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.

Feed Your Beast

Whilst kicking some air into my boat this clear chilly morning my stomach reminded me I forgot to fill it up with breakfast. My primative brain remembered to get feed for the outboard and I was feeding my Zodiac it’s breakfast of clean cool morning air at the time. It’s like muscle memory, check the fuel, kick some air, conduct the day’s mission, pull the boat and clean everything off before stowing it in it’s proper place for the evening. Pretty simple right? You’d think that these things are all obvious and not worth mentioning yet again, but….. for some reason we keep getting inflatable boats, pontoons and kayaks in for under inflation failure modalities in need of repair.

I know not everyone is an engineer or deep sea crusty salt covered salvor but simple understanding can prevent many preventable problems with your inflatable boat which we will just call a Zodiac or “Z Boat” moving forward.

Bouyancy as it was explained to me during my indoctrination into submarine repair is simply achieved by displacing water. The more water you displace the greater the bouyancy or lift, it’s the reason why stuff floats on water. The “stuff” weighs less than the water it displaces therefore it floats. Understanding a submarine or a ship weighs many tons more than a Zodiac you’d think there is more to it than this, but you’d be wrong. Classical construction of boats from wood, steel, fiberglass or even cement all use the same principal of displacment of water to achieve bouyancy. The Z Boat is filled with air and therefore much lighter, but the volume of water that it displaces is much more than it weighs so therefore again, it floats. It floats very well indeed! Because of this huge difference in weight VS displacement of the inflatable boat, Z Boat, Zodiac, what have you, will in fact carry a far greater load than classic boat materials and construction techniques. If you don’t have enough air in your Z Boat it will not carry the same load as a properly inflated one, nor will it offer the same rigidity and strength it should.

Remember getting that helium ballon at the circus when you were 5 and taking it home? (yeah I’m dating myself). When you woke up the next morning excited to take it to school and show it off for “Show & Tell” it was markedly less full and mabey even sat a little below the ceiling. The gas inside your floating wonder ballon was escaping it’s confines from the moment it was filled and continued to free it’s self from its rubber prison the whole night while you slept peacefully. It was a bit of a disappointment and attempts to loft it higher were met with the crushing reality that gas doesn’t want to be confined. In heliums’ defense it’s a pretty small molecule and it will fit thrugh everything it’s contained in eventually, albeit slower than hydrogen. We’ll save that discussion for the nuclear engineers at a later time.

Your Zodiac instead of helium uses the same air we breathe, it’s a mix of mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and some other rare and noble gasses. These molecules are very big in comparison to helium, they don’t fit into and thru atomic lattices and seals like helium and hydrogen do, plus it surrounds us and costs nothing to use. While the molecules are bigger they still leak out eventually no matter what you make your container out of including PVC, Hypalon, CSM, Polyurethane etc. By not feeding the beast it’s share of delicious air regularly you’ll end up killing it in the worst way or damaging it enough to come to our repair shop for some emergency medical treatment. A trip to medical is never fun, and it’s never cheap, not like air, air is free to use all of the time. If you’re a space commando or or a saturation diver it might be a different story.

As a boy on the water I was taught that a boat and all things associated with it need constant care and upkeep to keep it safe and seaworthy. Going to my first command at the ripe old age of 17 I knew better than to walk by a “problem” without addressing it, and it is something that I still maintain today. If your Zodiac will take air, feed the beast, and kick in some air before going out. If you’re one of the people who have a winter season and the Z Boat isn’t used as often, you still need to top it off regularly. Your new boat can loose more air than you think in the span of 24 hours, especially if it’s a glued boat like a hypalon boat or cheaper Chinese knockoff brand. Don’t just walk by a problem with your boat, problems are always more complicated when you’re on the water so minimize your risks, kick some air and feed your beast.

If you have questions about your inflatable boat give us a call, or if you’re looking to minimize your impact on the environment while maximizing your fun stop by and see what a new Zodiac Inflatable Boat can do for you.

Our winter hours are the same as our summer hours.
9-5 Tuesday thru Friday
9-3 Saturdays
Closed on Sunday and Monday.
Our Phone number is (503)235-2628
We even have web chat from our website during those same hours.
We also stock, service and sell Yamaha Outboards.

December 7th

December 7th

Riding my bike to Subase Pearl Harbor or to Hickam AFB each day pretty much ensured that I’d never forget December 7th. My route took me right past the Arizona Memorial and along the way past twisted, burned and rusted shards of metal that reached upwards out of the water towards Heaven. It was hard to concentrate on the bike path or the random mongoose that darted out towards your front wheel. The significance of what went down on that day in 1941 always felt heavy when I rode by the signs of the attack. That twisted metal still present today was what brought America into the second world war way back in 1941.

Years after getting out of the Navy I saw one of my old COs on the History Channel talking about the salvage efforts that happened after the attack. He was a legend in the Navy Deep Sea Diving Community, and he’s still very much a legend today. The people I’ve met in the professional military aspect of my job here at Inflatable Boat Center remark about his moustache and his quiet. I think my best CO overall, Mark Helmcamp, he was no bull, he let people do their jobs and play to their strengths. Always professional, always on mission, shaping young sailors into frogmen, divers, and salvors that themselves became legends and heros. He was active in his role and understood the role his commands had in and around Pearl Harbor. I was glad to have served with him as our leader in all things deep sea and scary. His reverance of December 7th 1941 and May 21st 1944 instilled into our character a forged iron will and respect for the dangers we’d face as bastard sons of Neptune.

When the mobile dive and salvage group got tasked to do work on the Arizona with the National Parks Dept. (it’s their site) there was never any lack of volunteers to dive, run boats, or stand at attention in dress whites. Everyone knew the magnitude of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we lived and worked there, we saw the steel and smelled the oil. Taking part in the extra duties was considered an honor, a reward for a hard mission or task. Even though it was extra work we were all compelled by the sacrifice sailors and civilians made that day, December 7th, 1941. We competed to stand honor guard, or to work the site from a Zodiac, work boat or landing craft.

When the Reclaimer made way thru the different lochs of Pearl Harbor to load demo we’d pass by wrecks and give honors.163 men were killed and 396 men were wounded in West Loch on May 21 1944 making it the second worst incident in Pearl Harbor history. Death was everywhere around us in Pearl Harbor quietly watching for another opportunity to ply it’s trade. If we had to do something on Ford Island we’d see the effects of the bullets and bombs still there on display under the merciless sun. Almost everywhere you looked in the paradise of Pearl Harbor Hawaii you could see where people struggled in fear and died in smoke, fire, and water.

Being attached to the salvage group and reporting for duty on Hickam made me scratch my head at first, I was Navy and this was an Air Force Base. It became clear once I began my journey into becoming a salvor. We were there to clear the channel, to demo, dive, and salvage if anything like December 7th ever happened again. We were there to get our Navy back on it’s feet and underway, to conduct rescue missions, to catch or kill the enemy, and so much more.

December 7th 1941 was a hard lesson for Americans and one we won’t likly forget anytime soon. For most of America it’s a day of light traffic and days off, for myself and other “Neptune’s Bastards” it’s a solemn promise to serve the living and remember the fallen. While I served on more than a few “junk boats” the Reclaimer and her relationship to Pearl Harbor has always made me feel something extra on December 7th. Today I think about the resilience of the country, it’s people, and it’s sailors while remembering I’m standing in the shadows of giants. Iron willed American sailors and salvors who stood up to some pretty bad situations while some 2,403 of their brethran fell.

This December 7th, 2023 we also remember our dear friend Gary Durnam. Gary worked at Zodiac for 36 years shaping and growing the company here in the US. He was easy to talk to, knew how to kick air into a boat, and a friend to everyone he met.

While you’re enjoying a day off and the lighter traffic on the roadways take a moment to reflect what price the country paid for it.

If you knew Gary from Zodiac take a moment and remember him as he was.

Some of the staff at Zodiac US will be unavailable for the time being as the news about Gary is just now coming out, on their day off, this December 7th 2023.

Pineapple Express

My feet are wet again, the day hasn’t started yet and I’m soaked from the knees down. My favorite boots put up a good fight but that fast moving water always finds it’s path to my socks. So far the morning has been great, “Pineapple Express” air moving toward the mainland will surely bring snow for much of the country, but for me it’s a warm and wet change.

We knew it was going to be fun, topping off in the pelican black, Multnomah Falls running down our backs disguised as rain. The only light we’d see for the next several hours was the tritium glow of our watches.

I was stoked.
Running Z-boats while the world sleeps has always brought suprise at sunrise moments. That first glimpse of whatever is in front of you is worth it all by it’s self. Topping off or airing up an inflatable boat in the daytime can get a little adrenaline going, night time, a bit more.You could be pointing at city lights, the stars, or the blackest black you could never imagine and somehow it’s fun regardless of the destination.

We were running the Innovation removable nav light set that was conviently stowed in the bow bag, (a non-woven shopping bag contrivance clipped to a D-ring), and Icom M88’s. By 0800 I feel like I have a full day behind me but it’s just starting as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Answering emails and phone calls, doing daily chores and activities to whittle away the daylight hours. Socks wet with accomplishment.

Sometimes the mission is just to have fun, to thrill to a good running Yamaha mated to a Zodiac inflatable boat. Pulling G-turns and J-turns to the delight of the offshores. I can think of much worse ways to greet the day! My Bombard Commando is over a decade old at this point and it’s a lot like a having good dog. You treat it well when you can, and it gives pure enjoyment back, pretty simple. Feed it, clean it, spend time with it to learn it’s traits, and be rewarded with a wet kiss every now and then.

Time spent with a dog is never time wasted. In this case the dog is our lovable little Z-boat the Bombard Commando.
“Who’s a good boy!”