- … you could spec the Ribquest 10m with a loose mosaic of pink scatter cushions and it would still be a rough-weather, distance-making RIB of rare and gratifying potency.
- … if the all-action fit-out is not quite your cup of tea, then tell Ribquest what is, because the factory options make this a remarkably flexible platform.
- … despite its aggressive posturing, there’s no doubt that this boat is a bit of a pussycat.
- The moment you hit the throttles and get underway, the 10m Ribquest screams out its credentials as a serious offshore RIB.
Alex Smith takes an early-season jaunt aboard Ribquest’s flagship platform.
There was a time when a RIB was a practical, work-optimised combination of hull, deck, engine, tubes and console. Then, in response to public demand for something prettier, came a softer, glossier breed of leisure RIB, with shallower hulls, lighter builds, narrower tubes, colour-coded cushions, sunbathing platforms, cup holders, jewellery boxes and make-up mirrors. Okay, so maybe not make-up mirrors – but in a great many cases, these things became fair-weather dayboats, wearing their inflatable collars more like stylistic flourishes than functional devices.
However, even as the modern RIB threatened to become a feel-good placebo for the inexperienced and the fashion-conscious, there remained a hard core of traditional RIB builders who continued to build serious sea boats for offshore applications in the military and commercial sectors. And while there’s no doubt that Ribquest have a foot in both camps (with everything from superyacht tenders to bespoke ‘Super Sport’ leisure boats), a 10m model it recently built for repeat customer Chris Elliott is as explicit a nod to old-school traditionalism as the modern leisure user is likely to see.
The moment you lay eyes on Endeavour, you know exactly what it’s all about. It uses the same deep-V, multi-chine hull form as the rest of the fleet, complete with a high sheer bow, a generous 24-degree deadrise, a modest beam and a broad, virtually taper-free collar, very aptly presented in military-style black. It is also littered with commercial-quality Samson posts, robust tread panels, a foredeck storage hatch that looks like the access point to an underground bank vault, a deep engine well with huge transom braces and a pair of 300hp outboards. And that’s to say nothing of the electronics suite, with two VHFs, two 12″ chartplotters, a RADAR system and an AIS transceiver.
But of course, the most pronounced exponent of Endeavour’s drive for authentic seagoing practicality is the seating and console arrangement. From their base on the Pacific coast of Canada, Shockwave (www.shockwaveseats.com) build impact-mitigation equipment for some very serious offshore pursuits – and none more so than their Integrated Control Environment (or ICE) system. Available in various configurations to seat anything up to 10 people, it provides a huge 16″ range of travel in the vertical axis and around 3 degrees of pitch and roll damping. In fact, with its combination of a strong stainless steel chassis and lightweight aluminium components, it was a unit exactly like this that accompanied Bear Grylls on his 8,000-mile journey through the North-West Passage.
Now you might consider this overkill on a recreational boat, and it probably is – but an all-in-one impact mitigation unit comprising console, helm and seats actually makes a lot of sense. After all, if you’re perched on a damped seat while your hand rests on a wheel and throttle that are smashing their way up and down like schizophrenic jackhammers, your level of control is compromised; and if your dials are doing the same, so is your ability to read and digest data at pace. Plainly, then, the real benefit of the ICE approach (as opposed to the simpler and more affordable seating units) is that your helm controls, your eyes, your bottom and your hands are all damped in unison. The result, once you get used to the fact that you no longer need to brace your feet against the deck, is excellent comfort allied to very clean, accurate and unaffected helming.
The moment you hit the throttles and get underway, the 10m Ribquest screams out its credentials as a serious offshore RIB. The bare boat alone weighs the best part of 2 metric tonnes, and alongside its acute hull angles, that inevitably results in acceleration that is better described as respectable rather than scintillating. But the benefit of these features is that, even without the soft-bottomed ICE equipment, you can stand on the grippy Gatorskin deck at 40 knots, lay a hand on a bar, brace with your thighs and plough happily through some very unpleasant seas without the slightest discomfort or concern.
If the swell-carving softness of this hull in a head sea is much as you would expect, it’s the progressive buoyancy of the bow that comes as a particularly pleasant surprise. To put this attractive trait to the test, just try washing off the speed on the downside of a following swell. Rather than the nose plunging through a thick wedge of green water, the deep forefoot sees it land with graduated softness before lifting high, flinging spare water well wide beneath the big tubes and ploughing on for more.
And at the helm itself, things are even more serene. The wholesale adjustability of the port-side skipper’s station is excellent, with the wheel, the seat, the oblique left-hand chartplotter screen and the angled base for the throttle levers all coming together to put you firmly in control of your environment. And even the visibility is surprisingly good. The windscreen is a flat, single-piece unit with no centre stanchion to get in the way – and a combination of the fat, stabilising tubes and the elevated roof means that, even on the starboard side in a hard turn to the right, the view remains much better than you might expect.
In fact, despite its aggressive posturing, there’s no doubt that this boat is a bit of a pussycat. The heavyweight, soft-riding hull, the generous waterline length, the dry ride, the big collar and the imperious ICE console all collaborate to create a driving experience as user-friendly as it is effective. But such is its capacity to do its work with unhurried assurance that it can also make you feel slightly detached. Even in a chunky sea or across a lively beam wind, you can pretty much set the throttle and trim, point the nose and sit back while the seascape disappears behind you. As a result, it’s by no means the most thrilling affair in the world, but as a steadfast companion for an extended cruise or even a concerted expedition, it takes some beating.
Issues in Perspective
This is a difficult boat to fault because its key flaws (limited seating, storage and leisure versatility) are endemic to exactly the kind of RIB requested by the owner. This is a serious, uncompromising, traditional sea boat, complete with all the dynamic abilities and recreational flaws that saw the public clamour for softer, more leisure-centric platforms in the first place. Engines aside, it looks and feels like a bit of a dinosaur because that’s basically what it is.
However, if the all-action fit-out is not quite your cup of tea, then tell Ribquest what is, because the factory options make this a remarkably flexible platform. It can be specced for commercial, professional, military or leisure use with either a 2.9- or 3.1-metre beam. It can take single or twin outboards, as well as a diesel sterndrive or water jets, and you can even go for a leisure-friendly cabin console with sea toilet and bunks.
Aside from the apparent absence of cushions for the aft bench seat, that leaves just two issues of any note. The first concerns the electrics, which, though very well rigged (neatly routed, labelled and secured), use connections a step down from the laudable overengineering in evidence elsewhere. Electrical failure is second only to empty fuel tanks as the primary cause of breakdown in the UK, and even dry spaces get damp on a RIB after a little use, so I would like to see these treated to the same high-grade waterproof connectors you might expect to find on an authentic military platform.
The second point concerns the fact that, once you’re in the water, you face a hell of a job getting back on board. Having filled my own leaky drysuit with about 60 litres of frigid early-spring seawater, I certainly felt this more keenly than most. But with big tube cones and twin outboards, there’s no room for an aft swim platform or boarding ladder; and the large diameter of the collar makes it equally difficult to scale the overhang at the aft part of the cockpit. There are rigid handles on the inside but not within reach of a swimmer, and when you pull on the single-piece grab line that runs along the outside of each tube, it simply takes up the slack from the rest of its length and drops with your fist. In short, if it hadn’t been for a strong man hauling me back in and depositing me on the deck like a bewildered tourist, I would have been paddling for shore and walking back to Dartmouth under my own steam.
Endeavour really isn’t a leisure boat at all. It is essentially a 14-man commercial RIB built to a traditional formula for a man who appears to want the last word in overengineered toughness of fit-out. For the most part, that’s exactly what he’s got – and while that’s unlikely to represent a convincing option for most recreational boaters, that’s no fault of the boat, no criticism of Ribquest and no affront to Chris Elliott’s choices. Yes, this particular craft is rigged with tough, skeletal jockey seats, gargantuan Samson posts, twin 300hp outboards and wholesale impact mitigation, but you could spec the Ribquest 10m with a loose mosaic of pink scatter cushions and it would still be a rough-weather, distance-making RIB of rare and gratifying potency.
- Dry ride
- Softness of impact
- First-rate helm protection
- Heavyweight build
- Forgiving driving dynamics
- Broad variety of options and upgrades
- Limited seating of test boat
- Limited storage of test boat
- Limited versatility of test boat
- Awkward embarkation from water
RPM Speed (knots)
- 1000 6.0
- 1500 8.0
- 2000 10.0
- 2500 13.5
- 3000 20.0
- 3500 29.0
- 4000 32.0
- 4500 36.5
- 5000 41.5
- 5500 46.0
- 5700 (WOT) 47.5
- Length overall: 10.0m
- Beam overall: 3.1m
- Internal beam: 2.0m
- Tube diameter: 0.56m
- Fuel capacity: 2 x 350 litres
- Power: 250–70 hp
- People capacity: 14
- CE category: B
Price from: £120,000
Price as tested: £185,000