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The number one maintenance tip for any Rib owner is to wash down your Rib with fresh water after every use, and then use a microfibre cloth to dry it off. Salt water is very corrosive and over time will damage virtually every material used in the construction of the Rib, even high-grade stainless steel. The routine of cleaning and drying the boat is also the best way of spotting any signs of wear. Deal with small problems early to prevent them becoming bigger and more costly.
Make sure you keep your tanks full of fuel. Leaving tanks partially empty can cause condensation to build up (especially if your boat is un-used for a period of time) which will eventually trickle down as water into your fuel. This will cause problems to both petrol and diesel engines. A commonly accepted term ‘diesel bug’ includes a number of contaminants that include microbial bacteria, fungi and algae that live at the point of blend between water and diesel. Diesel bug residue forms as a sludge at the bottom of the tank. When the Rib is operating in the most demanding seas, it will be stirred up and block the fuel filters, causing you loss of motive power at the very moment you value it most.
Using your boat regularly is the best way of looking after it. All marine equipment prefers to be used than left idle. Even turning the electronics on generates heat that dries out the unit, however watertight the product is rated. Running the engine coats all of the internal surfaces in a preserving oil and helps prevent the sea water cooling system from clogging. Using the kit also breeds familiarity and makes you more likely to notice when something is not as it should be. Checking ancillary equipment and safety kit is good seamanship; not only will you spot out of date flares etc but you will be more likely to use the sea anchor in extremis if you remember you have one and know where it is!
Keep on top of checking your engine. Again, checking it regularly breeds familiarity and you will often spot issues which if left unchecked will cause expensive damage later. Taking the hood off to check the oil level provides just such an opportunity. Whenever we buy a new engine, the first thing we do is empty a couple of cans of Quicksilver Corrosion Guard all over the under-hood areas. This coating protects against the damage caused by condensation and any incursion of seawater. It is also worth following the service interval recommended by the manufacturer. If the engine is new, you would be wise to use a main dealer. Some manufactures dye their oils to show where servicing hasn’t been done by them, which then invalidates the warranty.
Good quality automatic bilge pumps are essential if your Rib is left on the water. They can save you an embarrassing call from the marina to let you know they’ve just had to pump water out of your boat. Make sure the bilge well is always clear of debris and regularly clean the wire mesh filter – you will be amazed how readily this clogs up even if you are meticulous in keeping your Rib clean. If you keep your Rib in a dry rack or on a trailer, then leave your elephant trunks down / bung out, to allow drainage.
Covering your Rib whether it’s kept on the water or on land is highly recommended, but particularly when it is on land. You will be amazed at how the Rib will collect leaves and dirt no matter how carefully it is parked ashore. If you look after your tubes properly and your boat is stored afloat in a marina that is kept clear of birds, you might take a view about leaving the covers off for the peak of the season. The Rib needs to be enjoyed, adding a dull job to the beginning and end of each day out could easily take the edge off the day.
Keeping your Ribs’s tubes well inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure will help them hold their shape and avoid straining the seams. This is counter intuitive but true. Often, we see Ribs with floppy tubes, the owners thinking that they are putting the boat under less stress but actually causing hidden damage. Tubes are also an integral part of the design of the boat and must be drum tight to provide the variable geometry hull that helps to absorb shock loads and make Ribs such great sea boats. Be careful if you don’t have pressure release valves; you will need to monitor tube pressures as it will change dramatically with sunlight. We recommend fitting them.
We also use the best quality UV blocking GRP polishes we can find to polish all the glass areas on the Rib, typically the console and the seat pods. If done properly at the start of the season, it will last until the following year. If done from new, this will stop any deterioration of the GRP. You will see on the boats around yours that unprotected glass very quickly assumes a dull matt finish and then fades and breaks down.
The sponsons (tubes) will be the first part of the Rib to deteriorate if they have not been protected with a high quality UV blocking polish. We UV block our tubes religiously whenever needed (our preferred product is ‘Pro-Tection’) and as a result our black tubes still look brand-new after several years of exposure to sunlight. Before polishing, the tubes need to be thoroughly cleaned. We use Ribshine and then an acetone solvent to carefully clean any stubborn patches. It is important to follow the directions for all three chemicals carefully; for example, never polish the boat in direct sunlight. Well protected tubes will enhance the look and hence value of your Rib as well as prolonging its life.
A yearly ‘deep clean’ is beneficial for any boat owner. We use ‘Ribshine’, stainless steel polish, GRP polish and a few hours of hard graft, then reapply UV protection to the GRP and tubes. We also antifoul the hulls of our bigger boats to protect them from marine growth. This process takes about 3-4 days per 8.8m Rib with two people working on it from start to finish. Along with engine changes and electronic upgrades this keeps our operations team very busy during the winter with over thirty boats in the fleet. I am afraid that we don’t offer this service but if you are of short of time, your boatyard should be able to recommend a good local contractor.
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