Yet another example of Sailnet thread "needs inflation."
The OP starts off with a simple premise, by the second page he is getting reccommendations that far exceed his needs, with dire warnings that his original premise will be a complete failure.
Seriously, lots of folks cruise with dinghies without hard bottoms, and do just fine. Who the hell cares about planing in a get-to-shore dinghy and dive platform?
an RIB is at least twice the cost of a hard floor inflatable of the same length, and weighs twice as much, requiring a bigger O/B, and they are very nice, but require davits (more $$$) and the benefit is?
They plane and handle coral better.
Hell, one could sacrifice a soft bottom inflatable to coral every year and still be money ahead three years later.
Somewhere along the way , the original spec of "Normally 2, max 4" occupants got extrapolated into needing to accomodate 4 regularly.
Our 6.5' (yep, it is real short) inflatable regularly carries two unlight adults, a hyperactive dog and 10 gallons of water comfortably, easily propelled by a 2 hp OB. Yeah, the boat doesn't plane. So what? neither does my sailboat.
I dissagree with so many things you said. Suprising because I generally agree with most of your posts and find them a good resource. For the record, everything I told him was right-on target from my experience. ANd I may b one of the only people on this forum that actually currently owns both a HPIB and RIB and has been cruising (and soon will be again).
Ii am going to pick apart what you have said. It is not meant to start a internet argument, but rather to show you that the quotes above are misleading if not altogether wrong.
1) Regarding the dive platform. It was the OP that brought that up. My experience is that it didn't matter either way, and in some ways the HPIB was better because crap doesn't slide aroun an bang in the hard bottom. My issue was never which tender, but trying to get my lard butt back into it in after a day of diving. I think he would be fine with either tender as that's not the real issue.
2) Cost is at least twice as much for a RIB versus HPIB. Not true. I paid ballpark $2200 - 2500 for my tender. It is 10'2ish. As he quoted $2100-$2400 for the current choice of tenders, they are comparable in price. If you jump into an aluminum tender, yes you will pay a lot more. However, I only threw that out as an option because I think they are excellent choices if money is not an object. Still, I did not purchase one and few people I know have one due to cost.
3) Lots of folks cruise without hard bottoms. True, but missleading. Lots of people do it. I have seen them. I may not have coined the phrase, but often use it, "You would be shocked what people cruise on..." I hold by that and I truly believe you can make
about anything work. However, my first hand experience and that of most people I have met, wish they had a RIB that own(ed) a soft bottom. I have seen people get by fine with a kayak. The really cheap plastic sailing dinghys from Walker Bay are more numerous than I would have suspcted. I have seen three people (different boats) that just swam to shore. I even have a picture somewhere of this guy that used a truck intertube (really funy, he was fishing from it too and sunburned). Getting out cruising is more important than having the perfect equipment, but if you are going to go and are going to spend the money, get the right equipment the first time instead of buying it twice. I was dumb and bought it twice. I am trying to get someone else to learn from my mistakes.
4) Who cares about a planning dinghy. I thought it was pointless until I did it too. Now I would not haver one that does not plane. It also helps when taking the dog to shore. I anchor out a lot and many places are simply not accessible due to the draft of my sailboat. As such, we find a place that is good holding and use the tender to explore and fish. The tender will be your workhorse and car. Each person can choose for themselves whether they want the horse or the car. Both will get the job done, I guess.
5) RIB's require a much bigger outboard. Not true. Not if we are comparing apples-apples. A slat-bottom soft floor was not even one of the tenders he offered so I will keep that out of the equation (I have owned one of those too). His minimum inflateable was a HPIB. The whole point of a HPIB is to plane. On mine, we chose a 6hp Mercury. It would barely get me up on a plane with one kid in there. On our Avon RIB, we had a 8HP. It would easily get me and the wife and Chase up on a plane (we used an Avon RIB on our 380, circa 1999-2003ish). My experience is that the RIB will jump on a plane easier with same HP and hold it better. The issue with a HPIB is that no matter how you hard you pump it up, there is a lot more drag on the bottom (bottom is seperate from floor) and you may actually have to have more HP on a HPIB to maintain a comporable plane. They do weigh less, but surprisingly in my experience, that is less an issue than its ability to get on and hold a plane. In effect, you do not have to have a larger engine with a RIB. However, you generally get the option to have a larger engine. And if he goes with a 2 stroke over 4, he will find that a 15hp probably weighs the same as a 8 hp 4stroke and is a lot less unwieldly.
6) RIB's require a davit. Not true. I see many people that do not have davits that use a RIB. They haul it up on deck. That would not be my choice (and was not). I would have Davits for either type because you don't want to leave either type in the water. Honestly, it was less of a concern that it gets stolen (an issue though) and more of a concern and issue with growth. A rib also pulls behind the boat better in my opinion and that is how it will b used a LOT while cruising.
7) Regarding coral and HPIB's versus RIB's. I have punched a hole in my boat so am a bit prjudiced about it, but the bottom line is that he will be shoring his boat a lot and the sand alone will wear quickly on a HPIB. As I also pointed out, the sand and shells get between the HPIB floor and bottom and chafe it. Quite candidly, when cruising, you likly won't tie up at a dinghy dock every night or have access to a marina every night... at least we dont. And if you are just going to marina hop, you probably don't need a tender at all.
8) You could sacrifice a soft bottom inflateable every year for three years and still come out ahead. First, a true soft bottom was never even on his list and not an option he presented. Second, this assumes you are in the US. Let's say he blows his soft bottom in the Carribean. What is the cost of replacement there, if he can even get one? I bet it is a wee bit more than in the US (Tongue in cheek). Just get the right tender the first time and not worry about it.
9) "Our 6.5' (yep, it is real short) inflatable regularly carries two unlight adults, a hyperactive dog and 10 gallons of water comfortably, easily propelled by a 2 hp OB. Yeah, the boat doesn't plane. So what? neither does my sailboat" You have made work what is right for you. I am cool with that. If as a F/T cruiser you have made that work, good for you. I did not like it at all. And BTW, as you are throwing out the 6'5 boat with no HPIB and a 2 hp motor, aren't you "needing inflation" as you too are not offering direct experience with the very tenders he is throwing out here as options? THough you are minimalizing what he needs, you just did the same thing you accused others of doing.
I am not trying to start a internet war. The commens in this thread are not mean to anger you. I am adding to this thread because if anyone else reads it that has similar thoughts, they will see a variety of other views. That is what the internet is about and makes it a good source.
These are only my opinions. Take them as such. Tenders, anchors, keels, etc ellicit a variety of opinions that are based in direct experience and will often bring very opposing views.