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Old 05-06-2012, 18:49   #1
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What's the Best Airdeck Inflatable?

I'm in the market for a new inflatable. I've put together a spreadsheet in Open office comparing a handful of vendors. I've decided on the Air deck/Air floor variety for roll-up space considerations. From what I have read, PVC should be fine for 40 Deg N latitude if it is covered or stored out of the sun. This one will be used maybe 6 times per year and will mostly stay deflated and stored somewhere on the boat. My current one has the slats and like I heard from someone before “It's like riding a waterbed” - how appropriate. I've narrowed my scope to one in the 8-9 foot region as many manufacturers have one in this size. Specifications and marketing glamor are one thing, but the proof is in actual use. Can you add any comments to my selection or throw another in the mix? As always, Thanks!
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Old 05-06-2012, 21:00   #2
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As I just finished regluing the floor to my 10 year old Zodiac, I am also looking at a new air floor inflatable. I am leaning towards a $1700 9' Zodiac, primarily because it is all welded construction. It also has a high-pressure keel, which performs better, I'm told, than others.

The only thing I dislike about the inflatable floor boats is that they have less room inside the tubes than my current plywood floor boat. Much lighter and easier to store though, so I'll learn to like it.
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Old 05-06-2012, 23:57   #3
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

My vote is for Achilles.

The main tubes are Hypalon. The floors come in both PVC or Hypalon. I have the Hypalon model. I don't have much experience with it as it replaced an Avon roll up last year. The Avon was in 1998 and was beginning to require more repairs then it was worth.

Friends have had various Achilles models over the past 25 years and they have held up quite well - alway high quality although price seem to climb a bit based on the strength of the yen to the dollar.

I would not waste my money on a PVC boat having seen PVC Zodiacs fall completely apart in less then a year of exposure in the Los Angeles area - actually two of them as Zodiac replaced the first one with a second under warranty but when the second one fell apart just as quickly the owner just left it the dumpster and moved on.

The quality on the new Achilles seems to be great. I like the trend to larger tubes which makes the boat more stable and provides a nicer ride. Buy even with hypalon boat, since I have not had an oppurtunity to use the boat recently the boat is packed up in the factory supplied cover and a Sunbrella cover over that.

The one thing I would ask for is a better foot pump. The third party supplied foot pump seems to lack the quality and durability of the Avon foot pump.

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Old 06-06-2012, 05:56   #4
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I have gone back and forth over and over in my mind on the Hypalon vs. PVC. Hypalon is clearly a superior product for durability; especially for UV as compared to PVC.


Check my logic to see if this makes any sense. If a manufacturer is going to give me 5 year warranty, a PVC boat will probably last me 10 since it will see maybe 30 days of summer sun per year. What's a PVC boat worth after 10 years? Probably nothing. What would I get for a 10 year Hypalon boat? $100? I don't know. After 10 years, there could be some other material lighter, stronger, cheaper, better . . .

Unless they put the Hypalon boat together differently, I will most likely have seam failure (or other issues) on either one. My thought is this: Quality of Workmanship (glue, seams, welding, etc) would have a higher priority. Is this reasonable or flawed logic?

I added the Achilles. Looks very similar to Zodiac.
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:21   #5
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I'm going to add this:

"On one occasion I came alongside the dock/steps that were encrusted with small barnicles, despite trying to keep the dink clear she made contact with the dock and was punctured just below the rubbing strake,"

This was from Cacique on another post about inflatables. That would be a compelling argument for Hypalon if it would survive that.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:33   #6
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I have also seen PVC boats fall apart after a year, I would not touch one with my money...

Zodiaca have a horrible reputation, I would stay away from those.

I have owned a Mercury 310 Air Floor for 4 years and can not recommend it to anybody.
The design is good, it is stable and will do 11 knots with a 4 HP engine and one person onboard despite the porky weight of 104 lbs.
The quality however is poor and customer service even worse, I have no idea how the boat division of Mercury can stay in business.

They promised a 10 year warranty on my hypalon model but every time I take the boat to the shop for repairs it takes MONTHS to get approval and parts. Had a new keel installed, 2 months. A new floor 2 months.
Transom came unglued, weeks. Lifeline holders on the tube came unglued, months, etc.
4 visits to the shop in 4 years, then all the stalling and the BS about, the transom is not covered under the warranty...

Whoever is in charge of the Mercury boat division are in the worng position and should be shot on sight...

Heard good things about the Achilles and Avon/
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:24   #7
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I have owned 3 dingys over the years and will share with you my experinces.

1. The first one was an old PVC boat of unknown age (probably 15yrs old) that worked great, had a slat floor but was very easy to puncture, but also very easy to patch. And the patchs held great.

2. The 2nd is an old Avon, it also has a slat floor no transum or keel, it has a bracket that the motor mounts on. The performance while ridding in it is poor. But it will get you there and back. It also rolls up in to a very small bag that I can place in a small compartment and I can inflate it on the boat. The slat floor goes under one of the beds very nicely. It is Hypolon and I have never had a leak or puncture in 15 plus years. Very high quality

3. I have a 310 Mercury Hypolon with an air floor. They advertize a 10 year warranty. How ever mine is 6 years old and the air floor is comming unglued at the seems and the grab lines on the sides have fallen apart. When I took it in for warranty, I was told the air floor only has a 5 year warranty but they are currently checking into what they might do. As the previous post says, I can not recomend it but it handles great on the water and does everything nicely but quality and service seem to be the problem. Also since it has a hard transum it is very bulky when rolled up.

My next dingy will have a hard bottom, they seem to perform the best, and have fewer overall problems, but are bulky and do not store easily.
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:40   #8
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I used Suzumar the other day. It was one super nice dink. Airfloor.

b.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:01   #9
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

If you are going to live with an airfloor, go with a 10 footer. a 9 footer can seem pretty small sometimes...
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:02   #10
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I almost bought an airfloor dink but I decided to buy the cheapest 10' PVC boat that I could because when it gets stolen I want to lose a $700.00 dinghy, not a $3000.00 one.
When we were in Sand Diego (LOTS of dinghies around there) I noticed that about 75% of the air floor dinks had had their floors fail and the floors looked like footballs. I was glad that I didn't buy one.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:08   #11
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

Yeah, I didnt think much of the big air bubble that developed under the boat and then "passed", quite a joy ride! For just getting to shore 6 times a year with a small OB, probably a solution though....
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:30   #12
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Question Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

Oh my! I previously had an older slat floor inflatable and it towed horribly. Never again. I compared many dinks and finally decided on a Zodiac 250 mini rib which I was going to purchase next month and now folks are stating Zodiacs have a bad rep. To purchase or not to purchase????
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:43   #13
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

We had a 9.5' Achilles Hypalon high pressure air floor with a 5 hp 2 stroke Tohatsu. It would plane with just me and some gear and it would carry four with no problems going slowly. Where we sailed (Chesapeake Bay and the West Indies) it did the trick. Very good quality and performance. Get the Hypalon floor, not the PVC. Go for quality. You will regret buying a crap dinghy!
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:44   #14
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Re: What's the best airdeck inflatable?

I had a 10 year old Avon 10 ft with an air floor which I sold for $800 three years ago. I didn't really like the air floor. It came with the boat and was in excellent condition but I needed a shorter RIB. Prefer the stability of the rigid floor. Got a Walkerbay Genesis which is serving me well. Went with the Hypalon material. Have seen too many ruined PVC inflatables.
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Old 06-06-2012, 13:06   #15
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We purchased our 9 1/2 ' Achilles hypalon inflatable floor dinghy around 10 years ago . Right now we are in the middle of a 2 week CA Delta cruise and were just commenting about how great it had held up. No leaks at all. No sign of seams giving up. Original grab lines still in very good condition. Only one patch - due to a fish hook about 5 years ago. Every year it gets about a month of use in the sun. One year it did a full year in Mexico and Hawaii sun without any kind of cover.

The only negative is that the inflatable keel is not very pronounced, so it does not track well through turns. Overall a big thumbs up!

Until a better material comes along, I would not buy a dinghy that was not made of hypalon.

Greg
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