- This is a superb combination of engine and hull.
- As the seas became rougher, the ride remained completely unflustered.
- Every time I drive a RIB instead of my own hard hull, I bless their integral, all-around fendering.
- It was the crew seating where I thought this boat delivered both her ‘Adventurer RIB mission’ and her ‘family day cruiser mission’ with great versatility.
- Starting was instant and fumeless.
- She was safe, powerful and capable, with very dynamic responses.
Ribquest Adventurer: No Compromises
Alex Whittaker rides some big waves in the new Ribquest 7.8, propelled by the equally impressive Evinrude E-Tec G2 300.
When I was given the keys to this new 7.8 ‘Ribquest Adventurer’ powered by the new ‘Robocop’-styled Evinrude E-Tec 300, for the first time in my life I had warm thoughts about an editor. On paper, this looked a really sweet combo, with the potential to perform both ‘family’ and ‘adventurer’ roles in equal measure. Once I beheld the boat in real life, I immediately felt that there had been no compromises. Equipped with an Evinrude 300, this innovative RIB really is a startling appliance. Part Med cruiser, part rocket ship, she looked utterly edible in her pastel-coloured hull. This is a new departure for Ribquest, probably best known for their professional, no-nonsense seafarer craft. With no dark-tubed, workboat origins immediately apparent, she looked extremely slim, sleek and … er … sexy. But enough of this swooning, let’s get down to business!
Upon stepping aboard, my attention was first drawn forward of the helm, whereupon Dave Rose, the vessel’s designer, informed me that unlike previous models, this whole front section is now a raised deck area that also incorporates a Ribtech moulded anchor locker. The step down from the foredeck is safely illuminated for night use and, like the rest of the boat, the entire foredeck is also Flexiteeked. This adds real finish to the interior of the craft. The faux teak looks good, needs little maintenance and provides good anti-slip properties. There are substantial dry storage spaces under the attractive forward twin hatches, which although supremely practical, give the boat’s style a further aesthetic lift. This raised deck also takes a full-sized sun pad, so the Adventurer’s Med/family day cruiser credentials are immediately confirmed. Also, the boat features a highly practical bathing platform-cum-boarding ladder on the rear port quarter. This is integral with the substantial stainless steel stern frame. The combination of the two not only helps swimmers reboard safely but the mixing of the steel and teak looks very stylish indeed.
I have no love for RIBs that are so narrow that you cannot get your size 9 Docksides comfortably between the tube and the console when going forward. But Dave Rose could easily get his sea boots in that generous gap. This means going forward is safe, quick and untroubled.
Every time I drive a RIB instead of my own hard hull I bless their integral, all-around fendering. The workboat-style rub rail on this craft is of a really substantial cross section. Overall, this Ribquest has a very accessible deck layout. For instance, picking up a mooring is a piece of cake, with easy access over such reassuringly fat tubes. As you lean outboard with your knees tucked in, your centre of gravity always feels well within the boat, despite the lack of high gunwales.
But it was the crew seating that I felt delivered both the Ribquest’s Adventurer RIB ‘mission’ and her family day cruiser suitability with such great versatility. With this in mind, the purposeful yet very comfortable helm seats complement the ‘four-man’ segmented bench seat in the stern nicely – with the latter defining a pleasant, sociable space that can even accommodate a small table. The rear seat’s ribbed segments give lateral security and add to the appearance of the unit, but the generous size of the seat provides a great lounging and relaxation area. The integral ‘suicide seat’ to the front face of the helm console is a fun place to ride at moderate speeds. Like the other seats, it’s also beautifully upholstered, and there are two very reassuring stainless steel grab bars on either side of the recess. While sat in this most forward seat I was pleased to find that this whole front seat moulding can be lifted to reveal a substantial storage space and access to all the vessel’s wiring. Indeed, there are a number of useful stowage areas throughout the boat, and all such compartments are fitted with rubber gaskets to stop vibration and ensure waterproofing.
Power In Hand
The Evinrude 300 outboard is a very impressive piece of advanced 2-stroke engineering. Initially, the ‘Robocop’ looks seemed a bit playful, but out on the water it soon proved to be a tough, no-nonsense, hard-working design. The engine looks very uncluttered on the transom and dispenses with a traditional steering ram. I was intrigued to find that there was no alternator, but rather a beltless magneto design. Needless to say, starting was instant and fumeless. But the beauty of this motor goes a lot deeper than its outer ‘skin’ or even its essential hardware, because the G2’s brilliance is in its application of technology and the manner in which it ‘delivers’ – therefore proving itself a superb partner to the breathtaking abilities of the ‘Adventure’s’ seagoing strengths. But more of this in a moment …
The first thing I noticed when taking over the helm was that the upper section of the seat gripped my upper body very reassuringly. A secure and comfortable driving position is essential to a good driving experience – no matter what the craft. These Ribquest designed seating pods combine a jockey seat with upper-body/lumber ‘wing’ restraints. Although they don’t incorporate any patented third-party shock mitigation systems, I felt that for most conditions and uses, their design was more than adequate, in fact, very sound indeed. The seats allowed me to relax into the ride and hence I felt little or no fatigue in the process. In other words, I felt I could trust the security they provided – even in the lively conditions encountered on the day. In addition, throughout the vessel, there were stainless steel grab handles within reach to give a crewman such as the navigator additional security and confidence underway.
I have to say that such was their ergonomic comfort, the wheel and throttle could have been positioned exactly to suit me as a bespoke extra! All the vital items on the console were visible and accessible, though you do have to reach under the wheel for things like the bilge pump switches. The Evinrude’s elegant NMEA-bussed ‘fly-by-wire’ controls are complemented by a rectangular ‘touch screen’ multifunction display unit, which I also really liked on the dash of this RIB. Noteworthy is the fact that this unit also has backup physical press buttons for when the going gets rough and the screen might be rendered too wet for touch operation.
Strange I know, but I began my test by going astern! Before we went for the fast stuff, I wanted to back her up sharply, look over the transom and see whether I was in danger of shipping too much water. The answer was no – the large outboard well stayed comfortingly above the water.
Putting the Evinrude single-stick control through neutral into forward was without the ‘crunches ‘n‘ graunches’ to which I am accustomed. It was all very slick. I selected forward and gently but firmly opened the throttle. The response was immediate and progressive, the speed exactly matching the selection from the helm. The Evinrude engineers have matched the response curve of the electronic stick skillfully to the engine servo’s incremental opening of the throttle.
Soon we were running with the wind in our hair and increasing the thrill factor to a healthy 52 knots – and let me say that the ‘Adventurer’ was totally rock steady. I did not even have to touch the trim controls at any point. In terms of the power steering system, I can report that this is the first boat I have ever driven that had zero slop, no play and no imprecision at the steering wheel. I next decided to try a fast, full-lock turn at something around 40 knots – she went around the corner like a go-cart. No skipping and no aeration. Impressive!
As the seas became rougher, the ride remained completely unflustered. She just went where pointed. Her nose did not get deflected by the increasingly big seas, and being so nimble on the throttle, she could be positioned exactly where one required. The handling of this RIB was, indeed is, so confidence-inspiring. The feeling is of controlled power, massive buoyancy and complete composure. She proved safe, powerful and capable with very dynamic responses.
I reckon that there are two key sets of figures that we need to absorb. First, the top speed of this craft, of a not-yet-run-in engine, in less than ideal conditions, was an effortless 54 knots. The ride angle was ‘flat as your hat’, and was without the traditional ‘hard-nosed’ big-outboard bellow. Second, she was turning over at 3900 revolutions, cracking 32 knots on the cruise, and sipping 9.9 gallons per hour. Stunning!
In conclusion, this is a superb combination of engine and hull. On a lazy summer’s day, a whole family could spend quality time blasting about, playing water sports, snoozing at anchor and dining at sea, whereas two hard-core ribsters could strike out confidently into the Big Water. The truth is, this boat can easily accomplish both roles without mission compromise. If you are in the market for a RIB of this size and capability, I recommend you try this vessel first. If you are looking for a 300hp outboard, make sure you set the Evinrude E-Tec G2 as your benchmark. You can thank me later!
What We Thought
- Great seats and great seating plan, well executed
- Easy movement through vessel fore and aft
- Handholds everywhere
- High build quality, sturdy lay-up
- Surprisingly dry boat in the lumpy stuff
- Safe, sure-footed, efficient hull builds well on her workboat heritage
- Fabulous Evinrude engine, refined power in a great package
- Excellent Evinrude ‘fly-by-wire’ control system
- Zero slop steering
- Enviable cruise economy, good top speed
- Good storage
- Attractive colourways
- I would have liked to have seen at least a chemical loo aboard