Zodiac MK2 Heritage In Stock At IBC Portland

Those of us who have been watching the international boat show series and the big show in Florida were thrilled to see the award winning Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classic HD media leaks. We were left wondering if there are only 50 of them being made worldwide would we even see one in real life here in the US? Looking online you see the usual suspects advertising units with the same stock pics that were leaked out and that are on Zodiac’s webpage but no real pics. Hmmm…. You wonder reading on their pages of 8 week lead times, hidden rigging costs, and appointments to view the Zodiac MK2 Heritage in person. Do they even have one?

Well now you don’t have to wonder, IBC in North America has two in stock ready for pickup today. No hidden costs or misleading lead times because we actually have them and don’t need to sweet talk France out of a unit for a hasty order. IBC is rigging these girls with Yamaha F40 fuel injected high output green motors that sip the fuel and exhale the lowest emissions possible. Keeping the planet green (and blue) has never been easier!

If you have been looking for a unique inflatable boat as a sport cruiser with an impeccable pedigree look no further. The Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classic has all the bells and whistles as standard equipment as well as some novel approaches to common questions. Back to back seating that converts to a sun deck, deluxe helm and dash with stereo, and much more mean you won’t be wearing the same outfit as John or Jody when you pull up to the yacht club or water gathering.

Let’s say you’re into sport, you want to pull the kids or a friend on a wake board or skis. Post your observer in the rear facing seat, get your tow line rigged and snatch the rider out of the water with ease. You’ll be amazed at the speed, power, and torque that the Yamaha F40 provides for towing fun! Maybe you just want to GO FAST on a glassy morning or sunset? Push that lever forward and hold onto your hat as the Zodiac MK2 Heritage slips effortlessly across the water’s surface on it’s way to the horizon and beyond.

The Zodiac MK2 Heritage’s Seagull Hull design is proven to make speed with less power and it handles the bumps with aplomb. Zodiac has taken a page out of IBC’s playbook by adding synthetic teak flooring to the Heavy Duty Floorboards making traction positive and visually appealing. We can’t say enough about this model and everyone who’s seen it in person covets it.

Don’t come late to the party this model is extremely limited and highly desirable by mariners everywhere. Buy yours today and select in store pickup on our secure website or give us a call to get your very own. IBC is the only dealer in North America that actually has one on display in our showroom and we don’t require an appointment to see it. Give us a call (503)235-2628 today!

Zodiac MILPRO As Part Of Distributed Lethality

In the ever changing seascape of mission multi-tasking US Naval assets must be agile and intelligent in the face of sophisticated challenges to sea control. Today’s enemy represents a new breed of threat where cheap off the shelf drones, ROVs, and fast attack craft (FAC), pose serious threats to US Navy ships and personnel. These new surface threats mean that the old models no longer remain relevant. Electronic warfare is rapidly evolving to the point where swarm attacks can quickly overcome traditional shipboard systems that were developed for larger easy to detect targets,

Zodiac MILPRO RHIBs and inflatable boats are easily reconfigured for different theaters and mission profiles and can be carried by ships, helicopters, transport aircraft or even be deployed by submarines.

Over the last few years new language and tactics have been adopted to existing assets such as the inflatable boat for autonomous and swarm warfare. Distributed lethality and ad hoc networks bring together submarine, surface and air assets onto a 3 dimensional battle space where autonomous RIBs can carry out extended patrol, ASW (anti-submarine warfare), ASuW (anti-surface warfare). With Russian and Chinese Navies building up their assets and exerting challenges to sea control in areas where American sailors operate in the Global War On Terror it isn’t too much of a stretch to see new ideas are needed.

Small directed energy weapons can be fitted onto FAC and RIBs making the swarming drone attack defensible before damage is inflicted on ships, or harbors. Massive networking of RADAR and SONAR into the distributed system via placements on nigh unsinkable boats such as the Zodiac MILPRO RIB mean more ocean is covered with less personnel and less risk to larger slower ships. Over the horizon extended missions/patrols can relay critical intelligence in real time to task force assets and conduct immediate action missions against threats.

Manned missions are getting easier and SWCC/SOF units benefit from shock mitigation cabins and seating that keep operators safe and minimize combat fatigue leading to successes against unseen forces that mount suicide attacks in FAC (fast attack craft).

EOD teams tasked with clearing and maintaining safe shipping lanes benefit from Zodiac’s legacy of anti-mine platforms with low/no magnetic signature. With the rate of turnover in the current military most of our veterans who conducted missions in the now expanding littoral zones have been retired. The current breed of sailors lack the experience to conduct clandestine missions in hostile zones without tapping into the already taxed SOF community. The Zodiac MILPRO RIB or inflatable boat can be carried by even the smallest vessel which extends it’s reach deep inland, up rivers, and in harbors where shoals prohibit ships passage. Getting operators to and from the mission in the littoral zones must not be overlooked. Frogmen turned the tides of war during WW2, Korea, Vietnam, The War On Drugs, et al. and they did it with small fast inflatable boats.

Times are changing from the constant tension and danger of The Cold War to one of smaller faster lighter attacks with low tech IED drones and the new problems that have manifested as a result. The need for more small craft that accomplishes the multi-mission nature of sea power today must not be ignored.  Taking lessons learned from SOF and applying them to multimodal platforms like Zodiac MILPRO’s range extends and hardens the distributed lethality systems currently being developed.

 

 

To discuss your needs with a MILPRO specialist contact Adam at The Inflatable Boat Center (503) 235-2628 and see what our years of experience operating outside of the norm can bring to bear for your warfighters, first responders and enforcement units.

Let There Be Light (waiting for the Zodiac MK2 Heritage)

Sitting here waiting anxiously for my shipment of  two Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classics to arrive my mind began to wander to the upcoming total solar eclipse.

If you know me at all you know that a wondering mind is definitely par for the course, but you also know my mind wanders to things of merit. People often ask me what do they need on a boat and the usual suspects are a whistle, paddles etc. Of the ready items available people seem to always forget one crucial item, the flashlight. In a pinch a good flashlight will allow you to signal for help, see what you are doing in the dark, help with a MOB situation, or reach for your camera during a time of total solar eclipse!

A good flashlight will be focusable, water resistant, have a lanyard and clip, and if available a magnetic base. Every “Go Bag” should have one, there are multitudes available online and at check outs for impulse buys everywhere.

The one I often carry with me for tactical missions on the water is the NEBO Redline OC. This model ticks off the boxes for what I feel are minimums for any activity on the water or ashore. It clips to my PFD and has a lanyard so if I’m working over the side and it falls it’s still attached. Being able to focus the spot means swimming the bilges for that missing washer and nut I just dropped is a whole lot easier. The magnetic base makes it easy to deploy for a hasty work light giving me the use of both hands which any of us know is a plus when working aloft or below.

The NEBO Redline OC (Optimized Clarity) is impact resistant and mine has survived a fall from the top of the dry dock to the basin with nary a scratch and all for a cost that everyone can live with. If you are lacking in the flashlight department and need one for your “Go Bag”, everyday carry or your tool box you can pick one up here at the shop or by checking our website.

Don’t be left in the dark wondering, get a quality flashlight before you head out on the water and be spot on when the time arises.

 

LIGHT
• High-power 600 LUX LED

LIGHT MODES
• High: 600 LUX – 2 Hours / 92 Meters
• Strobe – 4.5 Hours / 92 Meters

DESIGN
• Anodized aircraft-grade aluminum; water and impact-resistant
• OC Technology
• Convex lens
• Tactical edge
• 6x adjustable beam
• Dual-direction belt/pocket clip
• Magnetic base

OPERATION
• Rear-positioned, glow-in-the-dark ON/OFF button with Soft Touch Technology

ACCESSORIES
• Lanyard included

BATTERIES
• Powered by 1 AA battery (included)

SPECS
• Length: 4.5”
• Diameter: 1” (Barrel)     1.25” (Head)
• 0.25 lbs.

U.S. PATENT
• D 659,869 S

Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races 2017

Well it’s that time of year again, time to get out the trusty Bombard Commando C4R and get out on the water to support the Portland Rose Festival and the 2017 Dragon Boat Races. Every year IBC provides a boat and an operator to the City of Portland for the festivities ensuring safety and support standards that make everyone rest easy.

Mike’s Rescue Go Bag ready for most things on the water.

 

For the last several years IBC has been sending Mike down with his Bombard Commando C4R and 40hpTLDI outboard. This winning combo means that even with seven people in the boat Mike can still get on plane and maneuver quickly. If a rescue situation occurs this package covers the miles in minutes to retrieve the victim or victims and quickly deposit them on the beach for EMS responders. Other missions Mike and the proven Bombard Commando C4R complete are course security patrols, media trips, V.I.P. transportation, and integrating with local and federal agencies to support their missions.

Mike likes the Bombard Commando for river missions over the other options because you are able to leverage an incredible amount of the usable horse power and run thru sections too shallow or obstructed for other vessels. This bit of knowledge isn’t going unnoticed as more and more agencies are putting the Bombard Commando on their missions to manage tough water where they operate. See Capt. Ron run his C3 Commando thru the Peyete River and “Devil’s Staircase” and you’ll see IBC has been doing this stuff for awhile. This video was shot in the early 80’s, we were doing it back then and we still do it today!

This is a hard earned knowledge base and one that sets IBC apart from the competition. We use the boats we sell and we use them very hard.

The TLDI 40hp outboard motor is clean burning with a 3 star rating and fuel efficient  enough to make the new four stroke motors scratch their heads. When the mission needs 2 stroke pep and power IBC has you covered with the TLDI series of outboards new with a 5 year warranty. (Government Pricing Available)

New clean burning and quiet 2 stroke outboards are available at IBC that meet CARB requirements.

As the weekend unfolds Mike will be on station downtown is his indefatigable Bombard Commando C4R wearing IBC banners so if you see him on the beach say hi.

Flying the banner for the event.

Pictures of the event will be coming next week, to talk to IBC about getting your own ultimate Commando package give the guys a call (503)235-2628 or shop online thru IBC’s industry leading secure website.

 

Spearfishing On A C4 Commando Turns Into Rescue on The High Seas

When I was down talking to the Oregon State Marine Board during and advisory team meeting last week I heard about a rescue on the coast and several more, basically some scenarios and not much detail. I of course offered up a boat and motor to do a recovery where a body was in some fast water and unreachable for days with Oregon’s typical tin boat flotilla. They passed because tin runs in their veins here and inflatable in Oregon means a cheap inflatable floating cooler. I guess what most people don’t realize is when that tin takes on water it sinks, and we come out in inflatables and rescue the tin pushers.

Working with some of the nations best rescue, military, and law enforcement on their various missions means we typically mean what we say when we flap our gums. We flap them a lot!

I got a call from a recent enthusiastic Bombard Commando C4 owner who wanted to thank IBC for helping him pick the right boat for the adventures he liked going on. When he described his outing I knew which Oregon State Marine Board topic he was talking about and asked if he could in his own words just give us a little something for our blog readers. His pics and story are below.

“It was May 28th. Memorial weekend, 2017. My son and I were enjoying our first dives on our new boat that we just bought at Inflatable Boat Center in Portland Oregon. It was a bit of a rodeo getting our Bombard Commando C-4 launched because of the heavy boat traffic. Once in the water and underway to our favorite dive site, the 25hp Mercury put her right up on a plane with ease. There was a good size swell initially  but things calmed right down for us.
Once on site, we dropped anchor and went right to work. This was the first time with decent visibility for my 14 year old son to go spearfishing. We collected our limits of nice sized black snapper, made our safety stop and hit the surface. After a short surface swim back to the boat, it was time to head back in.
We motored out a little way and I let him take the tiller and run the boat for a bit. As we approached the bar, I took over. As soon as we ran up along the jetty towards the harbor, a man came running down and looked panicked. Honestly, I thought it was another crabber that lost his pot in the rocks. Much to my surprise, he told me that there was a boat not far out that had been blowing their horn and he could see them waving their life jackets.
I headed straight out to see if we could help. As I approached, I cautioned my son. I reinforced the fact that we have no idea what their distress is. It could be a motor that wont start. It could be a boat taking on water. It could be a man overboard. I told him to use extreme caution as we approach. As it turned out, it was a drift boat with an older Suzuki outboard that would not start. I was a bit surprised that they did not have even one oar on their drift boat.
We connected a line to their bow and ran it to the transom of the Commando C-4. Underway, we towed them across the bar and into the harbor. Immediately we were approached but the Coast Guard. I slowly came to a stop being careful to not foul our prop with the tow line. The Coast Guard asks if they were the ones blowing their horn and waving life jackets. They said that they were. I asked if they wanted me to continue towing them or if they prefer me to turn them over. They suggested we continue our good sam efforts.
Once back to the dock, I was told I could go. The folks from the Coast Guard went through all of their gear, making sure that their vessel was legal. I was told that no one on board had a boaters card. Not that it would make a difference in getting a motor to start but if it were later in the day and the sun was going down, it could have been a very bad situation for them.
Commando C-4 rescue. Not the first and likely not the last. What a day for my young son!”

Stories like this come to us everyday and it’s always the inflatable boat to the rescue and often times its the Bombard Commando series doing the heavy lifting for the market. The Bombard Commando Series of inflatable boats is made in France by Zodiac and is the good stuff with none of the fluff or glitter you see on lesser boats. Used by adventurers and professional users alike it stands alone in a sea of cheap imitation. Get your Bombard Commando Inflatable Boat at The Inflatable Boat Center in Portland Oregon or visit our No BS secure website and get one shipped right to your door anywhere the wind blows.

The Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202

(503)235-2628 ask for Adam 😉

 

 

Zodiac MILPRO ERB 380

The Zodiac MILPRO ERB 380 Airfloor  model provides the user with the ability to inflate and get underway in  3 minutes with a compressed air tank such as SCUBA or SCBA. Originally designed for rapid inflation for rescue, law enforcement and military operations the Zodiac MILPRO ERB 380 Airfloor has been increasingly used as a stand alone boat for recreation or a tender for sailboats and yachts.

Ease of use and a Zodiac MILPRO pedigree mean more and more of these inflatable boats are seeing use at high latitudes and  in the tropics for tenders and work boats. The ability to have a slat floor, a heavy duty aluminum floor or the rapid inflate airfloor mean this example meets the needs of the ever changing mission/use waterscape.

Ratings for up to a 25Hp propped outboard or a 30 Hp Durajet outboard, 6 persons or 1430Lbs. cargo mean this 12’6″ is a go anywhere and do anything boat.

Zodiac MILPRO’s design, construction, and materials are legendary and singular in the field of inflatable boats representing the standard all others aspire to be.
The Zodiac MILPRO ERB 380 is available at The Inflatable Boat Center (503)235-2628 or by clicking here.

 



Zodiac Bombard Commando C5 Striker

IBC’s Special Boat Division delivers the C5 Striker.

Loaded up with reconfigurable Scotty Fishing accessories as well as some other options this C5 Commando Striker goes anywhere and does anything. Similar to IBC’s Special Boats Division C3 Commando RECON, the Striker just has more everything and in a bigger faster package.

Looking for a bit of adventure? Call our IBC SBD rep Adam (503)235-2628 and get a custom Commando package tailored to your needs.

Enjoy the pics and dream big!

Spring Cleaning

So yesterday IBC received its first non rainy day in about 9 months and as this signals spring for us here in Portland I thought it was a good time to talk about inspections and maintenance. Spring and sunny days mean getting ole floppy out of storage for the first time in a long while, and for some this will be a trying day. Mice, spiders, bugs and that science experiment you’re unknowingly conducting because you forgot to rinse and clean your boat properly before rolling it up for the winter. These are but a few of the common issues we see here at the shop when the sun shows it’s face for the first time.

First thing first let’s get your boat pumped up and inspected. Does it keep air? If the answer is no then kick some more air in and spray it down with soapy water to try to determine where the air is leaking out from. Leaks will manifest as bubbles or white creamy streaks or spots. Mark the leaks with a sharpie pen and find anymore issues that need addressing. For mouse holes you’ll need adhesive and fabric, and typically you need to do an inside /outside patch over any hole big enough to fit a mammal in. First get the patch on the inside by prepping the patch and area the same way you would for any other patch. Roll the patch on its self adhesive to non-adhesive side and carefully insert the patch. Tack and unroll to bone or burnish the patch down fully. We like to do this in a dry run prior to applying any adhesive so the actions are committed to muscle memory almost. You’ll have better success if you practice this prior to gluing trust us. Once you’ve waited at least 24 hours for the adhesive to start curing kick in some air to shape and then pressure and soap it down again. If you did your job right it shouldn’t be leaking, or leaking very little. Now we’re ready to put on the outside patch, the same prep steps and adhesive applications applies here just like before. Make sure you have the patch boned down correctly and wait at least 24 hours to use the boat with a recommended time of 72 hours being best.

Plan your trips accordingly, if you waited until the last minute chances are if your boat has damage you won’t be taking it. If you are one of the hundreds of people we see every summer with a 40 year old mouse boat looking for an instant fix you will be disappointed. We will have a back log of weeks to months in the peak of the season so don’t wait too long to do your initial inspection.

Sometimes you will have some simple pin holes from that whopper of a fish you carelessly flopped into the boat. In most of these cases a quick and permanent fix is the use of a sealant that goes in the tube chamber its self. There are a great many products on the market that offer awesome sauce at a discount but beware. Try to get a reputable name or formulation such as the type we use here at IBC. Since we have to adhere to MILSPEC on many of our services we only use the good stuff and recommend you do the same. Just visit our web shop if you live outside of the Portland Oregon area for awesome sauce www.inflatableboats.com and click on the repair materials category. The way the sealant works is the air leaking out thru the hole will pull the sealant thu with it as it escapes and it will seal it off. This usually requires the user to roll the boat over side to side and end to end to ensure a conformal coating is applied to the interior of the tube chamber. Call a friend and swap sea tales while you do this, you might actually find you have more than one pin hole so don’t do this on the new carpet.

For the science experiment we use many cleaners and conditioners located in yup you guessed it our cleaners and conditioners section of the web shop. Keeping ole floppy aired up to the correct pressure and clean will extend the life of your boat greatly and prevent problems further down the road that could’ve been avoided. If you have questions give us a call here at the shop (503)235-2628 chances are we’ve seen what you are looking at and have a fix for it already.

If all of this sounds too daunting give us a call and we’ll do it for you, but don’t wait until the last minute or your trip will suffer. We have people send us their boats from all around the world to get genuine IBC service and repairs done and we’re a small crew focused on quality so it will take as long as it does.

Another Day at the Office

 As we navigated our way up the winding lush and rocky banked river, we found the optimum location to put newly taught skills to the test. With ten knots of current, the boulder lined channel provided a challenging swift water chute to practice personnel recovery tactics. Utilizing Zodiac MILPRO Emergency Response Boats (ERB), we had the perfect platform, which provided plenty of reserve buoyancy and maneuverability to execute our simulated victim in water pick up techniques.

Here at Inflatable Boat Center, we are privileged to be an authorized Elite Zodiac MILPRO dealer and service shop. To be authorized doesn’t just mean sign up and sell a boat; instead it requires a serious level of  commitment, interest and experience with the products.  All of our IBC staff members own and use Zodiac inflatable boats year round and have done so for many years, both recreationally, in the military, and professionally. In addition, we strive to learn everything we can about our prospective customers and retain contact with existing customers in order to supply them with the perfect product for their requirements.

The new Zodiac MILPRO craft of choice for first responders is the Zodiac ERB.

These models offer a choice of floor systems, both aluminum or inflatable, fast inflation systems, Zodiac special inter-communicating valves, over pressure relief valves, quality life lines, and the perfect hull design for shallow and swift water operation. For the Spokane Valley Fire Department, the ERB 380 (12’6”) proved to be the perfect combination of performance, capacity, and portability. Spokane Valley Fire Dept. chose to carry the boat to the water vs launching from the trailer to match conditions found in the field. Powered by a 30hp Rescue Pro PumpJet outboard, the boat had enough power to get 6 people up on plane, and moreover, propelled 3 operators easily through all the swift water conditions we encountered.

In addition to supplying the fire department with a new boat and engine package, IBC offered to host a genuine Zodiac Maritime Academy training class as this was their first Zodiac; the perfect boat doesn’t help without the proper skills to operate and maintain it. This educational program specifically covered basic boat operations and maneuvering, risk assessment, broaching and re-righting techniques, personnel recovery, swift water passage making, general maintenance and in-field repairs. It takes many years of training and experience to not only teach a class like this, but also cater to the specific needs of the customer. This is an example of why we here at IBC are often selected as the Zodiac supplier for many government agencies as well as recreational boaters; from young families getting into boating, to RV expeditions, to coastal and offshore tour boat companies, as well as world cruising sailors.

Anybody can drive a boat fast and in a straight line however, but steering a boat with a tiller handle outboard is very foreign to most people including seasoned boaters. It’s the tiller handle that provides instantaneous control and allows for nimble guidance of the vessel. This is mission critical in fast-moving water as a boat can get thrown around in a split second, therefore the ability to make rapid corrections to ensure a proper course becomes a necessity of the mission.

Through coordinated instruction and live on the water demonstration, lessons were quickly learned and actively practiced among all fire rescue team members. By the second day of our course of instruction, all trainees were efficient in operating their craft with the judgment required for making the call as to what side of the boat to perform a pick up on, as well as have their crew members organized and ready to accomplish a rescue. During our class’s de-briefing our new operators rated themselves as much more confident and prepared to use their new Zodiac ERB  for  their own missions.  There is always a sense of triumph at the end of our intense training evolutions knowing that we’ve played a small role of indirectly saving lives by teaching the skills we have spent many years developing.

Adam Fry is a lifelong Zodiac operator from Kauai, Hawaii that now lives in Portland Oregon. Adam is IBC’s lead MILPRO Specialist and is certified in repairs and operation of the full Zodiac MILPRO line. To speak with Adam about your agency’s needs call (503)235-2628

The Strongan Duotex Difference

As I walked around the shop “topping off” all the CSM/Hypalon boats this morning I thought to myself, “How come no one talks about air retention on Strongan vs Hypalon?”. This is a very valid question to the person looking for a tender or stand alone inflatable boat.

Let me put this into other words, Strongan is what we casually refer to as PVC here at the shop when discussing boat materials and manufacturing processes. To be so casual is actually kind of detrimental to a degree. When discussing PVC inflatable boats many makers will spec out their fabric in mils (equal to a thousandth of an inch) or millimeters also expressed as “mils” on various websites albeit incorrectly in efforts to dupe the customer. The other manufacturers count on you being uninformed to swell their bottom line. Further use of incorrect terms along with drawings and lots of text that “sounds official” on their many websites plus dubious reviews means you end up with a cheap boat that came with free shipping and absolutely no support. Any boat deal that comes with free shipping should be a red flag just so you know.

Cutting down on the volume of calls we receive here at IBC from Amazon or Ebay bargain shoppers means it’s time well spent to bother with this topic.

Obviously we don’t sell brand X nor do we offer free shipping. I can’t understand why other brand/site customers call us all day long for support of someone else’s product. Weird huh? The simple answer is those sites like Amazon or Ebay don’t have a support structure, they offer cheap products with free shipping to capture the bargain shopper. They don’t have a store, or a phone, or employees to take the millions of calls about their junky products and their failures.

Going back to formula we’ll first educate you about what Strongan is and what PVC and Hypalon isn’t. Using our time machine let’s go back to the polyester years of the 1970’s! 😉

Strongan Duotex is a fabric originally developed by the Espace Division of Zodiac France as part of a joint project with CNES (National Space Research Center). Developed to be better at air retention and water intrusion than ordinary PVC it was further refined and developed to be Thermobonded by purpose built machines existing only in Zodiac France.

Basically PVC was a truck cover material that was semi-water tight but not airtight, (more on this later). The Zodiac answer from the joint space research project took 8 engineers and technicians and a support staff of 14 to tackle.

“Welding” of PVC used in the knockoff industry is a lap seam. One layer is placed on top of another and heated under pressure to make the bond. This technique will make most PVC materials watertight but leaves something to be desired for airtightness.

To accomplish this technical feat Zodiac developed their thermobonding process where two precision cut pieces are butted up edge to edge and overlayed on the outside for mechanical strength, and the secret internal layer overlayed on the inside defeated air leaks and made the bond airtight.

Zodiac Strongan Duotex outside seam
Zodiac Strongan Duotex inside seam

While seeming relatively simple to the layman, the material science and process engineering was very difficult and very costly. Zodiac invested heavily in the engineering of the process and at the time it was considered a gamble. The old guard of neoprene sand and glue construction people never thought PVC could have the air retention of Hypalon/Neoprene. Zodiac’s gamble paid off, and dramatically lowered the costly labor process involved by 75% while producing a boat unparalleled in air retention and strength. This hyper-technical approach catapulted Zodiac’s aerospace and leisure products divisions to the forefront of their respective industries. Yes from the humble beginnings of Maurice Mallet’s sewn and varnished balloons in 1896 to 21st century space exploration and Strongan Duotex inflatable boats Zodiac reigns supreme.

To sum it up in a few words Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex fabric is the gold standard for air retention and modern inflatable boats.

Saying that all boats are not cut from the same cloth is a gross understatement. Buyers should beware the great pretenders in the market today all vying for your hard earned dollar.

Today when I went to IBC’s repair shop to measure the differences in thickness from one brand to the next I was amazed at the startling differences between the Zodiac Strongan Duotex and the ordinary PVC from the other manufacturers. The average measurement in mils or thousandths of an inch of the most basic Strongan fabric was .040″ and the next best competitors came in at .015 to .029″ or one to two thirds thinner. The average thickness of a Thermobonded seam was on the order of 1/8″ or .125″ compared to a seam of .030″ to .060 for the others .The Zodiac fabric is thicker by it’s self than many other manufacturers seams! So thickness of the Zodiac Strongan coupled with the additional thread in the scrim or substrate of the Zodiac Strongan fabric adds additional strength and resistance to forces such as torsional loading over all other manufacturer’s samples compared.

Much has been written about the dreaded UV rays and the havoc it wreaks on boats. Myths abound on the internet of UV radiation turning boats brown and causing them to “pop” while exposed to the sun. I would refer you to the earlier paragraphs to note that Zodiac’s Strongan was developed with the space program in mind. Believe me there is far more UV in space than at the waterline.

UV damage mechanisms of the various materials here on Earth generally cause what’s known as “photo-bleaching”, whereas the material in question turns white not brown. The mechanism is virtually the same for PVC, Hypalon, and even diamonds! Look at an old car dash, did it turn brown, or is it whiter and bleached looking? I thought so! Short wavelength high frequency radiation in the UV regime and it’s interaction with matter is well understood. One simply can’t take a random website’s claims as truth these days, we’ve even added “fake news” into our language to define this phenomena.

Generally speaking all inflatable boats are called Zodiacs today due to commonality in conversation, but all inflatable boats are not cut from the same cloth. If it doesn’t say Zodiac on the boat it’s not a genuine Zodiac, ask for it by name.

Note: Bombard and Avon are both Zodiac products.

Edit: Richard Meister (Technical Support Manager at Zodiac Nautic) added to our Facebook page “Environmental positives too! Strongan plastomer is thermoform and can be melted and recycled. No wasteful and annoying dust generation either.

What Richard means by dust generation is Hypalon/Neoprene fabric requires sanding and scuffing prior to cleaning with toluene solvent, then finally several applications of adhesive are added to make a seam or install a simple patch. This dust, solvent, and adhesive is a potential hazard if improperly controlled during the assembly and repair process. While Zodiac leads the world in green environmentally sound practices, those other boat builders, errr…. not so much.

To see what Richard means about recycling of materials one only needs to look as far as the Bombard Air Ethic. The Bombard Air Ethic is made utilizing green manufacturing processes, novel materials and recycled materials. This represents a first in the boat building industry.

Thanks for bringing up those valid points Richard!

Hypalon/Neoprene or as it is generically called CSM is a man-made artificial rubber coating over a substrate or scrim. It offers some advantages over plain PVC with the foremost being resistance to solvents and fuels. UV absorption is virtually identical to PVC and several other materials such as Urethane and with all of the hype and misinformation this is a hot button topic for the web forums and novice yachtsman. If you had any doubt just look at the multitude of aftermarket products that claim UV resistance and protection catering to the hyperbole.

Hypalon performs slightly better in the drum test for abrasion resistance than PVC but in terms of air retention it fails miserably compared to Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex. Hypalon inflatable boat manufacturing is a very dirty and labor intensive process taking up to three times as long to complete when compared to a Zodiac Strongan Duotex inflatable boat of the same dimensions. This labor comes at a cost and this added cost is much of what the customer assumes is quality when simply comparing prices. Remember the statement that not all boats are cut from the same cloth? This holds true for Hypalon boats as well. That “good deal” for a brand X  Hypalon boat will cost you in the long run on repairs. You are much better off sticking to the brand that started it all…Zodiac, Avon or Bombard when asking about Hypalon inflatable boats.

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