We just had the super opportunity of meeting a couple on another boat who build large dinghies professionally. Here are some of the things they said to us:
1) DuPont was the original manufacturer of "hypalon". They no longer make it. Similar materials are made by a few different manufacturers, all of whom make it in at least three grades. Therefore, just getting "hypalon" or "hyperlon" as one Chinese manufacturer has it, doesn't mean you'll get the same lifetime as the old DuPont ones. In addition to the rubber stuff varying in quality, so does the scrim that gets impregnated. One implication of that is that even hypalon is a bit of a crapshoot. For example, the South African hypalon used by Gemini
is not as heavy duty (read as good quality) as what we had on our 1970 Zodiac
or our 1990 DSB, or your old Avon
..... Our Gemini's light weight hypalon tubes are leaking through the scrim, now at 8 yrs.
2) Higher quality pvc dinghies have welded seams. If you buy marine hooding
"chaps" for them, the pvc will last almost as long as hypalon used to. For many buyers, this may be the better way to go.
3) Glued dinghies depend completely on humidity controlled gluing rooms. Poorly glued dinghies will come apart in 2-5 yrs., and if I understood correctly, that was regardless of usage, but that seems unlikely, so I'm not sure.
4) Hypalon (of whatever quality) will be glued, so the seams will start to leak after 5-7 yrs., if it was too humid. Even worse news, if you repair your own inflatable
RIBs, sometimes the leaks
are underneath the rubbing strakes. So now, the poor old reliable, everybody-swears-by-them dinghies are hard to find out about as to both quality of material and glue quality.
The 10 yr. guarantee will probably get you a good quality dinghy
, and may be the only clue as to workmanship that you as a buyer may have. Our advisors were Ed and Gill, from "Maya", and their business is in Brisbane
, near Rivergate. Although they build bigger dinghies than most of us would use, they are able to advise on local products. Silly me, I didn't ask for a boat card...er, business card. Sorry.
Please don't flame me as the bearer of bad tidings, we were pretty sorry to learn the state of affairs, ourselves, as we are about to re-tube our hull
P.S. Another thing they said is that it is really hard to find out who is using what quality fabric
in which dinghies at any time; therefore, I'm not sure we can trust any "old reliable" brand names any more. Even if you've had brand "A" for 8 years and are satisfied with it, no longer means that this years' model will equal it. What a mess! What a huge disappointment.