FINDING A BOAT – is only the beginning. When considering a boat, the prospective buyer has many options to mull over. Foremost, though, is the question of purpose: why am I buying this boat, what will I use it for?

If you’re thinking of a few leisurely day sails with minimal facilities, then a 40-foot steel cruiser might not be the best bet. Likewise, if it’s deep-sea fishing you’re after, then a rowing dinghy is possibly the worst choice.

With these considerations in mind, BVIYG sat down with two neophyte boat buyers, Liz Aston and Rachel Graham, who pooled resources and purposes in choosing to buy a used Gemini 6-metre RIB. We asked them to describe the process of choosing and buying the boat.

BVIYG: You’ve bought a RIB rather than a sailboat or a conventional run-about. Why the RIB?
RG: There are so many different places you can go to here, but only if you have access to a boat. Sailing is a very expensive pastime and it’s not all that easy or that practical, really, so getting a RIB allows you to go where you want when you want, quickly. And the geography of this part of the Caribbean is such that you have access to 6 or 7 major islands within 40 minutes in a RIB.
LA: Also a RIB’s got a very shallow draft, so you can go in anywhere.

BVIYG: So it was always a RIB, rather than a conventional hull?
LA: For me it was that I feel comfortable driving a RIB, having learned through my VISAR training and an RYA training course. It’s the only motor boat I’ve ever really driven.
RG: A RIB’s just simpler and easier to manage.               
LA: You don’t need to worry so much about fenders and bumping things.

BVIYG: You hadn’t thought about accommodation or a cabin?
LA: Well, we live here, so we don’t need it. We don’t usually spend our holidays here, so we really just want to get out fast for a day or a weekend. If it’s overnight, it’s just as easy to stay onshore somewhere.

BVIYG: Who started it?
RG: We’d both been thinking about it independently.
LA: And we both have friends who’ve bought boats together and it seemed such a great way of getting away for the day.
RG: It wasn’t like I set out and said “Right, I’m going to buy a boat in 2006,” it was all just complete circumstance.
LA: We didn’t want to buy new so we asked around. It’s hard to get a good second-hand one, you have to wait for them to come up. So we asked a friend, Phil Aspinall, and he’d heard of this one. A lot of friends who bought RIBs had problems with the sponsons and motors. This one we’re buying has commercial grade Hypalon tubes. It had originally been a commercial dive boat.

BVIYG: Did you look at a lot of boats?
RG: No, it was all word of mouth. This is the kind of place where, if you find something that ticks the majority of the boxes you want, then you’re best going for it, rather than keeping searching. You never know when the next one will come up.
LA: And one of the uses we have for the boat is to go diving, and this type of boat had been used for commercial diving, so we knew we could fit tanks on it and so forth.

BVIYG: How long has it taken?
RG: Two months from the initial conversation about it. But we’ve come up against a few complications. It’s busy season, and before that it was charter boat week, and now we’re having issues with getting a new motor because everybody’s fitting new motors to their boats. We’ve had to wait a bit to get the motor we want. And you have to be mindful about who can service them on the island. Some people with other makes of motor have to go to St Thomas to have them serviced.

BVIYG: What were the biggest surprises in this process?
LA: Well, I didn’t think it was going to take this long.
RG: We chose to buy and build a boat. In some ways that was part of the appeal. We’re going to come out of it with a boat that, while we didn’t have an actual hand in building it, it’s going to be a bit different. If we wanted a really easy option we could have just waited and paid a bit more and bought a new one, or waited longer for one that was all done but that would have been a bit of a gamble.
LA: And that two months, over the a period of a year is less time than having to take it out to repair sponsons or replace motors
RG: My feeling was if there’s going to be a hassle, let’s have that up front so we can get it and use it. It’s the same as buying a car, you don’t really know what you’re getting until you drive it.

BVIYG: Who’s got naming rights?
RG: Liz’s got a name for it, but we’re not saying just yet.

BVIYG: When will it finally be available?
LA: Mid January. All we’re waiting for now is the motor

BVIYG: How did you do your research?
LA: Internet and looking at what other people had bought.
RG: And I did a bit of research on Gemini. Finding out about Geminis and comparing them to other brands like Avon or Caribe.
LA: It was really about seeing what was available and checking it out against other options. And we talked to people at VISAR. Two motors vs one, various safety issues and so on. We decided to go with jockey seats because when you’re going fast they’re safer, and easier, to maintain balance.

BVIYG: What’s it all going to cost you when it’s all said and done?
LA: Too much! More than we anticipated but a lot less than a new boat.
RG: Good answer.

Gemini RIBs are made in Queensland, Australia, and are considered to be among the most rugged and durable of the many RIBs on the market. Gemini’s core business is the design and construction of military, commercial and rescue inflatable craft.

Recreational models are based on the same demanding specifications and construction methodology as the specialised military and rescue craft, allowing the ordinary boater to get the advantage of Gemini’s inherent industrial and military strength technology.