The Ideal RIB for Exploring – EXCEL Virago

The Ideal RIB for Exploring – EXCEL Virago

As easter approaches and daffodils herald the onset of another boating season our thoughts turn over to how we plan to use our new delivery of the EXCEL Virago Aluminium RIB Range with friends and family this summer. While the months of July and August are the height of “boating season” there is an uncrowded beauty to the shoulder months that draw us out onto the water, off the beaten track to find empty coves, land on empty beaches and celebrate a return to the water with some more adventurous boating to kick start the season.  

Spring is a great time to get your RIB out for an earlier start to the season, public slipways are less busy, parking more available (and often cheaper) and the motorways less congested with weekend and holiday traffic. Yes, you might need an extra layer but seeing our coastline from the water at this time of year will offer an entirely different perspective.

Here are our top 5 micro adventures in a RIB for this spring:


  • Family Friendly day trip - Itchenor and East Head. Chichester harbour has a number of public slipways managed by Chichester Harbour Conservancy and is a beautiful mix of nature rich saltmarsh and sand dunes. We like to Launch from the public slip at Itchenor and head up the Bosham Creek for a lunch at the Anchor Bleu. After lunch you can head out into the harbour towards the Solent and anchor in deep water just off the stunning east head spit, either going ashore for a beach stroll along the uninterrupted white sand beach or to relax with a flask of hot chocolate and enjoy the scenery.


Want to up the adventure…. How about throwing out some mackerel feathers during the day for a catch and cook dinner or heading out into the Solent, taking care around the Hayling sand bar. What we love about the Excel Virago is the huge amount of under seat storage for extra clothes, snacks and anything else you might need for a day out in a RIB


  • Conquer a WIld Coast - Polhawn Fort. Only around the corner from Plymouth Sound but a world away once you’re there, this clifftop fort sits above a safe anchorage in calmer conditions. Launch is pretty straightforward with a number of public slipways in Plymouth but we sometimes choose to drive the extra distance to launch from the very tidal slipway in Millbrook. On the way out of Plymouth Sound keep an eye out for Large Naval vessels which often pass by, quite a sight. As you pass out of the sound you will see Cawsand and Kingsand to starboard, both well worth a visit for an ice cream. It is possible to beach at Cawsand safe in the knowledge that our Aluminium Hulls are built to be rugged.


Continuing around the Rame Head the Industry of Plymouth and Victorian Seaside Charm of Kingsand are left behind and you can enjoy pure, wild Cornish coastline. Anchor up below Polhawn and be amazed by the wildlife you’ll see.

Make a weekend of it and stay up at the welcoming Maker Heights campsite with its exceptionally good Café, Glamping options and occasional Jam sessions in the Garrison where local musicians will keep you dancing into the early hours. Sunday’s recovery cruise can be a more recovery day, gently exploring the River Lynher.


  • Island Safari - Lundy. Being in such a wild and exposed location, we recommend saving Lundy for the calmest days of late spring, those days that will see visitors to North Devon’s World Surf Reserve frustrated!


There is a public slipway in Appledore which is tidal but offers proximity to the stunning and generally empty Crow point as you head NW out of the River. From the River mouth on you are in very exposed open water with an 11NM passage across to Lundy.

We built the Virago range with an extra wide beam and oversized tubes to offer safety and stability at sea, backed by an extensive 5 year warranty.

On arriving at Lundy you will find ample shelter in the lee of the island and reasonable anchorage opportunities. Ashore there is a lot to see but we like to pack lunch and very slowly creep along the edge of the island seeing puffins, seals and, from April onwards, Manx Shearwaters.

If you feel daring, bring a snorkel and mask (perhaps a wetsuit too!) and jump in as there is even more to see under the water.

Find out more here: https://landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/ 


  • Multi-Day RIB adventure - Caledonian Canal. This can be done “wild”, pitching camp on the shore as you go or making use of the numerous waterside pubs and hotels along the way. Allow a minimum of two days each way and bring some active crew to help with the locks along the way!


The drive to Inverness or Fort WIlliam is worth it for this experience, crossing an entire country by water and seeing some insanely beautiful, unspoiled countryside, castles and even a chance of spotting the Loch Ness Monster along the way. https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/boating/canal-travel/caledonian-canal-skippers-guide 


The EXCEL Virago is ideal for a long trip like this, especially when fitted with integral fuel tanks, we have maximised deck space and the flexible seating and storage options mean that you can design your RIB around your adventure.


  • Ireland’s WIld Atlantic Way - Kinsale to Sandycove - Casting our net further afield this is a magical spring adventure. 

  • Kinsale is partially sheltered from prevailing weather by Old Head point, the closest landfall to the resting place of RMS Lusitania who was lost to a German Torpedo in 1915, costing some 1200 lives. 

    Launching in From the slip at Castle Park Marina on the RIver Bandon offers a sheltered stretch of water full of yachting history with more Landbased History than I dare to mention, After a harbour potter to gain your sealegs, head out between James Fort and Charles Fort towards open water. During spring and early summer you really will appreciate why this is called the Emerald Isle as the outer stretcehes of the river are flanked by stunning farmland. 

    Once in open water, head immediately west to tuck in behind the uninhabited island of Cnoc an Rois and you’ll find yourself in Sandy Cove. Theedge of the tidal inlet is fast flowing and anchoring on the edge of this can lead to fruitful fishing, perfect for an evening cook-up!

    If you’re making an extended visit to Ireland this corner has some incredible boating, uninhabited islands, wild headlands and fjord-like inlets but, as the locals will warn… “take care… this coast has teeth” Pick the best boating from the west coast along the https://www.thewildatlanticway.com/map/ 

    While spring exploring in your RIB is a welcome change to a cold winter off the water it is important to respect that the weather can be particularly changeable at this time of year and that what might feel like a balmy day on the slipway can still be chilly at sea. Take these days as a bonus rather than your core boating and make sure that you and your family start the summer wanting more!

    Aside from the core safety and navigation preparation that you should always put in place before taking to the water we have put together some useful tips to make the most of your RIB adventures whether an afternoon explore or a multi-day trip.

    Tips for your RIB adventure:

  • Pack Extra Clothing - We have engineered the EXCEL Virago range to have massive storage for all that you might need. It’s better to pack a proper offshore coat and not use it than to see a young boater cold and grumpy. 
  • Shake down run - Engines and Systems that have been sat in storage over the winter might need maintenance before the season, even if you fully winterised your boat in the Autumn. If you are heading further afield for a RIB adventure this spring, make sure that you’ve had a short shakedown run to ensure that everything is working as it should. EXCEL are a registered service centre for both Suzuki and Mercury outboard, please call our office on 0121 32 32 333 to get booked in.

  • Bring Toys - Whether this is a snorkel, fishing rod or a paddleboard to explore rocky inlets, just 30 minutes of playtime at anchor will make even an afternoon trip feel like more of an adventure. We can build air compressors, Scanstrut ATMOS System. into our EXCEL Virago Console or supply battery-powered pumps to make setting up a SUP a doddle. 

  • Stay Flexible - Weather and other factors can impact your plans, so be prepared to adapt. Stay flexible and open to new experiences, whether it's exploring a different route or trying a new activity. Younger children, especially, may not have the enthusiasm for a 12-hour day on the water - spot the signs of cold or boredom early and keep them wanting more.

  • Capture Memories - Bring a camera or smartphone to capture moments from your boat adventure. Just be cautious with electronic devices around water to avoid damage. Keep them charged with our integrated wireless charging systems available, such as the Scanstrut ROKK Wireless Charger

  • Educate Young Crew - Mastering the art of keeping children interested is a tough one. Why not offer to involve them in the adventure rather than them being”just a passenger” This could be passage planning, giving the title of official ship photographer or fostering an ecological approach by collecting up any litter you pass on the water. Either way this is informing the next generation of boater.
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