Adam and Chris sure have been busy with the Zodiac Bombard Commandos this year and it isn’t over yet. A few more Commandos leave the shop this week to accomplish their missions. We never see them again after we sell them so it’s good to get a few pics before hand to prove they were here!
For the operators looking to use a jet the Bombard Commando C5 makes a smart choice and represents the best performance due to it’s wooden keel configuration.
To find out more about the Bombard Commando give Adam a call (503)235-2628 or shop IBC online at www.inflatableboats.com
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.
As I walked around the shop “topping off” all the CSM/Hypalon boats this morning I thought to myself, “How come no one talks about air retention on Strongan vs Hypalon?”. This is a very valid question to the person looking for a tender or stand alone inflatable boat.
Let me put this into other words, Strongan is what we casually refer to as PVC here at the shop when discussing boat materials and manufacturing processes. To be so casual is actually kind of detrimental to a degree. When discussing PVC inflatable boats many makers will spec out their fabric in mils (equal to a thousandth of an inch) or millimeters also expressed as “mils” on various websites albeit incorrectly in efforts to dupe the customer. The other manufacturers count on you being uninformed to swell their bottom line. Further use of incorrect terms along with drawings and lots of text that “sounds official” on their many websites plus dubious reviews means you end up with a cheap boat that came with free shipping and absolutely no support. Any boat deal that comes with free shipping should be a red flag just so you know.
Cutting down on the volume of calls we receive here at IBC from Amazon or Ebay bargain shoppers means it’s time well spent to bother with this topic.
Obviously we don’t sell brand X nor do we offer free shipping. I can’t understand why other brand/site customers call us all day long for support of someone else’s product. Weird huh? The simple answer is those sites like Amazon or Ebay don’t have a support structure, they offer cheap products with free shipping to capture the bargain shopper. They don’t have a store, or a phone, or employees to take the millions of calls about their junky products and their failures.
Going back to formula we’ll first educate you about what Strongan is and what PVC and Hypalon isn’t. Using our time machine let’s go back to the polyester years of the 1970’s! 😉
Strongan Duotex is a fabric originally developed by the Espace Division of Zodiac France as part of a joint project with CNES (National Space Research Center). Developed to be better at air retention and water intrusion than ordinary PVC it was further refined and developed to be Thermobonded by purpose built machines existing only in Zodiac France.
Basically PVC was a truck cover material that was semi-water tight but not airtight, (more on this later). The Zodiac answer from the joint space research project took 8 engineers and technicians and a support staff of 14 to tackle.
“Welding” of PVC used in the knockoff industry is a lap seam. One layer is placed on top of another and heated under pressure to make the bond. This technique will make most PVC materials watertight but leaves something to be desired for airtightness.
To accomplish this technical feat Zodiac developed their thermobonding process where two precision cut pieces are butted up edge to edge and overlayed on the outside for mechanical strength, and the secret internal layer overlayed on the inside defeated air leaks and made the bond airtight.
While seeming relatively simple to the layman, the material science and process engineering was very difficult and very costly. Zodiac invested heavily in the engineering of the process and at the time it was considered a gamble. The old guard of neoprene sand and glue construction people never thought PVC could have the air retention of Hypalon/Neoprene. Zodiac’s gamble paid off, and dramatically lowered the costly labor process involved by 75% while producing a boat unparalleled in air retention and strength. This hyper-technical approach catapulted Zodiac’s aerospace and leisure products divisions to the forefront of their respective industries. Yes from the humble beginnings of Maurice Mallet’s sewn and varnished balloons in 1896 to 21st century space exploration and Strongan Duotex inflatable boats Zodiac reigns supreme.
To sum it up in a few words Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex fabric is the gold standard for air retention and modern inflatable boats.
Saying that all boats are not cut from the same cloth is a gross understatement. Buyers should beware the great pretenders in the market today all vying for your hard earned dollar.
Today when I went to IBC’s repair shop to measure the differences in thickness from one brand to the next I was amazed at the startling differences between the Zodiac Strongan Duotex and the ordinary PVC from the other manufacturers. The average measurement in mils or thousandths of an inch of the most basic Strongan fabric was .040″ and the next best competitors came in at .015 to .029″ or one to two thirds thinner. The average thickness of a Thermobonded seam was on the order of 1/8″ or .125″ compared to a seam of .030″ to .060 for the others .The Zodiac fabric is thicker by it’s self than many other manufacturers seams! So thickness of the Zodiac Strongan coupled with the additional thread in the scrim or substrate of the Zodiac Strongan fabric adds additional strength and resistance to forces such as torsional loading over all other manufacturer’s samples compared.
Much has been written about the dreaded UV rays and the havoc it wreaks on boats. Myths abound on the internet of UV radiation turning boats brown and causing them to “pop” while exposed to the sun. I would refer you to the earlier paragraphs to note that Zodiac’s Strongan was developed with the space program in mind. Believe me there is far more UV in space than at the waterline.
UV damage mechanisms of the various materials here on Earth generally cause what’s known as “photo-bleaching”, whereas the material in question turns white not brown. The mechanism is virtually the same for PVC, Hypalon, and even diamonds! Look at an old car dash, did it turn brown, or is it whiter and bleached looking? I thought so! Short wavelength high frequency radiation in the UV regime and it’s interaction with matter is well understood. One simply can’t take a random website’s claims as truth these days, we’ve even added “fake news” into our language to define this phenomena.
Generally speaking all inflatable boats are called Zodiacs today due to commonality in conversation, but all inflatable boats are not cut from the same cloth. If it doesn’t say Zodiac on the boat it’s not a genuine Zodiac, ask for it by name.
Note: Bombard and Avon are both Zodiac products.
Edit: Richard Meister (Technical Support Manager at Zodiac Nautic) added to our Facebook page “Environmental positives too! Strongan plastomer is thermoform and can be melted and recycled. No wasteful and annoying dust generation either.“
What Richard means by dust generation is Hypalon/Neoprene fabric requires sanding and scuffing prior to cleaning with toluene solvent, then finally several applications of adhesive are added to make a seam or install a simple patch. This dust, solvent, and adhesive is a potential hazard if improperly controlled during the assembly and repair process. While Zodiac leads the world in green environmentally sound practices, those other boat builders, errr…. not so much.
To see what Richard means about recycling of materials one only needs to look as far as the Bombard Air Ethic. The Bombard Air Ethic is made utilizing green manufacturing processes, novel materials and recycled materials. This represents a first in the boat building industry.
Thanks for bringing up those valid points Richard!
Hypalon/Neoprene or as it is generically called CSM is a man-made artificial rubber coating over a substrate or scrim. It offers some advantages over plain PVC with the foremost being resistance to solvents and fuels. UV absorption is virtually identical to PVC and several other materials such as Urethane and with all of the hype and misinformation this is a hot button topic for the web forums and novice yachtsman. If you had any doubt just look at the multitude of aftermarket products that claim UV resistance and protection catering to the hyperbole.
Hypalon performs slightly better in the drum test for abrasion resistance than PVC but in terms of air retention it fails miserably compared to Zodiac’s Strongan Duotex. Hypalon inflatable boat manufacturing is a very dirty and labor intensive process taking up to three times as long to complete when compared to a Zodiac Strongan Duotex inflatable boat of the same dimensions. This labor comes at a cost and this added cost is much of what the customer assumes is quality when simply comparing prices. Remember the statement that not all boats are cut from the same cloth? This holds true for Hypalon boats as well. That “good deal” for a brand X Hypalon boat will cost you in the long run on repairs. You are much better off sticking to the brand that started it all…Zodiac, Avon or Bombard when asking about Hypalon inflatable boats.
Give us a call and we’ll sort you out! (503)235-2628
This time of year IBC is always scuttling around busy with various agencies and their seagoing Zodiac MILPRO RIBs, and swift water rescue boats. In preparation to underway commitments bigger ships need work done and usually on the quick to meet mission requirements and deployment dates. The U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps Of Engineers, U.S. Military Forces, state and federal law enforcement and fire you name it and we see it here.
Sometimes the service is just a bit of paint and shine on battle damage or even planned maintenance on a unit prior to deployment. Today it was a bit of paint on a U.S. Army Corp Of Engineers Zodiac MILPRO RIB. Our job was to de-rig a console set and repaint it prior to an underway. IBC made all of the graphics, matched the color, and painted the console set, then rigged it back to spec. It’s just too bad we didn’t get a chance to re-rub the entire boat but budget and underway commitments take precedent over what we want.
Fortunately Mike grabbed a couple of pics of the boat before she had to go back to the mother ship so we could appreciate the job the repair shop did.
IBC is your one stop shop for sales and service of the full Zodiac MILPRO line of RIBs and inflatable boats. Give us a call today for your military and professional needs and see why we are ranked Tier 1.
When comparing boats these days you get a lot of information about “deadrise” or “deep V” but no explanations. Some of the calls we get here at IBC regarding those topics warrant a look and explanation for our inflatable boat customers.
Deadrise is explained as such: the angle of the horizontal plane to the hulls surface. What this means is how much of a V shape there is at any given position from the centerline or keel on a horizontal line to the angle or line of the hulls surface which is expressed in degrees.
Boats generally have a varying amount of deadrise fore to aft as a result of their design and intended purpose. Most deadrise is measured and expressed at the transom due to when the boat is on plane this angle or measurement determines how stable a boat will be. Boat manufacturer statements that use “deep v or deep vee” are usually talking about the forward section of the craft as this dictates how well a boat will perform in cutting thru blue water and chop. Don’t be confused this is still a function of deadrise, but marketing has put forward “deep v” as a selling point to the uninformed user.
When negotiating heavy seas the crafts deadrise forward or “V” will dictate how softly it comes down between the swells and chop (expressed as frequency) and generally a “deeper V” means it cuts thru and dissipates the forces by using a broader surface area and reflection of energy away from the boat which in part translates to the water breaking and turning into spray. Basically the energy is partially transferred into the destruction and deflection of the water it’s self, while a portion of that same energy is transferred into the shock we as passengers feel.
Most inflatable boats have an inflatable keel that is a bit more rounded at the centerline that pushes down against the fabric to form the “V”, in the case of the Bombard Commando series it’s a more pronounced sectional wooden keel that better reproduces the traditional fiberglass or metal boats keel/hull design. That is to say the Bombard Commandos are often preferred by more professional users due to it’s more traditional boat hull shape and design attributes.
Zodiac developed and patented the inflatable keel in 1960 as Pierre Debroutelle made improvements to simplicity of assembly and storage. The inflatable keel was largely developed due to the “Leisure Society” movement occurring at the time and the desire to cut down on parts and bags to put them in. Zodiac inflatable boats were largely commercial and military items until then but a growing number of ex-military and maritime professionals had come to adopt and use the technology in various disciplines such as racing and fun with the family.
All inflatable boats featuring a keel have varying degrees of deadrise and different performance levels for the areas of interest they were designed for. It’s worth mention that all of IBC’s boats feature a “V” in their hull with the exception of bucket boats and alongside tenders that aren’t designed with rowing or planning in mind for their day to day use.
I hope this has made the topic a bit clearer for those of you that were confused between the two terms of “deadrise ” and “deep V”. We’ve attached some more pics below of a Bombard Commando C5 to help you on your way. As always feel free to give us a call here at the IBC shop (503)235-2628 when shopping for your next or first inflatable boat and make sure you get the right boat for the job at the right price.
Recently IBC rigged up a Zodiac Pro 420 NEO open boat for some marine mammal biologist types to use on their adventures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IBC provided Rozalia Project’sBombard Commando C3 for their extended mission profile and they have been using it like it was meant to be used. The Bombard C3 Commando was recommended to them by high latitude sailor Skip Novak as the go to expedition boat for remote access. IBC also uses the Bombard Commando series of inflatable boats for much of their use as well. Capt. Ron raced his C3 Commando just about everywhere to much acclaim for example. We have countless surfers, fishermen, explorers, and recreational users going where others can’t in their Bombard Commandos. Unbelievable carrying capacity on an ultra-stable platform means impossible things become realities. Check out Rozalia Project’s video below and see some of the things they do in their Bombard Commando C3.
Published on Dec 21, 2015
Rozalia Project’s mission is to clean and protect the ocean. This video, by Alex Levin, introduces Rozalia Project through the experience of the ParleyxRozalia Expedition.
ParleyxRozalia: An Expedition for the Oceans took place in July and August of 2015 on remote islands and hard to reach shorelines in the Gulf of Maine. Our objective was to pick up as much ocean trash as we could, bring it back to the mainland for upcycling and recycling and work with coastal residents to collect data and develop solutions to the problem.
Thanks to our partner, Parley for the Oceans, and parters and host organizations around the country, during this expedition, we removed over 130,000 pieces of marine debris from shorelines, engaged thousands of people in person and through social media and collected data that will lead us to solutions and innovations to get ahead of this problem.
If you were at the Zodiac press release in Fort Lauderdale today you would have heard some knowns and some unknowns. The obvious is Zodiac’s new leadership is poised like a panther to take on it’s myriad competitors in the Asian manufacturing sector. Offering new life, new products and genuine Zodiac materials and builds at similar pricing structures to the cheap knock offs flooding the market today means Zodiac is future minded.
I remember the glory days of Zodiac, I remember the influx of copy cats and the shrinking market as a result of the poor quality and support of said copy cats. The Zodiac brand suffers when consumers think of the cheap knock offs as Zodiacs just because they are inflatable. Zodiac has stood strong the test of time for over 100 years as the inventor and innovator of the inflatable boat platform.
Zodiac’s new leadership is taking names and putting them on notice with real serious inflatable boats and RIBs like the days of yore but utilizing the ultra bleeding edge of technology and material science that today has to offer.
I’ve used Zodiacs as a fisherman, a sailor, and as a specialist in the US Navy’s Rescue Dive and Salvage community. I continue to use Zodiacs today as a tool to fun and freedom like it was when I was a child watching Cousteau and reading Bombard.
Make no mistakes great things are coming from Zodiac like the re-emergence of the Avon line! Woot Woot! If you are a sailor like me and have the high latitudes and the equatorial regions under your belt then you know that Avon was the go to tender for any sloop rig on the high seas. Easy to roll and stow the Avon represented quality for the active yachtsman. Yes Zodiac and Avon have lived under the same roof for some time with Bombard it is a very happy family with strong values. The Avon plant has been tasked with much of the military and professional work these past years and as a result the Avon line hasn’t been available to recreational users like the white water crowd and the sailing crowd.
All I can say is the thrill is back and everyone is giddy with excitement for the legend of Zodiac and what comes next.
Expect great things from Zodiac, Avon and Bombard as we move forward and as always IBC has got you covered no matter where in the World you find yourself.
Press release below take from “Trade Only Today”
FORT LAUDERDALE — Zodiac Nautic, the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of RIBs and inflatables, said Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that the industry and consumers should expect a significant revival of the venerable brand.
“Zodiac is a wonderful brand. I am no miracle worker, but Zodiac is a sleeping giant,” said CEO Dominique Heber-Suffrin, who assumed ownership with partners in July after years of financial trouble for the iconic French builder.
Heber-Suffrin said the U.S. market accounts for 40 percent of Zodiac’s global business and that under his leadership “accelerated growth here in the U.S.” will be a priority.
Zodiac has manufacturing plants in France, Tunisia and South Carolina.
Heber-Suffrin promised new-boat introductions at the Miami International Boat Show in February, a renewed marketing campaign, new incentive programs for consumers and a reintroduction of the Avon brand.
Not too long ago in my younger days the Zodiac brand of Inflatable Boats was the Holy Grail of inflatables and for good reason too. Zodiac pioneered everything we know about inflatable boats and RIBs not to mention their work in new materials and material science / construction techniques.
Since my early days as a marine professional and sailor (let’s just call them the 80’s) I’ve seen countless inflatable boat manufacturers come and go trying to offer cheap copy cat boats that weren’t even close to Zodiac’s beginner line of boats.
Fast forward to 2015 and I see countless boat manufacturers springing up, online this time, and I’m getting the calls here at the shop on how to fix the knock offs. Of course everyone always says theirs is a “Zodiac” but after more questions it always turns out it’s a knock off they purchased somewhere else. (you get what you pay for)
For some reason many of the people in America and in the boating world just call any inflatable boat a Zodiac especially if they have a problem. Therein lies some of the problem with the brand. Somehow Zodiac’s awesome build quality and years of media exposure have turned the inflatable boat definition to Zodiac despite who made it where. When you throw in Joe Average’s web special he found online for hundreds or thousands cheaper than the similar model of genuine Zodiac it was copied from and call it a Zodiac, you tarnish the good name and brand Zodiac has worked so hard on for over 100 years.
Yes we know Dr Bombard got Cousteau into inflatable boats, and yes we know the various Special Forces in the World insist on Zodiac because of the quality and dependability. It’s also well known ( at least in certain knowledgeable circles) that Zodiac, Avon, and Bombard all share the same parents and live under Zodiac’s roof.
I for one am super excited Zodiac is taking the lead once again and stepping up the game to compete in this internet shopping crazed market place of no name knock offs. Zodiac’s new CEO isn’t mucking about and neither is Zodiac’s Manufacturing & R&D Departments. I’ve included a press release from a trades source that I found appropriate.
Zodiac Nautic North America, a subsidiary of RIB and inflatable manufacturer Zodiac Nautic, is planning to introduce a new owner to the industry at the Nov. 5-9 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The company sent an introductory message to its dealer network from new corporate owner and CEO Dominique Heber-Suffrin late this summer.
Heber-Suffrin will address the marine media on Zodiac Nautic and its North American operation’s plans during a press conference set for 2 p.m. on Nov. 5.
“We are pleased to introduce Zodiac Nautic’s new owner and CEO, Dominique Heber-Suffrin, to the marine industry officially,” Zodiac Nautic North America president Gary Durnan said in a statement.
“In his first official statement to the worldwide dealers and business partners, his pride and passion about the Zodiac brand was more than evident. We both plan on addressing the media during this time, setting the record straight as to what’s been going on with our companies, our future plans and setting aside rumors that have been initiated by those outside our circle of knowledge.”
“The message is a simple one,” Durnan added. “Zodiac Nautic is running at full capacity, producing inflatables and RIBS from 6 feet to 28 feet, at its three production facilities. The R&D team is working overtime to get our new products and designs to market in a timely fashion, with exciting new products in development. The new ownership, including Heber-Suffrin taking a leadership role as our new CEO, will be the turning point in this iconic brand’s return to its rightful place as the industry leader. To put it bluntly, Zodiac is back.”
A couple of weeks ago we had the West Coast Zodiac rep Chris by for a visit so we went for a boat ride of course! We met up with Adam +1 on the Columbia River who was out for a weekend sail on his S&S Yankee 30 and did a business lunch at the Puffin Café in Washington.
Chris was a bit sore from playing Aussie Rules footie the day before so Mike took it easy on him with his Bombard C4R Commando, they still went faster than everyone else on the choppy river though.
Some of what Mike calls basic drills ( if you know Mike you would call them expert advanced) were performed and Chris took the tiller doing quite well despite his badly beaten body. He had no trouble going 35mph through the worst of the wind chop in the C4R Commando and at one point this writer looked over and saw him several feet in the air. Go Chris, Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!
After lunch Mike and Chris said goodbye to Adam’s sailing crew and went for some impromptu beaching ops.
The weather was perfect and good times were had by all including the mind blown jet skiers and other boaters. At one point a jet skier that Chris and Mike blew by came alongside while Mike was on the phone to see just what we were piloting. When we told the befuddled jet skier that it wasn’t a r.i.b. he was blown away that a boat as small as 14 feet with a soft bottom could do so much and go so fast all the while keeping it’s composure in the 3 foot chop. The Bombard name says it all to those in the know.
We sell a lot of the Bombard Commandos here at IBC and for good reason, they simply perform better and go thru the worst possible conditions all the while asking “can I have some more please”. To start your Commando adventure give the pros at IBC a call (503)235-2628 or just shop online for the best possible deal.