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!”

Veteran’s Day Salute

Zodiac landing

Here at IBC we hold a special place in our hearts for our U.S. Veterans. It’s not just the special forces we’re talking about, it’s anyone male or female who served our country whether in peacetime or war. The cook making the chow, the infantryman cleaning the barracks, the non-rated boot getting the business. It’s the less than 3% of the population who put on the uniform and signed on the dotted line to protect our country from enemies both foreign and domestic. All veterans are heroes in our book and as such we feel they have earned a discount when they decide to shop with us. The veteran discount applies year-round, not just on Veteran’s Day.

In my day in order to become a veteran you had to serve for at least two years of active duty and have an honorable discharge or other discharge under honorable conditions. I’m not sure how it’s tallied these days but if you served and have some form of id that says so when you walk into the store you will get a better deal, simple as that.

So, whether you were a pencil pusher, grunt, or an elite commando you’re in good company at IBC and we’re glad to have you as part of the family. We may poke fun at one another from branch to branch or specialty to rating or rank but in the end, we tend to stand up for one another and support each other. On a side note, we give active-duty personnel the same discount as our veterans. Our bond cannot be broken by politics, race, religion or gender, it’s one of the best things about serving the country. Learning this lesson comes easy to those of us who made it through boot camp, and training before striking out into the unknown world. You never know what’s going to happen, but you know the person next to you will be there at your side when something does happen.

Days like today make me miss the comradery we had together while doing even the most mundane of tasks. Days like this make me think of my friends who are still alive and the ones who aren’t. It’s a deep respect for one another, even the people we quarreled with over trivial matters that seemed relevant at the time. Putting other people before ourselves and helping people in need takes a lot from a person, sometimes it takes everything they have including their life. Here at IBC we recognize the sacrifice our service members make and while a discount isn’t much of a thanks it’s a start!

Maybe next time instead of generically thanking a service member or veteran for their service ( I personally don’t like that phase unless it’s coming from another service member or the V.A.) try engaging them in conversation or inviting them on a Zodiac ride. It’s pretty amazing what a Zodiac ride can do for your soul.

If you don’t have a Zodiac to take a veteran out in come and see us here at IBC and we’ll get you sorted out.

If you’re eating S.O.S. mixed with dirt and tears downrange, remember that we are thinking of you back home and are honored for your sacrifice serving this great country of ours.

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202

Open Tuesday through Friday 0900-1700 (9 to 5 for the non-military types)

Saturday 0900-1500 (9 to 3)

Closed on Sunday and Monday

Call us! (503)235-2628

email me if you have questions or beefs and I’ll try to get you taken care of.

Heavy Rains Mean ERB Season Is Here

Driving in thru heavy rains and flooded streets this morning had me thinking about Zodiac MILPRO ERB models. It’s this time of year we start to get calls for flood water and swift water rescue boats. Being able to rapid inflate a Zodiac MILPRO ERB 400 in 3 minutes means something when water is moving into an area with homes and residents. The Zodiac ERB 400 HPP will roll and stow in most vehicles without issue when you need to move assets to an area without traditional boats or services. Austere locales, metropolitan centers, housing developments, all become accessible when flooded.

Police, fire, and emergency service workers and volunteers can easily carry a rolled up ERB to the water’s edge and get it deployed to enact a rescue. Due to is light and compact nature anyone one of moderate fitness level can easily pull a boat out of a vehicle and carry it to a scene one shoulder. If you have help it’s even easier, more hands make less work they say.



While carrying an inflated boat to a scene on a trailer or on top of a slick top rig is great and easy. it’s not always possible. If you can’t get a trailer close enough to a scene or the vehicle has antennas populating all the upper roof surfaces you need a roll up option that you can get to where it’s needed most. Saving time by not having to launch far away can mean the difference between a strainer rescue or a strainer recovery.

In the video above it’s easy to see that with a little training a small team can do incredible things. Training for the scenarios rescuers likely to encounter in their respective areas is necessary and shouldn’t be overlooked by leadership. Training doesn’t have to be laborious or mundane. Everyone on the team should become familiar with all of the operations so if a team member is absent, they can still conduct the mission. I used to dread training because of the monosyllabic monotonous classroom data you have to digest. Once you mix in some practical use training it becomes fun and engrossing. Training comes with costs when fielding a program so when setting aside money for a Zodiac ERB departments and local governments should be setting aside some funds so assets like the Zodiac MILPRO ERB don’t sit unused during an emergency event.

By conducting training often teams become cohesive and able to respond to dynamic situations successfully. Learning the incredible capabilities of the Zodiac MILPRO ERB inflatable boat platform assuages fears and forges strong operators able to do what needs to be done when the call is made. Don’t wait until the worst happens, take those meetings and make those budgets, extreme weather is now the norm. Some call it global warming, or climate change, others call it the 100 year weather cycle. Whatever you call it decide on a plan now and put steps in place to protect your citizens before it’s too late.

If your department needs to get a Zodiac MILPRO ERB or two give Inflatable Boat Center a call and get the ball rolling.

The Inflatable Boat Center is open Tuesday-Friday 0900-1700 and Saturday 0900-1500.

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202


Military and professional RFQs can be emailed to

Air and Opportunity

Air and opportunity, it’s a phase that has multiple meanings to me. I think the first time I heard it was in 1985, I was 17 and underway on a ship in the Navy. Basically, I wanted to do a thing that would possibly change my path in the military. There wasn’t any guarantee I would be selected and just about every chance I’d fail but if I didn’t try, I’d never know. The older enlisted guy advising me said at the time “What’s stopping you? Air and opportunity?”. (he also added some colorful words I won’t share here) It felt hurtful to my young ears, but it motivated me to try really hard things, to see them thru to their end, good or bad. The lesson was hard earned but invaluable. When I had different thoughts than my peers and no support for my goals, I relied on the lesson it taught me, to earn it.

Flash forward to 2023, and it still rings true in that regard, but it has another meaning now too. Now sometimes when I’m thinking of “air and opportunity” I’m thinking of the opportunity my Zodiac brings me. I quite literally air up my opportunity (Commando C4) and set out on adventure. Regardless of the adventure being mundane, exciting, or laborious, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow none the less.

Adventure gives experience as a reward and that can be heady perfume to someone seeking their own path. Looking out from the water towards adventure on an unexplored island delights the senses. From my quiet vantage on the Zodiac inflatable boat, I ponder what flora and fauna I’ll encounter as I make landfall. Will the beach be sloppy with deep mud or will it be sturdy enough to walk on. (I’m thinking of you Palmyra Atol) In this case, air in my inflatable boat, has led to opportunity to grow in my life experience. My contemporary peers, most I’d consider to be seasoned, call my Zodiac “a little rubber boat” and leave it at that. It’s not until we meet up on an adventure that they see what a little air and opportunity can do for the mission at hand. Many of my “little rubber boat” friends now own one or two and use them in ways I didn’t even consider.

When I was sailing out of Oahu with my now late friend Lester, I had no idea of the impact the Zodiac inflatable boat would ultimately have on the shape and direction of my life. Those surf spots no one ever heard of before became a very real thing to me, I just had to try to reach them.

Me on the left Lester on the right circa 1991 Oahu Hawaii

Lester got me into to sailing and yacht racing and it was fun and all, but for me my adventure started with a little air and opportunity in the Zodiac. We would take the little rubber boat out to the sea cliffs and pick opihi, snorkel down for lobster, catch ulua and ahi and feast after a long surf session all made possible with a little air and opportunity. It was one thing to cross the ocean and an altogether different thing to strike out into the unknown on a Zodiac once you got there.

In the military I never really understood the capabilities of a little rubber boat filled with air. It was just another day on yet another boat. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get just a little excited to play Zodiac Man. Even while in the Arctic, air and opportunity entered the chat. Operations were made possible because of a little rubber boat and men willing to go into the dark cold ocean beneath it.

I’ve learned so much from those halcyon days, Sun in the sky times that the lessons learned when it wasn’t so great almost seem to be forgotten memories. When the seas gave us conditions that prevented the launching of one of our workboats the rubber boats came out and took up the slack. Air and opportunity saved the day more than once and it was no wonder why the command had a good supply of “Z Boats” on the ready at all times.

Maxie in Zodiac CZ7 Glacier Bay

Our Queen Maxie in Zodiac CZ7 Glacier Bay

When I started working here at The Inflatable Boat Center, I was just looking for steady work, but air and opportunity came along for the ride. I never professed to be an expert, I’d been on a boat before is about the long and short of it. I learned some stuff from Captain Ron and his vast experiences, as well as another ex-sales guy named Adam who was also from Hawaii like me. They had some basics I lacked and some experiences I hadn’t chalked up yet to draw from. The more I learned about little rubber boats the more opportunity I saw in their use. Digging up old memories gave some insights, books gave more, and many of the inflatable boat users I talk to daily give the most.

So much air, so much opportunity, so much to see, do and learn. Air and opportunity should never be in the way of trying new things, and in this case air and opportunity can come from a Zodiac inflatable boat or Zodiac RIB as your ticket to adventure and learning.

You’re never too young or too old to start your inflatable boat adventure.

Breaking it all down and coming full circle to the phrase I was once told by the older Navy guy “What’s stopping you?”, “Air and opportunity?”. Basically, the only thing that was standing in my way was doubting myself. Kick some air into an opportunity in the form of a Zodiac inflatable boat or Zodiac RIB and see where it takes you. If you don’t have a little rubber boat stop by The Inflatable Boat Center and get yourself one. The only thing stopping you is air and opportunity!

Hello Adventurer

This time of year, when the days are short and cold, I like to say hello to the adventurers. I say adventurer because easing into to the winter months you don’t see as many “boaters” out there like you would during the fair weather. Adventurers have many things in common, reduced visibility, rain, winds, early mornings, early sunsets, etc.

Adventurers tend take advantage of the end of season sales on boats and outboards here at IBC. Adventurers have rain gear and pfds, adventurers have removable nav-lights and flashlights. Adventurers have two knives, a thermos of coffee and a snack for later. When the ducks are in the flyway and geese are honking, adventurers can be found on the water doing what the season allows. Adventurers are out crabbing because cold months mean crabs have hard shells full of meat.

The Oregon adventurer (where IBC is located) uses their wits to navigate the swollen streams and rivers going where roads can’t. Oregon adventurers can’t wait for the rain to kick off activities outdoors. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, surfing, marine studies, SCUBA, the list goes on and on.

Adventurers come from all walks of life daring to explore and seize the moment creating memories that last generations. Adventurers choose Zodiac inflatable boats because the risks are high, and lesser boats simply don’t make it out. Adventurers know first-aid, they carry a radio plus a cell phone in their gps pouch. Adventurers file a float plan and know the conditions before they even make the first splash.

Life is precious and shouldn’t be squandered, seek your own adventure. There’s a whole world out there waiting for your footprint. Go check out that surf spot, pull some pots, bait some hooks, charge up that Gopro and get after it! If the dark days and cold nights are too much for you head for the sunny side of things and begin your adventure in warmer climes. Zodiac Inflatable boats roll up and go where you go, wherever your personal compass points.

For me personally, the adventure almost always starts with a Grand Raid or a Commando as the corner stone. Building with such solid platforms makes the rest of the adventure much easier to accomplish. Want to start your own adventure? Dust off your own personal compass and imagination to see where a good boat will take you. IBC is open Tuesday thru Friday9AM to 5PM and Saturday 9AM to 3PM give us a call or stop by our showroom in Portland to discuss your adventure in person.

Inflatable Boat Center

2041 SE Powell Blvd.

Portland Oregon 97202


Bombard Anniversary Sale 2023

On October 19th, 1952, 71yrs ago, Dr. Alain Bombard started his journey into the annuls of history. By crossing the Atlantic un-assisted and with-out provisions in a Zodiac prototype inflatable boat he undertook a grand adventure of discovery that still ripples in the boating world today.

Dr. Bombard’s contributions to marine safety and survival at sea are remembered and celebrated by IBC every year during this time. Select Bombard Inflatable models and configurations to honor a legend will be announced soon on our main site.

Stay tuned here on our blog for images and updates as well.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to google Alain Bombard, it’s a wild ride!

Kicking Air

“Kicking Air”, a phase used in the shop for airing up a boat and seemingly forgotten once a customer leaves. As I sit at my desk and catch my breath from kicking air into the boats on the showroom floor, I thought it was worth mentioning that you need to add air to your inflatable boat.

Yes, even new boats need to have air added to them once in a while. Don’t expect to assemble your boat and think you are done with kicking air altogether. Before I venture out in my Bombard Commando I kick air with my foot pump until it won’t take anymore. If no air is needed on any chamber I stow my foot pump in it’s place on the boat and get underway.

Recreational boats and MILPRO boats alike need to be aired up, it doesn’t matter if its a French Thermo-bonded Strongan boat, a MILPRO Duratane boat, or some knock off brand made out of dubious P.V.C. composition. They all need air to operate correctly.

Every season we get several boats in the repair shop that are “leaking air”, that the customer wants fixed asap. Upon doing an airtest and leak check we find there is nothing wrong with the inflatable boat other than a lazy owner. It happens more that you would think. There hasn’t been an inflatable boat made that doesn’t leak down over time. My Zodiac Bombard Commando seems to never leak all year, but I still check it frequently, and add as needed.

Glued boats like those made from Hypalon/CSM leak more quickly than a French Zodiac with Thermo-bonded seams. Inflatable boats made in China (no name specials) leak the most out of the bunch.

If you start looking at the multitude of valves out there on the market, you’ll see there isn’t any real standard in the off brands other than being the cheapest for the manufacturer to make or buy. The valves will all bubble when you squirt soapy water into them with the caps off. The valve cap represents the actual valve seal, so when you have valve leakage clean or change your valve cap gasket or O-ring, kick some more air, and go have fun.

Zodiac has only used a few styles of inflation valves in it’s 100 + years of manufacturing inflatable boats, and most of them still exist today. Look to the other brands out there and you’ll see a dizzying multitude of valves that often are not the same from manufacturer to manufacturer despite being brand X. Trying to get caps or replacement valves that match in size, type or color can be daunting to today’s average online research specialist. It’s a condition of the knock off culture and there isn’t any end in sight either.

Running your inflatable boat under inflated will shorten its life span, so kick some air into it once in a while. If you’re out of shape, elderly or handicapped use an electric inflator with a gage and get it right without breaking a sweat.