Well another year and another Big Float goes into the books. This year’s Big Float was one of the biggest yet with over 3000 Portlanders taking to the Willamette River to float in the hot July sun. The Inflatable Boat Center was there providing safety, media, and V.I.P. services to The Big Float and helping to foster community awareness for Portland’s most maligned waterway.
Weekly water testing of the Willamette River shows that is safe to swim in despite the Willamette’s bad rap as a “Super Fund Site”. City representatives, local news and thousands of Portlanders got the message and put in at the newly created “Poet’s Beach” to float to Tom Mccall Waterfront Park and the big after float party.
IBC‘s role is simple in these events, make sure floaters and boaters are obeying the safety guidelines/rules set forth and to provide assistance where necessary in the area of operation. IBC fielded the Zodiac Bombard C4R for this task rigged with a Tohatsu TLDI 40hp two stroke outboard for immediate power and speed when required.
Navigating thru thousands of floaters while under power takes some skill and also some precautions such as a properly functioning safety lanyard and a Prop Guard to prevent potential prop strikes to swimmers in the water. These simple lessons learned employed for the mission at hand made everyone involved rest a bit easier in an otherwise very high stress operating environment. These added safety features are no substitute for keeping a proper watch, and operating at a safe speed around swimmers/floaters. IBC is all about safety and proper boating practices.
Thankfully the day’s event went off without a hitch and IBC conducted their mission flawlessly with the Zodiac Bombard Commando C4R taking all situations in stride. Where other boat types couldn’t carry the weight of the gear or the passengers the Bombard Commando took it all and asked for more. The inflatable boat can carry much more cargo and passengers safely than traditional boats.
The past weekend has been a busy one for us here at IBC in the shop and on the water. Sunday the 9th IBC was on hand to provide security, rescue, and safety to the Portland Bridge Swim.
IBC’s Mike was on the water lending a hand to swimmers in distress as well as some boaters too. The day started out simple and slow but before the swimmers had reached the end of Ross Island Mike had already secured a boat fire and taken the vessel into tow. Mike’s Bombard Commando C4R made quick work out of the Four Winns cuddy cabin with a side tow setup to the Bombard Commandos’s hog strap. The Tohatsu TLDI 40HP outboard took the stricken vessel upriver effortlessly and put her into place at Willamette Park Boat Ramp docks. Upon leaving the area to rejoin the swimmers and resume patrol Mike came upon another older wooden vessel who was DIW (dead in the water). Once again the Bombard Commando C4 was put into rescue and salvage service for a boat much larger and heavier than the Four Winns cabin boat he just quit. After a short time Mike had the other stricken vessel secured at the dock and was back on patrol.
By now the Sun was higher in the sky and there were a great many boats on the water both commercial and recreational. IBC was tasked at this point to maintain a safety corridor for swimmers transiting down river. The duty was easy for Mike’s Bombard Commando rigged with the Tohatsu TLDI. The Tohatsu TLDI 40hp is a two stroke low pressure direct injection motor with legendary performance and CARB 3 STAR rating for ultra low emissions. Interception and rerouting of marine traffic was no problem for the Bombard Commando and the Tohatsu TLDI 40 coupled to IBC’s Mike and his ICOM M88 radio.
As Swan Island loomed large so did the US Navy ships and their special security needs. All boats , swimmers, etc. had to maintain a 200 yard exclusion zone from the US Naval vessels and special LEO units were on hand to enforce that rule. Upon seeing Mike arrive in his C4 Commando wearing Inflatable Boat Center banners duties were transferred over to IBC. Mike positioned committee boats along the zone for exclusion and course guidance and set up comms for the duration of the event transit. When IBC’s Mike was properly relieved he quit the zone and got underway for area Gulf to ensure swimmer safety and traffic rules were being met and enforced on the water. Much of IBC’s time in area Gulf was in the realm of interception due to the Bombard Commando’s high rate of speed and maneuverability Mike was able to catch every boat type from ski to fishing to commercial who entered the course or operated in an unsafe manner. Luckily no one was ticketed and everyone was happy to comply once they found out there were swimmers in the zone. Perhaps what is most telling is the boat owners who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars were all humbled publicly by IBC’s Mike with his C4 Commando!
All in all the days event went without any real issues with only some minor rescues and a couple of tows, all done with the Bombard Commando C4, Tohatsu TLDI 40 (with Prop Guard), and our crusty rescue/salvage sailor Mike representing IBC on the water.
To get your own inflatable boat give us a call here at The Inflatable Boat Center (503)235-2628 and speak to one of our friendly staff about your next adventure.
The recent deaths to some first responders and marine enforcement deputies that triggered an action requiring Prop Guards on certain county police/fire units weighs heavy on our minds here at IBC. When we train swift water rescue, flood response, etc, we are training with Prop Guards or special forces outboards that have an enclosed impellor device to prevent prop strikes.
Just because we are training with these devices doesn’t mean they are for training only. The super secret outboards we supply to Navy and other special forces units were developed specifically to keep combat swimmers and rescuers safe from such occurrences. The use of Prop Guards on civilian and state/federal rescuers is still considered mandatory by IBC pilots/instructors Mike and Adam.
The cavalier attitude that “It won’t happen to me.”, is often followed by tragic news. If you are operating with swimmers/victims in the water you need to have a Prop Guard installed period. Fears that performance will be affected to detriment are unfounded and misplaced. Even if you lose one knot off the top the benefits far exceed the reduction in speed of one knot. If you think you can’t suffer the performance loss you’ve never seen the Australian Surf Rescue competitions on TV or the internet. The Aussies use a very well covered design and perform rescues daily without putting a victim thru a blender.
IBC stocks Prop Guard brand Prop Guards for all sizes of motors that will fulfill any requirement military or civilian, and has other options for rock protection, and special purpose/tactics as well. Don’t be a statistic, don’t let ego run the show, be prepared and be safe as boating and rescue have always been classified as dangerous. The toughest people we know are smart enough to use a Prop Guard so an average boater shouldn’t have any excuse to not have one.
Mike doesn’t like getting the calls from police and fire agencies, neither does Adam, and especially if it involves children as was the case recently. Don’t be foolish, get a Prop Guard, shut off the motor if there are swimmers in the water, keep a proper watch, don’t drink and boat, and always wear a life jacket. No one likes to do a recovery operation, those images will stick with you for the rest of your life.