Types of inflatable boats
This category is ideal for first-time boat buyers, or for anyone seeking a practical all-purpose boat offering maximum safety and stability at an affordable price. The size of boats in this category range from about 6 feet up to 20 feet. There are four types of inflatable boats of distinctly different hull (or bottom) configurations available in a modern yacht tender inflatable:
The floors of these inflatable boats consist of a layer of fabric and slats (usually wood) running across the beam. They're usually painted or stained and are about 4 inches in width. The slatted floor system is generally found in inflatables from about 6 to 8 feet in length only, where there is no need for performance. Consequently, these inflatable boats don't tow, motor or row as well as inflatables with an inflatable keel and v-hull.
V-hull (wood or inflatable keel)
This consists of a separate longitudinal inflation tube or wood keel located beneath the floorboards. Once inflated. it provides a moderate V-keel at the bow of the boats by pushing the fabric floor down and away from the floorboards. Handling and performance is greatly improved as the keel cuts through the water cleanly. An added benefit is the extra buoyancy and flotation it provides.
Here is where you go from conventional inflatables to inflatables offering high speed coupled with excellent handling. However, this added performance can often create a false sense of security and may lead to boating accidents. These boats are recommended for more experienced boaters. An example of a performance hull would be Zodiac's Futura model. The patented Futura hull has smaller "speed tubes" attached below the regular collar. Upon reaching plane the boat lifts up onto these speed tubes, trapping air underneath and exerting positive lift (hydrodynamic lift), leaving the boat riding on these two "speed tubes" like a racing catamaran.
Rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RIB's)
As their name suggests, these boats feature a fiberglass rigid hull mated to an inflatable collar. This allows a conventional deep V-hull shape at the bow, flattening out to common planing sections aft. The concept marries the famous buoyancy and stability of an inflatable boat with the excellent handling characteristics of a conventional fiberglass hull. The larger boats in this range offer a wide range of console configurations, seating and other features such as built-in storage lockers, and many other features typically found on larger fiberglass vessels.
The benefits of the RIB are quickly seen in increased performance and handling, coupled with versatility, stability and passenger comfort. The smaller rigid-hulled inflatables make excellent yacht tenders for larger yachts, while the larger RIBs make perfect watersports or fishing boats, particularly because of their flotation, stability and safety. Many rescue and military agencies have recognized the seaworthiness, safety and stability of RIBs and use them in many applications. Also, many of the RIBs offer removable collars making storage, maintenance and repairs much easier and convenient.
About The Author:
T. Chevrier is a successful author and publisher of several online articles in the inflatable boat industry for www.inflatable-boats-kayaks-accessories.com
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