Equipping Your Dinghy For Adventure

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This is a post about preparing your RIB dinghy the way the professionals do it. And if you get into a little adventure with the dinghy from time to time, then the following will offer a treasure trove of hard-learned tips.



We tend to look at things in a worst-case scenario in terms of structure and equipment, and dinghy usage is no different. We carry a variety of tools, flare kits, nav and comm gear, so that if something goes wrong we can work our way out of it. The degree of gear varies depending on the locale, and while we tend to favor higher latitudes, there are some cruising destinations closer to the equator that require a different form of preparation. The basics are the same. We need the tools to fix the outboard, spares like a rope starter cord, spark plugs, and  prop, a hand held GPB, VHF, and nowadays a compact EPIRB. We also carry flares, and  in remote areas, sufficient supplies to survive on our own should we become stranded.

But if you are really into adventure cruising, say the lovely Eritrean or Somali coastlines, then there several good ideas in the photos.

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These folks have been cruising past us on the Intra Coastal Waterway for the past two days. Their RIBs are 35 feet long, draw three feet of water, and are 10 feet wide. Power is a pair of Cat diesels, and they cruise at a top speed of 40 knots. Their US Navy Special Boat Unit operators would have to be considered weapons capable. The dude sitting aft, with the partial balaclava covering his face, is probably a “shooter” (special forces team member). Not shown are topside plates for launching mortar rounds and smoke cover.

What we see on the bow and stern (and would be way cool on our bow) are M240 machine guns (7.62mm).

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Spares include gun barrels (they get hot and need to be replaced after time) and a hammer with which to coax the barrels out. The blue/green bottle is gun oil. Note the ammo tray (empty). Can you imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of the output from these two weapons?

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The boat crewmember on the right is well-endowed with personal fire power. He has a thigh pistol holster, which will have in it the Special Forces Sig Sauer P226 9mm pistol (more reliable and accurate than the Beretta that is standard issue). Of note are the ammo clips we can see on his body. There are pistol magazines on his chest, and other magazines for what appears to be an M16 on thigh and chest. This gentleman has the wherewithal to be a one-man army, just right for a cruise up the red Sea. The gold and blue arm patch designates Naval Boat Crew.

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The dude on the right has another Sig Sauer in a chest holster.

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Note the strategically placed handrail, and special issue boat shoes.

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Another boat and we are seeing the ubiquitous M240 with its ever-ready hammer and gun oil lubricant.

We are here for another half day and then off to Cape Lookout. If we run across another fleet like this we’ll see if  they’ll give us a tour.


Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 21, 2012)

19 Responses to “Equipping Your Dinghy For Adventure”

  1. Cattledog Says:

    My son spent a couple of years on the water at Bangor Navel Base guarding nuke subs and he liked these ribs. But he loved the M1-44S. Special built high speed attack platform with Ma Duece on bow, M-240 Golf (4) down the rails and Ma Duece on stern. Also equiped with S2S rockets. 6 man crew with head, inside seating and heater. I tease him it was the heater he liked. Rumors of 60 knots from special 2000 HP high rpm diesels. He did go to a special coxwains school on east coast to learn attack boat handling tactics but was transferred to the med before he could get his own boat…

    The guy in the bacalava is the “designated marksman”…

  2. Howard Bowman, MD Says:

    Heh. Good start, although I’d rather a Glock in .45ACP and an M2HB up front.

    And yes, it would look good on the bow…

  3. Cattledog Says:

    M2HB equals Ma Duece…

  4. JimB Says:

    Anchoring in the Bight at the Cape? Always wanted to go there. Post photos please!!!

  5. Steve Dashew Says:


  6. Mike Says:

    May I ask a simple question please? One that is not related to your interesting currebt post, but just a general one.

    Where does the name FPB come from and what does it stand for?

    I have been looking all over this site and found dozens (literally) of fascinating subjects and pictures galore. Loved it thanks. But no explanation of the enigmatic name!



  7. Steve Dashew Says:

    Functional Power Boat is the official translation.

  8. Dave Says:

    And here I always thought it meant F&*$ing Power Boat.

  9. Steve Dashew Says:

    To each his own (interpretation).

  10. David Marshall Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Which way are you headed as you leave NC? If you are headed north to the Norfolk area, I may be able to arrange a tour for you. My son Joe is a Petty Officer on just such boats in a Navy Riverine squadron based in the Norfolk area. Riverine boats are even more heavily armed than the ones you have in the pictures. In addition he is a big fan of your work especially with the FPB series, so I am sure he would love to meet you and “talk boats” for a while:-)

    David Marshall

  11. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi David:
    We would love to see those gunboats! Just not sure when we’ll be in Norfolk. Plans are uncertain for the summer and fall.

  12. David Marshall Says:

    Hi Steve,

    When your plans firm up just let me know if you are headed that way and an idea of when and I will see what I can do. My son is getting out at the end of May but should still be able to set something up after that.

    Who knows, as you are a noted naval architect he may even be able to get you a ride in one:-) If possible I HIGHLY recommend it! Quite a thrill indeed!!!:-) No promises, just depends on what they are up to when you are there but we will try.

    David Marshall

  13. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks David:
    If we find ourselves heading that way we’ll get in contact for sure.

  14. Holly Jennings Says:

    What kind of anchor do they have at the end of the chain shown stowed in front of the hammer and gun oil lubricant?

  15. Steve Dashew Says:

    Not sure about the anchor, Holly:
    Perhaps a SetSail visitor will enlighten us.

  16. Gerhard J. Says:

    My favorite RIB part wold be a Wide Angle Sonar Seafloor Profiler (see wassp.com).
    Couldn’t WASSP be a default part of the FPB fleet?

    Steve, move this to a sonar thread if you like it.

  17. Cattledog Says:

    My sons response on anchor type for ribs and moose boats… Regular Small Boat Type… He cracks me up.

    I asked to describe the shape so we can deduce type.

  18. chris Says:

    i think that is a strap maybe for towing or lifting the rib not a chain.

  19. Patrick S Lasswell Says:

    The Navy has a lot of boats, those appear to be SWCC (Special Warfare Combat Craft). The SeaArk RHIBs are used in some patrol, but in my experience SAFE Boats are better built and better for long-term use.

    As for 60 knot speeds, that’s a very expensive way of going fast. We don’t see a lot of data on how many sailors leave the service with permanent disability due to repetitive stress injuries breaking spines, blowing disks, and causing neurological damage. But premium sailors costs start at $1 Million, so you tell me how expensive the fast small boats are. They’re always recruiting.

    As for the M2HB vs. M240G dispute, it’s a lot easier to horse around an M240G, so as lovely as the M2HB is, I’d rather be hitting solidly than missing massively. With the bearing rates inherent in RHIB combat inside a waterway, I’d rather be staying on target with .30 than missing with the .50. For those not familiar with the numbers:
    M240G: 25.6 pounds
    M2HB: 84 pounds
    In “tense” moment, which would you rather be trying to bring fire with while standing up and turning and burning?