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Old 03-03-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
Drunkswimmer
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Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Im ready to bite the bullet and get my first boat. I want a smallish inflatable boat that I can load in a truck and drive up and down the beach here in south Texas and shoot out to some rigs that are 3-5 miles off on calm days.

Here is my problem, I am studious in researching my "big" purchases and have looked at many sizes, styles and materials but I am not to sure on who makes the best quality. I have looked at Zodiacs, Avon, JPMarine, West Marine, Mercury Inflatables, Seamax... etc you get the point. (i actually learned that zodiac makes alot of the other infltables under other brands). Im pretty sure I want a 10-12' rib, but im not opposed to an inflatable keel. I will be garage keeping it so i dont really need hypalon. I would rather just like to be satisfied I bought quality and then go from there.

Does anyone have an stories of a brand they have that is great or a brand that is.... lets just call it "sub par".

I would greatly appreciate any info.

Thanks!
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:50 PM   #2
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Hey. i have heard only good things about zodiac boats. all are very similar in quality, but if you ever want to sell it, it would be much easier to sell a common boat like the zodiac.
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:54 PM   #3
Markio
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Hypalon = Quality. I can see how you might not need to purchase a boat made of Hypalon, but PVC is not as durable. The explanation I was given from a local distributor in San Diego is that PVC streches out over time and does not retract to it's original form, that means the glued areas will eventually start releasing and not be as solid any more.Not sure how long it would take for that to happen. Becasue of that reason alone Hypalon would be a better choice.

PVC are supposed to be more affordable, so if you are in a budget, they should be just fine.

I understand the many European brands are having their boats made in china nowdays.

I own a 10'5 Avon, rollaway, this particulater model and year was the last year the British built Avons, then they sold it to the chineese.

When I reseached inflatables the names that I thought would be the best quality were Avon, AB Inflatabels, Achilles and Zodiac. Caribe, Saturn, Sea Eagle and others did not get my atention.

I think the most important thing is that you take good care of them, carefull not to over inflate the Keel and watch the aproach to shore.

They are great little boats and super practical. Remember you will need a bunch of crap in the boat too, and that takes "A LOT" of room away : Gear bag, air pump, water pump, Anchor and line, cooler, Flare and a Life Jacket (might be required)..

Good luck.
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:44 PM   #4
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Get a hypalon boat. Zodiacs are PVC and do not hold up and repair as well as Hypalon. Period.
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:51 PM   #5
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Zodiacs are available in PVC or hypalon, it is a ~$1,200 option on the smaller ones, not sure of the price on larger ones. I'm looking at the Zodiac Pro Open 550 or 650 myself which I believe is only available in hypalon.
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Old 03-03-2011, 08:00 PM   #6
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Looks like you may have to get one of the mid range zodiac's to have the hypalon option. Pro 420 for example. What size are you looking for?
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:09 AM   #7
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulit7 View Post
Get a hypalon boat. Zodiacs are PVC and do not hold up and repair as well as Hypalon. Period.
The boat in my avatar is all original from 1971. I still have the original owners mfrs. ticket of sale. Never had any leaks. Launched it in chest hi surf at OBX w/ a 20hp and it handles it with ease. Run it out to my favorite dive spot about 5 miles out regularly. I love that boat and still prefer to take that out over my bigger boat.
I also own an AB RIB that I re-did. The thread is somewhere on here. It has 2 patches and I used toobseal in the chambers. In fact, 1 of the patches I used the original '71 Zodiac patch kit. Holds air fine.
If you take care of it, it will take care of you. Remember to freshwater wash after every salt use. Space, as mentioned earlier, is always an issue. It's pretty tight w/ gear and just you. Then you get a full stringer and you'll always wish you moved up to the next size. I've had 3 divers and a full cooler last summer, we got up on plane just took a little longer.
Good luck in what you get. All of the brands mentioned earlier by Markio are decent. Just get something that can handle some HP and get a 2 smoke.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:32 AM   #8
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

PVC's are RF/Heat (or 'melded' as some makers state), not glued. That is why it is not practical to try to repair the seams. If you plan on folding the boat a lot, it's not as good a choice as hypalon.

I have a 30yr old Achilles SP (hypalon), with inflatable keel. Holds air superb, folds into a pack that goes in the back of the Xterra with plenty of room for the motor and gear (back seats still upright). It's abused regularly, and rode right up on the beach, no problems with wear. Rinsed off with fresh about every 10th use. 303 Protectant once a season.

By the time you get to 12', especially with a rib, you'll want to trailer it. Motors over 9.9hp are heavy to try the 'portable' route.

Good luck.
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:42 PM   #9
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

How does the inflatable keel compare to the RIB for open water use?
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:43 PM   #10
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Quote:
Originally Posted by bamaspearo View Post
Hey. i have heard only good things about zodiac boats. all are very similar in quality, but if you ever want to sell it, it would be much easier to sell a common boat like the zodiac.
No way man they rip you off.:toa st:
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:55 PM   #11
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Avon , I have a 77 18' RIB with a 90 hp yammi and it rocks. Avon was bought out a few years ago by Zodiac and they build some of there boats in Canada. Def. go with a Hyp. boat, keep it covered and give it a coat of 303 protectant every once in a while.
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:31 PM   #12
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

I have an AB 10' RIB-VL model -It is rated for 25 HP and I run a Yammie 25 2 stroker. I installed flip down wheels I found online from some company in California that makes specialty sailing products-Best addition- The wheels allows me to pull boat across soft sand with motor installed on boat. It is Hypalon boat- Room is OK for 2 divers and 4 tanks-I store the 2 extra tanks in an ice chest that I use as a seat. Total weight with motor is around 250 lbs. I run out as far as 8 miles from beach on 1-2 ft days and the center of gravity/ stability is great. Runs 30+ on flat seas. I actually prefer diving out of the RIB compared to my 18' wellcraft CC-easy to get in and out. I do have it on a small trailer which allows me to keep motor and gear on boat-less work. I found mine at a place in stuart florida that buys them by the shipping container load-can't remember the name. Good luck

PS-Go with the RIB if possible it helps with all the sharp things we use and collect spearfishing.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:47 PM   #13
Drunkswimmer
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Thanks for all the advice guys!

I'm officially sold on Hypalon at this point. Im looking at the mercury line right now because they seem to be the closest to my price range. I'm just torn between a RIB or airdeck. Ill have to get my tax return and then see where I sit.

Does anyone have any opinions on the mercury line?

Rib
http://bustersmarine.com/images/RIB330-6.jpg

Airdeck
http://bustersmarine.com/images/EH310-6.jpg
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:27 PM   #14
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

Coincidentally, someone asked the same question on Iboats recently and a respected member named Tohatsu Guru weighed in on Mercury boats:

http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=462391

Get a RIB if you can afford it.
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Old 04-09-2011, 05:41 PM   #15
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Re: Need Some Advice, Inflatable Boats....

After having owned and operated both RIBs and "inflatables" I'd say you have one basic choice to make:

Do you want to be able to roll the boat up or car-top it (or throw it in the back of a truck) or are you OK with a trailer (which requires a place to keep it).

If you can find a spot to keep a trailered boat, and don't mind being limited to launch ramps & sling hoists, then a RIB is the way to go. The ride is so much better, particularly in rough water or faster speeds. Even with a high pressure inflatable keel and lengthwise "plank" type bottoms, you wont get the solid ride of a RIB.

The downside of a RIB is that you will never be able to fit enough divers comfortably to carry the thing across the sand and down to the beach for a beach launch. (even at a really easy spot like La Jolla shores).

+1 on the hypalon, too. It really doesn't seem to matter how old a good hypalon boat is as long as it has had reasonable care during its lifetime.

Also, if you plan to make runs longer than 15 or 20 minutes, consider some sort of console, rather than having to use a tiller handle. With tillers, it can be a PITA to get up on plane with a couple guys and gear, not to mention the discomfort of having to sit sideways while driving.
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