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

 

Time To Replace That Old Dinghy

It’s that time everyone hates, the old girl just won’t keep air and she looks like she’s been around the world the hard way. Your trusty dinghy just isn’t keeping air and it’s sunburnt beyond recognition but you still feel let down. You might be suffering from nostalgia but you seem to think you remember when you had that wood dinghy and everything was roses. Ah, remembering back to struggling that old woody on deck to do repairs, getting it stuck on the beach at high tide, the tippy moments when your heart jumped out of it’s chest, but she rowed fine…

There was a reason you went to an inflatable boat and it seemed like it was really expensive compared to the old tub you used to use. Sure the tub cost only a few hundred bucks back then, and your inflatable was more money, but the inflatable boat stood watch tirelessly for your multi-year frolic on the high seas. What would old woody have had to say over the course of the same trip? That inflatable boat starts to look a whole lot better now. The unsurpassed carrying capacity and easy to plane nature of the design makes even the tiniest of little motors attractive for most cruisers and adventurers who like to explore. That littler rubber boat that rolls up so nicely and stows below has come all the way around and back again in popularity and even mainstream users are seeing the benefit of it’s legendary traits.

So replacing the old girl who always got you there and back again seems like less of a big deal. My first real experience was in the Great Lakes as a very young child and then again as a 17yr. old in the Navy where inflatable boats ruled the seas and beaches alike. It wasn’t until I started to sail in Hawaii in my early 20’s that the picture became clear why no one was using the old wood, fiberglass and metal dinghies anymore. Getting into and out of the inflatable was easier and far more stable to say the least; but where the rubber hit the road for me was in the inflatable boat’s ability to be rolled and stowed for the big ocean, and easily inflated for that “Miracle Mile” when you got somewhere remote.

Ferrying people to the beach and bringing back fresh water and stores was fun and I always jumped at the chance for that duty. The tropics took a toll on everything me included but with just a little bit of care (which you should be doing anyway) your inflatable boat will outlast your most distant voyages. Products such as The Inflatable Boat Maintenance Kit , make this is a non-issue no matter the latitude where you find yourself. The key to happiness here is to buy the best dinghy as you can afford, this doesn’t mean biggest, this means QUALITY.

There are more choices available to the purchaser today than ever before, and with the adoption of the internet even more poor choices than ever thought possible. A quality tender will have a warranty, and a history of service rather than a clever marketing web ad. Look for an established brand that uses full weight brand name fabrics, Zodiac, Bombard, Avon, Achilles, and new comers Highfield, and Cardinal come to mind. If it says “Zodiac type” you are getting screwed no matter how attractive the price. Zodiac invented the inflatable dinghy and is the world leader by a long shot, that’s where you start (Zodiac, Bombard, and Avon are the same company).

Questions or want any of the brands listed give us a call (503)235-2628 we’ll get you setup with the best boat for your application.

 

A Night With Laura Dekker (Youngest Solo Circumnavigation)

Here at IBC we get to do some pretty fun stuff and last night was no exception as we spent it at Portland Yacht Club with Laura Dekker.

Who is Laura Dekker you ask?

Laura Dekker is the youngest person to circumnavigate the planet solo aboard her ketch named “Guppy”. Some of you might have seen a documentary about her trip called “Maiden Trip” on Netflix. We all sail here or have sailed at some point so this was right up our alley, and of course with sailing there’s the inevitable dinghy ride to adventure. Adam, Chris, and Mike made quick friends with Laura and swapped some sea tales before her well presented story began.

The Portland Yacht Club was near capacity as she spoke in her own words what the incredible trip meant to her and the challenges she had to overcome along the way. While talking informally with Laura before the show, she shared what her views were on dinghy carrying and size. Laura is a blue water sailor and pretty much does the same thing most of us do here at IBC, which is to say she rolls it up and stows it below rather than crossing an ocean with it on deck or in davits. (see our earlier blog post “A Tale Of Two Tenders”).

As we all know after a crossing or jaunt to a far away land is done it’s the time of the tender. The tender is the passport to adventure and exploration once you have arrived at your destination, it’s the link to the outside world and all of it’s wonders. Chores that would be impossible without a tender become adventures in their own right and kids argue about who’s going to do the laundry or get stores. Yes the sailor’s key to hidden treasure remains the trusty dinghy and a willingness to see the world.

If you have a chance, stop by Laura’s blog and read her courageous tales of sailing 1 1/2 times around the World solo when she was only 14.

If you are feeling adventurous and want a proper dinghy, tender, or sport boat call us here at IBC and let us help open your door to adventure! (503) 235- 2628