I have a 3.4 meter Avon RIB with wheel steering
-- we call it a jockey console but I guess it's the same as what you're calling a center console.
It has a 25 horsepower Mariner two stroke which is incredibly bulletproof.
I have mixed feelings about it as a tender
. On the one hand: the wheel steering
and comfortable seating make it possible to cover much greater distances in the dink. And at 25 - 30 knots obviously your exploring range increases even more
On the other hand, and as it turns out, I rarely use it at high speeds or over long distances. There are speed limits in every harbor in this part of the world which has you put-putting along using two out of your 25 horsepower.
And despite the light two-stroke, the whole rig is fairly heavy, and the Simpson davits which carry it are easily the most troublesome piece of equipment
on the boat
Another thing: Although such a rig may look a bit like a "proper little motorboat", 3.4 meters is definitely too small to be a proper motorboat. I have used mine a bit in the open sea and I've crossed the Solent four times with it between Cowes and the Hamble, once in somewhat lively weather
. You can theoretically covered some miles in it, but it does not have the stability for any kind of serious use as a motorboat.
So I have thought about ripping out the jockey console and going to a lighter, tiller-steered 15 horsepower engine. Or selling the dinghy
altogether and buying
something with an air floor which I can store on deck
, and getting rid of the cursed davits.
One thing stopping me is the fact that with 25 horsepower and wheel steering, my dinghy
should be very well capable of hip towing the mother ship in case of engine failure (God forbid). I've never needed it for that (thank God), but it is somewhat comforting to know that I can do this if necessary.
So I guess my advice to you would be that -- yes, wheel steering and a big outboard are really great things if you have opportunities to roam in your dinghy. For simple shuttle service
to shore from an anchorage, it's massive overkill. And -- are your ready to carry a few hundred pounds of gear
off your transom? At sea in rough conditions?
I have lusted after jet RIBs like Avon's ones. That would really be fun for blasting around the islands. They are basically just jet skis with hulls and tubes around them. But they are still much heavier than a RIB like mine with an outboard. So for my boat, that's out of the question, although we are 54' on deck
and 25 tons loaded! What size boat would you need to carry a jet RIB? I dunno; a pretty big one, or a trawler