Zodiac MILPRO MK3 Grand Raid Assembly

It’s been said that a Zodiac inflatable boat is easy to assemble and disassemble for transport, we wanted to find out if it was true for everyone. To be fair and in full disclosure our intern “Cat” is from the SDSU Marine Biology program, but she’s never assembled an inflatable boat before so it was trial by fire.

She was quickly thrown into the crucible and forged by glorious combat with a Zodiac MILPRO MK3 Grand Raid to see if it’s true or not. Mike took the manuals away from her once the box was open and pointed to some pumps she was allowed to use and that was the extent of her instruction.

Cat began by taking an inventory of the items and unrolling the boat to lay the parts on the deck where she thought they should go. So far so good!

Cat airing up the boat without floors to facilitate easier placement of floorboards

She inflated the boat using the I.C. or intercommunicating valves to check for integrity and also to familiarize herself with their proper operation, then she let all the air back out. This is a good step for a brand new boat since you want to make sure it works before you take it into the field.

I.C. Valve

Finding and fitting the correct floorboards into their proper locations is easy with Zodiac MILPRO’s pictograph stickers showing “sunny side up” and shaded placement locations.

“sunny side up” on the floorboards and stringers

Fitting all the floorboards into place revealed some over lap but Cat correctly determined that the tongue and grove in the adjoining seams meant that they were tensioned and needed to be placed into a tepee then pushed down with her foot. So far so good!

While trying to push the floorboards down Cat found that if she puts the boat bag under the bow of the boat it will relieve the tension on the floors a bit allowing even her small frame to fit the boards and stringers together without help.

After Cat had the stringers set all she had left to do was air up the tubes and keel and she was done!

It turns out that the stories were true, Zodiac inflatable boats are easy to setup and use even for a first time boater (or intern).

To get your gills wet with an inflatable boat give IBC a call and get out on the water today!

Inflatable Boat Center

(503)235-2628

You’re going to need a bigger boat….

I remember the first time I heard Chief Brody in “Jaws” say those words, recently I heard them again from a customer needing exactly that. The end use on this boat was completely different than in “Jaws” but none the less very interesting.

The customer needed some specifics and he wanted twins for open water use. In addition they also wanted a level of comfort not typically associated with an open water military styled boat. Wants and needs were listed and prioritized with the end result centered on a custom Zodiac 850 Medline.

Working closely with Zodiac North America and IBC during the build the custom details got ironed out like;

  • where the stove top would go
  • potable water system and sink
  • raw water wash down system
  • auto inflate system
  • power steering
  • boarding ladder
  • wrap around aft seating
  • removable tables
  • aft towing post
  • faux teak non-skid deck
  • custom console
  • custom t-top
  • and more, much more

This Zodiac Medline 850 Custom is destined to live in the sun and the sea where trade winds blow the fragment scents of exotic flowers year round. As idyllic as this sounds the reasoning for going with an inflatable was one of critical thinking from a life long boater. Navigating between island channels in his area is something not to be taken lightly as deep sea hits the reef with Neptune’s full might making big powerful surf.

The innate buoyancy of the R.I.B. hull in addition to it’s inflatable sponson (tubeset) means that even if the boat is filled with water completely you are still afloat with only the inconvenience of getting your feet wet. The seakeeping ability of Zodiac’s R.I.B. technology is the reasoning behind so many rescue and special operations choices keeping their vessels operating in the most adverse conditions at sea.

Our customer’s knowledge base in operating different vessels became clear once we began our initial discussions and has been the guiding voice throughout the customizing process. Very little input from IBC was needed except where it overlapped with inflatable technology. Usually when IBC builds out a custom boat it’s a one off and much of the time we are educating and informing of possibilities. Not this time!

Our ability to work with Zodiac’s production team at the deck plate level ensures all of the customer needs are met without issue and that options that aren’t on the normal menu are delivered on time and budget. In the end we all end up happy and excited to have built something special that will be used as it was intended.

As this boat is still in it’s rigging phase we don’t have pictures to show of the finished product but thought it would be ok to share what the progress looks like. Keep posted for the finished pictures and if you’re in the market for something unique give us a call (503)235-2628

We serve the recreational, professional and military markets in all aspects of Zodiac.

Zodiac Light Strike Craft 530

While working on a Special Boats Division project for a customer Mike found some time between the assembly steps to grab some pics. The Zodiac Light Strike Craft 530 was designed to be a small shippable R.I.B. that could be assembled by 2 people to deliver a strike team to an area of interest/operation then disassembled and quit the area.

Since this particular boat was rigged for a specific customer with some specific mission details we can’t really share more than what’s included in the gallery, and what is shared below is in the public domain of knowledge if you know where to look.

Some of you might remember some underwater cache images and deployments of other Special Boats Division projects that had blurry faces and rigging that isn’t available on the normal menu. IBC has a long history of both serving in active duty and supporting active and clandestine operations silently. We strive to be the go to guys , the GSD guys, the into the fray guys that bring home the mission package every time.

If your unit is going down range in the near future give us a call and see how we can help your team to undertake and accomplish the impossible. Enjoy the pics of this ultra rare unicorn of a boat.

A big Bravo Zulu to Chris our mechanic for getting this project done with time to spare!

To enlist IBC for your next mission give us a call (503)235-2628 or contact us thru the other channels.

C4 On Honduran Coast Is A Blast!

Getting boats to unusual locations has been in my skill set since I was a fresh faced little kid out of boot camp. Challenging and difficult peaked my interest even if it was boring math or mundane paperwork. Getting stuff done was how I became known and why I like putting boats on beaches today. Logistics has never been my strong point but I heard it said getting an inflatable boat to “X” was impossible, so….. “Why don’t we just try it?” I thought.

That was awhile ago and it still holds true today here at IBC. A customer needed a boat on the ice in the arctic in less than 24hrs we said sure. Need one in the Antarctic? O.K. The equator is nice this time of year how about some big dive boats, “no problemo” we said. Yes they were all hard to do but in the end ultimately worth it. Working with a customer who wanted one in Honduras was actually pretty easy, and as it turns out pretty fun too.

Seeing our pics of Various Zodiac and Bombard inflatable boats up in the Northern Territories or Tierra Del Fuego playing in the surf or running a narrow river isn’t like doing it yourself. Want a boat in Ecuador but don’t know where to start? Give us a call or shoot an email off and let’s see if we can help. The pics below were taken by a recent customer who was going to Honduras for some fun in the sun. Judging by the looks of it his mission was a success!

Some of our more Northern adventurers go where the water is skinny and the latitudes high like the Skeena waterways.

In the Pacific NW and California fun is easy to be had if you have the right boat.

These days the internet speeds us along and all the while we dream of a nice quiet place with zero connectivity, no social media networks encroaching in on our free time or annoying telemarketers. Yes adventure is still out there for those who are willing to go find it. Chances are we can help you when the call of the wild or the song of the sirens calls to you.

Give us a call (503)235-2628 and let go of the impossible.

Keep Exploring

While playing catchup from the NW Sportsman Show and the Portland Boat Show I thought I’d take a breather and share a couple of pics of some boats being built out right now. Yes there are several ribs coming down the pipes but for now it’s the sand on knuckles builds that I’m focused on.

IBC has always been a fan of the Zodiac Bombard Commando model line and as such we’ve always had our finger on the pulse of the outdoors. We’ve rigged Zodiac Bombard Commandos for hunters, fisherman, biologists, geologists, et al. and with a good record of keeping their feet dry and their cargo safe.

Currently we’re rigging several C5 Commandos and a few C4 Commandos of which I have pictures of today.

The black Zodiac Bombard Commando C4 pictured above is rigged with a 50/35 hp outboard jet and some extra kit to scratch it’s way through the bush creeks and rivers on the way to it’s destination. It’s new home in the Northern Territories will test what it was designed for, getting in the skinny water to check the steelhead population and get back home again. Mission Accomplished!

Talk to one of our pros to get where you want to go and start your adventure today. (503) 235-2628

Zodiac Cadet Fastroller 360

Up Up And Away!

Never has one boat model been to so many places and served so many different users so well. The Zodiac Cadet Fastroller series is one of our favorites here in the NW the Arctic and in the Tropics. IBC has thrown these models out of moving planes onto the Arctic ice in recent months bringing trapped researchers home during a breakup. We’ve loaded them into small sailboats headed for the horizon, and we’ve put more than a few into RVs for travelers needing a reliable boat that doesn’t need a trailer.

Recently one of our long time customers sent some pics of a stop he made in the Bahamas while out adventuring. They knew of a nice spot with not a lot of people, ok no people to be precise, that was pretty inaccessible to most craft. Explorers would fly over in planes and dream of diving or snorkeling pristine waters and untouched reefs. If only they could get there?

Since our guy is kind of a “Fly Boy” he decided to fly in with a Zodiac Cadet Fastroller in the plane, land on the water and put the Zodiac to use. I might like to mention here that the Zodiac Cadet Fastroller series of inflatable boats seems to be a favorite for pilots around the big blue marble we call Earth. The reality of “Earth” is that most of it is covered by water, maybe it should be called “Water”? Anyway, our intrepid adventurer had great success on this stop and sent us a few pics we thought we’d share with our extended family of friends and customers.

These types of adventures are what get us out of bed in the mornings. We breathe in the sea air filling our lungs and our souls with the desire to see what lies beyond the hazy horizon.

Start your own adventure today by calling IBC (503)235-2628 or by shopping our secure online store

Alone At Sea In An Inflatable Boat

This morning while I was perusing some documents for an EOD group I was brought back to a conversation I recently had with a sailor. We went on about our experiences in the inflatables as part of our military duty and one thing that came up was how utterly alone you feel when it’s just you and the Z Boat on the open ocean. Some of my experiences in the 80s and 90s mirrored his while serving in the U.S. Navy today. Spend a night with just you and the ocean in an inflatable boat and you begin to get an idea of just how hard Dr. Alain Bombard’s journey really was.

To those of you who are scratching your heads on this name it was likely before your time. You have to go back to 1952 in order to remember the achievement of crossing the Atlantic adrift in a prototype Zodiac Inflatable Boat. 

Up until then the World really didn’t understand the oceans at all and those that did were a salty bunch who spent very little time ashore. Everyone knows who Cousteau is and his legend lives on through his children and grandchildren, but who was Dr. Bombard? Suffice it to say Dr. Alain Bombard was the man who wrote the book on surviving at sea, much of which is still utilized today.

Reading his book “Naufragé Volontaire” imparts some of the feelings he had, but spending time on “The Pond” is it’s own lesson learned and once you have you begin to see the incredible fortitude it takes to survive being lost at sea. I used Zodiac Inflatable Boats as a support tool to accomplish whatever mission laid before us but I always had a place, a ship, or a submarine to go to when it was done. Bombard didn’t, Bombard only had the wind in his face and the weather on his head day in, and day out, for months. If that won’t test a person’s resolve nothing will!

Dr. Bombard believed strongly that inflatable boats could save lives and he was right, so much so that virtually every ship at sea has to have an inflatable life raft in order to make passage with it’s precious cargo. Many pleasure boats utilize Zodiac Life Rafts like commercial and professionals do because of the sheer size of the oceans, and the ability to survive until rescue aboard one. Modern Life rafts have supplies such as fresh water/food rations and are designed to accommodate a certain number of people. 

My rule of thumb is to have a life raft with capacity for every soul aboard plus 2 if space allows. If not then multiple smaller boats to cover the full crew and it’s passengers at a minimum. Life rafts can come in a soft pack valise or a canister packed above decks model, and some may even offer hydrostatic release mechanisms that will deploy by themselves if there are no hands available to launch one in an emergency.

Life rafts are inspected and packed with a duty cycle and a shelf life. Reinspection and repacking of provisions or rations occurs when the time is up on the initial or subsequent pack dates. While I served this was a deck dept. job and the bosuns keep a sharp eye on things if a duty falls to them. Pleasure sailors and power boaters should follow the recommended pack dates and reinspection period to ensure that their life raft will be there when or if they need it. Hopefully none of us ever will need to get into a life raft in our lifetime but accidents can and do happen. You may be responsible for your own rescue once you are over the horizon.

Be prepared, have confidence of your ship or boats ability to withstand incredible damage and stay afloat, and always have an abandon ship plan in place. You can’t simply pull to the side of the road like you do when you’re driving a car, and you can’t swim forever either. Take a page from Dr. Bombard’s book and learn from his experiences alone on a big ocean.

To speak with Mike about a life raft call (503)235-2628 

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December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

I remember being stationed in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor and seeing first hand shards of twisted steel reaching for the heavens as clear as it was yesterday. It was 1989 and I was a young second class petty officer who dreamt of surfing the big waves and sailing over the horizon as an impetus to reenlisting for another 6 years. As an active duty sailor I had unfettered access to the many lochs that make up what we call Pearl Harbor. The scars of that unprovoked attack on US soil were still apparent everywhere I looked even then all those years later.

To say it was humbling would be an understatement, even where I was assigned barracks and where I ate my meals told the tales and housed the spirits of those who were wounded or lost their lives. Learning that where you slept and ate were once casualty centers and morgues covered in blood and stained with tears took it’s toll on sailors even then. When people ask me why I take off my cover/hat while on the mess decks or in a restaurant it’s to respect and honor the fallen. It was in these same such areas that were pressed into service during times of war and turmoil and many had died in those locations.

My barracks mate Stan and I were housed above the old morgue together in the “haunted side” of the facility. We were pretty much always left alone while we berthed there because the other service members and personnel steered clear from it’s ponderous past thinking it was full of ghosts.

Loading demolition gear aboard one of the many dive and salvage boats I was stationed on brought into focus even more twisted steel rusting in the salt. Sweating under the merciless sun loading tons of TNT, Dynamite and various High Explosives and seeing the death that surrounded us from the past would always make us pause to think to ourselves just how terrible it was for those who came and fought before us. Sure, we selfishly thought about our upcoming missions, and maybe even let a slight bit of fear creep in for a second, but it fell away like rain drops as we bolstered ourselves to be strong like our brother sailors from WW2.

I was lucky to have served after the second war to end all wars, I was lucky to have been under the command of such Naval luminaries as my old CO Mr. Helmcamp on the USS Reclaimer who would later lead the US Navy Dive School and many other commands. Learning from leaders in the junk boat community and special forces family helped to shape me into the man I am today, a salty dog whose been in a boat once or twice. Friends from the S.E.A.L. Teams, junk boats, E.O.D., Navy Divers, Shellbacks, SBU and Neptune’s Bastards all whom I call brothers remember what December 7th means to us today. Sitting in an inflatable boat in the pitch black on a big lonely ocean will make you believe in yourself, your Zodiac and God if you don’t already. To have experienced the tragedy of Pearl harbor all those years later and operate on some of the best Zodiac inflatable boats whilst trying to live up to the legacy of those who paid the ultimate price makes me respect the iron willed men who salvaged and refloated the fleet.

Zodiacs were clearing ordnance, rescuing lives, and getting our Navy back on it’s feet decades before I was even born. To those who served IBC salutes you and carries on the tradition of “Can Do” when facing insurmountable odds and danger.

On this day December 7th we will never forget.

 

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.