Kicking It With The Zodiac

Brrr it’s cold outside! Time to go kick some air into my Zodiac Bombard Commando and while I’m at it mention it to you too.

This one is hard to understand for a lot of people because there is so much bad info on the web regarding inflatable boats and proper air pressure. In simplest terms when things get cold they contract, air is a thing. Boyle’s Law comes to mind, Gay-Lussac’s Law, Charles’ Law, and probably a bunch more but the long and short of it means when air heats up it expands and pressure increases, when it’s chilled it contracts and pressure drops.

When that boat you kicked air into during the summer months gets cold Mr. Floppy shows up to take it’s place. Mr. Floppy is no one’s friend, he strains the transom attachment points and seams trying to make your outboard hit the deck. Mr. Floppy doesn’t like fun, fuel economy or performance, he wants you to have a bad time. Mr. Floppy loves rodents so if you have a Mr. Floppy in your garage don’t be surprised if rodents become his room mates when you go out there in the Spring.

Worrying about your inflatable boat popping in the Sun’s heat is why you are running it soft? Huh? That’s an old trick by Mr. Floppy, remember Mr. Floppy hates fun over all else. Running your boat soft only benefits the repair shop, it actually shortens an inflatable boat’s lifetime or duty cycle. As a rule you should always have about 3.5 P.S.I. in the main tubes and keel unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. Airfloors can have 5, 6, 8, even 11 P.S.I. in them to make them perform and give a stable platform. Airfloor types vary by manufacturer so consult your make and model inflation information and keep it tight when it’s inflated.

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about inflatable boats is the ability to roll them up and stow them until needed. When you get to a place where you need a stable boat that doesn’t sink you just unroll, inflate and go. All those awesome documentaries I used to watch on T.V. wouldn’t have been possible without inflatable boats so my interest in them began early. When I asked my mom how come they didn’t sink if they got a hole in them, or if Jaws came and took a bite she calmly replied, “Zodiac boats have chambers to prevent all the air from coming out.”. Mom was pretty smart back in the early 70’s and she didn’t have the luxury of consulting the internet to give me those correct answers either. Mom would never have let me get into an underinflated boat, you shouldn’t either.

Yes the whole air/temperature thing will generate a lot of calls to the service center this time of year in mainland America. Most of them stem from the user inflating one chamber to pressure, then the next and so on. When Mr. Floppy shows up he makes it look like there’s a leak in one chamber that the user can’t find. What’s occurred is the baffle (the chamber thingy inside) has pushed into the adjacent chamber and taken up part of it’s volume. Things cool off outside and Mr. Floppy presents a chamber that appears to be flat when you go to inspect it. When inflating your boat you should inflate each chamber to shape, then go back and top them off to pressure. This technique ensures that the baffles aren’t pushed into the other chambers and it also helps keep Mr. Floppy from showing up as frequently.

If during your winter lay up or inspection process you find a hole that needs patching, fix it, then stow your boat. You’ll really have a bad day when Mr. Floppy shows up the first time you want to use your boat and you can’t because he’s there. Remember Mr. Floppy hates fun! That’s all for now, I have to go kick Mr. Floppy off some RIBs I see him getting aboard. If you have questions we probably have answers, give us a call (503)235-2628 and ask for Mike.

To shop our online shop you can go here if you are having problems call and ask for Mike (503)235-2628 it’s probably his fault anyway.

Budget Boats & Free Shipping

Budget boats and free shipping, you see it all over the place online, but what does it really mean?

Like many of us I spend quite a bit of time online, be it work, recreation, or education, I’m on the web more today than ever before. I’ll never forget when I first went online back in the early 90’s with my special forces house mates. I didn’t see the point of it then but I glimpsed what was being done with mapping and the relevance to what would later be unfolding in the Middle East.

Fast forward a decade and my online experience involved physics and material science and not much else. Step forward another 5 years and the writing on the wall was clear, online sales were a thing, and as I predicted a person doesn’t even need to leave their house anymore to get everything they desire today.

Now that I’m back to doing stuff in boats again interactions between myself and inflatable boat users are on the rise, and so are the words “free shipping”. It’s been pointed out to me by users in the shop that “free shipping” was a major deciding factor in which boat they purchased. If you caught the part in my previous sentence that made mention of the shop you’ll soon see where this is going. Obviously when a person tells me they did their “research” what I’m hearing is they price shopped and scanned reviews that were stuffed by fly by night manufacturers in hopes to sway the uninformed to buy their product.

“Free shipping” a term used in the beginning by craft makers to entice people to buy stuff they didn’t need has been hi-jacked by big business. Online giants even offer it to subscribers for a yearly fee, take 15% from the person selling the item, then charge you a fee for using a credit card. You feel like you stole the item, it looks the same, was cheaper than the local place and you didn’t have to put on pants to do it either! Wow! “Retailers are chumps!”, you think to yourself absorbed in the pleasure chemicals the brain is releasing, but who is the real rube in this scenario?

If you break it down with math it will release a different chemical that causes depression, so why think about it? Well, i’m selfish, and since I don’t like telling someone their boat is garbage I figured I’d stab at the keyboard with my giant hands to make it easier.

With so much of what’s in our landfills originating from China it’s no wonder people don’t think twice to purchase a no name boat with free shipping.They’ve been conditioned at this point to accept it. Obviously not everything made in China is junk, but a fair amount of the swag is well, swag. Even big manufacturers have moved production of goods to China to capitalize on the near slave labor cost of production. The rest of us in the World are just greedy for a good deal, no one thinks they should pay retail, everyone thinks they should pay wholesale and don’t care about mom and pop, only themselves. These are the “free shipping” candidates psychologically enticed to buy  products they can’t pass up because it was a “good deal”. Those dot com sellers hired  experts on behavior and targeted a big part of the population by utilizing dopamine levels present in their brain chemistry, and they discovered “free shipping” was the perfect trigger.

Back in the shop I’m faced with telling someone their online purchase that came to their front door with “free shipping” is worthless and more expensive to fix than what they paid for it. Incredulous looks and dagger stares are often the immediate reaction, they feel like I cheated them, I betrayed them, but I didn’t. I didn’t sell them that garbage boat, that good deal, that “free shipping” bonanza. I get to see yet another chemical reaction, this time it’s anger and frustration.

I’ve been here at IBC for a few years now, and I’ve seen many makes and models of inflatable boats come and go. I pay attention to the details, the failure modalities, the use of materials and construction techniques. Yeah I’m that guy, the geek, the whosit whatsit person. What I’ve realized is there’s no good deals on quality unless someone takes less money somewhere along the chain. Big Box demands money! Big Box takes your money! (I was thinking of the green big man from comics when I typed that)

One of the things I like about working at IBC is we aren’t a big heartless company focused on share holder dividends above all else. We’re a small mom and pop place that has a veteran or two under the roof, a big dog, a good mechanic and a genuine love of inflatable boats. Seeing people get frustrated with their experience means it affects our happiness too so we try to land  deals on quality boats to combat the plague of online madness. Every year that I’ve been here at IBC we’ve bought every item of a model line to offer a decent boat at a decent price. It’s economies of scale in that end and we’ve been around the block once or twice. We see our customers on the water while we’re playing ourselves and we enjoy the happy feelings while aboard a good inflatable boat.

This year our good guy buy has centered around the Marlon models. Built for Marlon Trailers by Highfield these models offer the good stuff at a better price, because we bought them all. No, we can’t offer free shipping, that would mean we’d have to charge you more because we don’t have shipping money built into our price. That means that money is put into building the boat, not shipping landfill to your doorstep. We aren’t going to get rich on these boats but while we have them they will make families happy and provide safe boating pleasure for a good long time. If you have a good experience you’ll be back when your family is in a better place financially and get a bigger or better boat, and if we’re lucky we’ll be along to enjoy the ride with you.

We care about the planet, plastic in the oceans, CO2 emissions, and would rather not sell products with a short duty cycle that are landfill bound. Get a better boat, in the long run you’ll be richer for it.

If you have questions my name is Mike, give me a call and I’ll do my best to help you make a good decision on your first or next inflatable boat.

My number at the shop is (503)235-2628 so you know who is behind what we’re selling and who to talk to if you should ever encounter a frowny face experience.

Zodiac Fastroller Inflatable Boats

One of the best inflatable boats on the water these days is the Zodiac Fastroller. Developed out of secret military tech, the airfloor in the Zodiac Fastroller has come of age and no where is this more evident than the recreational market where it has been copied by every other offshore manufacturer under the sun albeit to a lesser quality.

Pump up your Zodiac MK2 Fastroller floor to 11.2 p.s.i.

Where other models move to China for manufacturing the Zodiac Fastroller remains firmly entrenched in France, the place where it all started. One can not compare the French Thermo-bonding™ technique to a heat welded or glued seam the other generic manufactures tout as “good enough”. In the repair shop we see all manner of drop stitched construction coming apart at the seams in the form of ISUPs, and cheap airfloor imitations. They make tall claims and preach of higher pressures, but fail miserably soon after the customer makes their purchase. The quality of Zodiac France’s Thermo-bonding™ is evident in the lack of repairs needed for those models.

Operating at 11 P.S.I. the Zodiac Fastroller takes footing seriously by providing a stiffer floor than a thicker higher pressure ISUP can, and it does it day in and day out without fail. Yachters, sailors, hunters, and fishermen have all come to realize the strength of the design and the ease of use, making the Zodiac Fastroller a favorite for lightweight portability with tremendous capacity.

For yacht tenders and RVers the Zodiac Cadet Fastroller makes a great choice because it’ll hold more, go farther with less motor, and is simply an unroll and inflate boat. The Zodiac Cadet Fastroller series contains the 285, 325 and 360 models weighing in at 77lbs, 88lbs, and 97lbs respectively making them great where small pack size and lightweight are a consideration. Containing virtually no glued seams or accessories the Zodiac Cadet Fastroller does not disappoint and is a solid work horse for decades.

Those of you looking for more performance will like the Fastroller in it’s easy cruising and sport boat configurations such as the Zodiac Classic Fastroller and Zodiac Futura Fastroller models. Offering a more sporting mindset with the ease of use the Fastroller airfloor option provides means no fiddling around with floor boards or stringers,  just pure enjoyment on the water as it should be.

Our customers in the Alaskan territories swear by the Zodiac Classic Fastroller for their back country adventures because they easily fit into small bush planes and boats allowing them to reach destinations off the beaten path. This same model is at home on a yacht, in an RV or rolled up in the back of your car for a weekend adventure.

Install bow bag and go have fun!

When only the color RED will illustrate the performance of an item the Zodiac Futura Fastroller steps into the lime light and claims it’s seat on the throne of speed and maneuvering. Going faster, getting more weight on plane, and using a smaller outboard to get the job done. Zodiac’s Futura Fastroller is unparalleled in a sea of ponderous no name knock offs that disappoint the second they are floated. The Zodiac Futura’s patented speed tubes make quick work of the tough stuff,  and help to mitigated prop ventilation on turns. Performance is akin to riding a bullet train with turns so sure footed that the Zodiac Futura feels like it’s running on rails and not on the water at all.

The high pressure airfloor has definitely come of age and owes it’s heritage to the military models that came before it. For the professional looking for rapid deployment the airfloor option still exists in the form of the Zodiac MILPRO series in such models as the ERB, the indefatigable FC series, and others. The Zodiac MILPRO line is available for the rescue professional, military, and in some cases the recreational user alike where necessary.

When considering a new boat for a dinghy, stand alone run about or adventure machine that needs to be portable you needn’t look any further than the Zodiac Fastroller. Proven in battle and easy to use with world wide support you should ever need an extra oar or repair.

The Zodiac Fastroller series comes with a 5 year warranty and is made of real Thermo-bonded™ Strongan Duotex™ back where it all began, France.

Give IBC a call and get you adventure started today (503)235-2628 or shop our inventory online https://inflatableboats.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaskan Adventures

What do you do when you live far off the beaten path in Alaska and need something from the trading post? What about going to places never seen and getting home again? Or when I was a young man in the early 80’s exploring the arctic looking for surf what did I use to get the job done? In most of these cases it was a Zodiac MK series inflatable boat. From underwater construction in the polar regions to just running supplies or people to and fro the Zodiac MK inflatable boat series (now MILPRO) was the go to work horse.

One of our customers recently called to talk about his mission running adventure tours and operating a 5 star facility where roads don’t exist and I was able to talk him out of a pic and a quick viddy link.

In the viddy above you’ll see a Zodiac MK4 HD rigged with a Yamaha F70 being slung by a HELO at a secret glacial lake. This lake has something to do with our customer’s 5 star resort and the Zodiac MK4 HD plays a vital role there. Considering that the lake is usually locked up with growlers/ice chunks from glacial calving there are not very many boats that can stand up to the constant abuse like a Zodiac MILPRO inflatable boat. The aluminum boats buckle, and the fiberglass boats break, but the Zodiac MILPRO MK4 HD just bounces and slides off the dangerous ice in the water. It’s just another day in an inflatable and experienced Z boat operators just shrug it all off as no big deal.

Getting to and from the beach in the Gulf Of Alaska can be a chore but as Jordan illustrates with his Zodiac MILPRO MK4HD it’s a breeze with inflatable beach rollers. No surf is too hard to reach, no beach too far, no fish too big for what the Zodiac MILPRO MK4HD brings to the table.

Adam setup this package for Jordan, to see what we can do for you give us a call at (503)235-2628 and take your expedition from dream to reality.

Swift Water Rescue Enters The American Vocabulary

The IBC team has long been a provider of training and equipment to the rescue and military communities and continues to do so with pride today. Recently while waiting in a drive thru line I was listening to discussions on the radio of swift water rescue in some of the flooded hurricane areas. The reporter called out swift water rescue and defined it to another speaker during the exchange. Later that evening I again heard swift water rescue come op as a topic on the evening edition of the local news. More and more use of the term just seemed to be popping up all over the various media channels in this latest news cycle.

Let’s face it the news is a business, and it’s their job to engage listeners, viewers, and social media users to sell ad space, but I took no umbrage as the term filtered into the common vocabulary as a benefit.

Essentially it’s this, as weather events, and natural disasters make headlines and primetime broadcasts we’ll be seeing an increase of the use of the term. This makes me happy as a professional inflatable boat jock. Too many local governments wrongly assume that they will never encounter a flooding incident so they don’t incorporate or enact a plan to address it.

Planning for the worst is much ado about nothing to government bean counters who think that rescue budgeting isn’t necessary. Tell that to the person who was rescued from dark cold water by a volunteer or outside agency. Yes weather events happen, and seemingly more frequently than ever before, and the one thing the government is always short of is mission capable boats and trained operators.

Lessons learned from flooding events always surface as a lack of stable craft with little to no draft led to increased casualties. The “It won’t happen to me.” mentality is increasingly proven to be wrong and when things are at their toughest only the toughest will be able to get the job done.

Most swift water rescue teams are only utilized when flooding is the plan of the day, and water likely isn’t swift in most areas unless topography is the dictating factor. This lack of foresight to low land communities with no rapid moving rivers stands in the way of budgeting for an inflatable rescue boat. Clearly as we can all see here in the US and abroad the truth tells a different story when unexpected rains fall.

To me there is nothing more tragic than a preventable loss of life, or when what should have been a rescue mission turns out to be a recovery. Compared to the costs of running a tin jon boat, (something rescuers know to be a hazard by the way), the cost of ownership and maintenance of an inflatable boat is much cheaper. The inflatable boat carries more cargo weight or people, costs less to operate and goes into much shallower water without grounding, even when laden with tons of cargo.

Personally I’ve been on just about every type of water craft available from submarines, to  Zodiacs, to a hovercraft, landing craft, dive boats etc. and the one boat that ticks the boxes off and saves more precious cargo is the Zodiac MILPRO inflatable boat. Whether you completed missions like me in the military or as a civilian, the Zodiac MILPRO has become ubiquitous in the rescue community. So why are we always in short supply when disaster hits?

Ask your local government officials this question. Too often the “Pros” are basing their whole mission load out off of their experience as a recreational fisherman in a tin or fiberglass boat, something that is woefully in adequate for the flooding mission or swift water mission profile. Try getting a big heavy tin boat launched into a flood zone where the gradient is varied and uncommon obstructions like fences and fire hydrants are the norm. All of the fishing experience in the world goes out the window and operators begin to realize just how bad that ultra expensive tin rescue boat was. Costs not in dollars but in lives are what become the tangible data metric. Trust me that government bean counter isn’t getting his or her feet wet, rendering crucial first aid or delivering supplies to cut of populations.

As we assimilate the term “Swift Water Rescue” into the common vocabulary we should be thinking on how those assets serve a bigger mission profile to save more lives. If your community is too small to field a proper swift water team in addition to their current department responsibilities take charge and hold a fund raising event to facilitate one. The life you save might be your own.

To speak with one of our qualified professionals regarding your swift water or flood rescue needs simply pick up the phone and call  (503)235-2628 don’t wait until it becomes a recovery mission.

Zodiac Open Series Of RIBs

While messing around with some photos today I came across this batch from earlier in the year. Zodiac hosted an event in North America and we sent Adam down to represent IBC and run some new boats Zodiac was offering up for this year.

If you’ve been in the shop this year then you’ve more than likely experienced the Zodiac Open RIB Series first hand and put one on your wish list. If you were really good and not on the naughty list you got one for yourself and are out having fun not reading my blog. Those of you who’ve been stalking my posts, pics, and videos know all about the open series but wanted some more. This post is for those of you who still are on the fence wondering if you want all the awesome these Zodiac Open RIBs offer.

Now the pics!

Getting your new Zodiac Open RIB is as easy as giving Adam a call (503)235-2628

 

Be An Original

It seems like I’m having to say goodbye to some really awesome boats every other day. This week I’ve had to say goodbye to a few Zodiac Bombard Commando C5s as well as the Zodiac MKII Heritage Classic #16 of 50. Yes having to say goodbye is hard for me because I just love the boats people are requesting these days.

The Zodiac/Bombard Commando C5 is one of my all time favorites from doing arctic operations to playing around on the weekends with my best girl and will always be my go to.

Looking at the Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classic I’m brought back to where it all began for me with the Cousteau family and the Debroutelle family in France. The Zodiac Heritage has that classic look that so many of us identified with as kids but it’s made to modern standards and built to perform. Does the MK2 Heritage Classic go well at the yacht club? Yes it does, sexy doesn’t begin to describe the Zodiac MK2 Heritage Classic. This beauty has legs when you push the stick forward and feel the breeze on your face. If you don’t want to disturb your coiffed hair you can flip up one of the windshields and use the mirror to freshen up your makeup. The back to back adjustable seating means it fits any driver or passenger and as an added plus it will lay down flat and turn into a soleil tableau (sun deck) allowing it’s user to catch some rays on placid water. This one is extra special and will be missed once it’s gone.

 

We love our job here at IBC because it means we get to work with great customers who want the best for their boating dollar. Making special boat packages to delivering off the shelf products the result is always the same, smiles!

Come join the family at our showroom in Portland Oregon or by shopping our online store

Inflatable Boat Center

2401 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202

(503) 235-2628

 

The Hits Keep Coming

Adam and Chris sure have been busy with the Zodiac Bombard Commandos this year and it isn’t over yet. A few more Commandos leave the shop this week to accomplish their missions. We never see them again after we sell them so it’s good to get a few pics before hand to prove they were here!

For the operators looking to use a jet the Bombard Commando C5 makes a smart choice and represents the best performance due to it’s wooden keel configuration.

To find out more about the Bombard Commando give Adam a call (503)235-2628 or shop IBC online at www.inflatableboats.com

 

Zodiac’s Pro 5.5 Built For Speed

One of our customers was looking to upgrade to a rib (rigid hull inflatable boat) from a Zodiac MILPRO ERB that he’d been using for family fun. As usual the customer had some idea on how fast he wanted to go, what sort of water he would be running, and how much he was willing to spend. Once we figured out which model would meets those needs the customer and IBC went to work on the finer details such as desired color scheme, tube material, and required seating.

Due to some physical conditions we determined that the customer would be best suited to a non-traditional pilot/navigator setup in a recreational format. To meet the demands of the physical limitation, pods or “jockey seats” were utilized in place of the more traditional leaning bolster or forward seat arrangement. The use of pods gave the customer sure footing and visibility in rougher conditions and a positive pilot position that allowed full access to all controls and functions.

The customer had us spec out a particular console that wasn’t really on the  US Zodiac menu but the Zodiac chef did it anyway. This new console pivoted forward allowing access to the underdeck area, and helped to get his new boat into the existing storage structure.

For colors we had Zodiac mix up some gelcoat to make his hull and top deck in grey. The customer went off menu again and also had Zodiac make his tubes to meet his desire for a stealthy looking boat.

To power the new Zodiac Pro 5.5 and meet the customer’s need for speed  we eschewed the typical 70Hp or 90Hp and went right to Yamaha’s F115 bad boy. Our fun loving criminal is wearing bling in the form of Yamaha’s performance stainless steel prop, making it one mean get away vehicle that will flex on anything else in the water. When asked how fast the boat would go Mike gave a nonchalant 30mph response and left it at that, all the while knowing that there’s a beast under the cowl. The customer later emailed and said it went 30mph as promised, but it did it at half throttle! Typical Mike!

As usual we had a fun time with this build, and would love to hear from you regarding your next Zodiac.

Give us a call (503)235-2628 and ask for Adam, our Zodiac RIB and Zodiac MILPRO Specialist.

 

Zodiac MILPRO SRMN 550 Custom Survey Package

What do you get when you put a Zodiac MILPRO SRMN 550 together with IBC’s Special Boats Division?

You get a mission capable boat that looks into the future of bathymetrics !

When the mission requires a nimble and fast boat with unbeatable stability to profile what’s under the surface you call IBC and get the ball rolling. IBC’s Special Boats Division and MILPRO lead Adam took the reigns to accomplish a customer’s mission on the water. The mission basics required a boat that was able to precisely loiter on station to get data from the undersea gradient and yet be able to very quickly maneuver to clear a shipping lane.

The Zodiac MILPRO SRMN 550 hull was selected as the platform of choice and an offshore style double motor bracket was custom fabricated and installed allowing the use of twin Yamaha 40Hp outboards.

A custom aluminum bolster and console with equipment racks and accessory tray were added to accommodate the electronics package and computers necessary to accomplish the mission. IBC also fabricated a t-top with a radar and AIS system integrated into the nav console electronics. Ship comms were patched in and outboard data and nav data also integrated into one of several smart displays keeping operations and navigation in one centralized spot.

Forward array handling was fabricated and installed to accommodate the customer’s apparatus not unlike some EOD apparatus systems integrated at our Special Boats Division shop for special operations.

Intrinsically safe and redundant systems were the norm on this highly sophisticated system integration package that unfortunately we cannot show in this format.

All in all another fun build by the Special Boats kids here at the shop for one of our Special Projects customers.

Do you have a special need or project that you’d like to discuss with IBC?

Give us a call (503)235-2629 and get read in to what’s possible.