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Old 03-10-2019, 10:02   #16
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

Many of the threads on selecting a dinghy have comments (some by me) asking for more details about how the dinghy will be used.

Will you be using it to carry jerry cans of water/fuel to the boat on a ball, will you be exploring places a mile, or two, or five miles away from where your boat is anchored; will you be carrying diving gear, will you be hauling it up on a beach, will folks in the dinghy be able to easily get back in if they fall out of the dinghy. What combination of these, and other factors, will a dinghy have to meet.

While aluminum floors are lighter than fiberglass they are much harder to repair; and both will likely get up on a plane faster than an inflated floor; which should be lighter than both. An inflated floor will be a flat bottom; great for clam water but not so good in a chop where a V bottom is better. Point is all of these choices have pros and cons and there is no one size fits all right answer.

I like my Achilles for what I will call heavy duty work; but I also just got a Takacat for ease of entry when diving and light weight and easy storage. Very different boats for very different things.

With more information about your intended use it will be easier to advise you.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:17   #17
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

We have a Highfield Classic 310 with a 15hp 4 stroke Mercury. It has a fuel locker forward and a bilge to run the hose through. It has a flat floor and you're never standing in water because the bilge has quite a lot of volume.

It's the only dinghy we've owned but it exceeds expectations. We've had four adults and luggage in it. We've had two adults and three weeks of groceries in it. It was extremely stable in some very rough waves. In calm water it planes with little effort. Sitting still and otherwise empty I can actually stand on one side of the inflatable without flipping the boat.

It has lots of good handholds for hauling it onto and off of the beach. Even with our stupidly heavy motor I am able to muscle it around on land myself, and I am by no means a big guy.

One thing we did do that made it much more pleasant was custom sunbrella chaps. It makes it far more comfortable to sit on the inflatable.

I *might* have prefered the 330 as it's (obviously) slightly larger but specifically has additional secure locker space. But it also would have been a bit much for our davits.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:33   #18
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

hello; after owning a whitewater rafting company in Banff Alberta for 23 years from a commercial perspective, without question Hypalon inflatables out performed the PVC for quality and life span. almost off topic is I often see transom separation from the inflatable tubes that can be possibly be attributed to poor storage or workmanship, how ever I have often seen inflatables with an outboard that has more horse power than the dinghy is rated for. the torque, twisting and out right rending particularly when making tight fast turns can cause eventual transom separation. if it meets your needs my vote is for a Hypalon dinghy with the tubes hung on a FG hull with an integrated FG transom
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:56   #19
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

My approach is go either low end or high end but not in the middle. A low end solution is an Intex Seahawk 3 inflatable plus electric motor and a small lithium battery. The whole setup is around 30 lb and $200, easy to store in a locker, range is about 2 hours at 2 knots, extra batteries are $65, extra dinghy's are $49. It has served me well in protected waters but clearly not manageable in waves or wind. No need to carry gas. In typical use, going from anchor to the dock, it takes 10 min vs. five min for a gas powered dinghy and it is certainly faster than calling and waiting for the launch. The kids love it too.

The high end really depends on your intended use, the size of the boat and how much storage space you have. I personally dislike dinghys that are visible and I think you need at least a 60 ft boat to have a garage in the stern.
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Old 03-10-2019, 11:09   #20
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

If you want cheap, go Walmart:

I bought what I think is the same boat from Costco for $550 + tax (Costco seems to have discontinued it) . I haven't tested it yet, but it looks super sturdy and is rated for 15hp and 5 people/1366 lbs. Of course, it's PVC, not Hypalon. The aluminum floor is hard to assemble, so it's not something you want to be disassembling, reassembling often. Solid transom and four air chambers including keel.
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Old 03-10-2019, 12:41   #21
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

OK responding to questions about the use.

I have not been using the dinghy for long distant runs as of yet, but would like to have the options for it.
I am using an EPropulsion electricmotor at the moment and like it, but it would also be nice to have the option of using a larger gas motor to go fast.

As far as rigid or aluminum/plywood floor is concerned I am on the fence. A friend tells me that it is easier to drag a rigid hull up the beach, but I have no experience with that.
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Old 03-10-2019, 13:33   #22
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies


You can always put a round fender under the hull to help roll it up the beach, works well on our RIB, or even with an inflatable keel.

One downside to air floors is that they are subject to damage from fuel. We had a brief encounter with an old air floor Zodiac, and found that you don't sit as deep in it, either. That might not be a problem with the electric motor, but with a 15 hp o/b, it was a concern, but we never got chucked out of it.

If it is to be a dinghy for long term cruising, you want durability. It needs to be able to carry a heavy payload: groceries, fuel, water, spare parts for the boat. One time we transported some people from one village to another, with their sack of piglets. The bigger and more competent the dinghy is, you can leave the big boat where she is safe, and explore by dinghy, go to remoter reefs or islets for snorkeling.

Who scorns the calm has forgotten the storm.
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Old 03-10-2019, 13:44   #23
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

In my experience with my own dinghies and friends that owned them, because the air floor needs a relatively much higher air pressure, if they get a leak, they’re near impossible to fix. I have a connection with two people who operate dingy repair services and neither will repair an air floor.

My present dingy had an air floor, I’ve replaced it with my own home-made plywood floor after several attempts at fixing a leak. Much happier now. Will never own another air floor.
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Old 03-10-2019, 14:13   #24
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

I still think an important consideration is who is using the inflatable. If you do a search on the topic you can see lots of folks are not able to get in an inflatable if they fall in the water; especially if the fall resulted in any type of injury. While I have the ability go imitate a seal and kinda slide up on a tube and get in my Achilles there are several folks I know who simply can't do that. While there are ladders specifically designed to deal with this they all seem expensive to me and I have seen posts about them not working all that well.
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Old 03-10-2019, 17:25   #25
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

we started with a zodiac air cadet (air floor and keel) but sold it when we started dragging the dinghy up onto beaches etc. it worked fine when landing at good dinghy docks. We now have a highfield, aluminum floor. don't have to sorry about hauling anything - even sharp objects..

If you start having to haul diving gear, diesel cans, garbage, food etc - a rigid floor is better
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Old 03-10-2019, 17:39   #26
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

Having gone through a few dinghies over the last 25 years I remember the problems more so than the advantages.
Aluminium (tinny):-Unstable, heavy, hard on the paintwork.
Inflatable floors:- Vulnerable to anything sharp, develop multiple leaks, impossible to patch.
PVC inflatable:- The accessory mounts detach, very hard to repair, prone to UV damage.
Soft flat floor:- Poor turning ability, vulnerable to beaching damage.

The most successful dinghy was an aluminium v hulled inflatable that lifted well onto the davits was kind on the paintwork, robust on the reefs and beaches, long lasting and easily bailable. It's downside was the sloped floor.

Just my two bob's worth. Cheers
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Old 03-10-2019, 17:52   #27
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

It is not true that the quality is the same no matter where something is made if it is only the brand name and plan that is common.

Since I would no longer have an inflatable on board, I can offer no help. Swifts are a fibne boat by all accounts, being used by customs and police, and they are made in Australia and hypalon.

For my purposes I would have either a folding boat, a nesting dinghy with sails, or my yellow Polycraft which is my preferred option, having the stability of an inflatable with the ease of rowing of a tinny, does not harm paint and mine has a Bimini so I can fish from it on shallow reefs in the shade with rod holders and without a stray fishhook gaff or dropped knife puncturing the pontoons or the floor. It is easily driven by a small outboard and when on its trailer is a splendid camping out trailer, with the bonus of a fishing boat when one arrives.

I had an inflatable only a couple of years old and barely used come to pieces under me in a crocodile habitat, while tying off cyclone ropes for Yasi. The glue used was simply rubbish. Yes it was made in China. It had been stored in its bag for a year, having been used only three times since new. I finished up swimming to the bank and untangling from the ropes now the water. I also had a Zodiac made from PVC. Again, the glue was no good and the d\seams fell apart, but not all at the same time. The Zodiac had an inflatable keel and floor, was a BASTARD to row, used heaps of fuel because the lousy hull profile stuck to the water like **** to a blanket--it was EXTREMELY HEAVY, and I would not have one aboard again, or any other with similar design features.
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Old 03-10-2019, 18:31   #28
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

I have an AB Alumina inflatable that I recommend. It is hypalon, with an aluminum deep vee hull. I don't use it as a dinghy, I use it to pull my kids tubing/wake boarding. So, my usage is not the same as your intended usage though.

Aluminum hulls weigh a ton less than fiberglass. My friend had a flat-bottomed Zodiac briefly, and you needed a kidney belt just to ride in it--it was horrible. I've had the boat 13 years, and the tubes have never given me a bit of problem. There are ladders that you can mount to the tubes, as well as "string" ladders. I am able to climb in from the water without a ladder. However, it can be a struggle for others.

I wish the boat was a bit wider, however, that is probably not a drawback for someone like you who needs to store the dinghy on their primary vessel.
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Old 03-10-2019, 22:27   #29
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

A dingy is the most often used equipment we all own, (except for marina dwellers).
Not a place to skimp. Tube diameter will determine how dry you will be on a windy day.
Ribs are far drier, more seaworthy, durable, and tow safer. With aluminum you may get delamination from oxidisation, fiberglass easier to repair, more common, and usually comes with a flat floor above the v bottom, nice! Both hypalon and pvc need a uv screen, sunbrella cover for $1k or just latex paint like mine.
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Old 03-10-2019, 22:51   #30
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Re: The bottom line on inflatable dinghies

And just what do you have against the Chinese? They make great products and they make crappy ones, just like the Americans, Germans, Brits and everyone else. It's up to you to do your homework.
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