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Inflatable Boat Experience

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Old 04-28-2014, 01:46 PM
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Default Inflatable Boat Experience

Was originally looking at a smaller center console to putt around on in the bay or nearby lakes with the family but after reviewing the initial and upkeep costs, we just didn't feel it was worth it for the few times we'd take it out.

After watching a military demonstration, my wife actually raised her interests in a larger inflatable boat ~14 footer with a 25hp tiller motor.

We were thinking we could store it deflated in our garage with a foldable trailer for hauling.

I grew up with having to help my dad hitch-up, drag and launch a 16' Mark Twain almost every weekend during the summer so I know the work that goes into it.

From your experience, how much of PITA are they? Do they take a long time to assemble and inflate? Do they last very long?

Even when we take it out on the bay, the waves will not be bad so how is the ride? Choppy or bouncy?

Thanks for the input -
Neuner
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Old 04-28-2014, 02:15 PM
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Hi - We had a 14' zodiac (zoom) that we brought from costco (thankfully) and put a 25hp merc 2-stroke on.

The boat was super fast, wet, but took everything we threw at it.

We couldn't inflate, deflate, and inflate again. The problem is not the time it takes, but it's (1) quite heavy so you need two adults at least; and (2) the floor stringer system is a real PITA to put in EVERY time. We opted for a trailer and dragged it around town.

We returned it after about 2 months, because costco canada has a good return policy and sold the tiller engine we got. All in all, definitely not worth it for us and a real pain to.

We are sticking to our 17' capecraft CC and our new dusky 278.

Good luck!
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Old 04-28-2014, 04:02 PM
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After owning one, I wouldn't have another inflatable with a blow up or fold up bottom. They are a pain to set up and the bottom wears out after only a few pulls up the beach..
A hard bottom inflatable is a real boat but is too heavy to muscle around. We thought we had the best with an aluminum bottom one but the bottom corroded through in four years. We use ours as a dingy and it sits on the foredeck of our sportfisher. O.k. if you have a davit as it weighs 450 pounds.
If you don't mind paddling or peddling, a kayak is versatile.
If you want a fishing boat with a motor, an aluminum boat is easier to handle and cheaper.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:00 PM
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I have been using inflatables continuously since 1962 as tenders on larger boats. They are very versatile--the station wagons of the cruising boat. They are also very sea worthy--we have rescued folks from swamped Boston Whalers, and the inflatable was fine. We have taken trips as far as 50 miles in the inflatable in AK--(But we carried survival gear and a kicker)

The wooden and aluminum floors are difficult to put together--in the larger boats. You do have to be careful with the bottom on sharp rocks or barnacles, but they are fine on the beach, if you know how to handle them--with care. The RIB is far more durable--and the hull of a 14 foot RIB is only going to be about 10 to 11 feet long, so it is certainly "garage-able". Something I did not see mention was transom wheels. These come in sizes which will accommodate 13 to 14 foot inflatables, and we have had a 13 foot with a 25 on it, where one person can wheel it up the beach--the wheels can be put down as you come into the surf, and then when the bow grounds, hop out and pull the boat right up the beach, ramp etc.

The Hypalon boats are more durable than the PVC and I would recommend the Hypalon You get what you pay for--and the more expensive boats are going to last longer and be a better ride. There are also catamaran inflatables.--so that can be considered. Some pretty impressive photos of the Australian inflatable cats thru surf.

As far as the floors, the high pressure air floor is what we have settled on--again, quality is important.
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:28 PM
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Thanks for the responses, we really appreciate it.

I wish I could see an aluminum floor in person and why its difficult to put together. Demo videos don't show much.

Was looking at the transom wheels as well. We weren't planning on running ours up onto the beach. The bay area in Corpus is grassy. Also good to know about the better quality material.

I see that so many have hauled these in their vehicles but I'm not sure how you'd haul the engine. I'm not use to outboards so can they just lay down flat without oil leaks?
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:43 PM
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we store our rib on the ceiling of our garage using a pulley system, the car can park under it and it's fast and easy to drop on a trailer and go.
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Old 04-28-2014, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by velooce View Post
we store our rib on the ceiling of our garage using a pulley system, the car can park under it and it's fast and easy to drop on a trailer and go.
Cool, do you have pic you can share. I think it's a great idea I just wonder if we'd have enough room with a minivan and my CJ7.
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Neuner View Post
Thanks for the responses, we really appreciate it.

I wish I could see an aluminum floor in person and why its difficult to put together. Demo videos don't show much.

Was looking at the transom wheels as well. We weren't planning on running ours up onto the beach. The bay area in Corpus is grassy. Also good to know about the better quality material.

I see that so many have hauled these in their vehicles but I'm not sure how you'd haul the engine. I'm not use to outboards so can they just lay down flat without oil leaks?
The ali or wood floor is a pain because they're such a tight fit, but they give a much better ride at sea than an inflatable floor - with the inflatable floor you get a more bouncy ride and you can feel the floor flexing over waves. Whatever the floor, an inflatable keel is essential on a boat running at planing speeds.

Transom wheels are a good idea - on a beach you will need the large wheel type, not the small solid plastic wheel type - you will probably find with a 25hp you need to remove it before you can haul the boat very far on a beach.

Some PVC type are fine, but the quality varies enormously - the Yam ones (Yamaha's brand) are awful - I had one that never held air and self destructed inside a year - and bless Yamaha, the warranty turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on), but Quicksilver (Mercury's brand) is fine you can feel the difference in the material - I have one now at 11 years old and it still holds air fine.
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Old 04-29-2014, 10:32 AM
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Researched the recommended brands and material types. Even found the same Mercury 14'er offered in either PVC or Hypalon. Couldn't believe that the Hypalon was more than twice as much.

I know it's a better material but it seems hard to justify the cost. We'll probably use it 5 times a year with it stored deflated and folded up in the garage most of the time. Just not thinking it's worth it unless PVC doesn't store well?

Thanks for the Mercury recommendation. For the price they appear to be very nice boats.
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Old 04-29-2014, 10:45 AM
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Buy a quality inlfatable it will be better in the long run. I would recomend a RIB as well. My personal one is a 10.5 achilies rib with a 15 yamaha on a small trailer. Great and fun toy.

I have had a 2005 mercury hypalon and the seals were not that great and it is out of service already. I just sold a smaller 8' achilies that was a 1989 and it would hold air as hard as a rock for days.

On the Buddy Davis we have an 14.5' 02 Nautica (no longer made but very high quality) and it has held up very well and it is exposed every day of its life.
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:07 AM
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Two killers of PVC--sunlight--UV. and Heat. Some PVC boats have had seam delimitation issues. After you use the boat, get any sand out of the bottom, especially where the floor boards fit. As Clinker notes the wooden/aluminum floor boards are a very tight fit (as they should be). It can be done--I was doing this when I was in my 40's--now in my late 70's--no way.

I have found the Achillies boats to be a good value--we used the commercial grade as our tender on a large boat. The SG 14 is about 226 lbs and rated up to 50 hp. A better option may be the SGX 132 is 187 lbs and can take a 40 hp….Remember that the boats are broken down in weight to the fabric/transom weight, and the floor board weight--for example the fabric might be 120 lbs and the floor boards 67 lbs.

Be cautious about boats built in China--some may have adequate quality assurance--others not so.
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:29 AM
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Looks like you are already sold on getting one, in which case, get hypalon (or if anything better has come out since). In terms of engine, the engine cane lay flat on its preferred side (when you buy one, it'll be in the manual how you transport it). It's not problem transporting it. If you are trailering, you can just leave it on the transom and tie it with ratchet straps to the trailer so there is no movement.

goodluck,
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Old 04-29-2014, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by sultany View Post
Looks like you are already sold on getting one.
Thanks but not yet. I know this is small potatoes compared to even some of the nice smaller boats on this site but it's a factor of cost/use for me. If we take it out only a couple of times a year I'd be happy. We're just a family that has too many interests/hobbies

Soon to be dropping a diesel engine and tranny into my CJ7, taking quite a few vacations this year, mountain bike excursions and getting a new car. This was to just get me by for now/couple of years to see if my family enjoys it. If it became something we really enjoyed then I'd turn it into a 17+ CC.
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Old 04-29-2014, 12:33 PM
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Default Inflatable boat experience . . .

Neuner: Thataway is correct. You will get what you pay for with PVC vs. a Hypalon boat. My first inflatable (Zodiac Mk III Grand Raid) cost me a seeming fortune in 1971.

With a new Johnson "long shaft" people thought I was crazy for buying an inflatable.

I used the boat for years as a tender on a charter diveboat I ran in California. After leaving the charter business I kept the Zodiac. It survived a living in an apartment (whew - getting a 40hp motor in and out of a second floor apartment was a story by itself). Launched numerous times from beaches in 6'+ surf from Northern California to Mexico.

Thataway is again correct - those Zodiac launch wheels are a must.

BTW, what makes PVC boats "soft" & flexible is a substance called plasticizer. Reduce the plasticizer in PVC and voila - your vinyl becomes stiff as a credit card. PVC is always outgassing plasticizer - ever notice that haze on the inside of your car window? Yep, mainly outgassed plasticizer from your car interior. The problem is that as your PVC boat "outgasses" it's plasticizer, your hull will become more brittle and eventually delaminate. (Ever had a dashboard on your car split? - same problem).

After 41 years of service, I finally retired my Mark III two years ago. The wooden floorboards (I should have upgraded and bought the aluminum ones) finally split so bad, I could not repair. I still have the motor, the stern launching wheels, and lot of extra's, just no floorboards. Psst: my boat still holds air.
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Old 04-29-2014, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Neuner View Post
Thanks but not yet. I know this is small potatoes compared to even some of the nice smaller boats on this site but it's a factor of cost/use for me. If we take it out only a couple of times a year I'd be happy. We're just a family that has too many interests/hobbies

Soon to be dropping a diesel engine and tranny into my CJ7, taking quite a few vacations this year, mountain bike excursions and getting a new car. This was to just get me by for now/couple of years to see if my family enjoys it. If it became something we really enjoyed then I'd turn it into a 17+ CC.
Completely understandable! that's exactly why we bought an aluminum riveted boat many years ago. You're going to love getting into your own boat. It's a no-brainer. You, the kids, the admiral all will love it...and zodiac's are quite low on the water so it's always a good fun ride.

Caution though ... once you buy the inflatable.. and start getting what we call around here 2-foot'itis, there's no going back ever.. before you know it, you'll be sitting in a 30 foot center console with triple engine roaring in the back.

Let us know how you make out!
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:18 PM
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I started with a Walker Bay PVC RIB and it did exactly what any first boat should do - it gave me a much clearer idea of what I wanted in my next boat.

It also gave me a lot of enjoyment and I've kept it because I can't find anything better for the really skinny water in the creeks and inlets on the bayside and seaside of the Eastern Shore of VA. It gets around pretty well with less than 10HP at the back end and it's great for one person and serviceable for two.

I've kept it out of the sunlight when it's not on the water and I refresh the sealant each spring. I've had no problem with leaks. It takes about five minutes to inflate it with the blower and I use a foot pump to get the inflation even in the tubes.

The first winter I had it, I hung it up in the garage for storage, but last year I left it partially inflated on the trailer under a water-resistant canvas tarp.

I put the whole package (boat/motor/trailer/accessories) together for about $1300.
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:52 PM
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I had a RIB a few years ago. 14' Novurania with a 50 Yamaha, was the tender on one of Billy Joel's old boats "Red Head". Cool little boat, it flew and my kids loved it. Sold it to a friend who is still using it. Inflatables are fun to knock around in and figure out what you like, etc.
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Neuner View Post
If we take it out only a couple of times a year I'd be happy

A good PVC will be fine then - mine sits outside all year round is used at least once a week, every time dragged up a rough concrete slipway or up the beach for a few feet until I can get round to the stern to fold the wheels down and although it looks a mess (I purposely let it get so after my previous pristine one was stolen), at 11 years old it still holds air perfectly.

With your use, even a PVC will probably be serving your great grandchildren!
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:37 PM
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sounds like you need to rent a boat 5x a year...
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Neuner View Post
Was originally looking at a smaller center console to putt around on in the bay or nearby lakes with the family but after reviewing the initial and upkeep costs, we just didn't feel it was worth it for the few times we'd take it out.

After watching a military demonstration, my wife actually raised her interests in a larger inflatable boat ~14 footer with a 25hp tiller motor.

Thanks for the input -
Neuner
Don't let your wife see this http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=57b_1398707899
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