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.

Home | United States Coast Guard (

Home | CBP Careers

Homeland Security Careers | Homeland Security (

Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (

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 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