top of that. The strength Is made up from all 3 layers, and the Hypalon is used mainly to provide a tough durable skin to the tubes. Hypalon is extremely tough wearing, and protects against extreme weather conditions very well, including excessive heat, cold, humidity. Its resistant to most things, like oil, fuel, and UV and direct sunlight. This makes it ideal for use on a boat like this, as it will almost last forever. TIP. If buying a RIB, avoid PVC, such as Zodiac, PVC isn't as hard wearing, and also almost impossible to repair.
The tubes are stuck on, yes glue, to the boat. That's the common method and used by most manufacturers, bar a few who us e different methods. Don't worry, the adhesive is very strong and probably will never come unstuck within its lifetime. One of my RIBs is about 15 years old, and I only recently had to re stick part of the tube back on, and this was because it developed a hole and the tube filled with water, as you can imagine, that was a lot of weight pulling the tube off the boat when I removed it from the water. But apart from that, it has never needed repairing in its life. This glue makes Superglue look like chewing gum!
The tubes are divided into sections, or chambers. This is so if you puncture the tube, the entire tube won't deflate, only part of it will. You can still get home safely usually with 2 sections deflated, depending on how many it has, but definitely with 1 deflated. Water entering the boat is not a cause for concern as you can fill a RIB up to the brim almost with water, and they wont sink (Trust me, I have done it on a number of occasions).
The deck I have never dismantled, but as far as I know, it is a plywood core, coated in fibre glass. Very hard wearing. You can buy models without a deck on them, these are better if you want extra space.
Transom again is a plywood core and can hold any size engine almost, depending on the size of the boat.
Most other deck fittings are constructed from fibre glass, using plywood cores were strength is needed.
So, what features do these boats have?
Well, Avon produce a huge range of boats, from small little boats for use in bays etc, up to full on offshore RIBs, incorporating selfrighting capabilities, all electronics, and machine guns!.
They produce boats for the RNLI, US Coastguard, NATO, Fire services, all sorts, and so the range is endless almost.
But common features are
Self bailer. This is basically a hole in the back of the boat. It has a tube, or a flap over it and is designed to work so that when stationary, the force of the water outside holds it closed, and the n when on the move, lets water out the boat. Very useful if your using it offshore, as you can get wet.
Some of the Avons had a design Avon took on, where there is a huge hole in the back of the boat. This was a flooded chamber. The hole lets water in and fills up the void under the deck. This added a lot of weight to the bottom of the boat and helped keep it stable at rest, and then when moving the water just drained out the back again. This was a good idea, but try and avoid it. Because you can?t get into this chamber, it cant easily be cleaned, and so starts to fill with weed, and general slime. Also it slows the boat down when starting off, because you have such a large amount of water on board it takes a while for this water to drain and the boat get up on the plane. Good idea with potential, but not Avon's best idea I must admit.
A-Frame. Usually constructed from stainless steel, it is a frame across the back of the boat. Great for mounting things like Nav lights, GPS receivers, VHF aerials etc. The commercial craft also have a self righting bag mounted to the top.
Colours? Any colour you want as long as it is grey! Ok, not quite that bad, but you will find, the majority of Avon boats, have an orange hull and grey tubes, or the newer ones now have a white hull and blue tubes. The small boats are often just white. Colour choice is not extensive, so you have to stick with what you get.
For full list of features, you will do better to ask Avon themselves, or check out their website.
I said I would mention JetRIBs.
Well a JetRIB is like a jetski, but with tubes around it. It is a small rib with a jet drive engine in it, and seating and controls, like that of a jetski. They are great fun, but not practical for much else other than messing around. Avon make some, and they will see you to about 50mph. Can turn them on a sixpence and do all sorts of tricks with them, just like a jetski. Look at it like a motorbike o f the RIB world.
What about performance?
Well performance is very dependant on the engine you have. It will go as fast as your engine can push it basically. In terms of handling, it handles well. The hull is a nice design and responds well. Its deep V design makes a comfortable ride in heavy sea, and also stable at slow speeds.
When flat out it pops up onto the plane fairy well, as long as you don't have that silly flooded chamber. And one on the plane it levels out and runs flat and smooth. The high bow makes it comfortable and dryer in the slightly rougher water and the large tubes make turning at speed easy, with hardly any lean. Once the tubes touch the water it wont lean anymore. Any RIB performs better then a standard solid boat at speed as well as at slow speed.
Overall, if you are new to boats, or just new to the RIB, then Avon would be a good choice. They are simple and effective and should see you right. If you are an enthusiast then there are other manufactures, like Flatacraft, Delta, RIBeye, etc which are more for the enthusiast, as they are built for performance and are usually well designed. Avon are well designed, but don't offer so much in terms of refinements and look pretty basic.
Not the cheapest RIB on the market, but you are paying for the name to an extent.
Trailerable and easy to store, makes them great for people who don?t want to mess around with marinas and storage fees.
I would recommend a RIB to anyone who wants to go offshore, be it diving, skiing, cruising, or as rescue craft. Their excellent handling and performance at sea is better than most solid boats you can buy of the same size. And I would rather be caught out in a force 7 gale in a RIB more than any other leisure boat!
However, no one should ever take a boat out to sea without proper training and qualifications. The sea is a dangerous place, and its power is greater than any boat. All the fancy equipment and big boats will not save you at sea if you don?t know how to use them. Seek RYA or equivalent training. It will be money well spent. Don't become a statistic, by thinking you are good. It takes more than an expensive boat and the odd trip round a lake to drive a boat. You are in control of a killing machine!
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Kawasaki 1100 STX
This is a JET SKI, which I think is a stupid name because you dont ski on jets, you ski on water. The name Kawasaki is also interesting, because it can be broken down into Kawas, which is an exotic sex position, and aki, which is a place near my house where trolls live and mug innocent bystanders, such as Steven Bystander who ... plays for West Ham occasionally, whos fathers name is Brian, and he played the chap called Brian on the BT Cellnet adverts, in which a jet ski featured the starring ROLL.
Rolls are also good because they roll when you roll them, which is in fact extremely advanced physics, and only mr darling can do it , but he can always do it because he sometimes saturates the roll with his spit before he rolls it, making it have lots of static energy and then it sticks to the table.
I rate it very good.
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Fletcher Arrowflyte 14
The Fletcher Arrowflyte 14 was Fletcher's Flagship, so to speak, for the Fletcher Range. 14 foot long it is intended as a short cruise, ski boat. Offering good standard of build with great performance. First, what is a RIB Enthusiast doing with a boat like a Fletcher? Well, it's my job. I purchased the Fletcher ... for £450, it was in a sorry state, and was crying out for a recondition. I didn't intend on keeping the boat, as I was going to do it up and sell it.
Needed a complete retrim of the interior, and some cosmetic work on the top deck and hull. Windscreen needed replacing and a little bit of glassing was required on the mounting points for the front seats. (Due to a bodge job someone before had done and used mild steel components!)
Fitted with a 40hp Mariner outboard, that is perfect, and only needed some new spark plugs to make it run like a dream.
Over all, for the cost of about £150, I have turned a sorry looking £450 boat, into an almost new boat worth in the region of £2000. Not bad.
So, about the Fletcher Arrowflyte. What does it have to offer?
First I need to point out, the purpose of this opinion is about second hand Arrowflytes, and does not hold true to the new models, as designs changed. The boat I am working on is about 8 years old, but they stayed the same up until about 4 years ago I believe. I hope to have an opinion on the latest model in the near future.
Well it is a planning mono-hull design, with a closed bow. Transom designed to hold single outboard up to approx. 90hp. (Check manufacturers guides for latest figures). All constructed from GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). Single skinned.
Seating is for 4 people, with bucket seats at the front. This is the older style seating, the new ones incorporate back to back seating.
The passenger seat can be removed and turned around to face rear, for skiing.
Front seats are built using FibreGlass, and trimmed with vinyl.
Other seating is a ply wood base covered in foam and vinyl covering.
Rear seats are removable to allow access to fuel tanks and storage under the engine bay. Front seats are secured using bolts to mounting points moulded into the deck.
Incorporates standard fittings, such as boarding ladder, mounted to transom, and collapsible.
Grab rails on bow, and on sides.
Front mooring cleat and rear cleats.
Front grab rail inside passenger compartment.
Wrap around windscreen constructed from ABS plastic
Front lifting eye and rear transom mounted eyes, for skiing or hanging from divets.
All fittings constructed using marine grade stainless steel and mounted using stainless steel bolts and nuts with suitable backing plates for maximum strength (watch for bodge jobs from previous owners!)
The design of the Arrowflyte produces maximum cockpit area utilising space well. The rear seats fold down or can be removed to open up more space. The cockpit walls are high and provide good protection from spray as well as helping keep passengers in the boat.
Marine grade carpet is installed all over, making it nice to walk on, and anti-slip when wet. Fitted well right up inside the sidewalls, so doesn?t just end at the side, like a lot of them do. Making it more pleasant to look at.
Side panels on walls and dashboard, trimmed in the same vinyl as the seats, provide padding as well as a nice look to the cockpit, with easy cleaning provided by the vinyl.
Engine well fitted which tidies up the rear end and hides all the unsightly cables and wires needed by the engine, as well as providing a platform for entering and leaving the boat.
Outboard design, with space for single outboard only, although if experienced, modification could be made to allow twin, but not needed.
Full remotes with steering and throttle box mounted front right of the co ckpit.
All remotes and cables are run behind the sidewall panels hiding them from sight and reducing the risk of damage to them or persons. Enter the engine well via a grommet preventing water from entering the cockpit.
Engine sizes can be fitted ranging from the smallest up to about 90hp, providing speeds of up to 50mph approx.
Minimum recommended engine size I would say would be 30hp. Anything smaller and planning would be hard to achieve. For skiing 40hp is the minimum engine needed. 50hp+ better.
Fuel is via an external fuel tank positioned under the engine well in the rear. Caters for 5-gallon fuel tank, although twin tanks could be fitted.
Usually comes with a custom built trailer by Fletcher, using Snipe. The boat is light and well balanced making easy towing, and short length makes storage easy.
Single axle trailer is plenty for towing, and, if using standard trailer, the wheels are positioned far back, supporting the weight of larger engines better and helping prevent pitching.
With good support along the keel preventing damage and high stress points on the hull.
Carpet style trailer with side chocks and centre rollers.
Speeds of up to 50mph possible with right engine.
Nice planning hull makes skiing enjoyable and easy, without the huge rooster tail from the rear.
3 spray rails along each side of the hull disperse the water nicely and cleanly and its slightly flared chine helps keep it stable at speeds and in cornering.
Sharp bow punches through waves nicely and cuts the water well. Closed bow prevents water entering the cockpit in rough conditions and disperses water cleanly off the bow before reaching the cockpit.
Although not designed for offshore use, its design would cope well in light sea conditions with moderate waves*.
Handles well and is responsive. Planning is easy to achieve from its hull design. A proven design that works well.
Any bad poi nts?
Well its short length and width make it a little unstable when stationary and in rougher water.
The bow section is wasted due to a large footplate positioned across the front of the cockpit, preventing access to the bow area for storage etc. But this is removable if required.
It isn't a heavy built boat, single skinned in most places, so is prone to damage if used heavy. The single skin side wall compartments mean fitting of equipment such as fire equipment, or accessories is impossible without penetrating the outer skin.
No self-bailer is fitted so emptying water on the go is risky and usually involves the boat needing to be removed from the water.
A watertight compartment would be nice on the boat, as all compartments are open and prone to getting wet. Making storage of mobile phones, or your ciggies a little wet if conditions pick up.
Apart from that, it's a very nice boat.
The perfect skiing boat for lakes and those who want a small boat that can be stored and moved around easily, without the large expense of marinas and huge 4x4 towcars.
Its hull is a proven design that makes for good performance. And handling
Well worth the money if you can pick up one for under £4000 with a good engine fitted. The smallest of Fletchers range makes it popular with holiday makers who may not live near the sea or ski lakes and want to be able to tow it there easily.
Parts are easy obtainable, but often expensive, but alternatives are easy come by.
*just thought I would point out, if you noticed this little star back up there. Although I say this boat could cope with light offshore conditions, I strongly recommend you do not take any boat of this size and design onto the sea with the intent of going offshore. The sea is an unpredictable place and although it may be able to cope with a light wind, anything bigger than a Force 3 and you will be in for a very rough, and potentially dangerous ri de as the boat and boats similar are not designed for those conditions. No one should attempt an offshore trip without first seeking good training, ideally RYA approved certification. And should never exceed the capabilities of their craft, or themselves! Too many people get seriously hurt or lose their lives by over estimating the capabilities of their craft, and more importantly, of themselves. All boat users, be it on lakes, or at sea, should be properly trained and certified to avoid unnecessary injury to themselves and others! (I'll get off my soapbox now, check my opinion on the RNLI)
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Boat / This is a German site and does not feature the English language.
Boat / Ideal for skiing or short cruising. Trailer friendly.
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