Inflatable boat design and construction features
Load Carrying Capacity
A key feature about all inflatable boats is their incredible stability. Conventional dinghies and small sport boats rock almost uncontrollably whenever anyone moves about. Inflatables, with their buoyancy tubes, sit flat in the water and are almost impossible to flip over. This offers a feeling of security to even the most nervous boaters and allows swimmers or divers to slide back on board without upsetting the boat. More buoyancy of inflatable boats means bigger load-carrying capacity. Inflatable boats are designed with built-in buoyancy. The inflatable collar, or tubeset, is the key that allows inflatable boats to carry very heavy payloads in a safe and stable manner. An added benefit is that they are virtually unsinkable, and can generally operate even with one or more chambers of the collar deflated.
Most of today's modern inflatable boats easily match conventional runabouts for speed and handling, while some of the more sophisticated rigid-hulled inflatables are clearly superior to ordinary fiberglass or aluminum boats. For instance, the Virage range of sports boats features Zodiac's patented Futura speed tubes to produce amazing lift and stability. Because the Futura hull merely kisses the water, it creates less drag and thus requires less power to reach incredible speeds while performing with absolute safety. The big rigid-hulled inflatable superboats are equally impressive. With deep V-keels up forward and flat planing sections aft they can produce an astonishingly comfortable ride in tough offshore conditions, yet maneuver with ease in the tightest dock or harbor.
Inflatable boats are the ideal yacht tender because of all their basic advantages including: lightness, stability and buoyancy. Unlike regular dinghies, they're easy to lift on board. With special rubstrake glued or thermobonded to their sides, inflatables won't damage or mark your yacht's hull or deck. Purchasing an inflatable tender almost guarantees the elimination of scuff marks and scratches on your yacht forever.
Inflatable tenders are much easier to store than conventional dinghies. When deflated and folded into its carry bag a typical 8 foot inflatable measures about 3 feet x 2 feet and weighs about 80 lbs. At this size, you can see that an inflatable tender is easily stowed in a locker on board, below decks or in a closet or shed at home. They're also very convenient to take on picnics or on vacation, even in a small car.
Collar (buoyancy tube) design
A unique feature incorporated into many rigid-hull inflatables is the removable collar. The collar is securely attached to the fiberglass hull using a tongue-and-grove method and can be easily slid off whenever necessary. This system allows for convenient storage, maintenance and repairs.
Some of the more advanced inflatables, like Zodiac's Fastroller, feature a special High-Pressure inflatable air floor. Made of two layers of fabric, connected by thousands of tiny "drop stitches", this floor can be inflated to a high pressure, creating a floor with rigidity equal to sheet of plywood a fraction of the weight. Best of all, they can be completely deflated and stowed in only minutes without removing any parts. This high pressure air floor is softer on knees and backsides too.
Given the size, weight and power of outboard engines today, the transoms of inflatable boats must be strong enough to withstand enormous vibration and stress. Many inflatables use multi-layer wood transoms that are glued or "thermobonded" to the collars. The result is a high degree of structural strength that reliably absorbs stresses exerted by outboards.
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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