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Old 02-12-2013, 09:05   #1
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Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

The captain wants to buy a single thickness bottom RIB, solid stern, 8 to 9' inflatable boat by either Caribe, AB, Achilles or Defender. Price wise, the Defender models are looking really good. They are selling boats like this for about $2000. That's not a bad price - if the quality is there.

Anyone have experience with their boats? Specifically, we are wondering about the quality of the hypalon and the seam adhesive they use. Since we are leaning toward Defender, what are your thoughts on how they stack up against the pricier Caribe, AB or Achilles brand inflatables? Wisdom is distilled from many experiences and perspectives so I am looking for what you might know. Thanks!
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:21   #2
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

I have a Mercury 280 Dynamic RIB White (Hypalon) 9' 2" purchased new from Defender. It started leaking in year three. Defender fixed it in a week no question asked. It's on year five and going strong.

All inflatables will leak or need a patchs after a few years, so buy from someone like Defender that will back it up with good service.
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Old 02-12-2013, 13:13   #3
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

See the other thread about Defender dinghies. A reply said she worked at Defender, and they are very good.
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Old 03-12-2013, 05:11   #4
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Hi Rolenrock,

I can respond to your question, but I'd like to be up front that I clearly have a horse in this race. I designed the Defender RIBs and they are built for Defender at the same factory in China that builds all the Mercury boats, all the current Zodiac Cadet RIBs and many, many boats for boat manufacturers who do not offer product domestically. I am the President of Defender, but will keep my answers limited to facts rather than opinion (which is how I would advise a friend anyhow).

Hypalon fabric. Today, there are essentially three factories offering a higher grade coated CSM fabric (Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene Material). Aerozure, Pennel Industries [ORCA] and Achilles. Reputable inflatable boat companies use one of the three. As it relates to small recreational RIBs, this is how it breaks down:
Achilles - makes their own CSM-Hypalon fabric
Mercury - they use Achilles fabric for their Hypalon boats
Zodiac - In the Cadet range of RIBs, they use Achilles fabric too
Caribe - Pennel & Flipo, Pennel Industries [ORCA]
AB - also Pennel & Flipo, Pennel Industries [ORCA]

In my opinion, Achilles produces the best Hypalon (CSM) fabric today and that is why I chose their fabric for the Defender range.

Construction:
Hypalon boats are hand made and there are always variances as the result. That can mean it might need some "attention" after a few years [as Cotemar stated above]. Seam construction is either a butted seam or an overlapped seam. An overlap seam is better, but costs more because it uses more material and requires more labor. Most builders today are going with a butt seam and using a "sausage" style of tube construction. If you look at inflatables from years ago, they were more angled, with distinct panels cut to form the end cones and the bow. Most inflatables today are more rounded and a butt seam looks cleaner. In the case of the Mercury Dynamic, the Zodiac Cadet and the Defender series RIBs, they all come from the same production line in China and everyone on Mr. Kim's assembly line is taught and trained to use butt seams.

My goal for the Defender RIB, was to take advantage of Defender's buying power and partner with a builder who can provide a product with the same materials going into the "other" brands, but since it is factory direct to me with no "cut" going to a middle man, the price to the Consumer is lower.

I am sure you already know I offer most of the other brands too. It is about giving people a choice. For my personal boat, I wanted a Defender RIB. But, my wife did not like the color so we went with a Zodiac. Now we both want more room and will likely go with a Zodiac Wave, which is longer, has smaller tubes and is narrower (so it will fit in our davits better). Going to sell the Zodiac RIB we bought.

Warranty-wise, the rate of claim on any brand is less than 2%. Defender sells over 3000 boats a year and that rate has held true for several decades. There is no variance from one builder to the next, unless you start looking at builders who are not "mainstream" fabricators.

I hope that helps. Happy to answer any questions directly. Feel free to call me or write to me at Defender.

Happy Holidays

Stephan Lance
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:29   #5
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Interesting post by Defender, I actually learned something. Now tell me how you can ship a dink to the Caribbean for a reasonable amount??
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:44   #6
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Interesting post by Defender, I actually learned something. Now tell me how you can ship a dink to the Caribbean for a reasonable amount??
What he said!!!!
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:57   #7
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

What companies are using overlap seams, as a rule?
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:00   #8
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

The only thing I could add is think twice about an 8-9' raft, esp 8' is not a very good running length, 10.5 is really a nice length for planing and ride quality, just my 2 cents, seen enough people complain about their short rafts.
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:56   #9
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Robert Sailor - sorry, not really a way to ship a dink to the Caribbean for a reasonable amount. In my opinion, what the trucking companies charge today to ship a RIB only 100 miles from my building is robbery.

Roy M. RE your question about overlap seam builders. Let me be a bit more specific about that. A true overlap seam (I mean a quality one [see orange-ish line-drawing image below for a true one]) should have seam tape over the overlap on the inside and seam tape on the overlap on the outside. As far as I know, the only manufacturer doing this today is Achilles. I cannot think of anyone else who is doing a true overlap seam.

There are builders who do an overlap seam with an interior seam tape, there are builders who do an overlap with an exterior seam tape and there are builders who do an overlap seam with neither interior or exterior seam tape. To me, unless it is a full-blown overlap seam with interior and exterior taping, it is not a true overlap seam. Achilles wins that one, hands down.

One Manufacturer may have different methods from model to model and I have seen boats come in for service that were to have an overlap seam with interior seam tape, but when inspected, there was no interior seam tape at all [see image below]. Of course, that is why buying from a reputable builder with a track record is so important.





All that said, a butt seam is not bad. It is simply that a TRUE overlap seam is better. Butted seams, if done well, can look more finished (flatter) and I would take a good butted seam over a poorly done, pseudo-overlap seam any day.

Inflatable boats are a technical product. No bones about it.

Stephan
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:59   #10
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Excellent information! Well can't say I didn't try. Have bought more stuff from your company over the years than I can count and been a happy customer. Cheers
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:34   #11
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

I just went on Defender web site to check out the Defender RIBs and there is only a 14 footer branded Defender. Too big for my 38 footer sailboat
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:37   #12
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Quote:
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I just went on Defender web site to check out the Defender RIBs and there is only a 14 footer branded Defender. Too big for my 38 footer sailboat
I see 8 and 9 foot Defender dinghys. Just go here.

Defender's Own Brand of Inflatable Boats
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Old 05-12-2013, 18:17   #13
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

I second the comment about how much we love Defender.

The only problem we have is that we used to be able to order on Sunday night, and have it delivered to Texas by Thursday evening. Now it takes until Friday evening (between 4 and 6), and by then we've left for the coast. I don't think that's Defender's problem, but it would be nice if it worked better.
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Old 05-12-2013, 19:15   #14
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

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Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
I second the comment about how much we love Defender.

The only problem we have is that we used to be able to order on Sunday night, and have it delivered to Texas by Thursday evening. Now it takes until Friday evening (between 4 and 6), and by then we've left for the coast. I don't think that's Defender's problem, but it would be nice if it worked better.
Ordered a chain wheel and bowthruster parts today from Defender. Talked to Vetus distributor who had parts in stock but Defender couldn't guarantee delivery by Friday next week. 7 business days!!! Couldn't ship parts direct from Vetus Warehouse. Had to go through Defenders hands.

Leaving for the winter cruising grounds pre dawn Monday morning. Maybe the Defender guy can get me a good shipping rate to SEA. To their credit Defender was by far the best delivery with some suppliers quoting 4-6 weeks. Still, fed ex overnight to supplier 2 business days, ship from defender Monday or Tuesday, 1 day for customs should arrive no later than Thursday. Surely Friday in time to take to Thailand. Hate to pay the local duty in price over there from a chandlery.

Re the Dinghy; go with the longest boat possible you can reasonably carry on Davits.
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Old 05-12-2013, 19:22   #15
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Re: Need advice on Defender Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB) Boats

Stephan, thanks for posting. I'm a Defender fanboy anyway, but your attitude would convince me to try Defender if I hadn't already. Thanks for the excellent customer service over the years.
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