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

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 😉

 

 

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

Zodiac MILPRO MK2 Grand Raid Goes To OSU Research Dept.

Around here at IBC we get excited when we get requests from marine studies institutes looking for mission specific boats. Being marine life conservationists ourselves and boat enthusiasts we always wish we can go off on these missions to swim with sharks, or collect data about birds, etc.

Today’s mission was the latter, marine birds was the topic and night ops was the mission. To complete the OSU mission researchers had to make their observations and conduct their various operations in the dark in littoral zones where an ordinary boat just couldn’t go, nor carry the compliment of passengers and required science packages. IBC delivered a Zodiac MK2 Grand Raid (think Jacques Cousteau boat) which has the ability to carry an enormous amount of cargo and offers the robust fabric and reliability that only the Zodiac MILPRO line can deliver.

Areas that require beaching in turbulent conditions on variegated rocky coastlines require a level of finesse and toughness in the boat as well as the nighttime operators conducting the studies. The Zodiac MK2 Grand Raid meets and exceeds all expectations in this regard, and it does it at cost that doesn’t break the educational institute bank.

 

 

Other uses people might associate with the Zodiac MILPRO MK2 Grand Raid are rescue, law enforcement, heavy industry, and of course military. Some of our recreational users also spec out the Zodiac MILPRO MK2 Grand Raid for their tenders or primary boat activities. It’s very easy to understand why based on the Grand Raid’s reputation for toughness, stability and quality of construction.

To see a Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid for yourself stop in to our shop or call one of our MILPRO specialists (503)235-2628 to discuss your needs.

Full Steam Ahead For 2017

It’s full steam ahead at IBC right now as we rig and receive boats daily for the upcoming season. The 2017 NW Sportsman’s Show is right around the corner and we’ll be there showcasing models that fit the mission of hunting and fishing. Tubesets are coming and going every time I blink it seems and new sport boats and Avon tenders seem to be all the buzz.

We are open despite the weather so give us a call (503) 235-2628 or stop by the Portland Showroom on 2041 SE Powell Blvd. and talk face to face with one of our pros.

Now is the time to be thinking about your new tender, your old boat that needs repair, that motor service you put off, basically anything that needs doing or buying so you’ll be ready when the weather turns nice again.

Remember Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax so our prices are even better than you thought! Find out why more boaters come to IBC than anywhere else (503)235-2628

 

Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid

Never before has one boat been used for so many different applications as the Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid.

Zodiac MK3 Grand Raid 2

From it’s humble beginnings in France to work with the Cousteau Society, exploration, it’s many rescue operations, even the space program has adopted it’s use, the Grand Raid has done it all and asked for more. Most of us that served in a small boat capacity in the various military branches will recognize it’s form and remember how much of a joy it was to operate on. Yes the indefatigable nature of the Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid has been etched into our hearts and minds and persists even today.

What makes this particular boat so special? The Zodiac Grand Raid series has spanned generations with it’s tough construction and ease of use, it is literally passed on from generation to generation. The Grand Raid’s fabric has become the standard against all other hypalon/csm inflatable boats to be measured against. It’s design is often copied in lesser boats but it’s enduring nature and longevity has never been duplicated. No other boat stood as resolutely against the elements as the Grand Raid, proof of it’s worth and value.

The old fashioned process of hand cutting, sanding, gluing, and assembling the many features has stood the test of time and modern process engineers because there simply isn’t a better material that does it all like the Zodiac Grand Raid’s neo/csm. Resistance to fuels and solvents in the environment have prompted it’s usage in the oil and mining heavy industries, and it’s abrasion resistance competes against all current modern space age polymers.

The Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid hasn’t had to do much in the way of design evolution other than the obvious upgrades to the floor board material from wood to milspec aluminum. Yes the legends at Zodiac had put purpose and thought forward early on in the design process making the Zodiac Grand Raid nearly perfect for any type or body of water it would later see in it’s use. The Zodiac Grand Raid pays attention to detail when it comes to swift water rescue, it floats over a ton of cargo in the shipyards, it can be rolled up and dropped from aircraft onto the polar ice, it conducts scientific studies on global warming and it does it all on a budget. Dollar for dollar the Zodiac Grand Raid is one of the most economical boats to own and operate based on it’s long life alone, but it’s attractive price is helpful too.

With the ability to accept rowing frames it blurs the lines in white water exploration, adding down riggers brings bottom fishing and trolling into it’s fold, and negotiating surf opens up littoral zones to operations that were unattainable before. Yes the Zodiac MILPRO Grand Raid has stood the watch for decades and continues to do so today.

While this configuration was originally designed for military use veterans returning home adopted it as their leisure boat of choice thereby bringing it into the folds of the civilian and professional categories it occupies today. Wherever there’s a niche the Grand Raid fills it, when the hour is late and the danger close the Zodiac Grand Raid answers the call saving lives daily. With the resurgence of interest in inflatable boats from young smart minds eager to experience boating the Grand Raid is definitely worth a look over most others. The wake skate and watersports crowd love the economy of it over competing purpose built boats costing over $100K, and they love the very small foot print it leaves on the environment. Those of us looking for a great boat that will easily accomplish a camping adventure needn’t look farther than the Zodiac Grand Raid.

Special Forces tough with the gentle nature of a kitten when underway the Grand Raid will not disappoint!

Ask how IBC can get you on a Grand Raid today by calling (503)235-2628 or by visiting our secure shopping portal.

 

How Thick Are Your Boats?

Boat material thickness can be a tricky one with all the hyperbole that is continuously published by here today gone tomorrow inflatable boat manufacturers from Qingdao China. Here at IBC our boats are measured in “decitex” no matter who made them Zodiac, Highfield, Avon, Bombard etc.

When shopping for your next inflatable boat it’s best to come to the table armed with information so you can ask the relevant questions. Many of the calls that come in to us from customers who have obviously spent alot of time “researching” on the web focus around thickness of fabric. The misinformed customer will ask “How many mils is the boat fabric?”. This question alone tells us which website they were on as we’ve seen most of them by now here in the repair shop. We have to try to find parts for angry customers that didn’t receive the support from brand X they were promised.

Let’s answer what a “mil” is first:
Mil is equivalent to .001″ (one thousandth of an inch) and is a sheet or film measurement, not to be confused with the metric measurement of millimeter which equals .03937″ (just a hair more than 1/32″)
Basically when the website you’re on says mils they are talking about a shower curtain, not something I personally want to be in with my family.

The next measurement we often hear over the phone or in email inquiries is “How many deniers are the boats you sell?”.

Denier is a unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured, equal to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of the yarn and often used to describe the thickness of hosiery.
“840 denier nylon”
So what we are talking about here is panty hose, or if it’s 840 denier maybe a back pack. Yet another thing I’m not comfortable with is taking the family out in a floating backpack! Worth mention is often when a boat brand states denier they are actually taking about a nylon sheath with a unreinforced sheet material or bladder inside for air retention. Remember the shower curtain statement above?

Last but certainly not least is the standard measurement of decitex:
Decitex is the count grading for filament and spinning yarns recognized by all international bodies in the man-made fibres industry. Decimal multiple = mass in kilograms per 1000 meters length.
As stated decitex is only the weight or mass of the thread per kilometer, and this is where it gets a little trickier, any of the major brands will spec out in decitex and generally it’s very legit. When comparing apples to apples you’ll find that an additional measurement comes to play alongside with decitex and that’s weight per square meter. What this boils down to in the recreational market isn’t really that relevant but when you start comparing commercial and military models with specs that say 1670 decitex you also take a look at the weight per sq meter which gives a better understanding as to what thickness and density it really is. THIS MATTERS FOR MILITARY OPERATIONS

Since Zodiac, Avon, Bombard, and MILPRO are all under the same roof and use a propietary fabric for each of it’s models you’ll see a higher weight per sq meter than competitors and that’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak.
If I can get a free day in my old advanced materials lab I’ll do some micrographs of each of the fabrics so you can see exactly what this means visually and empirically.

Since it’s the decitex value that gives a boat it’s strength not the thickness of it’s coating much of this becomes alot easier to digest in the recreational market. Thickness of coatings will impart abrasion resistance to the fabric so look less to thickness and more to which descriptor is used to describe the fabric, dtx or decitex is the standard and it’s this descriptor that matters. Boats made out of “duotex” will be double the strength of similar fabrics and that translates to more rigidity and better use of available horsepower due to diminished torsional and flexure thrust loses.
Whew that sounds technical!

Remember it’s up to you to make the right decision on your next inflatable boat and there are alot of people trying to squeeze you out of a dollar. The real question you should be asking is, “Where can you take your budget boat when you have a problem?”. Shop smart and boat safe, we will be here to guide you in the process and get you in a boat that meets your needs within your budget.
Give IBC a call (503)235-2628 or visit us online http://www.inflatableboats.com

 

Inflatable Boat Maintenance

Let’s spend a few minutes to talk about inflatable boat maintenance and it’s role on the life of your boat.

Proper inflation is the best preventative medicine you can do for your inflatable boat. By running a “floppy” or “soft” boat you are putting stresses on the seams and hardware that otherwise would be mitigated by the rigidity of a properly inflated boat. Remember to keep your boat tight and it will perform better, use less fuel and live a longer life.

Sand, we know it from beaches and from the sand paper on our workbench. There are many types and grades of sand but we’ll just concern ourselves with two for this article. The first type we are all familiar with is SiO2 better known as silicon dioxide in the form of quartz. The second type is CaCO3 or calcium carbonate that comes from biological sources (think pearls and shells). Sand by it’s self isn’t a problem but it sticks to feet and gets into the nooks and crannies of your inflatable boat where the grains do work (sanding) because of the action of the boat. Now if you don’t have enough air in your boat like mentioned above then you are speeding up the wear process. Remember to clean & rinse out your inflatable boat frequently and before it goes into storage every time. IBC sells patches and glue for those of you who think this doesn’t matter!

Sun exposure or as it is more correctly stated, radiation exposure. People online are always talking about the Sun’s UV radiation and how it it made their tubes sticky or brown or why you have to have Hypalon to beat it. Let’s go back a step and mention that UV radiation is absorbed at the same amount for both materials. I’m not making this stuff up it’s well understood from the fields of physics and it’s twin sister chemistry.  As a rule UV radiation at the correct energy density causes electrons to be liberated from atoms causing a decomposition and ejection of said atom. IBC’s very own Mike capitalized on this well understood phenomena as a laser engineer for the hi-tech and nano-tech fields in a prior life. Since he has many patents in directed energy and material science we tend not to argue about it with him. UV radiation damage is most commonly seen as photo bleaching, this is true for PVC or Hypalon or just about any other material under the Sun.Even a diamond will down convert to CO2 given enough exposure to the sun, nothing is forever. If your boat is chalky or frosted you have UV damage and it needs 303 or Polyguard. When stuff is left to die in the sun it does so very predictably and without fail.

The “brown” you see on vinyl compounds such as PVC and even Zodiac’s nigh indestructible Strongan™ , even the much touted Hypalon, is from long wave radiation exposure (you know this as heat) from around the 10.6 µm wavelength. Brownian Motion (named after Robert Brown from experiments in 1827), and cascading radiation absorption due to brownian motion is the mechanism here. Basically the more exposure the darker it gets, the darker it gets the more exposure it sees until decomposition and failure occurs. Leaving your boat, car or anything else out in the elements to die will provide those results. If you are keeping your dinghy on a davit for the whole year unprotected, until that one weekend when you decide to go boating, you can’t complain. It’s your own fault!

My suggestion to all of you who want to keep your boat for many years to come, is to properly inflate, clean and condition your boat.

Mike uses Aurora Speed Clean and Polyguard sold together as a kit from IBC as well as Aerospace 303 spray protectant for those easy on quick applications.

Speed Clean rinsed off
After proper cleaning with speed clean and rinsing/wiping down
303 applied
After applying 303 protectant

Remember no one likes a dirty floppy dinghy!

 

 

 

Bombard Commando C4R Rescue Jet

While out running a water test of a Bombard Commando C4R Rescue Jet on the Willamette River with Chris & Mike from IBC’s Special Boats Div. (and of course Nora the shop dog too) we came across a couple of bald eagles resting on a snag.

No, your dog's nails won't "pop" your inflatable boat. Just ask Nora our shop dog who is considered one of the bigger ones.
No, your dog’s nails won’t “pop” your inflatable boat. Just ask Nora our shop dog who is considered one of the bigger ones.

Bald eagles are returning in bigger numbers to our Willamette River and are an indicator species for ecology because they eat the organisms that live in the water such as trout, carp, bass, etc. Our rivers are getting cleaner and are safe to swim and recreate on which brings us back to the water test.

bald eagles on the willamette river
Bald Eagles On The Willamette River

 

This particular package is the second one built by IBC and the Special Boats Division for Montana’s search and rescue teams. They chose the Bombard Commando C4R for it’s rescue red color, and it’s wooden keeled performance that far surpasses any other inflatable boat rigged with a jet. The Bombard Commando C4R is rigged with a four stroke Yamaha 40/30 jet to allow access to flooded areas with debris, skinny rivers and creeks, and also offer protection from prop strikes to victims and rescuers in the water.

IBC and it’s Special Boats Division has pioneered the jet modifications used on these craft from it’s early white water racing roots with Capt. Ron Mauselle, to the new breed of boaters like Adam, Chris, and Mike. Our crew rates as “super users” and operates on all bodies of water in all conditions. We have an intimate understanding of the needs of the rescue professionals because we do it ourselves.

With proprietary mods and tuning IBC will take your visions of mission profiles and make them the things of legend. IBC serves the professional, military and recreational markets and offers boat packages for every occasion or mission. Give IBC a call today and see why we rate #1 for tough military and professional missions and #1 for recreational applications world wide.

Now for a couple of pics of the boat we ran this morning while you were sleeping.

 

Inflatable Boat Accessories

As more and more people realize inflatable boats are easier to own and operate in all waters more requests come in for rigging with accessories. Whether fishing is your goal or adventuring to locations unknown is the goal IBC has inflatable boat accessories for every need.

By utilizing existing technology in new ways IBC has done it all for the special forces operator, to the weekend warrior in prices and configurations that won’t break the bank or your brain.

Scotty Fishing Products uses universal attachments for most of their rod holders which can simply be mounted on their glue pads (available here).

IBC’s Special Boat Division customizes boats and products for most applications or mission parameters using marine grade materials and products so if you don’t see it just ask.

Here’s a few pics from a recent delivery to give you some ideas as you plan your next inflatable boat purchase or upgrade.

Give IBC a call if you have questions (503)235-2628 or shop for products using the online store.