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Old 22-12-2017, 21:49   #1
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Highfield vs AB

Iím shopping for a dinghy for our 450. Th version with no console.

How does highfield compare to AB?

Whatís the maximum size for the 450?

Fiberglass vs aluminum? I always figured that fiberglass is more easily repaired and more durable than the considerably lighter aluminum.

Thanks

Warren
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Old 23-12-2017, 01:16   #2
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Re: Highfield vs AB

I am sure that there are a number of opinions on this subject.
We purchased a fiberglass 9VS AB this year.
It is well made, it has a good reputation and it is solid.
I dismissed aluminium hulled inflatables with white hulls when looking as I have seen too many with lousy looking paint. I'd prefer the unfinished version even if it is rather utilitarian.
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Old 23-12-2017, 01:42   #3
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Re: Highfield vs AB

The Highfields I've seen have an odd shaped bow. Never actually driven one.

The ABs have some QA issues at times, with separation of the tubes at the hull on some fairly new boats.

I much prefer an aluminum bottom to a fibreglass one. Much lighter and damage resistant. As to repairing a RIB, it's the tubes and handles that usually need the repair not the bottom.

I agree with Bruce that raw aluminum is better than painted, especially for a cruiser's use of a dinghy.
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Old 23-12-2017, 01:42   #4
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Re: Highfield vs AB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Beard View Post
I am sure that there are a number of opinions on this subject.
We purchased a fiberglass 9VS AB this year.
It is well made, it has a good reputation and it is solid.
I dismissed aluminium hulled inflatables with white hulls when looking as I have seen too many with lousy looking paint. I'd prefer the unfinished version even if it is rather utilitarian.
Bruce
Your 9VS AB weights 65 kg, the same length highfield UL290 weights 38 kg !

To the OP, if you want a big dinghy and want to pull it on the beach I think you have to go aluminium. The CL380 from highfield (or similar from other brands) is probably the biggest you can use at 82kg. I have a seaclonic 380 aluminium with honda 20hp, works great, but I would not handle anything heavier.

I am not aware of any trouble with white powder coated aluminium btw.
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Old 23-12-2017, 02:47   #5
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Re: Highfield vs AB

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Your 9VS AB weights 65 kg, the same length highfield UL290 weights 38 kg !

To the OP, if you want a big dinghy and want to pull it on the beach I think you have to go aluminium. The CL380 from highfield (or similar from other brands) is probably the biggest you can use at 82kg. I have a seaclonic 380 aluminium with honda 20hp, works great, but I would not handle anything heavier.

I am not aware of any trouble with white powder coated aluminium btw.
Light weight is not always a benefit. Our dinghy is small but very stable and comfortable. It also has a flat floor that is easy to stand in.
As to trouble with powder coated aluminum, what can I say, I see bubbled, chipped powder coating all the time on these dinghies. One chip or scratch and the process of blistering is begun.
Obviously, good powder coating and maintenance makes a difference but...

New Alum RIB - paint peel
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Old 23-12-2017, 03:11   #6
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Re: Highfield vs AB

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Originally Posted by Bruce Beard View Post
Light weight is not always a benefit. Our dinghy is small but very stable and comfortable. It also has a flat floor that is easy to stand in.
As to trouble with powder coated aluminum, what can I say, I see bubbled, chipped powder coating all the time on these dinghies. One chip or scratch and the process of blistering is begun.
Obviously, good powder coating and maintenance makes a difference but...

New Alum RIB - paint peel
you ruined my dream of perfect dinghy - dropped highfield from top of my list.

Back to zodiacs where after 3 years things start falling apart.
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Old 23-12-2017, 03:43   #7
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Re: Highfield vs AB

Having had both I prefer the Highfield. One thing you have to get used to is the handling of the aluminum Highfield as it is much quicker to respond to steering. The Highfield is very well designed with lifting points, bow locker and a really good seat which is light and strong. AB quality in the last few years has been spotty.
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Old 23-12-2017, 04:52   #8
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Re: Highfield vs AB

A few years ago the CEO of Defender made a very good post here about RIBs after an inquiry about the quality of their RIBs. He mentioned that all of the name brands were in fact made by two factories and and in his opinion the quality was relatively uniform and that any perception of one brand being of better quality than another at the current time was misguided. He suggested focusing on features/size/price when selecting a RIB.
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:19   #9
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Re: Highfield vs AB

We have had a Highfield single floor aluminum dinghy for three years and have been very happy with it.

Our reasons for picking this .....

Highfield seams are welded which are much longer lasting and stronger than glued seams.

Weight is a huge factor for us as we haul it (with motor mounted) up on the cabin trunk with a manual trailer winch.

Single floor, less weight and we see no advantage or more comfort with the double floor to get it flat.

Aluminum = Tough and light. Whether aluminum or FRP they are going to get scratched or gouged.

Speed ... an aluminum dink will be much faster to plane than the same size FRP.

Good experience with our previous aluminum Aquapro RIB lasted 15yrs and was never covered or stored indoors.
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:26   #10
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Re: Highfield vs AB

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
A few years ago the CEO of Defender made a very good post here about RIBs after an inquiry about the quality of their RIBs. He mentioned that all of the name brands were in fact made by two factories ...
Interesting.
Did he mention, or does anyone know, which two factories?
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:29   #11
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Re: Highfield vs AB

And what length would be ideal for the Lagoon 450?
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:30   #12
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Re: Highfield vs AB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
A few years ago the CEO of Defender made a very good post here about RIBs after an inquiry about the quality of their RIBs. He mentioned that all of the name brands were in fact made by two factories and and in his opinion the quality was relatively uniform and that any perception of one brand being of better quality than another at the current time was misguided. He suggested focusing on features/size/price when selecting a RIB.

That might have been when Caribe and AB dominated the market and were made in various South or Central American countries. Highfields are made in China and lists all their suppliers. HIGHFIELD BOATS - Aluminium Rigid Inflatable Boats It is one manufacturer that tells you where the boats are made. Caribe has a note on their website that says "Factory Venezuela".. don't know if they're still built there. Rumour has it they went to Costa Rica. Can't find where AB's are made, probably at the same factory as Caribes. Zodiacs? can't tell. Achilles -Japan and China.
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:34   #13
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Re: Highfield vs AB

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And what length would be ideal for the Lagoon 450?
CL310. I heard that Highfields were standard on the bigger Lagoons. Don't know if that's true though.
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:37   #14
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Re: Highfield vs AB

Unpainted aluminum hypalon RIB is best if you want the lightest most durable dinghy. If you plan to cruise in areas with reefs/rocks (S. Pacific), aluminum is best. Bigger diameter tubes make the dinghy less wet from chop/waves.

Regarding size, I've had the AL11 (with 20hp 4 stroke and wheels) and it was too big and too heavy for one person to drag on the beach. I swapped it with the AL10 with same size engine and it was marginal, weight wise. A 2 stroke engine would make it lighter. The AL10 was plenty large for dive excursions for 3-4 people.

The double floor models are heavier but they give you a flat surface to step on. This is important when the dinghy floor is wet and slippery.

It depends on how you'll use the dinghy but the lightest and most durable RIB dinghy is a hypalon unpainted aluminum hull one. In my opinion a double floor is preferred for safety. You'll also need chaps (to protect the tubes from UV) and wheels (the larger the better).
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Old 23-12-2017, 05:41   #15
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Re: Highfield vs AB

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Originally Posted by arsenelupiga View Post
you ruined my dream of perfect dinghy - dropped highfield from top of my list.

Back to zodiacs where after 3 years things start falling apart.
For reasons stated here and others, aluminum can be a great choice for a hard bottom dinghy. I prefer fiberglass but that is just me. I don't need higher speed than we have, weight is beneficial as it adds to stability at rest and given our dinghy's size I like a flat floor. There are fiberglass inflatables that fail my needs too.
I wouldn't consider a PVC fabric dinghy again. They look great, right to the end but that end is here sooner than a quality Hypalon. No more fold up inflatables for us now as we have a nice powered crane to do the heavy lifting on our tug.
I simply would not want a powder coated finish on the aluminum. I prefer factory unfinished to what nature tends to do to powder coat.

For the record, not all powder coating is the same, some is more durable than others but why worry? Any scratch in aluminum covered with powder coat will lead to further degradation of the finish, fiberglass is more of a wax and wear kind of thing...
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