An inflatable boat is a pontoon boat made with flexible rigid PVC (triple layered in most cases) and is designed to be very lightweight and easily transported. The boat has round sides as shown below
The sides are inflated with air from a foot pump or a small electric pump and the sides fill up with air giving the boat amazing buoyancy and stability
In the larger inflatable boats the floors are made of wood, PVC and sometimes plywood to give the boat owner a level platform to sit or stand on. This also assists with stability and unlike other boats constructed from aluminion, wood, fibreglass an inflatable boat will be very stable even when 3 people go to one side of the boat.
In the smaller inflatables the floors are sometimes left out as they are not required but this can lead to lack of stability and people falling out of the inflatable boat.
Often the transom is made to be rigid to provide extra security for the owner and the necessary structure to enable the mounting of a power source such as an outboard motor.
Some inflatable boats have been built so they can be pulled down in a quick time and easily stowed in a car, truck or another boat. This means the boat can be transported to the water very quickly and without a large cost.
They can also be very fast boats when powered correctly and set up correctly
Inflatable boats also serve the purose of a life raft. Usually a life raft is fixed to a deck and this system takes up a lot of room. An inflatable can be packed away and pulled out and assembled quickly when an emergency occurs . We recommend a regular training drill if you use this method to ensure in an emergency the crew are competent in building up the inflatable craft.
Inflatable boats as mentioned before are built using rigid PVC and have plain or inflatable fllors. the construction also includes steel, wood or aluminium sheets to give the craft some rigid stability. In the larger inflatable boats the outer tubes are made of rubberised, synthetic sheets which provide light-weight and secure sides and exceptional buoyancy. The pontoons can be made in separate sections, each with a valve to add or remove air, to reduce the effect of a puncture.
Inflatable boats are very challenging to row as they can rotate and cause frustration to the owner. It is better to have a small electric or petrol motor
We think Inflatable boats are the best option for New Zealand conditions and are the most economical. it is important also if you are buying an inflatable boat to ensure the construction is suited to the conditions.
We have tested the Ocean Inflatables in the rugged Dunedin conditions and they are the most suited we can find.