Guide to Choosing Your Inflatable Boat

Ask current owners for advice before taking the plunge !
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Paul
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Guide to Choosing Your Inflatable Boat

Post by Paul » 10 Jan 2015, 21:24

Choosing your first inflatable boat can be very confusing with all the different floors, sizes, materials used, deck (floor) types and hull shapes. So here is a quick summary to hopefully assist you in your decision making. The main factors to consider are: do you want your boat to ‘plane’ or not, weight of the boat, weight of your outboard for handling purposes, how many people are going to ride in it, where and waters do you intended to use it on?
There are two types of hulls: displacement and ‘planing’ hulls. A displacement hull is designed to push through the water (slow operation =barge type hull), a ‘planing’ hull is designed so when you add speed the boat will rise up in the water and get onto the ‘plane’ and remove most of the hull from the water, thus reducing drag and adding speed (fast operation=speed boat hull).
FLAT HULL
The smaller inflatable such as 2m-3.5m sizes tend to have flat hulls and will not get onto the ‘plane’ and come with flat wooden slatted floors or an inflatable floor insert. These craft generally are for use on calm waters such as inland river ways, canals, lakes or as a sea ‘tender’ within a harbour or close to the shore. Because of the flat hull this boat will not get on the ‘plane’ so the use of a 4-6hp outboard is recommended. The expected speed would be between walking pace -10mph (depending on the weight/ boat/outboard combination).
Diagram below shows a slatted floor with a flat hull.
Slatted deck with flat hull.jpg
‘V’ Hull
The ‘V’ hull is designed to get the boat up onto the ‘plane’. Sizes normally are around the 3m-4.2m and will take outboards from 10hp-25hp. The expected speed would be 10mph-25mph (depending on the weight/ boat/outboard combination). These types of boats are able to be used on all water types including the coastline.
Below is the flat air floor that is inserted into the boat between the tubes and an inflatable keel to give the boat its ‘V’ shaped hull and a firm ‘footing’ floor. This design is lightweight, folds up easily and is compact.
The diagram below shows an air floor/deck and how it's located within the boat.
Air floor inserta.gif
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Air floor insertb.gif.jpg
Air floor insertb.gif.jpg (6.37 KiB) Viewed 2286 times
Next we have the same boat design with an inflatable keel but has a sectional floor inserted made of either plywood or aluminium. Benefits are a solid feeling underfoot but quite ‘fiddly’ to assemble, bulky to pack and store with an added weight of 15-20kg over the air floor designs.
The diagram below shows the Ally/wooden sectional floor/deck and how it's located within the boat.
Ally floor inserta.gif
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Ally floor insertb.gif.jpg
Ally floor insertb.gif.jpg (6.1 KiB) Viewed 2286 times
Next up is the ‘V’ air floor design. This floor is integrated into the boats build with no removable sections. As the floor is inflated it takes the shape of the ‘V’ hull and provides a firm footing. The benefits are lightweight, folds up easily as one compact unit.
Below biagram shows the integrated 'V' air floor
vairfloor.jpg
vairfloor
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Finally is the folding RIB (ridged inflatable boat) design which is a new concept on the market. It is a solid aluminium or GRP hull glued onto the tubes that has been cut into sections and hinged which allows the hull to be folded along its tubes so it can be easily transported in a vehicle. Benefits are a very solid feeling ‘underfoot’ with zero flex on the water/waves but the downside is even when folded it’s quite bulky and heavy.
Sorry no drawings to display at this time but search the web for F-rib or Winboat to view them.

Q & A...
What’s an inflatable floor made of and how does it work?
Inflatable air floors consist of typically two layers of a synthetic fabric that are held together by a series of small stitches. As you inflate the floor, air fills the space between the fabric layers and once the desired pressure is reached the floor will be almost as rigid as a comparable plywood floor without the concerns of rot and additional weight.
Below shows the air floor's construction
Air floor make-up.jpg
Air floor make-up.jpg (13.22 KiB) Viewed 2286 times
Finally is the folding RIB (ridged inflatable boat) design which is a new concept on the market. It is a solid aluminium or GRP hull glued onto the tubes that has been cut into sections and hinged which allows the hull to be folded along its tubes so it can be easily transported in a vehicle. Benefits are a very solid feeling ‘underfoot’ with zero flex on the water/waves but the downside is even when folded it’s quite bulky and heavy.
Sorry no drawings to display at this time but search the web for F-rib or Winboat to view them.
Thanks for reading and happy boating ;)
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Martin (01 Nov 2015, 19:19)

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Re: Guide to Choosing Your Inflatable Boat

Post by Admin » 11 Jan 2015, 00:15

Thats a very informative post Paul, Thankyou for taking the time and effort to explain to any budding boating new comer.
I've made this a 'sticky' :!: :!:
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