The Ultimate Buyers Guide To Purchasing A RIB

13 Dec

This guide is intended for the purchase of a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and explains how to safely navigate the process of choosing the correct new or used RIB, the importance of the sales agreement, the payment terms and the security of your deposit before you receive your boat.

What Is A RIB Worth?

New boat prices are fairly standard and easy to work out. However, prices can vary wildly depending on the specification so don’t be fooled by the low “price from” used by some dealers. Just like buying a car this is the very basic model with the smallest engine, no electronic navigation, no sound system, no hydraulic steering etc.

The alternative is to include a host of the most popular extras, which often includes what most buyers want as standard, and price the boat with these extras included.

This can then show a big difference in prices between comparable sized boats. Neither option is wrong but you need to be aware that this comparison is a bit uneven at first glance.

RIB Optional Extras

The reality of most purchases is that the “price from” figure is never the final number paid. When searching, check the details of the actual boat being sold and compare this with “price from” and you will find an appreciable difference. We favour the full price of the actual boat including extras being sold; on our RIBs In Stock webpage, you can find examples of how we are transparent in the words and pictures.

Like For Like Price Comparison

There is nothing dishonest or underhand about these pricing method; its simply a marketing choice, but the cheapest boat that you find will increase in price once you have what you want to be included in the package. The basic message is don’t be “hooked” by the low price but compare specification when comparing price tags; ultimately the price variation for like for like products (same hull length, same engine, same tube, etc) is very small. 

Pricing A Used RIB

With used boats, the Internet is your friend. There is no guide price website or book as can be found with cars and it is very common not to be able to find the same specification on different hulls making comparisons difficult. Even if you do find a match then it is all about the condition of the RIB – put simply has it been loved or neglected? That said the second hand market is all about what do I get for my length of hull and engine size after that all the nice the things to have are what win the sale over a similar model with less kit. 

After Sales Support for your RIB

Undoubtedly the used market is more tricky to judge than the new purchases but if working with a reputable dealer or broker you will get good after sales support and warranty (where applicable) that you would not get in a private “sold as seen” sale.  It is worth bearing in mind that that human being in all of us wants to be treated well and build relationships. Admittedly this varies but if you are buying a used boat from a dealer/broker the chances are they want to build that relationship over the long term, which can only be good for you. The private buyer will give none of this and if you are new to boat buying you are in a lonely place when it goes wrong. The message is dealers and brokers give a lot more support and that is worth a bit more money upfront to save you big downstream and unexpected expenses.


This obviously starts on the Internet, an hour of surfing can tell you a lot about what is out there. Be sure to see actual pictures of the boat being sold. Lots of websites show the make and model but not the actual boat. This is normal, we have two areas to our website, one shows the entire range available and is deliberately line drawing rather than actual boats and the other is RIBs in Stock that clearly shows the actual boats photographed on site at our location. This not only gives you good visibility of the RIB on sale but confidence that it is at our location and not miles away. 

Pick Up The Phone!

At some point we all have to come out from behind our screens and pick up the phone. Again a lot can be achieved asking questions of a salesperson, however, a picture tells a thousand words and Facetime can be very useful here. For those potential buyers that are travelling a long way arranging a Facetime viewing serves to give you pictures and words together and of course you can direct the camera where you want to go. The engine can also be started while you watch and of course you can make a judgement of the RIB and the dealer – is it tidy? If not, having planned a Facetime viewing, why not! Much can be understood about the RIB and the vendor from this form of viewing from the comfort of your sofa; it has a very real feel about it so if you do progress to visit the boat you feel confident that you are not wasting your time. 

Arranging A Viewing

Finally, you get to visit the RIB and have a good look around. It doesn’t take long to inspect a RIB so you may feel that you’d like to organise a viewing and sea trial at the same time. This will ensure that you can check the engine properly – probably the most important check as it is the single largest cost on most RIBs, sometimes more than the hull itself. You do need to discuss this with the vendor prior to your visit because if the boat is not afloat it takes manpower and time to launch so the dealer will need some notice in most instances. When viewing the boat afloat you can do everything except inspect the hull so be sure to either do this thoroughly on Facetime or arrange to be able to inspect this during your visit – again logistics are in play here so discuss this with the dealer.

Sea Trial – What To Do?

RIB sea trials are different things to different people so it is important to know what everyone attending wants from the experience; this is where you are going to make your final decision so a little forward planning is important to get the right outcome for you.

Prepare Your Questions

Its best to arrive with a list of unanswered questions; the most diligent purchaser has a written list so they don’t miss anything. The questions you have to ask are pertinent to you and your family; this varies hugely so no questions are stupid questions which means a long list is better than a short list.

Some of your queries will be dealt with just by getting on board but you also need to put the RIB through its paces and crucially find out if the family wants to go forward. 

Key Considerations

Things to consider on the trial are:

  • Is it the correct size for your intended use?
  • Is it comfortable for all on board?
  • Is it a dry ride? (No fun in getting soaked every time you go out)
  • How fast does she get on the plane? (if water skiing this is important)
  • What is the cruising speed fuel burn?
  • What is the top speed?
  • How stable is the RIB both at low and high speed?
  • Do you feel safe?
  • Do all the extras work correctly (plotter, sonar, VHF, sound system etc)
  • What is the condition of all the fixtures fitting?

This is not an exhaustive list but a pretty good start, once you have dealt with all this you will have a pretty good idea if this is for you or not.

Survey – Do You Need A Survey?

For the years that I have sold RIBs nobody has ever engaged a surveyor for a pre-purchase survey when buying from us. Cost will be a part of this (typically £350 – £500) but equally much of what surveyor does you can cover during viewing and sea trials. Larger vessel which lots of expensive and complicated systems do need an expert eye over them but relatively speaking RIBs are cheap in comparison so the outlay can put a buyer off. I’m a big fan of “go with your gut” if it doesn’t feel right and the questions you have are not answered satisfactorily don’t buy it. 

Extra Confidence If You Need It

However, if you are completely new to this engaging surveyor will give you a bit of confidence that an independent expert is able to point out all the issue and give an indication of how important they are today and how they will effect the RIB in the future. This is particularly useful for any used boat with no remaining warranty as ultimately it is down to you to deal with once you are the owner. All that said the fact remains it is very unusual for a potential buyer to appoint a surveyor but you need to make that judgement when you get to it; in my experience most buyers know what they need to do when they get to this stage.

Marine Finance?

The only exception to the surveyors’ requirement is if you are taking marine finance on the purchase in which case the finance company will want a Part 1 registration and one of the requirements is a “Certificate of Survey for Tonnage and Measurement” and this needs to be done by a surveyor. In this instance the finance company will appoint the surveyor. The paperwork for a Part 1 registration is legally binding which also means a lawyer so the whole process is typically about £850 (2019).

Sales Agreement 

Once a deal is agreed a sales agreement is good protection for both parties. The industry standard is to use the British Marine (A trade Association that supports leisure boating amongst other things) standard terms and conditions. These include a cooling-off period as well as clear details of commitments and responsibilities to both parties. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives very good cover so once committed to the agreement you have a lot on your side so this is something to embrace rather than shy away from. Apart from anything else it commits the dealer/broker to protect you and your rights.

Types of Sale

There are a few different RIBs for sale types to be aware of and the difference effects the support you may receive:

Private Sale

This is very much a case of “sold as seen” so once parted with your money there is very little comebacks – the same as buying a used car privately. The difference is that when buying a car you know you need a logbook etc. Private boat sellers sometimes aren’t even aware of what paperwork they should be giving you so in this blind leading the blind situation you are at the most risk. Proof of VAT paid is the big one, more on that below. 

Brokerage Sale

This is when an owner appoints a company (the Broker) to complete a sale for them and in return the Broker will receive a percentage of the sales price or for low value products a fixed fee. What the dealers does for the fee depends on the T&Cs they operate and can vary from a simple website listing and viewings and nothing else to the inclusion of free storage, cleaning, reselling website and magazine listings etc.

This is largely immaterial to you as a buyer but it does mean that the Broker will be aware of the paperwork available etc so as a buyer you have some comeback as the Broker is obliged to disclose everything he knows about the boat. The Broker is all obliged to share all offers with the owner and if part of your offer is dependent on the current owner completing work on the boat the Broker will manage all this.

A good Broker will seek to get a good price for the owner and can guide both parties to a satisfactory conclusion; done well this is a very good experience for all involved.

Once the sale is complete the paperwork will be dealt with by the Broker and your funds will be held in a client account until you become the legal owner, providing you with security of knowing you cannot be left with no boat and no funds!

This is a popular used boat sales option but it is important to note that once the transaction is complete the Broker is not obliged to provide any further service and no warranty is given by the Broker or owner. A good Broker will do what they can to help but they are not responsible for anything that requires further expense on their part. 

New & Stock Sales

RIBs for sale this way is nice and simple and provides you with the best protection. The difference between new and used is all down to the age of the boat and length of warranty remaining. A stock boat (often taken as part exchange during a new boat sale) will be given some warranty by the dealer if no manufacturers warranty is remaining. The length and extent of this warranty varies depending on the age of the boat so this should be one of your pre-purchase questions. Other than this new sales and stock sales are essentially the same thing when it comes to the obligations of the Dealer. 

As a purchaser this is where you get the best protection, not just because of legal obligation but because companies selling boats this way are usually the best established and want to build a relationship with you. Ultimately you will want to sell your boat in future and a good dealer will want you to return for that service. A successful Dealer/Broker always has an eye on the future and that only works if people are treated fairly and honestly. 


How the RIB is paid for and when depends on the type of sale. If a brokerage sale the owner will want to conclude quickly so it is important that you are honest about the timeframe of the purchase. If a simple cash transaction this can be very quick but if you are waiting for the finance to be agreed there will be a delay and you should highlight this.

RIBs that are in stock (new or used) with a dealer are usually subject to a 10% deposit. This commitment to the sale is important to the dealer as they can then starting preparing the boat for handover with confidence; this means you will get your new RIB in the fastest possible timeframe. Your cooling off period will cover you from an impulse purchase so you are still protected while enjoying the best of both worlds.

New boats that you are ordering (at a boat show for example) are usually subject to a staged payment process. The timings of payment and the amounts will be clearly stated on the sales agreement and vary between dealers. However, in the vast majority of cases the following is normal:

1st Payment – Deposit

A 10% deposit on the signing of the Sales agreement commits both parties to the terms of the Agreement.

2nd Payment – Hull

The second payment is paid when the hull arrives at the dealers’ premises and usually covers everything except the engine.

3rd Payment – Engine  

The third and final payment is required as cleared funds before the RIB is handed over. Without cleared funds the registration of the hull, engine and ancillary warranties cannot be completed which will hold up handover. 

All dealers should be happy to host a visit from a purchaser so if at anytime during the sales process you want the reassurance of seeing your RIB being built just ask. 

Client Account

A Client Account is very important to you as it protects your money. This is not simply a savings account it is a separate account that the bank recognises as being used to hold funds for customers. Any money in the Client Account is ring fenced and protected so if anything happens to the company you are buying your RIB from it cannot be used to pay off debt in the case of receivership.

This is another good reason for a Sales Agreement as it is proof that your money is being securely held for a product you have not yet received. This protection is recognised by all and is one of your greatest protections when buying from a dealer – at no time are you at risk provided the paperwork is in place. 


A word to the wise – paperwork.

This is the single biggest problem with all used boat purchasing. Simply paying the money and leaving with the boat is not enough. You must have the paperwork to prove your ownership and proof of the VAT being paid. The purchase can proceed without this paperwork but you must be fully aware of the liabilities and risks you accept by doing so. 

While all that sounds really scary let’s add some balance. If you are buying a 10 year old £10,000 boat for use in the UK it is unlikely anyone will ever question the VAT status so you will “get away with it”. But, without proof of the original VAT payment you still remain legally responsible for this. This will cause problems if you wish to go abroad with the boat on holiday to an EU country and are asked to provide paperwork and can’t show a VAT paid invoice.

Without proof you accepted the liability when you became the owner you are legally obliged to pay the VAT based on the original purchase price or have your boat impounded. That probably still sounds scary so use the below check lists – without it the boat loses value.

New RIB Paperwork

As noted above the paperwork that comes with your new RIB is very important this is the list of documents that you should receive with you new boat:

  • VAT invoice, standard proof of VAT payment
  • Bill of Sale, your proof of ownership
  • Warranty registration, log books etc
  • Engine service book, which contains registration information
  • Any security registration, e.g. Datatag security
  • CE Conformity documents for the hull and the engine
  • User manual for the hull, engine and all the equipment on board and trailer if applicable
  • Part numbers. This is a useful nice to have everything in one file and may be required to access your warranty in some cases

Used RIB paperwork

For a used boat sale you need all the original paperwork from above, or at the very least a copy. The only thing that must be original is the proof of VAT. You also need the following:

  • Your invoice, this will not include VAT on a previously VAT paid vessel
  • Your bill of sale, signed by the previous owner (which may be the dealer)
  • Service history, while this is not as essential these days with electronics records and the information held on the engine in the Electronic Control Module (ECM) it does give you an idea of how the engine and the RIB in general has been treated so worth having for that judgement. 

Re-Registering Ownership

With the introduction of GDPR the re-registering of things like Datatag security is down to you and the previous owner – one of the downside of making a our data safe is we can not delegate that responsibility so easily anymore. However, an Authorised Main Dealer will be able to re-register the engine and hull etc as they have access to the manufacturer’s database. If you are engaged in a private or brokerage sale this may not happen so ask the questions and get proof of what re-registration has occurred. A simple print of a database page will suffice. 

And Finally…

It is not unusual for a first time boat buyer to be apprehensive and cautious of being ripped off. Boat buyers are smart people of above average intelligence and used to making judgements of situations and people every day at work and in their lives generally. This is no different. 

Ultimately it is all about the relationship with the vendor no matter what sort of sale you are involved with. If you don’t build trust with the vendor that raises a big question mark over the after sale service that you will get. Although you are wrapped up with the sales process right now it is the after sales customer care that will make all the difference to the quality of your on going experience.

Instagram feed

Warsash Tides


High Tide 00:08 (4.33m)

High Tide 03:03 (4.13m)

Low Tide 06:14 (0.88m)

High Tide 13:01 (4.35m)

High Tide 14:54 (4.28m)

Low Tide 18:32 (1.07m)

The tide times are adjusted for British Summer Time where applicable.

Warsash Weather

Last updated:





Wind: -

Wind Direction: