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Old 21-04-2019, 03:43   #1
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PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

We're planning to head somewhere sunny (initially south Portugal/Spain, then hopefully across to the Caribbean) and currently looking for a suitable tender.
If money were no object we would chose an alu hulled hypalon RIB.
But money *is* an object and we can't afford to buy one brand new. However I've spotted a few good looking RIBs that meet the spec except they have PVC tubes. Prices are generally less than half the cost of a new hypalon boat, sometimes much less in the case of older boats.

How much can you extend the life of PVC tubes by diligent use of chaps or other coverings? And how much does the initial quality of the material matter?
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Old 21-04-2019, 04:49   #2
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

My pvc dink lasted one year in the Bahamas. The tubes were literally melting. I didnít have chaps.
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Old 21-04-2019, 06:23   #3
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PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

I think if itís a good quality dink, and the chaps cover it well, it ought to extend the life of the tubes greatly.
I think initial quality is huge, Iíve seen cheap vinyl plastic just turn to goo just from time, not much if any UV exposure
I have looked into having a dinghy re tubed myself, and at least here in the US, itís not worth it cost wise.

Even with chaps, your going to get a lot of UV reflected off of the water to what isnít covered by the chaps.

Plus chaps made from Sunbrella arenít all that cheap.

Best I think to do what most do, pop for a high quality Hypalon dinghy or if that is out of budget, look for a used one.
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Old 21-04-2019, 07:07   #4
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

The problem when talking about a "PVC Dinghy" and its durability is there are so many different grades of PVC, from that suitable for a simple pool toy to stuff that is fully capable for use as a tropical dinghy.

When you hear people say that their dinghy 'melted in a year in the Bahamas" you know that theirs was made of the cheap stuff. It is PVC dinghies made with that crap that keep hypalon in business.

There is PVC out of Germany (whose brand name I have forgotten) that is very good. Our dinghy is three years old, never had chaps, in full time cruising service, and the fabric is in great shape. It is a folding RIB, and those must be made of PVC because Hypalon doesn't fold well enough.

So the question of "how long your dinghy will last with chaps" is almost unanswerable. If it is a dinghy that cost enough for you to consider the use of chaps to protect it, it is probably a premium brand, and likely to do fairly well. If you bought it from Walmart and it came with an instruction manual in Chinese, not so much.

Now we do a couple things that help extend our dinghy's life span, and would help ANY dinghy. First is we painted it with West Marine dinghy paint. No, it is not beautiful, but it covers the fabric from the rub rail on the outside up over the tube. Anything that faces the sky. WAY, WAY, WAY cheaper than commercially made chaps, and way way way easier than DIY chaps.

Second, as a folding RIB we fold it up when we are in a marina or sailing we fold it and store it in a bag out of the sun. So, unlike some dinghies, it spends about 1/4 of its life fully covered.
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:52   #5
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

My last PVC dingy, covered with DIY chaps using a Sailrite design, only lasted 7 years wintering over in the Bahamas every other winter and spending summers in North Carolina. Have just finished a set for my new hard bottom dingy to take South again this Fall. Chaps really help extend the life of the PVC boats.

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Old 21-04-2019, 09:18   #6
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Thanks all.
As I said, the ideal tender would be alu/hypalon, and would cost about £3000. That is way too far out of our budget, sadly.

We could get a soft-bottomed hypalon dinghy... Seago do one for just over £1000, which looks alright. But I wonder how the durability trade-off looks between that dinghy and a PVC tubed rib? I expect the Seago would also need a bigger engine to get to the same speed, or we accept reduced performance.

By contrast I am seeing used RIBs with PVC tubes in the £500-£1500 range. The cheaper ones may have grp hulls, which is a little heavier, but it's an awful lot of money to potentially save.

How can I tell if a RIB is likely to have better quality PVC? I'm mainly seeing boats made by Zodiac, Ribeye, and Valiant.
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Old 21-04-2019, 09:24   #7
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Aa billknny said there are many grades of PVC. It is difficult to know what quality of PVC you actually have. I had a PVC dinghy with chaps that lasted 14 years. I sold it to another cruiser who continued to use it. It was a New Zealand built Aquapro.
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Old 21-04-2019, 09:41   #8
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Quote:
Originally Posted by billknny View Post
The problem when talking about a "PVC Dinghy" and its durability is there are so many different grades of PVC, from that suitable for a simple pool toy to stuff that is fully capable for use as a tropical dinghy.

When you hear people say that their dinghy 'melted in a year in the Bahamas" you know that theirs was made of the cheap stuff. It is PVC dinghies made with that crap that keep hypalon in business.

There is PVC out of Germany (whose brand name I have forgotten) that is very good. Our dinghy is three years old, never had chaps, in full time cruising service, and the fabric is in great shape. It is a folding RIB, and those must be made of PVC because Hypalon doesn't fold well enough.

So the question of "how long your dinghy will last with chaps" is almost unanswerable. If it is a dinghy that cost enough for you to consider the use of chaps to protect it, it is probably a premium brand, and likely to do fairly well. If you bought it from Walmart and it came with an instruction manual in Chinese, not so much.

Now we do a couple things that help extend our dinghy's life span, and would help ANY dinghy. First is we painted it with West Marine dinghy paint. No, it is not beautiful, but it covers the fabric from the rub rail on the outside up over the tube. Anything that faces the sky. WAY, WAY, WAY cheaper than commercially made chaps, and way way way easier than DIY chaps.

Second, as a folding RIB we fold it up when we are in a marina or sailing we fold it and store it in a bag out of the sun. So, unlike some dinghies, it spends about 1/4 of its life fully covered.
I am in the Caribbean full time and am curious about your foldable dinghy. If I knew how to communicate directly I would have done so but don't recall and couldn't figure out how to do that. Would love to know what you have and how you have experienced using it.
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Old 21-04-2019, 13:55   #9
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

I would avoid PVC entirely. My Zodiac lasted less than 5 years--and another I had simply dismantled itself when inflated for the first time for use, after being stored for a year as a spare--it was NEW.

Hypalon, if you must have an inflatable. Nothing else is good enough to last ten years.


I now use UV stabilised polythene--not as heavy, far superior, can be fitted with a Bimini because I like to fish in the shade on reefs, but being 3 metres it does take up fore-deck space if you do not use davits. Because it is a tri-hull design with lateral pontoons it is almost as stable as was my Zodiac--which had much larger tubes than most inflatables. Mine is now over five years old--looks as if new. Boat plus road trailer, registered and with spare wheel cost me under five grand. I also fill it with tents and bedding and use it to camp in remote places, because it is an effective trailer.

A good quality Hypalon inflatable would cost at least that without any trailer, spare, bimini, anchor chain and anchor. And I could not screw a Bimini to it anyway, and almost all inflatables will row like a pig. Mine rows very nicely. It is Safety Yellow, I chose that colour because it is also rated and a SOLAS flotation device--and I love my Ugly Duckling. Being plastic it does not scuff paint--but I use fenders because I do not like it tapping on the hull.

I can stand on the gunwale when getting in and out of it. I could do that on the Zodiac too--the only good thing it had going for it.

I would never buy another inflatable unless I had no other choices available, and if I did it would be a Swift. Achilles USED to be good--maybe they still are--but I have heard rumours--
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Old 21-04-2019, 16:15   #10
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Sorry, but this is not correct. Hypalon does fold but not as well as pvc. No PVC dinghy will in survive the tropics for long.
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Old 21-04-2019, 16:40   #11
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Save your money and buy a good used hypolon dink, PVC is not a product for the tropics. If you are using it in areas well above 20 degrees then you can expect decent life out of a quality PVC but not in the tropics. Don’t scrimp on your dink as it’s like your car, you use it everyday and you rely on it to hang in. When you do the math a decent hypolon dink is cheaper in the long run than any pvc dinks.
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Old 21-04-2019, 16:42   #12
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

We had an Aquapro PVC bought in 2002 had a cover on it from day one. Changed it in 2013 Not a single leak. The glue was starting to go off. Handles started to come off along with rubbing strake. This dinghy had a 15 hp Honda on for its entire life. Alloy bottom rib. Kept it on Davits. Only changed as we were about to cross the Indian Ocean. Had the hull re tubed in Thailand. We still have it and the Honda is perfect
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Old 21-04-2019, 21:38   #13
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulawayo View Post
Sorry, but this is not correct. Hypalon does fold but not as well as pvc. No PVC dinghy will in survive the tropics for long.
This information is crap! I have a west marine PVC 310 high pressure airfloor from 2012 (7 yrs old) and it is like new, save a few holes I put in. Just finished a year in the Caribbean and am in Miami now. The dink was never covered for the year in the tropics and sat out 6 months a year in CT for 6 years. I paid $800, compared to $2500 plus for a similar hypalon boat and the $/yr would mean that I would have to get over 20years out of the hypalon to match the price, that's assuming my dink melts tomorrow and that's without chaps or paint... I would never consider hypalon over quality UV resistant PVC unless you plan to live 100% in the tropics and never put a big hole in that hypalon. Even then chaps on good PVC may give you 10 years of use at half the cost of hype a lone...
the problem is knowing what you got with a used PVC! Research the specific make and model of pvc.
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Old 22-04-2019, 02:54   #14
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

This info is crap? How polite. Miami is NOT in the tropics, the Caribbean is. If you have a PVC dinghy that has survived this long under the conditions described then you clearly have a miracle dinghy. I suggest you contact the manufacturer and sell it back to them at a premium as you will have a unique dinghy. PVC dinghies do NOT survive in the tropics and the West Marine brand is renowned for failing in such conditions. The UV inhibitors simply do not work. It sounds as though you have been extremely fortunate. There will always be exceptions to the rule - adding chaps will certainly enable quality PVC to have an extended life but it will never survive the rigours of the tropics like hypalon. We bought our family dinghy (3.3m all aluminium "RIB", Australian made Ocean Craft) to replace our 15 year old Avon 310 hypalon roll up which was still going strong without chaps. Subsequently, we also bought a second Ocean Craft for the kids to use as their duck (dinghy) was another Avon but nearly 30 years old. That ancient Avon is still with me as a fall back, and is still perfectly serviceable. Try that with a PVC dinghy. Read other peoples experience before believing that your own is gospel. We cruised full time since 1995, with our children being born whilst sailing.We cruised globally, until my wife's illness of two years ago, and have shared information about equipment with so many live aboards - and dinghies always get talked about. It is a constant sorry tale of woe regarding PVC. I wish you good luck with yours.



Quote:
Originally Posted by zstine View Post
This information is crap! I have a west marine PVC 310 high pressure airfloor from 2012 (7 yrs old) and it is like new, save a few holes I put in. Just finished a year in the Caribbean and am in Miami now. The dink was never covered for the year in the tropics and sat out 6 months a year in CT for 6 years. I paid $800, compared to $2500 plus for a similar hypalon boat and the $/yr would mean that I would have to get over 20years out of the hypalon to match the price, that's assuming my dink melts tomorrow and that's without chaps or paint... I would never consider hypalon over quality UV resistant PVC unless you plan to live 100% in the tropics and never put a big hole in that hypalon. Even then chaps on good PVC may give you 10 years of use at half the cost of hype a lone...
the problem is knowing what you got with a used PVC! Research the specific make and model of pvc.
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Old 22-04-2019, 03:25   #15
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Re: PVC dinghy with chaps/cover- how long will it last?

Hi
We lived in the Caribbean and had a soft inflatable Zodiac 2.4 airdeck. It was stole off the back of our boat in the bay at Le Marin, Martinique. We replaced it with a PVC Highfield Ultralite 2.6 RIB.
Our outboard is a Torpedo; it often struggled with the Zodiac and there were times when the weather was too bad for us to go ashore. Even in light chop you would get at least three or four waves splashing you or coming over the sides; not good when your wife has dressed up for a party!! My wife did make chaps for it, which thankfully were not on it when it was stolen.
The Highfield was a revelation Although a touch unstable with an unbalanced load, she had bigger tubes, and a deeper floor. This meant that we could go ashore in rougher weather and the chances of getting a soaking were minimised a great deal. The lightness and size also meant that she could be slung in the same davits with little fuss, which was great for our Atlantic crossing back to Europe, and the load carrying was significantly enhanced which was great for picking up provisions or visitors and their luggage. The shaped bow also meant that we cut through the water a lot more easily and our Torqeedo performed significantly better. The other bonus for us is that the chaps my wife made were from old stack pack material, so the dinghy did not look shiny and new and was therefore, maybe, less attractive to would be thieves. So my advice would be to go for a quality RIB. If you have PVC tubes then even if they are UV resistant, I would get some chaps made.
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