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Archive for May, 2012

What To Look For When Buying A Used Inflatable

posted by The Captain @ 2:00 PM
Thursday, May 31, 2012

One of the biggest problems when first looking at second-hand RIBs, is how to tell if the craft is really what you need. Some RIBs look very spartan and commercially orientated and therefore are unsuitable for family and sports use, however, these craft may be very tough and provide an excellent safe sea boat albeit without any luxuries. Other craft may look very well fitted with comfortable seating, flashy consoles and plenty of instruments, but this does not mean necessarily that the hull is very capable in typical sea conditions.

Up until quite recently the majority of hulls were based on the on the commercial dive boat layout and, generally, these are pretty sturdy and seaworthy craft; however, more recently, a number of inflatable boat manufacturers have introduced a number of creature comforts which include wide wrap around consoles, thickly padded bench seating with grab handles and even cabins and cuddies to protect crew from the elements. The Italian market has for some years led the way with this type of luxury layout, but with hulls that were based towards calm waters and therefore not ideal in colder climes, however, they have recently changed their hulls to suit the rougher seas and many of the RlBs shown at this years Genoa Boat Show were sporting deep V-hulls.

Most makes of RIBs are a safe bet when looking for a sound investment and used prices are very strong, thus buying a new or used RIB is generally a much better financial proposition than a GRP sports boat or open day boat which tend to depreciate very quickly. Perhaps because of their versatility and general social acceptance in marinas and harbours etc, where sports boats can be frowned upon, that RIBs are new in the majority and to be on the water during a weekend confirms their amazing popularity.

Buying a used, or as the posh used car trade call them, previously owned, RIB can be a very confusing and in some cases expensive pastime, however, it is usually the mechanics of the engine and soundness of the trailer which require the most attention. Problems with engines can be very expensive and a thorough inspection by a qualified person is recommended. At the very least, the water pump should be pumping through the correct volume of cooling water. If it has a weak water flow from the tell tale it may be just a blocked outlet; however, if the water pump is not working correctly then overheating may have occurred and damage to the piston rings or bearings may have resulted. In this case, it is a must to have the engine checked by professionals.

The trailer requires the usual visual inspection paying particular attention to the draw bar and hitch, ensuring that the ball locking system is safe and operating correctly. The wheel bearings and brakes, if fitted, are the major areas for careful inspection. Brakes frequently become stiff or totally seized due to immersion in salt water and should be checked for correct operation. Wheel bearings should also be checked and this can be done by jacking up the trailer and checking for play, plus spinning the wheel and listening for bearing noise/rumble. If the bearings are noisy, do not attempt to tow the boat without first replacing the bearings; failure to do this can result in a very frustrating and potentially dangerous situation arising. Finally, the winch and, particularly the winch strap or wire, should be inspected. Do not rely on the winch alone to secure the front of the boat, always double up with a securing rope or strap just in case the ratchet on the winch is worn and jumps out of its locked position.

Buying a used RIB should be straightforward providing basic inspection shows no obvious flaws. Generally speaking, what you see is what you get and there should be no reason to suppose that if the tubes and hull appear fair that there are any hidden problems; however, the following obvious tips should provide a guide to the main problem areas.

Repairs Check
Check for major repairs to the buoyancy tubes. If there are professional repairs evident, then this should not present any problems; however, half stuck patches may indicate an amateur repair and these should be attended to as soon as possible.


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Blown Baffles
Check for blown buoyancy tube baffles. This is easily checked by deflating the adjoining tube and inflating the inflated one to sufficient pressure so as to provide a firm and correctly inflated section. Any air transfer will be heard escaping into the deflated chamber. Place your ear close to the baffle (division between air chambers) of the inflated tube to magnify the noise.

Seams
Many seams are covered by tape which can become detached or start lifting. On some boats, this is purely a protective tape covering the main seam below, however, on other makes, especially where the tape is the same fabric as the boat and not just a light weight tape, then this may be main attachment between seams. If the former applies, then is nothing to worry about and a little glue will re-stick the tape easily. However, if the heavier wider tape appears to be lifting, consult an expert before proceeding with the purchase. On certain makes of boat, this can be the beginning of the scams becoming unglued and this can prove very expensive to put right. Some early PVC and polyurethane tubes were particularly prone to seam problems and when unsure as to the type of fabric in use, again, contact the manufacturers or an expert to ascertain the likely problems.

Hull to Tube Attachment
Careful inspection will show up any problem in this area and common sense should prevail, however, check for tell tale glue stains on the the GRP and tube which may indicate a previous problem that has been hastily repaired.

Glue Smears
Dark brown smears which are difficult to remove around the hull/tube joint may be just a careless clean up job from new; however, it may be a repair so ask the seller and have a go at pulling at the fabric in that area to ensure the stick is good. Tubes that become detached at sea do not amuse the crew, although it has been known to create mirth amongst onlookers.

Hull Integrity
Check the hull for serious crazing, especially along the spray rails and chines. Any longitudinal cracks should be treated with great suspicion, but, even worse is a hairline crack that runs across the beam of the hull. This may indicate that the boat has a weakness which could result in an expensive repair or even worse a hull that is flexing due to loss of longitudinal strength through severe use or accidental damage. Any cracks should be checked thoroughly and a surveyor should be consulted if in any doubt. Minor star grazing, compression cracks and chips in the chines are generally cosmetic rather than structurally dangerous. To repeat, whenever in doubt get a surveyor or walk away.

Transom and Floor
This is seldom a problem although floors do become spongy in some makes of RIB. This can be caused by the floor becoming detached from its bearers or the plywood base becoming damaged through water or fuel ingression. The detachment of the deck can often be repaired by a professional boat builder by simply grinding back part of the GRP covering the plywood and re-screwing the deck down to the bearers and making good the GRP. If the floor is delaminating for whatever reason, then it may require part or all of the deck to be replaced. This is very expensive and can be difficult to execute so, once again, given the choice, don’t bother and look elsewhere. The transom should be checked around its base and around its bearers knees. Often small cracks appear at the base of the transom especially if not supported by proper knees. The tops of the knees sometimes show cracks but neither of these means that there is something seriously wrong. Flexing of the transom caused by the fitting of a large engine engines can put enormous loads in this area and whist not unusual to experience these stress marks, it is worth taking a close look to ensure that no serious damage has been done due to flexing.

Console and Seating
Check for any obvious damage and condition of the upholstery, seat hinges etc. but, otherwise, nothing particularly serious should occur in this area; however, check the floor attachment area to ensure the console does not break out.

Fuel Tanks
Problems with breakdown at sea can often be attributed to polluted fuel cold there are many reasons as to how this can occur. Where portable tanks are fitted, check for rust or old fuel. Both can cause serious reliability problems. With fitted tanks, wherever possible try and check the fuel by smelling it to see if it has been standing for sometime and has turned varnishy. Also check all fittings, outlets, breathers etc., to ensure there are no leaks. A leaking inboard fuel tank can be expensive to repair and potentially lethal. It is possible to pressure test all fuel tanks but this requires a certain expertise and is best checked by a qualified engineer or surveyor.

Complete Package
Finally, check the engine-trailer-boat package are compatible and have been regularly maintained. Boats that are hardly used hardly used can be just as troublesome as heavily used craft and vice versa. Outfits that have been properly maintained are usually reliable and well found and can provide a worthwhile investment for the buyer.

View inflatable boat products, accessories and other innovative boat and marine products here.


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What To Look For When Buying A RIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable)

posted by The Captain @ 1:53 PM
Thursday, May 31, 2012

We have put together some key points for you to consider when looking for that dream RIB to buy. We have also appended a ‘ Check List ‘ which can be used as an aide memoir when pondering your impending decision.

Our views and opinions are not exhaustive and we recommend that you talk to trusted others, who may have additional information.  RIBs are a large investment and we strongly recommend that you obtain advice from a qualified surveyor, before you splash your cash. They are however great fun and should give you hours of pleasure and adventure.  Don’t forget to try out as many different makes of RIB as you can before you buy.

RIBs have progressed from the utilitarian 4×4 of the sea, initially developed for rescue and military use.  Today the recreational use of RIBs is well established. The massive inherent buoyancy, low centre of gravity, and high power to weight ratio has made today’s RIBs thoroughbreds of the sea.  The RIB can be an extremely fast, safe seaboat, when properly handled, and is seen in many guises as harbour runabouts, rescue lifeboats, luxury tenders on megayachts, adventure craft on cruise liners, race and cruise boats and others besides.

The EEC issued a Recreational Craft Directive in June 1994 which also covers the design and construction of RIBs.   Reputable RIB builders have progressively adopted this directive since this time.  The directive identifies four Boat Design Categories:

A – Ocean: Designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force F8 (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of 4m and above, and the vessel largely self sufficient.

B – Offshore: Designed for offshore voyages where conditions up to and including wind force F8 and significant wave heights up to and including 4m may be experienced.

C – Inshore: Designed for voyages in coastal waters, large bays, estuaries, lakes and rivers where conditions up to and including wind force F6 and significant wave heights up to and including 2m may be experienced.

D – Sheltered Waters: Designed for voyages on small lakes, rivers and canals where conditions up to and including wind force F4 and significant wave heights up to and including 0.5m may be experienced.


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Boats from builders who meet the EEC directive will have two identification plates attached on the RIB.

Hull Identification with:
Manufacturer’s code 

Country of manufacture

Unique serial number

Year of production

Model year

 

Builder’s Plate with:

Manufacturer’s name

CE Marking

Boat design category

Manufacturer’s maximum recommended load

Number of persons recommended to be carried

 

What Type of RIB interests you?

You will probably have already seen many different deck layouts, so what are these?

Rescue / Commercial / Services
Smaller craft are often used by sailing clubs as safety cover and organisations such as the RNLI use larger models fitted out with twin engine motors and self righting gear.  Commercial models generally used for pilots and by the maritime protection agencies often have a wheelhouse.  Services RIBs are usually about 7m, used by the marines and other waterborne forces.  Some types are be recognised by the grey or olive green colouration of both hull and tubes. You may spot the odd ‘black’ special services or smugglers model, but don’t ask too many questions or else they may have to kill you!

Diving:
Divers usually sit on the inflatable tubes, including the Cox on some smaller models, leaving plenty of deck space for kit and “treasure trove”.  A single helm console, jockey seat and bottle rack are the norm.  The tubes are set close to the waterline and in some cases the hull freefloods to provide maximum stability at rest.

Sports & Cruising:
Moulded consoles and upholstered seating, stowage lockers, some even have a bathing ladder and shower facility. A Cruising RIB is quite capable of an English Channel crossing with a range up to 120 miles. Often with a minimum of between 4 and 6 seats and serious electronics packages. Cabins are also to be found on some models.

Racing:
High-performance deep-V and more recently stepped hulled craft.  Normally they have only two seats.  These craft are capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph but more typically 50 -70 mph. Special designs with lightweight but strong construction, perhaps using kevlar composite material in the build.

 


View inflatable boat products, accessories and other innovative boat and marine products here.


Sea Eagle Fisherman's Dream Kit

What To Look For When Buying A New Inflatable

posted by The Captain @ 1:36 PM
Thursday, May 31, 2012

As you may already know, specialization in the design of today’s inflatable boat is now in the forefront of the minds of the designers. Each distinct group is specifically designed for a different set of applications and is built and equipped with different components and equipment. Most inflatable boats today fall within one these specific categories.

If all you need is a small boat to get you from ship to shore, then a typical inflatable boat is the best answer. If you’re after a medium sized boat for diving or watersports there are many choices as well. If a large rigid-hulled inflatable (Rigid Inflatable Boat or RIB) for recreation, rescue or work is what you need, there are again many exotic designs available with a wide variety of standard and optional components. The choice is quite wide through the entire spectrum, ranging from very compact models with simple slatted or inflatable floors, to larger tenders with inflatable or wooden keels and solid wooden or aluminum floors, up to the fiberglass or aluminum rigid-hulled inflatables. To avoid confusion, before buying, or even shopping for an inflatable, discuss and decide on exactly what the uses or requirements will be for your new inflatable boat. This will minimize the models to choose from, which in turn will minimize confusion.


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Dealer Location and Reputation
The location of the dealer is important because you don’t want to have to travel too far for your inflatable boat needs. Whether it’s parts, repairs or just technical support and friendly customer service tips, a close dealer can be a close friend. In particular, as a new boat owner and perhaps new to inflatable boats, you may have questions, need to claim warranty, or need regular servicing to maintain a warranty. Any way you look at it, closer is better.

Pricing
Years ago, inflatable boats where the most expensive boats on the market and only a few people could afford them. This was due to the use of exotic materials and the hours of meticulous hand labor which went into their construction. Now, the boats still use the best materials, but in the late seventies, the companies started investing millions of dollars in computer-driven assembly equipment. This enabled prices to be dramatically reduced as economies of scale rose, enabling more and more consumers to enjoy affordable inflatable boating. Zodiac and its sister company, Sevylor, are now the leading low-cost producer thanks to these technological investments. So be wary of inflatable prices substantially below the Zodiac/Sevylor line. They may be either produced in developing countries by unskilled labor, or marketed by companies who are unaware of the importance of profit margins. They will be glad to see your dollar today but may be unwilling or unable to fix a problem later, or supply that much needed spare part.

Warranties
You may be enamored with competitor’s claims, all of whom will promise they have the best or longest warranty. There was even a lifetime warranty offered some years ago by an inflatable boat company that soon enough disappeared. A lot of manufacturers use attractive warranties as a substitute for quality or proper boat design, or simply to shore up a lack of product features. You should also be sure in your own mind that the company will be around long enough to deliver. Zodiac has been building inflatables for over 50 years and offers a limited 5-year warranty. And they have the whereforall to be around for a long time.

View inflatable boat products, accessories and other innovative boat and marine products here.


Sea Eagle Fisherman's Dream Kit

Zodiac’s creative genius has led it to patent a great many of its products, accessories and exclusive models. For this reason, their brand has been chosen as our demonstration unit for this section.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of inflatable boat, Zodiac originated many of the major concepts that have led to modern development of the inflatable like the inflatable keel, the Futura hull, the H2P inflated floor and the Ribster. Paralleling this, it has patented many of its original technical features: ie. the removable tube and adjustable oarlocks. These assembly methods for accessories (hand rail, stoppers) and advanced industrial technology are best illustrated by the way the transom is welded to the inflatable structure.

Because it belongs to a dynamic international industrial conglomerate. Zodiac has the technological ability to constantly develop new techniques using the latest high tech materials. For you, this is a guarantee that the boat you have chosen is better designed, better equipped, more efficient; a real asset!

Winning features, identifying signs
Inflatable keel, partially recessed valves. full length floorboard are the signs of a real Zodiac, the world leader, whose major characteristics have often been copied.

Inflatable Keel
Patented by Zodiac, this additional air chamber situated between the floor and the bottom creates a hull shape giving secure, comfortable handling characteristics.

Towing Rings
Oversized, stainless steel, towing rings capable of withstanding pulling forces of up to 1/2 ton, they are correctly positioned for efficient towing using a “V” system.

Semi-recessed Valves
Patented by Zodiac. Provides for quick inflation/deflation, allows easy adjustment of the pressure and is doubly airtight. Gives a continuous pressure reading when equipped with a valve pressure gauge.

Internal Bulkhead
Totally sealing one compartment from the other, its conical floating shape equalizes the pressure in the tubeset.

Rubbing Strakes
Protecting the boat from bumps and knocks and the passengers from spray, Zodiac is the only manufacturer to have perfected the fitting of rubbing strakes by a welding procedure. The majority of Zodiac boats benefit from this system.

Floor With Rail System
Designed for fast easy assembly and strengthened by stringers, this aluminum framed floor features an integrated rail system, exclusive to Zodiac, which allows the fitting of accessories and the tying down of equipment.

Carrying Handles
Ergonomically designed to allow a good comfortable grip, these handles are positioned in carefully studied places to make carrying easier.

Marine Ply Transom
Carrying the weight of the motor and the large forces and vibrations it generates, the transom is designed to cope with extreme stresses.


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Reinforced Cone Ends
Efficiently protect one heavily attacked zone of the boat.

Self-bailer
Using a non-return diaphragm system, simply remove the plug when under way and any water in the boat is quickly drained.

Thermo-bonding, Marine ply transom, Strongan™ Duotex*, Floor with rail system, Internal bulkhead, Towing, rings, Reinforced cone ends, Self-bailer, Semi-recessed valve, Carrying handles, Rubbing strakes, Inflatable keel

Thermobonding
Exclusive to ZODIAC, a robotized hot assembly technique originating from the aeronautical industry. Much stronger and more precise than old fashioned hand-glued methods, the resulting seams are virtually indestructible.

Marine ply transom
Carrying the weight of the motor and the large forces and vibrations it generates, the transom is designed to cope with extreme stresses.

Strongan™ Duotex
High performance fabric, exclusive to ZODIAC, Strongan™ is a 3rd generation plastomer which bonds impervious inner and outer layers to a dense polyester support cloth. It resists cuts and abrasions and is easily repairable in the unlikely event of a puncture.

Floor with rail system
Designed for fast easy assembly and strengthened by stringers, this aluminium framed floor features an integrated rail system, exclusive to Zodiac, which allows the fitting of accessories and the tying down of equipment.

Internal bulkhead
Totally sealing one compartment from the other, its conical floating shape equalizes the pressure between them.

Towing rings
Oversized, stainless steel, towing rings capable of handling pulling forces of up to 1/2 tonne, they are correctly positioned for efficient towing using a “V” system.

Reinforced cone ends
Efficiently protect one heavily attacked zone of the boat.

Self-bailer
Using a non-return diaphragm system, simply remove the plug when under way and any water in the inflatable boat is quickly evacuated.

Semi-recessed valve
Patented by ZODIAC, this system provides for quick inflation/deflation, allows easy adjustment of the pressure, is doubly airtight and well protected against sand and other debris. All this while being comfortable for passengers. When equipped with a valve cap pressure gauge you have a continuous pressure reading.

Carrying handles
Ergonomically designed to allow a good comfortable grip, these handles are positioned in carefully studied places to make carrying easier.

Rubbing strakes
Protecting the boat from bumps and knocks and the passengers from spray.

Inflatable keel
This additional air chamber situated between the floor and the bottom creates a hull shape giving secure, comfortable handling characteristics.

View inflatable boat products, accessories and other innovative boat and marine products here.


Sea Eagle Fisherman's Dream Kit

Inflatable boat and inflatable kayak materials and fabrics

posted by The Captain @ 1:23 PM
Thursday, May 31, 2012

A major component of an inflatable boat is obviously the fabric. Inflatable boat fabric technology has evolved greatly over the last 20 to 30 years, and now includes plastomers, polyurethanes and other fabrics, which can sometimes be stronger, lighter, thinner and less expensive to assemble than the original rubber fabrics. Of course it costs a great deal of money to develop new fabrics or even to switch manufacturing processes to use them. Many manufacturers, big and small, don’t have the will or the resources to do this, and that’s why they generally hide that fact by resorting to condemning new technological advances in fabrics.

For instance, Zodiac’s fabrics have always been on the leading edge of technology and their willingness to research and experiment has led to some innovative new fabrics. These new fabrics are developed to be the best for their intended use. Fabrics used for a small tender don’t need to be the same as those for a large RIB, because the intended use is not the same. Some manufacturers do not have the means or know-how to employ different fabrics, so they just use one. In these cases the consumer, may end up paying too much or getting too little.

Most fabrics consist of a strong, close-weave mesh of polyester or nylon material which is sandwiched between 2 coatings to provide extreme flexibility, superior air and water tightness, as well as resistance to abrasion and the sun’s UV rays. Zodiac uses a polyurethane fabric called “Strongan” and assembles their inflatable boats by thermobonding the fabric.


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Heavy Duty Fabrics
Some inflatable boats are still made from a rubber-based fabric called Hypalon. While this is still a very good material, its major downfall is that it can only be joined by gluing, done manually. Problems including poor bonds, delamination of seams or fabric can still affect these glued fabrics. Today, many inflatables are manufactured from polyurethane fabrics, although larger inflatables (particularly RIBs used for rescue or military purposes) use hypalon because thicker hypalon fabrics are still considered to be stronger and more durable than polyurethane. There are some hypalon fabrics that are “2-ply” or a double unit made up of hypalon/weave/hypalon/weave/hypalon and are used for extreme situations including bumper padding, bow skirts, anti-chafe patches and similar applications.

Seams
Apart from its superior toughness and durability, Zodiac’s Strongan fabric allows the use of Zodiac’s computerized machine-welding process known as “thermobonding”, the welding of fabric using hot air. Two sealing strips are thermally bonded to the butted fabric seams in a continuous electrothermal process. A highly airtight seal is created when the narrow inner strip literally melts into the collar material. The wider exterior strip functions as a overlapping structural connection and a sealer against water penetration. Thermobonding creates seams that are typically stronger than the fabric itself and produces a better seam than any hand-gluing method.

View inflatable boat products, accessories and other innovative boat and marine products here.


Sea Eagle Fisherman's Dream Kit

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