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

 

The Zombie Apocalypse Or The Fuel Storage Dilemma

These days there are any number of zombie apocalypse tv shows and movies to choose from via streaming and broadcast tv providers. My better half loves to watch them, but she hates to hear me interrupt with “There’s no possible way gas would last that long!”.

Let’s examine the fuel problem since it’s one of the most misunderstood problems boat owners face today. First off ethanol is a problem, but it isn’t the route of all evil additive makers would have you believe. Remember the problems you faced as a child in the 70’s when you had to cut the grass for the first time in the spring? No ethanol, same problem, you simply can’t store fuels for extended periods. If you’re too young to remember the 70’s rest easy this problem has been the same since gasoline burning internal combustion engines came into being.

Doing a web search into the matter will return a great many ads that look like science and self proclaimed “subject matter experts” going off on this additive and that one. If you are able to separate the wheat from the chaff you’ll come to statements from the oil companies themselves that state simply that gasoline cannot be stored for longer than 3 months. BP, Sunoco, Exxon, Shell all seem to come to the same conclusion so why do you take the word from some guy you met who had a boat once, or dramatized zombie fare from the entertainment field. If you want science maybe try ASTM study D525 and see what standards say about the subject material.

Look the solution to fuel related issues in small motors is simply don’t keep old gas around, dump it into your car, they’ll make more I promise you. If your small outboard is carbureted run it out of gas every time you use it by simply disconnecting the fuel hose while it’s running. Proper scheduled maintenance from a certified mechanic (IBC is 5 Star Gold Certified) will help you when you forget your duties as a boat owner.

Change your fuel water separator every 50 hours or once a season if you are a light user. Those clear bowls with drains that are on the aftermarket are just there to give you something to look at. If you can see water or separation in the bowl then you need to replace the filter cartridge plain and simple. Never dump out fuel water separators and reuse them they are already contaminated and you risk contaminating the rest of your fuel system.

Ethanol is a problem because it’s hygroscopic (it attracts water) and it compunds the already well understood problem of storing fuel. Some additives like Yamaha’s stabilizer and conditioner can help to minimize the problem, but no amount of after refinement chemical additives will alleviate the underlying failure modality. You should probably go vote on ethanol and corn farmer subsidies if you want that problem to go away.

Fuel related problems are the number one issue we see at boat shops, and historically that hasn’t changed. Granted IBC goes farther back than most boaters have been alive so take our word on it, the level of laziness in modern users has increased.

You just bought a fancy new 4 stroke motor because you like the lack of smoke and bleeding ear syndrome from old two strokes, that doesn’t mean you are released from proper care and maintenance duties. New motors are a modern miracle, but it only takes one lazy moment to bring things to all stop. These modern carbs and fuel injection systems demand prudent care and attention, it’s not like a car where you can pull over and call a tow truck.Boating has always been a dangerous activity that requires proper care and attention to detail, the modern world’s inventions have just made it easier to get out there without a life’s worth of training like the old nautical days. Pay attention because little details like when you bought your fuel can have big impacts to your enjoyment on the water or lack there of.

Winterize your motors and service them in the spring with us here at IBC and rest easy because we’re always on watch. To schedule service call (503) 235-2628 and ask for Adam.

 

The Tale Of Two Tenders

I get a great many calls here at IBC from people looking for a good tender, or asking my opinion on what tender I would use. I’m not an expert sailor, and really didn’t learn how to sail until I moved to Hawaii in 1989. In Hawaii I was faced with the dilemma many face which is there’s no fuel between the mainland and Hawaii so your range with a powerboat is severely limited, hence the sailboat.

As a sailor you are pretty much limited by your abilities, your vessel and fresh water/stores aboard for the adventure. Most of my friends would call me “old school” as I learned how to read a chart, use parallel rulers, dividers, sextant, compass and watch to figure where I’m going and where I’ve been. Being an “old school” sailor I definitely formed opinions on which tender I prefer for any given body of water. As I said above I learned how to sail in Hawaii, and tenders were notoriously hard to come by back then on the islands, you used what was on hand and available. In those days it was all about the slat floor Zodiac and Avon donut boats and dinghies. They got the job done and were easy to unroll and inflate on deck. Other boats would radio me to come over and transport them and their dinghy to the beach so they could put their much too large tenders together. They were like many beginning sailors today, they wanted to have the biggest their money would buy even though it was the wrong boat for them. I always wondered why so many people would get a dinghy that was too big for their boat, and after all of these years it seems this is still a trend.

For me, being a blue water guy, I’m not in the habit of doing a crossing with a boat on deck or languishing in davits. This simply wasn’t done in my days of learning with the Hawaiian masters for the obvious reasons of damage or loss to one or both of the vessels. You probably didn’t learn sailing in the Alenuihaha Channel, or picking your way thru the reef on any given day with my salty mentors looking over your shoulder like me so you escaped the Hawaiian trial by fire. Here on the mainland in the age of auto helm and gps, there is a great propensity for getting a giant RIB dinghy and putting it on davits to die a slow death. I take a page out of the “old school” book and keep it rolled and stowed just like high latitude sailor Skip Novak does on his adventures. Skip knows the lay of the land and has sailed a lot of the same latitudes I have, he is a true master. This being said there are two dinghies I feel are perfect for any mission over the horizon.

My first pick of the bunch is the everlasting Zodiac MK1 Classic HD. There isn’t a better boat for the yachtsman who wants a heavy duty aluminum floor and high performance quality roll up dinghy. The Zodiac MK1 Classic manages all aspects of being a dinghy with stellar performance and supreme confidence in it’s ability to accomplish mundane tasks like fetching water or doing laundry ashore to extended dive or fishing missions. It’s just plain fun to pilot and big enough to get you and your gear where you want to be. If an HD floor system seems too daunting to put together you could always opt for the air floor version, it’s as easy as unroll, inflate, and go! The Zodiac MK1 Classic is built in France and is the patented thermo-bonded construction that has become legend since it’s inception in 1977 on the “ZED” or Zodiac Espace Diffusion. (a note to those of you who don’t know, Zodiac has always been an aerospace company ever since 1896) I still see those original models here at IBC going strong after all those years of uncompromising service. The product was considered “hyper technical” in 1977 and even more so by today’s standard when compared to cheap Chinese imitations.

My second pick is anything in the Zodiac Fastroller model range. Those of you who want a quality French thermo-bonded boat like the Zodiac MK1 Classic but in a smaller and lighter platform should be looking at these. In my early days I would have swam though shark infested waters (again) just to lay my dirty calloused hands on one of these beauties. Making the most out of material science, and advanced process engineering Zodiac has made it possible to fit the interior space of a 14′ inflatable into a model that measures only 11’10” overall, I.E. the Zodiac Cadet 360 Fastroller. Sure there are smaller versions such as the Zodiac 325 Fastroller and the Zodiac 285 Fastroller and I would certainly consider either of those depending on how much stuff I want to jam into the boat in one trip. The Zodiac 285 Fastroller is a perfect choice of an airfloor tender but I like them small and easy to stow/deploy especially on smaller yachts, boats, and RVs. Questions? Comments? Give us a call here at the shop (503)235-2628 during business hours on the West Coast and we’ll do our best to get you the right dinghy for your boat, It might even be a big RIB!

 

 

 

 

The Chinese Invasion or The Red Menace, You Decide

The internet is filled with a dizzying amount of inflatable boats marketed as a Zodiac™,  but what is it really you’re getting for your hard earned dollar?

In this post we examine the Chinese Zodiac™ (not the sign you were born under), it’s copy cats and it’s limitations.

  • The first question we need to ask is did Zodiac™ ever make any of their inflatable boats in China?

The short answer is yes.

Zodiac manufactures parts and tubes in many different countries for the different market segments. Take for example the Avon™ manufacturing plant in the U.K., Zodiac™ has switched this capacity to military and professional only with just one model still wearing the Avon™ badge for the recreational market. As of this writing, and to this author’s best knowledge the new heads of Zodiac™ will be moving all of the Chinese Zodiac™ models back the French plant in mid 2017. Zodiac manufactured the “Zoom™”, Typhoon™”, and most recently the “Cadet™” model range in China to compete with the low end internet specials that were destroying the brand name.

With a clever marketing program online featuring metadata and keyword stuffing via shopping sites these no name “Zodiacs” won favor on cost alone.

  • If Zodiac™ made some models in China why are they better than the rest?

Zodiac™ inflatable boat models that were made in China were made in a Q.A. Certified factory by Zodiac™ trained technicians out of materials that also were Q.A. compliant.(Q.A. stands for quality assurance) Most if not all other Chinese inflatable boats utilize much different materials of a lesser quality or lighter grade, valves that look similar but share none of the same dimensions or parts making repairs difficult to perform when they become necessary. One thing to remember here is that China is the counterfeiting capital of the world, from microchips to cds, to inflatable boats they cover it all. Think about that little fact the next time you see that designer bag or watch for 1/10th the cost of the original. You will always get what you pay for!

  • Everything comes from China these days why not buy their inflatable boats too?

 Getting a similar boat you saw online for $1000.00 because it was less $$$ than the Zodiac™ and came with free shipping? Wow! How can you pass it up! Those guys at IBC or any other Zodiac dealer in America want way more money, screw them! I’m taking the deal! To answer this rather emotional question correctly lets look at the typical logistical model for Chinese inflatable boats. What this means is you are getting a much cheaper boat than you think. The shipping companies still get paid by someone to drop it off to your door, there are no shipping elves working tirelessly while you sleep. The entity that sold the inflatable boat to you is getting paid 30% to 50% even after he imported it and paid the shipping elves to drop it at your door. Doing the math on a $1000.00 imitation Zodiac™ reveals that even at a 30% mark on that same boat means it now costs only $700.00. Now lets take out $200.00 for shipping because to be fair it’s much lighter than a real Zodiac that leaves a boat cost of $500.00.Because your seller bought a container full of these boats he got the shipping costs and import duties down to $250.00 per unit. This picture gets even clearer with a boat that now only costs $250.00, are you still following? Hopefully the buyer’s remorse and tears from knowing you got screwed aren’t preventing you from reading any further.

  • Why is it expensive to repair Chinese inflatable boats?

This answer hurts the most to the bargain shopper and results in angry calls to dealers and repair centers, not to mention this customer tends to leave Yelp reviews anytime they feel slighted. Let’s not forget that the person they are screaming at doesn’t even sell their type or model of boat. They are simply calling them to rain fire and brimstone on someone and since it said Zodiac on their shingle it might as well be them. Unfortunately the no name bad man who sold you your environmental disaster labeled as a boat doesn’t actually exist, he’s a figment of intelligent marketing to ignorant buyers. Now go read the part above again, understand the Zodiac brand and the knock off are cut from different cloth. At around $30.00 a sq ft Zodiac Strongan seems pretty expensive, and it is when you compare it to Qingdao special #1 PVC that the other boat is made from. Forget about comparing glues, most Zodiac boats are thermo-bonded in France the same way as was originally developed for the space program. What? Space program? You read it right Zodiac started out as and has always maintained an advanced materials and aerospace division ever since it’s beginning in 1886. Yes, some of the three Zodiac models produced in China use glue in their construction but it’s money thing remember? That money thing is no joke as the purpose built machines behind Zodiac’s patented process are stupid expensive, stupid complicated and super secret. What the tech savvy buyer needs to understand is there is no support, no parts, and not very much love for brand “X” from the People’s Republic anywhere in the world. Most everyone else in the world doesn’t buy inflatable boats made in China with free shipping, they tend to be a lot smarter with their money than us fat Americans. At least with a Zodiac you get accountability in the form of a warranty and a world wide dealer network where you can get parts and repairs done no matter how salty you are. Most of us will even fix your brand “X” but don’t act surprised when we tell you the cost of the repairs, we use the real stuff here.

Above I mentioned that Zodiac™ is moving all it’s boat manufacturing back to France,(except for the Oceana market), the smart guys over there figured out they could make the best possible boat in France out of real Strongan and ship it to the USA while still making money. Because we have such a big dealer network here in America we put all of our buying power together and save on shipping from Zodiac France to Zodiac USA. It makes fiduciary sense and it makes environmental sense!

To sum all of this non-sense up if it doesn’t say Zodiac™, Bombard™, Avon™, or MILPRO™ you are likely not getting the boat you thought you were. If you have to go off reservation at least get a boat from a reputable dealer who carries the real stuff as well as an inexpensive brand that fits into your budget. This way you have some sort of support, parts, and a person to call if things get weird. Try to get a brand that has been around for more than 1 year or internet buying cycle as it has come to be known. Questions? Call us (503) 235-2628 we are Inflatable Boat Center, this is what we do.

 

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!

 

 

 

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.

Meet The IBC Pros At The Pacific NW Sportsman’s Show

 Starting Today!

IBC’s Pro Team will be on hand at the Pacific NW Sportsman’s Show to answer questions and take Special Boats Division orders. Some of the more awesome custom adventure boat builds will be put together on the floor for the professional guide, law enforcement, or the private adventurer looking for the edge.

Pacific NW Sportsman’s Show booth #1143 February 10th – 14th 2016

IBC’s Special Boats Division will have the boat package du jour featuring portability and performance for a limited time at a savings that will take even the most seasoned adventurer to new heights. Fish ,hunt ,recreate with a new IBC Sportsman’s Zodiac MK2C Classic HD built to the pro team’s demanding specs for outdoor activities anywhere on the globe.

If you can imagine it IBC’s Special Boats Division can likely build it and get it to where the roads end and the excitement begins. We look forward to this show all year because it’s the one show where people from all walks of life come from all 7 continents to talk about exciting and different missions they are working on. Spectators from Africa to Antarctica stop by to see what we can do for them, so if you are in the area or are planning a trip you’ll be in good company.

Zodiac Replaceable Tubsets or Naked Boats Exclusive Pics!

I get asked a lot about replaceable tubesets and the Zodiac Advantage by even the most salty of sailors so I thought I’d share some boat porn.
Zodiac pioneered the replaceable tubeset to keep old boats as good as new by simply sliding the old tubes off and sliding a new set on. Sounds simple, and it is. Just as promised simply slide off the old and slide on the new.

Some models that make use of this system are the Zodiac Yachtline Series and the Zodiac Pro Series.
Let’s take a look at the Zodiac Yachtline Series first: (warning photos of boats in various stages of undress to follow)

bow keepers/nipples
bow keepers/nipples
main tube bolt rope slot
main tube bolt rope slot
after tube retainer slot and main bolt rope slot
after tube retainer slot and main bolt rope slot
Naked Zodiac Yachtline 340 DL prior to tubeset,  and Seadek installation
Naked Zodiac Yachtline 340 DL prior to tubeset, and Seadek installation

We find it helpful to spray soapy water onto and into the bolt rope slots to act as lube for the installation process.

At this point we attach the bow keepers/nipples with screws and the aft tube retainers into their slots.
At this point we attach the bow keepers/nipples with screws and the aft tube retainers into their slots.
Fully Dressed and Ready
Fully Dressed and Ready

The tubeset installation process is virtually identical for the Zodiac Pro Series hulls. Take a look at a naked Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Pro Touring:

bow keepers/nipples and main tube bolt rope slots
bow keepers/nipples and main tube bolt rope slots
naked Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Touring
naked Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Touring
Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Touring tubes installed not inflated
Zodiac Bayrunner 500 Touring tubes installed not inflated
tubes on prior to inflation
tubes on prior to inflation
tubeset installed and inflated
tubeset installed and inflated

There you have it the “Birds & Bees” of tubeset replacement and yet another reason why Zodiac innovates and dominates the genre of inflatable boats and RIBs. You deserve the best you deserve a Zodiac.

Get yours today online at www.inflatableboats.com or by calling (503)235-2628 and speaking with one of the industries leading experts on inflatable boats and RIBs.

 

IBC Extra Capacity Launching Wheels Now Available

IBC is pleased to announce the arrival of our custom built to spec Extra Capacity Launching Wheels now in stock.

Features include:

  • heavy duty reinforced one piece red wheels
  • 15.5″ X 4″ black tires
  • heavy duty dual struts
  • heavy duty dual brackets
  • heavy duty nylon bushings
  • self locking hardware
  • 420lb max capacity
  • 30psi cold pressure rating

IBC Extra Capacity Launching Wheels fit into heavy duty aluminum channels that are installed on your boat’s transom making launching and retrieving your inflatable boat as easy as 1,2,3!

Imagine never having to lift or carry your boat, motor and gear to the water again!

1.Assemble/Inflate

2.Wheels Down

3. Hang Outboard/Load Boat

Done!

Bigger Wheels than those cheap imitations found elsewhere online, 30 psi inflation pressure, 420lb capacity handle even the toughest beaches.

IBC Extra Capacity  Launching Wheels Roll effortlessly over all types of terrain even pea gravel and sugar sand!

Designed and built to our exacting standards for serious boaters just like you.

BUY NOW!

Zodiac Cadet 270 Aero Assembly

Mike shows us how easy it is to go boating with the Zodiac Cadet 270 Aero. Simply unroll and inflate. Mike is using the 12volt auto inflation pump available from IBC to inflate this airfloor model and recommends it to any inflatable boat owner.

IBC is your one stop shopping spot for anything inflatable boat related!

Give us a call today and get underway with the pros at IBC (503)235-2628 or visit our store online Inflatable Boat Center