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.

 

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 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.

 

Zodiac Bombard Commando Summer

The trend of “Going Commando” continues to increase this boating season with more and more people realizing that the Bombard Commando meets their needs and then some.

Considering that the Zodiac Bombard Commando doesn’t come with any lipstick or rouge, or in other words fancy accessories, you wouldn’t think they would sell so quickly or well. Imagine a boat that will fold up and go into a small plane or submarine, even the family car that will take a goodly amount of power and handle the worst water. Now forget about what you were thinking and picture this.

Bombard Commando C3

What The Bombard Commando series represents is a good solid platform that is configurable for most any mission on the water. We have cut our teeth at IBC in class 5 white water running souped up outboards with the Bombard Commandos starting with Captain Ron. IBC’s Mike has utilized the Commando series on countless missions in the polar and equatorial regions and swears by it’s dependability and stamina in the face of adversity. Both Mike and Capt. Ron still own Bombard Commandos all these years later providing proof of the Bombard Commandos’ durability.

Many of IBC’s customers have been on the Bombard Commando boats since their inception in the very early 80’s. Once you get used to the performance of a Bombard Commando it’s hard to go to another boat type despite the attractiveness of some of the offerings today.

While we still class this boat series as recreational, many rescue and enforcement teams have recognized the advantages offered by the more rigid wooden keel setup and bigger outboards the Bombard Commando allows. Ease of assembly with the wooden keel far outstrips the inflatable keel variety in this size and class of boat due to relieving the tension on the inside of the tubes caused by the bow sag on a deflated tube. The once common place wooden keel fell by the roadside during the leisure society movement to make it easier for families to manage parts wise.

If you flash back forward you’ll see Bombard Commandos used for fishery science, marine mammal research, ecological missions, high latitude sailing, fishing, hunting, water sports, law enforcement, fire rescue, and the list goes on and on and on.

Here’s a few pics of what’s what from our friends afloat.

To get your very own Bombard Commando give Mike a call (503)235-2628 or order it from our online store inflatableboats.com

A New Post And Some News

This summer has been a whirlwind of activity and long hot days. To the people who have been asking about blog posts I do apologize, I’ve been busy servicing customers around the World continuously.

Ok news time!

The new Zodiac open series of ribs has been going like mad and IBC even went to test the new boats with Zodiac prior to new models being released in the US market. We currently have one Open 7 left and are back ordered on several of the other models.

IBC’s MILPRO Division has been mad at work building out some very special boats for missions upcoming and ongoing throughout the big blue marble. We’ll have a few pics to share soon but most of our projects aren’t viewable due to operational security concerns.

The Special Boats Division has been pushing out special commando packages at a dizzying rate. Models equipped for skinny and swift moving water, steering helm packages, tiller models, dive boats, filming platforms etc. have been the norm everyday. Fisherman and outdoor sportsmen have been catching on to the fact that they can simply do more in a Bombard Commando.

In other news aluminum rib manufacturers have been going thru their inevitable growing pains again. Luckily Zodiac has responded and introduced aluminum ribs to the market once more helping heal the hurt. Pains caused by the current offerings of other supposed expert manufacturers mean I field a great many calls for boats I don’t sell. Those of you old enough to remember boating in the 80s will remember just how many of these Chinese boat brands there were back then. The big push to tin in the 90’s and the multitude of aluminum hulled inflatable boats that persisted into the new millennium disappeared altogether. Once good boats fell to the push to make cheaper and cheaper goods at the cost of quality. Zodiac stopped making aluminum ribs because they couldn’t compete with the Chinese labor costs in Canada or France and the tin market collapsed due to the shoddy off brand product.

People wanted Zodiac quality, but struck off to competitors trying to save a few bucks, much like what is happening in the current market. If you’ve been following our site you’ll notice all the other tin boat makers are gone at this point. Makers such as Highfield will no longer be supported at IBC for warranties or broken/missing parts. You will need to contact Highfield or your other manufacturer directly for further support.

Zodiac aluminum hulled ribs will always be supported, they are Zodiacs after all and benefit from the World’s largest dealer network. Our site isn’t showing Zodiac aluminum hulled ribs currently, we’ve sold out of the Zodiac aluminum ribs until the next season from our initial January offering. As anticipated the Zodiac product out performed all the others in the field in cost VS capability/quality. No surprises there!

One trend that has been gaining momentum is the push for customers to get genuine French Zodiac models such as the Zodiac Cadet Fastroller series. The Zodiac Cadet Fastroller series of inflatable boats are Thermo-bonded™ in the French factory that gave birth to the Thermo-bonding™ technology. Quality from the very start in it’s selection of Strongan Duotex™ fabric and use of the French technique that eliminates glue altogether makes one of the lightest and most durable boats available anywhere by anyone. Other French boats like the Classic series, the Bombard Commando series and the Futura series have dominated the market with quality where the other manufacturers have chosen quantity and free shipping instead of making a good product.

To go into more detail about Zodiac’s Thermo-bonding™ process would take a tome and a PhD in material science to understand, however we can be brief yet informative. As with all things sold today the Chinese have copied some aspects of the technology and rebranded it as heat welding to avoid litigation. Let’s be clear there is a difference no matter how slick the media presentation is from brand X the customer is being duped. The heat welding process is a good 20 years behind the Thermo-bonding process originally deployed in 1977 from Zodiac’s Engineering Dept.

Yes the future is looking bright for quality French, US, and Canadian craftsmanship. In this saturated knockoff internet marketplace where ultra cheap is the norm the consumer is easily tricked into buying garbage by the term “free shipping”. What the informed customer should know is “free shipping” equates to landfill disaster, or now the more news worthy “Pacific Garbage Patch”. Zodiac, Avon, and Bombard have always been stewards of the environment, isn’t it about time we all did our part?

More blog posts to come soon, pictures, videos and more! As soon as We get some free time from fielding all of these non-stop calls for products we don’t or won’t sell from understandably upset customers. Remember if it seems too good to be true, it is.

What Can You Do With A Zodiac?

I get this question a lot when I’m out in the regular world talking to regular people,  What can you do in a Zodiac?”.

The answer is “What can’t you do!”.

Yes we service what we sell, and we service other brands too, maybe more of the latter. Often times IBC is tasked with outfitting something special on a military or professional RHIB/RIB or rigging a complete custom package. We kind of like doing the impossible for operators in harm’s way if we can make it just a bit easier for them or to give them an advantage in an already dangerous mission profile.

Sometimes the mission is life saving or marine mammals, or marine biology, and off the shelf solutions just don’t exist for the particular application. Adam is the go to guy for MILPRO service and boat setups. When things require the best IBC delivers with the best MILPRO offerings available in the sector.

Need something not off the shelf or custom for your command? Give Adam a call to see how IBC can help you today. (503)235-2628

 

 

River Huggers Press Day with Portland’s Mayor Wheeler and IBC

Monday started early for IBC as we made ready and launched at 4:00 am to support the Portland River Huggers swim across the Willamette River. Portland’s very own Mayor Ted Wheeler joined in the swim and several news teams were there to cover it from all angles, our job was easy, we just piloted the boat. 🙂 IBC’s Mike was on station to take out the media and provide safety and rescue services as needed with the 40 Hp rigged Zodiac Bombard C4R Commando.

Thankfully there were no casualties and everyone had the endurance to make the swim under their own steam. Mike (our intrepid adventurer) pretty much insists on using the Zodiac Bombard Commando platform as his vessel of choice in marine operations. Mike keeps his boat open and mission configurable to quickly adapt to conditions and the ever changing marinescape as it unfolds.

IBC provided a platform for the various news channels to film and report on the events as they unfolded live on the water. Mike grabbed a couple of selfies with the news to prove to the boss he wasn’t sleeping in which are featured below. To view the news articles about the Willamette River click the links provided.

KOIN TV Article

KPTV TV Article

River Huggers Out On The Willamette For The Summer

To find out more about inflatable boats call (503)235-2628 and ask for Adam or visit IBC online via their website inflatableboats.com

Military and Profession users please call (503)235-2628 to discuss your mission profile or optempo.

 

2018 Dragon Boat Races

The 2018 Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races brought some liquid sunshine to Portland this year but the competition was red hot. The Inflatable Boat Center was on hand to lend a safety boat and operator as we like to do for local events. Thankfully it was a casualty free year again with only a broken tiller on one of the boats that led to a low speed collision.

Law enforcement was in full force with several other assets which helped to transfer some of the load off of our already heavily laden mission profile.

All in all it was a good time despite the rain that menaced paddlers throughout the event. IBC took out several news channels for the event, which was a first for many of the news teams. KATU’s Amanda shared some of her pics below in the link, and more will follow as the media is dispersed thru the proper channels. Unfortunately we weren’t able to collect any images this year ourselves due to mission tempo and our event responsibilities.

The boat IBC chose to use was the Zodiac Bombard Commando C4R open rigged with a 40hp outboard tiller arrangement. The tiller allows for ultra fast throttle and steering response when maneuvering tight and fast conditions, or in this case around lines and other small craft in the exclusion zone. Having 40hp on a Bombard Commando C4 gives the operator smooth speed and the ability to bring heavy loads to plane easily to complete the mission at hand.

After the event while in transit to the pull out location IBC’s Mike was on hand to lend assistance to a small sailing vessel that was over turned. With the Bombard Commando, some line, and a bit of seamanship Mike was able to right the vessel and tow it to a nearby dock. The Bombard Commando’s incredible buoyancy and soft sided nature allowed positioning without damage to either vessel as lines were put under load.

The Bombard Commando line of boats continues to perform where others can’t and is a favorite of the IBC staff for all things on the water.

To see about getting your feet wet in an inflatable boat purchase contact Adam at IBC or shop our online store https://www.inflatableboats.com

Local customers can stop by our showroom

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202

(503)235-2628

http://katu.com/news/local/photos-teams-from-around-the-world-compete-in-2018-dragon-boat-race

C-3 Commandos Save The Day At The Bottom Of The World

The internet is filled with good and bad, and every once in awhile good seamanship stories leak out. In the Yachting World news we came across a story about Skip Novak and a recent Antarctic expedition turned beach recovery utilizing the trusty Bombard C3 Commando and some good seamanship.

Check the link below for Yachting World’s full text on what went on at the bottom of the world.

http://www.yachtingworld.com/voyages/real-life-rescue-skip-novak-aids-lone-yachtsman-recovering-yacht-beach-109399

If the Bombard C3 Commando sounds like a boat you’d be interested in give us a call (503)235-2628 or order online with our secure shopping cart.

www.inflatableboats.com