By John Hood
Hard to say what’s more surprising: the sight of Bear Grylls at the Miami Beach Convention Center, or seeing Bear Grylls in a t-shirt and jeans. After all, over the six years the extreme adventurer starred in the Discovery Channel’s Man vs Wild, he was more likely to be spotted in some desert draped in the skin of a camel or near some bog asleep in the carcass of a sheep. But it seems a confab as massive as the Miami International Boat Show can cause a man to come out of the wild, especially if that man’s about to launch a series of boats.
Naturally one of the world’s foremost adventurers doesn’t go up against one of America’s foremost boat shows without some serious watercraft. And Grylls’ BG RIBs are about as serious as Rigid Inflatable Boats can get without top secret clearance — and a government defense contract.
“I’ve been involved with RIBs all my life,” said Grylls. “And I’ve taken RIBs on countless expeditions — I took a RIB to the Arctic; we took one 5000 miles through the Northwest Passage, which hadn’t been done before — and I suppose over the course of these expeditions I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work for boats. And I thought, you know what, I’m gonna design and build a RIB of my own. So I scoured all these different RIBs manufacturers, and eventually partnered with Madera RIBs, who customarily make craft for special forces from all around the world — you know, Qatar, Dubai… I wish I had this boat when I did all those Arctic expeditions where we almost died all those times.”
Death-defying Arctic expeditions weren’t the only things Grylls took into consideration when he set out on his quest to make the “ultimate 4×4 of the sea”; he also was considering family — and the remote (and rather Bear-like) place he and his family call home.
“The great thing about our craft is the rougher it gets, the more it comes into their own, and that to me has always been the goal. I want the sort of boat that when everyone else is running to port I can be sure to get people home safely. We live on this little 20 acre island in North Wales — no electricity or water mains; just a cottage and a lighthouse. And there’s this stretch of water about five miles offshore that’s just treacherous. Every day I’m constantly taking my kids and other peoples’ babies and dogs and shopping and I’m doing it in the nighttime, and I need something that’s absolutely bonkers.”
And despite the evident logic continually shown by our hero when he does things such as scarf down Siberian Yak eyeballs (It was the only unfrozen part of the carcass – duh) or sips Bear brand urine from a snakeskin decanter (it was either that or dehydrate and die, goofy), Grylls does seem to know a bit about bonkers. One might even say that he and NBC are banking on it.
“ Next week we begin shooting a big new summer adventure reality show called Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls,” says Bear. “I take 10 couples to the wild for a month, and I put them through hell. We journey across mountains and rainforests, they’re carrying everything, they’re living off worms and whatever, and each week I get rid of one couple…
“It’s all about rewarding the quiet types,” he continues, “the ones who show all the qualities of survival; you know resourcefulness, cheerfulness under adversity, courage, determination… They’re carrying around a crazy amount of cash with them as well, and I want at the end of it for Americans to say ‘man, that couple deserves that money; they’ve been the quiet unsung people throughout the whole journey.’ And that’s what it’s really all rewarding.”
What made Bear Grylls decide to start throwing money at strong, silent types is likely the same thing that compelled him to create his own RIB — that is, his near biblical belief in the power of fortitude. Sure Man vs Wild had its loud and infamous moments (and Get Out Alive will undoubtedly have likewise), and yes those BG RIBs are as much swagger as they are SUV, but in the end it’s all about the capacity to do whatever it takes to get to the finish line — and that doesn’t happen to those who die trying.
Photo credits: Jeffrey Delannoy