Using the RIBs

Guide for the use of the club RIBs

One of the club RIBs is usually stored down at a boatyard on the south coast for the diving season. This negates the need for a towing vehicle to be available as the boatyard offers a launching service for a small fee. Make sure that you check the opening times of the boatyard as they do differ slightly for Spring and Autumn when there is less demand. The Diving Officer must be informed before the boat is taken out and you must always have a qualified BSAC Boat handler on board whilst at sea.

If you are using the RIB stored down at the coast, first before you leave, go to our boatshed and…..

Pick up the boat keys, kill cords, isolators, GPS, depth sounder, a hand-held radio (make sure it is charged?) and the two boat boxes containing the flares and the tools.

When you get to the coast

  • Check in at reception and pay the launching fees
  • Remove the boat cover, fold it and stow it just in case the wind picks up whilst you are out.
  • Check the engine oil levels and top-up if necessary
  • Pump up the tubes if necessary – DO NOT OVER INFLATE. The pump is under the seat.
  • Check “A” flag, fire extinguisher, paddles, buoys, ropes, anchor, lifting bag and shots are still present.
  • Put the boat boxes in the cradles
  • Switch on the fuel lines in the front console. Vertical position is ON.
  • Insert the electrical isolator switches and switch ON. Insert keys and kill cords. Check that the radio works.
  • Fit the GPS, depth sounder and hand-held radio.
  • Load O2 kit
  • Load dive kit according to buddy pairs and entry sequence (pairs opposite each other and first pair in stored nearest to the stern).
  • Position the drum under the prop and fill with water, prime the fuel lines and start the engine, check the tell-tale and then let it run for a couple of minutes to warm up. NB all three cooling inlets must be underwater for the tell-tale to work. If one battery is flat, they can be interconnected using the isolator on the console. This allows you to start or run both engines from the other battery. REMEMBER to switch off the isolator once started.
  • Special instructions for Kennet – Switch on auto bilge pumps. On is UP.
  • Follow the boatyard staff’s instructions/advice on how to launch the boat.


The tank holds approximately 80 usable litres of unleaded petrol. As a rough guide 20NM sailing at high throttle plus 3 hours slow idle in slight seas uses about 40 litres. It would be incredibly embarrassing for the Dive Manager if the boat ran out of fuel, so to make it easy there is an account set up with the refuelling barge company at the Portland marina which is under the name ‘Newbury Diver’. If you are returning early in the day, then it is a great courtesy to the next Dive Manager if you leave the boat refuelled ready for the next trip.

During Diving

Under normal circumstances both engines (Newbury only) should be kept running (though dive plan and fuel consumption considerations may dictate otherwise). If one engine is shut down, turn off the ignition. Note: the Newbury electronics are powered from the starboard battery; hence it is best to keep this running. If the boat is grounded, the sounder may spring from its mounting.
RIB diving usually involves a lot of laughter!

After Diving

  • Return boat to Boatyard and help the staff by holding the boat and winching it back onto the trailer
  • Wash down the boat, don’t forget to attach the hose to the hub rinsing system and let it flush for at least 3 mins
  • Flush engines using the drum filled with fresh water until the tell-tales run warm
  • Remove GPS, depth sounder, isolators, kill cords, keys and boat boxes
  • Lay out the ropes, flag etc. on the cylinder rack to dry out
  • Remove litter and loose items and take these home
  • Switch off auto bilge pumps (Kennet)
  • Replace the boat cover and tie it down securely (not with a granny knot please!)
  • Is more engine oil required for next trip? If so, please let Equipment Officer know
  • Top Tip: Before you leave the boatyard, double check that you haven’t left anything behind!
The Dive Manager or other nominated person must report any problems or defects by email to the Equipment Officer, and note them on the board in the shed. Please report status, even if there are no problems, by the end of Monday.

Boat Preparation for towing

If you are taking the spare boat from the boatshed then make sure that it is fully prepared as it is likely that it has not been used for a while.
Check everything is on the boat – radio, buoys, ropes, shot, anchor, flag, fog horn, jack, paddles, O2 kit, flares and tools. Check the sounder transponder and paddle wheel (Kennet only) are clipped securely on the transom. Remember to check the engine oil level and top up if below half full. Take spare engine oil if going away for a long weekend. Note that the Honda and Mercury engines require different types of oil (4-stroke and 2-stroke respectively).
Check you have the correct boat keys (with cutouts) and trailer keys if required and the right set of isolators. All keys and isolators are boat/trailer specific. Is the boat battery(s) charged?

Before Towing

Check hatches are closed; all contents including buoys are secure; boat straps are tight; trailer board connected and all the lights are working. The wheel clamp must be used if the boat/trailer is parked at any time without being hitched to a vehicle (insurance requirement). The boats should be fully fuelled with normal unleaded petrol (95 RON on the pump). Tyres should be at 60 psi on Kennet and 35-40 psi on Newbury when cold.

Returning the RIB to our boatshed

  • After reversing, move the boat forward 5 cms to release the brakes before unhitching. Make any final movements by hand. Chock the wheels but DO NOT put on the hand brake
  • Remove the seats and open the hatches to allow for ventilation
  • Remove engine covers
  • Leave ropes, flag, jack and other equipment in a position to dry e.g. on the tubes or cylinder rack
  • Store the oxygen kits with lids released but closed, on the O2 kit shelf in the boatshed
  • Return the keys and hand radios to the key box
  • Boats and trailers, including controls, electronics and engines must be washed after diving or when returned to the boatshed

The Law On Towing… is a bit of a minefield, but you need to check;

 – That your licence covers you for towing. That your car is suitable for towing the club boat/trailer combination (circa 1.8 tonnes), plus the weight of your diving kit in the car. Drivers who passed a driving test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to tow trailers with a maximum authorised mass (MAM, alternatively known as the gross vehicle weight) greater than 750kg. All drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 retain their entitlement to tow trailers until their licence expires. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. That’s OK for the club boats.

The Highway Code on Towing

You MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer. You should not tow a weight greater than that recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle – so look in the handbook.
You MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously
You should properly distribute the weight in your trailer with heavy items mainly over the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball. Manufacturer’s recommended weight and tow ball load (50-100 kg is recommended by Indespension, but check this against tow vehicle recommendation) should not be exceeded. This should minimise the possibility of swerving or snaking and going out of control. If this does happen, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control.
…..and finally remember that the maximum towing speeds are 50 mph for single carriageways and 60 mph for dual carriageways and motorways.

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