Small Boat Workspace

Inflatable Boat Center

When I think of all the times I’ve had to work from small boats in support of dive ops, security, personnel transfer, moving cargo, inspections, etc. there were numerous times where I thought an inflatable was the right choice. Right choice doesn’t mean the “actual choice” when it comes to putting a plan together and going to work. So often I was trying to do work that didn’t lend itself to the higher gunwales of say a landing craft or motor whaleboat but none the less they were the platforms chosen, partly by ignorance, or possibly lack of proper training by department heads.

U.S. Navy Dive Ops

They had a job to do and merely picked what they saw visibly laying around. They certainly never set foot in any of the work boats, let alone pulled a line or tended umbilicals. Their uniforms remained clean, dry, and pressed, while ours were a paisley pattern of salt, oil, grease, and sea life. I only knew one officer who’d go out with the teams on task, and he was the ship’s C.O./legend of the deep sea world.

Junk boats are singular in their capabilities on and under the water, they can even pull ships off a beach or reef, but that’s a whole different story. We had Zodiacs, we used them accordingly in times of great need, we used them casually in salvage ops, we used them where we needed the extra stability or speed.
Life was good on the mobile dive platforms and in the pirate navy where every day was something off menu.

Inflatable Boat Center

Moving to Hawaii taught me that I needed to be proficient in sailing if I ever wanted to surf breaks undiscovered out there in the blue. Sailing got me to some of those places, but getting to the beach or to the breaks wasn’t usually possible unless you had a good roll up Zodiac. Hard shelled dinghies were too big, heavy, unstable, and unsafe, so they were out of the running before we ever cast-off lines and got underway. A good Zodiac could carry way more weight, use a smaller outboard, and stow below when we didn’t need it giving us valuable space topside. Space is pretty premium on longer voyages, stowing the inflatable boat saved crew morale and allowed us to fish, read a book, or just move a bit freer without having to give up that footprint. We’d get to a spot and set the anchor, then get out the gear while pumping up the Zodiac inflatable boat. No one wanted that first watch while the off-watch guys went to the beach or to a new break in the Zodiac. Thank goodness we set watches and dogged them accordingly, so everyone got to dive, surf or explore with the Zodiac inflatable boat.

Going on new ships, boats, and subs I’d always have a few questions, when is chow, where are the fire fighting and flooding stations, where are the lifeboats, who’s the “Doc”, where’s the armory, and where the Zodiacs were. Getting to know the “Doc” was a first order thing, knowing where my emergency stations for damage control or security were up there at the top too. Meeting the crew and training on the Zodiacs while underway meant when the time came to do the “thing” everyone involved could put the Zodiac together efficiently while under duress. The simple training and repetition meant none of the team were overwhelmed when they unrolled a boat to pick up guys from a sub or while in the water conducting their missions.

Inflatable Boat Center
Fairway Rock

I found myself going to the high latitudes very routinely for reasons I can’t expand on here. Sunburnt skin and long hair meeting a boat full of military creased uniforms and strong wills put me out of place frequently with the ship’s crew. Why is this guy here?”, “Who is this guy?”! I’d run up the workboats and get them ready only to find the ice too dangerous to navigate with a traditional hull. Solution? Break out the FC530 Zodiac and complete the task, easy for me , scary for some. Once the crew got accustomed to the Zodiac FC530 they were always looking for an excuse to go out and play. At first they’d be worring that the boat would “pop” or sharks would sink us, but experience and courage forged them into confident operators that saw real benefit to the Zodiac inflatable boat platform. I’d see some of them at Alpha in my coming and goings carrying on that same Zodiac training to new recruits knowing they’d be ok in their future as salty denizens of the deep.

These days I get to pick what I want to do on the Zodiac inflatable boats and RIBs, it’s a more relaxed tempo aligned with my aging body. I can surf when I want, go fishing when I have the urge, camp in remote locales, or take my dogs out for a day. I don’t have big boat ownership issues anymore, fuel costs are low because I need way less motor, and I can tow a Zodiac RIB or Zodiac inflatable boat with a sub compact if I have to. Life is just better with a Zodiac roll up or RIB, you just have to take that first step and call your local boat shop to get started.

Inflatable Boat Center

If you have questions regarding a Zodiac Inflatable Boat, try calling us here at Inflatable Boat Center (503)235-2628 and start your adventure today!

Inflatable Boat Center
2041 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland Oregon 97202

If you’re looking for a career full of adventure and Zodiac Inflatable Boats. You might be surprised how far you can go.

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Courage and Confidence

Courage we can feel, we can create, we can own, confidence on the other hand is projected onto to us, it’s impossible to own outright.

Slip on those coveralls, bring only the tools you can carry or swim with, we’re leaving in 5 minutes.
Unknown adversity, arduous tasks, action, adventure, discovery, it drives you, confidence in your boats ability to withstand incredible damage whilst staying afloat comforts you.
Courage comes easy when you’re confident with your boat, it’s fear’s worst enemy.

Maxie Mauselle Glacier Bay Zodiac MILPRO CZ7

You’re freezing cold, wet again, the lost sun bleeds color accross the sky at these lattitudes like an oil smear, “Is is day or is it night?”. Finding shelter from the wind has become a game played between each other while venturing to the fabled lands. What mysterious ways and beasts will we encounter? Confidence in the boat really helps, it adds sugar to the bitter taste of a boring or dangerous mission.

Why do I like Zodiac inflatable boats? Well… they work. I see no shortage of boats that don’t work, frankly I’m pretty shocked at the sheer number of inflatables on the market that don’t work at all. I doubt they have confidence in their boats, i’m not seeing it day to day. All I see when they bring in their -insert name here- brand boats is failure. Not always, but given the state of the economy, pretty much always. Saving a few bucks by going grey market with direct to consumer brands can literally cost an arm, leg, or even possibly a life. If you can’t make and believe the statement of your “boat staying afloat despite incredible damage”, you have a pool toy, not a boat. Zodiac Grand Raid, Bombard Commando, Zodiac Cadet (or Nomad), FC470, Sea Rider, and the list goes on and on, all proven, battle tested, trusted, and supported. “Rando SUS Boats?”, not so much.

Inflatable Boat Center

Zodiac inflatable boats are the standard and have been since their company inception in 1896. Often cherished by its operators, Zodiac inflatable boats have conducted their missions for more than a century. There’re probably more Zodiac inflatable boats on the water than any other type or brand, but you almost never see them unless you’re on a bit of an adventure yourself. Inflatable boats have been trending for a while and where there’s interest there’s opportunity to make money.

People looking online see boats that look like a Zodiac but cost a third of the equivalent looking made in China Zodiac Cadet. Some of these boats use the same colors and trim patterns to mimic Zodiac Cadet designs but that’s as far as it goes. Technology, materials and manufacturing improvements have been ongoing throughout Zodiac’s storied 100 year + history, something none of the others can boast. Yes, we could make more money by selling millions of low-quality boats to unsuspecting customers via webshops. If we weren’t actual people, we could process electronic payments and have offsite warehouses ship boxes that make our bank accounts richer. The problem with that model falls right on the end user’s head. No support, no help, no parts, no love.

Because we’re all Zodiac users from IBC’s founder Captain Ron, all the way down to our furry little shop dog wagging it’s tail in the bow, we have a vested interest in our customer’s experience being positive.

Inflatable Boat Center brings experience and trust to the process of fetching grandma from the beach or helping marine biologists in the icey polar regions. We love what we can do with a good Zodiac, it’s truly a ticket to fun and adventure and well worth the price of admission. We’ve had customers go on to become leaders in their fields, save lives in troubling times, and make discoveries that touch modern society, all enabled by a good Zodiac inflatable boat and courage to face the unknown.

Trust in the boat was something I learned fast in the Navy as a boy of barely 17, I was definitely afraid back then. It took me a second to find my courage when I was starting out. Looking at the men who surrounded me, and how confident they were in the Zodiac, my courage grew to compliment theirs.

I never in a million years thought those experiences would ever amount towards anything, I just wanted to surf, dive, ride motorcycles, and jump out of planes. Yes, this was before the movie Point Break, it was the early 80s and I was hardwired for it. I was only about facing fears and overcoming obstacles in those early years. The persistent thing throughout all of it was Zodiac Grand Raids, Bombard Commandos, FC470s, all things that got me to the end goal confidently. I remember watching Captain Ron on the t.v. in the berthing compartment racing Zodiacs, I remember driving by the store on my motorcycle and thinking I really need to check that place out.

Who would have thought I’d ever be sitting next to Captain Ron talking about Zodiacs to people looking to start their adventures? Not me that’s for sure, having confidence in the Zodiac has taken me very far indeed.

Inflatable Boat Center

Inflatable Boat Center
2041 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland Oregon 97202

Arctic Wolves and ERB 310 HPP


Much of what we do at IBC has to do with what the end user of the inflatable boat needs to accomplish or their goals, wants, needs. Every case is different, and every situation comes with a different set of rules so to speak. The needs of the grandparent on a creek are much different from a sailor plowing the raging main. When selecting the correct inflatable boat platform you should be clear on hurdles real or imagined that can become barriors to use once you’re on location. “Naufrage Voletaire” authour, Dr. Alain Bombard pragmatically looked at all aspects of the journey when he set out to learn survival at sea. By selecting a prototype inflatable boat to meet his goals, wants, and needs his critical thinking game leveled up.

Inflatable boat capabilities easily surpass the sum of their parts and have a long history of results. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a customer who contacted IBC about a solo adventure in the High Arctic. The intention was to be able to access habitat in the High Arctic for the purposes of studying Arctic Wolf behavior. (Yes, Arctic Wolves are real) Ulf had to take everything he needed with him and be able to manage it all on his own in an extremely isolated austere locale. I was immediately jealous! We began talking about weights, cargo size, distances and many other items before landing on the Zodiac Milpro ERB310 HPP. I was confident when I met Ulf that we had a solid plan to achieve success. Goals, wants, needs, I’d be seeing him again someday I thought.

Fast forward a spell and Ulf and I were discussing lessons learned here at the shop as he prepared for another season navigating brash, grease, and close pack ice. We talked of our experience with different marine mammals and the canids he saw along the way. He shared insight into the changing habitat and the increased access to the arctic due to due ice melt. I was again jealous, jealous he was living his adventure and gaining such valuable insight while I only had memories of an adventure past. Thinking of calved blue ice and narwhale as I type today when I earned my Blue Nose on the USS Safeguard.

Ulf shared a pic or two with me and said I could link to his paper to share it with the rest of my users so without further ado…

When you’re ready to start your adventure, we’ll be there to help you level-up.

Ulf Petersen published articles below.

Behaviors of High Arctic Wolves in Response to Humans | ARCTIC (

Learn about different types of ice.

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202



Zodiac RIB 310 Open Starboard Side

I’ve written articles about materials and construction before on our blog, many times in fact, and we’ve had our blog relentlessly attacked from other countries because of it. Exposing material science truths while fighting sailing fiction makes poor product purveyors piqued. (peals profusely)

Zodiac’s Mini-Open 310 dressed in grey and black with a Yamaha F20 is about as good as it gets for the size, plus it’s super affordable. With most things that a person buys “these days” being made elsewhere of generic materials, the Zodiac Mini-Open 310 still uses tubes and hulls made the French way, the Zodiac way. Getting it’s start December 22 of 1896, Zodiac has been innovating materials & products ever since, making the Open series of inflatable boats somewhat less surprising than it might otherwise be.

Getting into a Zodiac Open 310 is easier than you might think when it’s rigged with a Yamaha Outboard, you can even finance it thru Yamaha. Having no sales tax in Oregon means even better savings when purchased at IBC and since we don’t have any hidden fees or double talk, what you see is what you pay. This latest Zodiac Mini-Open 310 just came out to the showroom so I thought i’d snap a few pics of it before it’s gone off to a good home. Zodiac’s Open 310 moves fast on the water and fast from the showroom. I really just like how fun they are and how easy to drive they are. Even I look like I know what I’m doing and that says a lot right there! Give us a call (503)235-2628, stop by the showroom, or order one off our website and pick it up ready to go.

Ice Pirates

It’s still very icy in SE Portland this morning 01/20/24 so be careful driving. Our parking lot has been converted into a hockey rink making it treacherous for all vehicles and personnel. Unless it’s an emergency it’d be better to visit next week after a good thaw. There are trees and power lines down everywhere you turn, we had 4 come down on our house alone. Granted they were the neighbor’s trees, but they fell onto us so now we own the headache. Be safe and don’t take dumb risks just to stop by and visit. Mike will be on site until 3pm today for professional and military customers and waterfowlers who don’t know any better!


Please call ahead before coming, and don’t just show up with a boat on a trailer, it’s not safe for anyone.

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd

Portland Oregon 97202


Working From Home

Working from home today has brought my mind to some more basic duties, basic but still important.
I follow a ritual of sorts in the morning with the first thing being making my bed.
Making your bed doesn’t seem like a big thing to do, it’s not boot camp or anything like that, but it sets the tone for the day.
I let the dogs out, start coffee, then make my lunch, all very mundane but necessary.
Winding my watch while dressing I make the “Plan Of The Day” in my head then sallie forth to accomplish the goals.
Working rituals are a similar mindset, first thing I consider is kicking air/inflating boats.
This simple thing, not unlike making your bed, is kinda important because again it sets the tone, but, in this case it’s necessary.
Inflatable boats need air to work and none of them are immune to leaks, they all lose air.
So wind your watch, make your bed, and kick some air to set the tone.

If you’re local to Portland Oregon you know we are having a winter event right now and that usually means ice covering every surface.
Working from home instead of the shop is an adjustment, we never have a snow day or ice day.
Catching up on the news at 05:30 I saw an article about two Navy SEALs lost during a VBSS mission.
VBSS is short for “visit, board, search, and seizure” and it’s a mission the Navy has been undertaking for a very long time.
When people ask me what’s the most dangerous thing I did in the Navy it was always VBSS or anything small boat related.
It doesn’t seem like much to the layman, from what I remember it was a gut check.

Things that probably should be considered about VBSS are no concealment, nor is there any cover to speak of, they always know you’re coming, and the ocean is no joke.
Small teams in fast boats (typically inflatable boats called RHIBs or SIBs) steer a predictible course right into the maw of the enemy, pirates and smugglers who are usually themselves well armed and waiting.
Coming alongside a target vessel in rough conditions is tough on it’s own but factoring in getting team members on board with grappling lines or ladders and it becomes double tough.
Once on board you have to conduct other parts of the mission goals to completion.
No one talks about the danger aspect, it’s understood as dangerous, plain and simple.
You go do the thing, avoid any ticks (troops in combat), and hopefully make it back in time for chow.
I can only imagine what the SEAL watching his team mate go in felt at that moment while at the same time jumping in to help.
What did the small boat engineer and coxwain feel?
This VBSS mission stopped dangerous arms from getting into the hands of bad guys but failed at bringing their whole team home for chow.
My heart was broken reading about everything, and no matter what I think I know, I can’t possibly know anything because I wasn’t there.

Prior Navy SEAL and French Legionnaire Taylor Cavanaugh mentions a personal small boat team incident below, although it’s a completely different kind of mission he brings up some good points to think about.

Because of this ice storm that has plagued Portland thru the boat show and this week we’ll extend some our deals all the way thru February.

Speaking of deals Yamaha is running a program of their own, call us (503) 235-2628 and get your new Yamaha with an extended warranty or cash off discount depending on the model.

Shop Online

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202


The ice storm continues and is centered in SE Portland which remains below freezing with 40 mph East winds. Please call before visiting IBC as conditions have us working remotely.


Zodiac Grand Raid

Grand Raid

Zodiac’s Grand Raid has been around for quite a bit of time and within its lifetime has become the stuff of legend and lore. For me it’s the first (bateau pneumatique) that I came to see and recognize as a Zodiac, unique, capable, mysterious, and oui, French. My whole interest in the ocean or water in general has always factored in a Zodiac, and more often than not it was a Grand Raid. I see old pics of me in the Arctic on a Grand Raid, or tropical jungles again with a Grand Raid, on a ship with a Grand Raid, begin to see the pattern here? There are many Zodiac and Zodiac Milpro models that come to mind like the FC470, or Bombard Commando for instance but as things happen, they just seem to happen more… in a Grand Raid.

Places you’d see on a map or globe at school were likely explored and charted with the help of the unassuming Zodiac Grand Raid. Supplies and medical help were delivered with the same capable boat that Legionnaire’s used to conduct missions or marine biologists used to film documentaries. It’s likely the very image seen in your head when you think of an inflatable boat, it’s ubiquitous and flies under the radar of scrutiny because it’s so known in the zeitgeist simply as what you imagine an inflatable boat (bateau pneumatique) to be.

The Grand Raid is many things to many different users but “ami numéro un” to all who’ve had the pleasure of its company. French at its core, global with its presence, Zodiac’s Grand Raid continues to inspire and deliver the stuff of legend to today’s discerning user.

The Grand Raid is foldable and transportable adding to the mystique of it’s haze grey history. Without fanfare the Grand Raid plucks cold, wet and tired people out of danger, it brings the groceries, it delivers the mail, it’s a wolf or a shepherd, it never asks for anything except to go to work. The Grand Raid exudes confidence and trustworthiness in its capabilities making your job and your life the only reason for its existence. Zodiac’s Grand Raid carries more weight and offers more stability than other boats and is content to patrol the Amazon or spend a lazy day catching fish with the children.

The team here at IBC has always been fans of Zodiac’s Grand Raid models, we probably always will be. Grand Raids just work so well and seemingly never end up in the repair shop for anything other than a simple patch repair. While the Zodiac Grand Raid has stood the test of time it doesn’t rest on its laurels. The Zodiac Grand Raid is so near perfect in its original design that it steps readily forward to volunteer for use with electric outboards thereby continuing the mission with future generations of explorers and adventurers. There’s a good chance that the very first boat on another planet will be a Zodiac Grand Raid rolled and ready to go once we begin the next phase of mankind’s journey.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, need to equip a dept., or you just want to eat a sammie while reading a book, consider a Grand Raid.

The Inflatable Boat Center
2041 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland Oregon 97202


Save up to $200 off MSRP on Yamaha Outboards 2.5hp to 25hp from today January 4th 2024 until March 31st 2024.

Get an extended warranty on models 30hp and up.

Stop by our showroom in Portland Oregon to take advantage of the savings or call us (503)235-2628 to reserve your Yamaha Outboard today!

The 4 Fs of Outboard Buying

The Four Fs of Outboards

You’ve heard of the four “C”s for buying diamonds, but have you heard of the four “F”s for buying an outboard?
It’s because I just made it up for this piece.
The four “C”s are cut, clarity, color, and carat while the four “F”s are fit, finish, function, and fuel economy.

I’m not here to play brand favorites, I’m just pointing out that there are differences besides just price. Every day we get phone calls with people asking prices while they conduct their “research” online at the same time.

The “research” as it’s stated by the caller is far different than what I considered research as an R&D scientist. When I hear research on the other end of the phone, or see it written in an email, all I see or hear is price shopping. Research in it’s contemporary sense has become using a search engine to shop prices and not much else. I’ll get pumped for information just to have the caller buy it online for a few bucks less from an online outboard clearing house. I get that the economy is crap and that leadership lines their pockets with tax payer dollars, so saving a buck is generally a high priority in most households. I get all of that trust me, but calling price shopping research is just wrong.

Those online outboard deals come at hidden costs not always visible to the researcher/shopper. Just like buying that diamond with the four “C”s the outboard has it’s attributes as the driving factor in it’s price. Free shipping is often the decider when online researching/price shopping a product to buy. Let’s be clear there is no such thing as “FREE SHIPPING”, the shipping companies wouldn’t exist if that were true. In fact the world economy would collapse if it were true as there’d be no incentive to produce a product if it’d cost money to sell.

It absolutely depresses me when a customer brings in a Yamaha outboard they bought online from only for me to tell them it’s not a Yamaha and we don’t have parts for it. Sometimes it’s the obvious Yanamaha (or similar misspelling) sticker on the cowling, other times it’s the made in CH1N4 tomfoolery design and components. A bit of real research could save you from getting dupped once you see a too good to be true deal with free shipping. So much of our time is wasted supporting people who know better but pull that buy trigger online anyway.

I get it everyday on the phone, “They have it for $2000 less than that at insert dubious online outboard website!”. My usual response while on the phone with the pricing book open is, “I can’t make that deal, it’s less than our dealer cost at that number.”

Look for the four “F”s while you do your research, that Yamaha outboard should be the best in fit, finish, function and fuel economy. If it doesn’t present as such or if Yamaha is spelled wrong, run away!

Buy your outboard from an authorized dealer who will do the appropriate pre-delivery inspection and warranty registration and also has real OEM parts. Playing around with questionable knock offs on the water is never a good idea. An authorized Yamaha Outboard Dealer will have no problems sending you to another dealer that has the flavor you are looking for or even special ordering one in for you. The real pricing difference shouldn’t be too great from dealer to dealer.

This applies to all brands not just Yamaha, I’m just using Yamaha here because that’s what we sell and service, might as well have the best right? If you’re shopping for a Honda or Suzuki make sure it’s not a Hodonda or Suszuki. Times are hard, money is tight, don’t make a costly mistake because you got lured in by “FREE SHIPPING” or similar online conversion techniques. Call and speak to your local outboard dealer first, that way if there are any issues that come up you won’t be left out alone in the dark on the water.

Here at the Inflatable Boat Center we stock outboard configurations that are suitable for the types of boats we sell, but that being said we sell outboards to duck hunters, offshore fishermen, sailors and professional users alike. We just order in what we don’t have, and as a dealer we support what we sell brand wise if we can fit it into our boatyard. As a dealer we have no problem referring you to another dealer who specializes in the thing you are trying to do if we don’t, or don’t do it as well them. Part of being an authorized dealer is knowing there is a dealer network of professionals to draw upon to meet the customer’s goals, needs and wants.

This whole rant is the result of me talking to a boater who got a “real good deal” this morning on an inflatable boat. I didn’t ask them to swing it by, they just showed up and asked me to bring it into service for the once over. Let’s just say it wasn’t a Zodiac, and it wasn’t a Yamaha rigged on it either, but it was embarrassing, and it was disappointing. I won’t put much more here on it to save the customer from feeling worse than they already do. Hopefully they can get their money back but it’s doubtful with these online predators.

Talk to your local dealers and consider the four “F”s when the deal seems to be too good to pass up.