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Old 04-02-2014, 08:29   #16
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Great point on the warranties guys. Thanks.

Definitely getting a little analysis paralysis here. So bringing me back to center is much appreciated.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:59   #17
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

When you buy quality you only cry once!
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:02   #18
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

There is a thread on inflables here on the forum in which the CEO of Defender posted some very good information about inflatable construction and materials.

I for one would never order from a small company like North Atlantic that does not list a physical address on their website, despite the testimony of other owners. Just sort of makes me squirm a bit.

As stated you only cry once when you buy quality, and there are plenty of good options out there as most of the big manufacturers are comparable. If you're price sensitive I would look at Defender as they have a great reputation.

Regarding PVC vs Hypalon, even if you only expect to use the dink for 5 years consider the residual value at the end of that term. You could sell a used hypalon on Craig's list for significantly more than a PVC.
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Old 04-02-2014, 16:21   #19
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

It seems to me that the folks (not here) claiming that PVC is good enough are the dealers and manufacturers with an interest in selling the less expensive products. Cruisers in the Caribbean rarely have PVC, and there aren't a lot of old PVC dinks around (although perhaps for other reasons). If you do buy PVC then get the special 2-part PVC glue and some patches for future repairs.

In order to keep the weight down fiberglass RIBs are built with fairly thin hulls. Lowering my RIB onto the deck a lifeline stanchion poked a hole in the bottom. The good news is that a bit of epoxy and glass cloth makes an easy DIY repair. Plastic hulls require plastic welding equipment and matching plastic rods plus a bit of skill. The aluminum hulls appear to be more durable (harder to poke a hole through); I suspect hitting something hard would usually just put a dent in the hull - hammer anyone? Welding aluminum is not that unusual these days if it came to that.

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Old 04-02-2014, 16:39   #20
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
It seems to me that the folks (not here) claiming that PVC is good enough are the dealers and manufacturers with an interest in selling the less expensive products. Cruisers in the Caribbean rarely have PVC, and there aren't a lot of old PVC dinks around (although perhaps for other reasons). If you do buy PVC then get the special 2-part PVC glue and some patches for future repairs.
But is that because most of the cruisers are taking a longer look at the life of the dink? Do they care if it is in good condition in years 5-10 and that's why they go hypalon? Because if the North Atlantic PVC aluminum RIB lasts for 5 years and is half the price of the AB hypalon aluminum RIB that lasts 10 years (and beyond most likely), it would still make more sense to spend less money now given my situation. We are only in our 30s so we know we have to stop cruising after 3-5 years because we will run out of money and need to work again. At that point I could buy a better dingy for while we are living aboard and working.

Quote:
In order to keep the weight down fiberglass RIBs are built with fairly thin hulls. Lowering my RIB onto the deck a lifeline stanchion poked a hole in the bottom. The good news is that a bit of epoxy and glass cloth makes an easy DIY repair. Plastic hulls require plastic welding equipment and matching plastic rods plus a bit of skill. The aluminum hulls appear to be more durable (harder to poke a hole through); I suspect hitting something hard would usually just put a dent in the hull - hammer anyone? Welding aluminum is not that unusual these days if it came to that.

Greg
Add to that the light weight and it almost seems like a no brainer except for the cost.

The big question I am trying to judge is which is better for a 3-5 year cruise: a cheap hypalon, fiberglass RIB (see Defender) or a cheap PVC, aluminum RIB (see North Atlantic)? I am not really concerned with it have any value at the end of the cruise. I just want it to last that period of time for the cheapest amount of money. Oh and have the other stuff I wanted too like an anchor locker and be light weight.

Ugh, I didn't think this would be such a hard decision. If only I could find like a 3 year old AB aluminum for like $3K. That would be perfect.
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Old 04-02-2014, 16:49   #21
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

You are doing the adventure of a life time. The dinghy will be your transportation, tug boat, second and third anchor transport, water, fuel and provisions ferry. Buy the best you can. PVC won't last 5 years on a trip like that. Experienced cruisers almost always wind up with a hypalon dink. The Caribbean is littered with PVC dinghies. It is much easier to do a reliable repair on Hypalon than it is PVC. You will be doing a repair at some point. I have a 20 year old Caribe I purchased in Margarita in Venezuela, looking tired, but still serviceable. I would hesitate on a Caribe because of the issues in Venezuela, but I wouldn't hesitate to get an AB now made in Colombia. There are service stations for AB, Avon, Achilles all through the Caribbean. It is an important part of living aboard, don't cheap out.
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Old 04-02-2014, 16:52   #22
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Not to throw an additional complication into your deliberations, but you might be wary of weight claims, since that is important to you.

My memory might be a bit fuzzy now, but I bought an AB 11 1/2 ft aluminum RIB 13 years ago, spec'ed at 130 pounds, and my scales said 160.

Great dinghy, though.
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Old 04-02-2014, 17:15   #23
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

In 1993 I left to go cruising for 2 years; I finally came home 16 years later. I am very satisfied with my decision to build my boat as well as I could - there was more than enough repair work as it was. I bought the wrong dinghy for this purpose and wound up buying the AB in Venezuela. Had I known when I bought the first dinghy what would really be needed I would have bought the RIB instead before leaving.

So, I have to second the recommendation to stretch and get the best dinghy you can. After all I doubt your crystal ball will tell you how long you will actually live aboard.

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Old 04-02-2014, 17:17   #24
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

I recently bought a 19ft pacific cat, it was built in 1962 and is still a solid boat.
That is 52 years old. It is hard to wear out solid fiberglass.
I also had a 16ft hobie cat, built in 1979. It is foam core, and had some delamination that I had to fix, but it did manage for over 30 years.
You might look at Cotemar's 10ft solid (cored) cat dinghy.
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Old 04-02-2014, 17:53   #25
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Quote:
Originally Posted by JK n Smitty View Post
The big question I am trying to judge is which is better for a 3-5 year cruise: a cheap hypalon, fiberglass RIB (see Defender) or a cheap PVC, aluminum RIB (see North Atlantic)?
Put that way, go with the hypalon GRP RIB.

You are putting way too much emphasis on the benefit of an aluminum RIB.

Anchor lockers usually mean heavy, because they are typically found in double-hulled models. You can always put an igloo cooler where the seat goes and put your stuff in there. Don't worry about the need for locking a locker - if you are dumb enough to leave valuable stuff in a dinghy, a lock on a bow locker isn't going to stop theft, and it will likely increase it.

I have seen a huge number of fiberglass RIBs and have yet to see one so thin that a stanchion will easily poke through it. Even the light versions of them. Not saying they don't exist - just saying that I have never seen one, and I doubt any of the big manufacturers make one like that.

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Old 04-02-2014, 17:59   #26
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Colemj- It is a very well-built AB that punctured. You have to appreciate that putting the 110lb (rated) weight onto the small top of a stanchion, admittedly as it is moving down, is perfectly capable of creating enough force to do it.

I have to agree about the locker - the additional weight (and size when deflated) just isn't worth the advantages. Personally, I put a slat athwartships in the bow, and set a Mueller 6 gal bow tank straddling it. This puts the tank out of the way and balances the weight of the engine.

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Old 24-02-2014, 10:08   #27
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

So we made our purchase. After considering all of the options and advice we decided that hypalon was a must. We then narrowed it down to 4 boats, two aluminum RIBs and two fiberglass RIBs. This past weekend we went to the New England Boat Show. It was a great chance to see all but one of the choices (the Defender single floor fiberglass RIB). The other options were the Achilles fiberglass, lightweight RIB, the AB aluminum RIBs (AL and UL) and the Highfield aluminum RIBs.

The Achilles was what we expected. Light weight for a fiberglass at a little over 100 lbs. No bow locker. Kind of flat bottom. Quality manufactured. Nice boat but still just over $3K at boat show prices.

The AB were really nice. But the bare aluminum looks like it would get hot. We have a dog we take with us and I think it would be too warm for her. They didn't even over the painted hull versions due to the flaking problems they have. I also like to be bare foot most of the time. Also in the version with the anchor locker, you can't lock the locker with a pad lock. It just snaps closed. We were looking at the 9.5 foot versions and they were pricey. The single floor was $3,800 and the double floor, bow locker was $5K.

Finally, we looked at the Highfield. Not a lot of info out there when we were researching before the show, but what we could find was very positive. The also had a single floor and double floor, bow locker versions. These hulls are powder coated so it should have far less problems with flaking. In the end we went for the double hull because we thought the flat floor would be better. Plus I had read that some people don't like the single floor because it's too light in the bow and can get a little tippy in winds on the bow or chop. The boat show deal was $3,200 for the boat, dry bag, cover, foot pump and seat bag. Decent deal. The boat weighs 108 pounds. We can pick it up in March.

Hopefully it will be as good as it seems.

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Old 24-02-2014, 11:42   #28
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Good choice, I have heard nothing but positive things about the Highfields. I didn't know they were selling them in the US now. You will like the double floor over the single just for the flatness - that is an under-appreciated quality that many people don't know they are missing.

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Old 26-02-2014, 05:53   #29
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Just a follow up. We have a unpainted AB 10' UL. Into our 5th year full times with the RIB. 3 summer in sea of Cortez, Mexico. Now when you think hot anywhere that's one freakin hot place! Often into or close to 100 degrees on a daily basis. Never did we have an issue with the floor being to hot. It's in the water and only as hot as the water is. I fished just about every day with it and never wore shoes.

Would we buy it again...... YES with even looking at another brand.

How many dinghies of the one you purchased have we seen since departing in 2005? Zero

Lots of west marine, AB, Avon, etc.

Good luck with it

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Old 26-02-2014, 06:50   #30
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Re: North Atlantic Inflatables and other Aluminum RIBs

Quote:
Originally Posted by chouliha View Post
How many dinghies of the one you purchased have we seen since departing in 2005? Zero

Lots of west marine, AB, Avon, etc.

Good luck with it

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Yet, if you were cruising in Australia and Asia, you would see tons of Highfield dinghies and zero West Marine, etc. I don't follow your logic there.

How hot does the bare aluminum get in the sun when the dinghy is not in the water (on the beach or in the davits)? I know the bare aluminum walkway on our bimini gets so hot to blister skin within seconds.

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