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.
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.
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.
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.
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.