Inflatable Boat Coolers and Tie Down Systems

Recently Mike from IBC conducted an inflatable boat cooler test which included the Engel Deep Blue 65 cooler to see how it stacked up to high desert boating. When you hear “high desert” you normally don’t think boating but bear with us for a minute. Considering IBC supports military, professional and recreational boaters alike the picture starts to get a bit clearer. We wanted to see if claims regarding various coolers were all they were made up to be, so Mike went to the desert with coolers and goods for a week to see what all the fuss was about. Yes we tested other brands, but none came close to the Engel Deep Blue, not even the more expensive snow monster brand. One cooler worth an honorable mention was not what we had expected, the Rubbermaid cooler.

For the purposes of this post we are only going to focus on the Engel Deep Blue 65qt. as it was the only one that did what it was claiming.

Per cooler manufacturer’s directions for best results you need to pre chill your cooler for 24 hours with ice prior to adding any items. Mike didn’t feel this was a good test because “only the anal retentive types will do this step” (his words). Instead we just added the drinks and other goods the morning of departure then threw in one block of ice and one bag of cubes like Joe Six Pack American would do. All the coolers were loaded the same and thrown into the truck for the journey to Lake Billy Chinook from Portland, a journey that goes up and over the Mt Hood Pass or Blue Box Pass.(this will matter later) Several hours later we arrived at the Cove Palisades where temps were in triple digits, upon unloading the coolers all but two made a sloshing noise. The Rubbermaid and the Engel Deep Blue were silent so we pulled those aside for the next round of testing.

Out of the race were the Igloo, the Yeti, and the Coleman so we left them to their own devices and didn’t access them except to put in more ice or to transfer valuable cargo to the Engel and the Rubbermaid.

Phase two of the cooler test was the “Opening Test”.

Other reviewers state online how they only open their coolers a minimum amount of times per day to keep ice. Again Mike didn’t feel that this was a boating, fishing nor family worthy of a test so he put a pad on each cooler and offered free refreshments for a tick on the pad to count openings. Our daily opening average was 28 times for both remaining coolers averaged over a week. A more substantial number than those other sissy reviews I read online, and more in the spirit of a proper cooler test in average conditions of use.

One thing I’d like to add at this point was the Engel let out a “whoosh” when I opened it up for the fist time as the altitude was several thousand feet higher than the starting point. The Rubbermaid did not make a peep because it lacked the seal of the Engel’s design. Remember this for later when you can’t open the Engel at low altitude without opening the easy to use drain to “burp” in some air.

The next or third phase of the cooler shoot out was the loading and tie down phase.

For this phase we used the Bombard Commando C4R which has the Zodiac HD floors so the Engel tie down system,which would be perfect for any boat, was replaced with the Zodiac Runner Block and Strap Tie Down System for HD Floors. The Rubbermaid lacked any integrated system for securing it to the boat so para-cord filled the need for both coolers. The Engel was heavy empty and extra heavy loaded with ice and refreshments so getting it into place in the C4 Commando was difficult, the Rubbermaid made a sloshing sound when lifted and placed into the boat where it’s integrated wheels made it roll to the back of the boat. The Engel’s integrated rubber feet gripped so firmly to the Snow Camo Seadek on the floorboards that Mike had to go back and forth side to side to get it into position. Since the Rubbermaid sloshed and rolled around it was eliminated at this point from the underway testing and pulled from opening testing as well.(note the Zodiac Tie Down System made easy work of even the wheeled cooler)

Sitting, standing on, and bashing thru chop were no problem for the Engel Deep Blue, it seems to be made for abuse and torture. It never opened, moved, or leaked despite what we did in the boat. If you know how Mike runs a Commando then you know he didn’t take it easy, once 3 passengers were added he eased off and slowed it down to 30mph to “go easy on em” for the approx. 40 mile trip there and back.

Fast forward to the secret kokanee station for day 3’s activities and the Engel Deep Blue 65 saw double duty as a seat/standing pad and drinks/fish cooler. As mentioned this was the third day and no ice was added to the cooler. The boys and girls started to catch their fish and Mike would open the cooler and drop them in flopping about among the ice and drinks and get their tackle back into the water for the next go at it. At the end of this third day when the kids and the fish were dropped off at the fish cleaning station there was a small amount of blood and water in the bottom of the cooler.

All ice was removed still in bags and placed on the pavement for a rinse off along with the bottles and cans then replaced after the cooler was thoroughly washed of it’s bloody face paint. Of special note, out of the three boats we took, each with a separate brand of cooler, only the Commando C4R’s Engel Deep Blue 65 “froze” the fish. All other coolers failed miserably in this department. Also of note half of the fresh bottles of water that were added started to freeze into slush, this was a complete surprise to all who witnessed it.

The last phase of the test was the ice remaining test which was performed once we got back to Portland. The Rubbermaid which got honorable mention still had half of the block left and none of the cubes, all other coolers were mostly water at this point. When we got to the Engel Deep Blue 65 we couldn’t get the lid open no matter how hard we tried. It says it’s bear proof and we have no doubt about that, but the problem was we closed the cooler at a few thousand feet and now were at 200ft above sea level. Basically the Engel Deep Blue 65 held a vacuum until the easy drain was cracked and air was vented into it to equalize the pressure. Almost no water came out at all so we took out the ice and weighed it. We came back with 17 of the 20lbs of cubes we started with after a week in the desert and a day of mad action fishing. Probably most of the ice loss was when had to clean all the blood out of the cooler and off of the drinks in the parking lot. When we opened the lid on the Engel cooler it looked like it was full of dry ice with the icy vapor escaping ever so slowly like a horror movie effect. (note the Engel is dry ice rated but not tested in this test) Think ice cream for that sweltering night at camp!

The weight test didn’t lie neither did the icey cold beer I enjoyed as I washed out coolers in my shimmering hot Portland driveway.

This reviewer gives a resounding 5 gold stars for the Engel Deep Blue 65 Cooler, and 5 golden stars for the Zodiac Tie Down System. IBC can order a cooler in for your next boat build to help keep you cool on even the hottest of days! (we sell boats primarily but order accessories as needed)

IBC tested Mike Approved!

Get your next boat at The Inflatable Boat Center

Call us at IBC (503)235-2628 and we’ll order the perfect cooler for that new Zodiac or Bombard inflatable boat!

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!




Get A Bombard C-5 Commando Just For The Halibut

We always get asked the question of can you fish out of an inflatable boat? It seems like no matter how many times I answer this and no matter how many pics we post of spearfishing and hook and line angling we still get asked.

So to answer this question I’ve included a couple of more pics to set the record straight.

Our friends just picked up a new Bombard Commando C5 to do a little halibut harvesting off the Oregon Coast and shared some pics of their first effort.

halibut c5 4 halibut c5 3 halibut c5 2 bombard commando c5 halibut front halibut c5

Sure you can fish the rivers!

Look at what our friend Jenny does with her C3 Commando.

Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.
Yes you can fish on an inflatable, just ask Jenny she tells no tales.

jenny c3 commando 2

Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .
Jenny inflates and deflates her Bombard Commando C3 every time and uses a Yamaha F20Hp outboard to get to her fishing spots .

You like spearfishing?

So do we! Our friend Mark makes easy work out of it with his Zodiac Bayrunner 420.

spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 2 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 4 spearfishing Zodiac Bayrunner 420 3

If offshore Big Island spearfishing is your thing watch our friends Jeff and Rick do some handy work out of the Avon/Zodiac MILPRO Sea Rider series of RIBS.

We have you covered with crabbing too!

why use pots when yu can just grab the ones you want from a zodiac inflatable boat?
why use pots when yu can just grab the ones you want from a zodiac inflatable boat?

IMG_4613 IMG_4612 IMG_4611 IMG_4610 crabbing in an inflatable boat

Mike makes it all look easy and is guilty of a lot of the secret spots remaining secret.

Tillamook Bay
Tillamook Bay
Don't come over here!
Don’t come over here!

So a resounding YES! Anyone can fish out of an inflatable boat and make it look easy while they are at it.

Get your next fishing boat at The Inflatable Boat center by calling us (503)235-2628 or by shopping online here.

IBC Installs Seadek To Zodiac Yachtline 340 DL

Zodiac Pro 420 NEO Goes Mammalian

Recently IBC rigged up a Zodiac Pro 420 NEO open boat for some marine mammal biologist types to use on their adventures.

zodiac pro 420 neo

Starting with a Zodiac Pro 420 NEO open hull IBC techs Chris and Adam added a leaning bolster and console to fit the operators size and mission profile. Slightly offset from center, the console still allows for free movement fore to aft making the observations and tests easier to perform while being in complete safety and control.

zodiac pro 420 5 zodiac pro 420 6

The boat’s light but exceptionally strong leaning bolster will accommodate even the biggest operator, even while wearing dive gear or deploying tracking equipment .

To establish comms and keep in contact with the mother ship and other chase boats IBC added an ICOM hand held pod VHF radio and Sherwood antenna that allows for clear voice communications at extended ranges.

zodiac pro 420 2

To address power IBC chose the Yamaha F40 LA outboard motor. The Yamaha offers the quiet noise signature and ultra clean emissions that the team requires to make approaches less threatening to marine organisms and mammals while making the smallest possible eco footprint.

zodiac pro 420 7

Boat handling is clean and crisp even in the toughest of conditions, and the RIB’s size ,shape and weight mean that surf zone operations don’t pit the crew in un-necessary peril.

zodiac pro 420 4 zodiac pro 420 3

To find out how IBC can help to make your next mission a success call (503) 235-2628 and ask for Adam our RIB specialist.

Until next time..

See you on the Water!