Tag: Hypalon

Achilles LEX-77 Inflatable Dinghy.

Since I plan on anchoring out rather than spending a fortune in marina fees, I needed some sort of tender. Space is at a premium on Dagny, so an inflatable was the only possibility. Even a foldable dinghy would have been too large. I do not want anything on deck under way. My first thought was about Zodiac. Who doesn’t know the name? The Zoom 230 looked very good at about $600. I never buy anything without a lot of research. So I started browsing the web looking for dinghies… Some models seemed to cost twice as much for the same size boat. Maybe because they were made in China, but no, they were pretty much all made in China. Then I learned about PVC VS. Hypalon.

Most inflatables are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It isn’t the same PVC as your garden variety pool implements, but a strong multi-layer material which can be thermally bonded by machines. Zodiac has their own version called Strongan™. It has the advantage of being cheap and convenient for manufacturing. The major issue with PVC however is the sun. UV radiation destroys PVC fairly quickly. For a dinghy used sporadically and mostly stored inside, no problem. If you plan on leaving it on deck or towing it, forget it.

Professionals and the military all use Hypalon (chlorosulfonated polyethylene synthetic rubber). It is not affected by the sun or most chemicals and lasts much longer in more extreme environments. Twenty years is a normal lifespan for a Hypalon boat, even longer. The only downside… Cost.

I thought long and hard about the dilemma. After reading a couple horror stories of PVC boats coming apart after a couple years spent outside, I decided to splurge on a Hypalon dink. Achilles makes all their boats with this material and gets good reviews. I opted for the LEX-77, a 7’7″ boat weighing 62lbs. The LS2-RU was a bit cheaper but did not have an inflatable keel. The LEX also has a plywood floor.

I do not have an outboard engine for it yet, but am pretty much set on the Yamaha 2.5HP. It probably wouldn’t plane with a 4HP anyway (3.5HP Tohatsu), so I might as well save on gas with a 2.5HP. The competition (Suzuki, Honda) is about 7lbs lighter than the Yamaha, and while it might be an advantage for carrying, I can’t help but wonder where the weight savings are…

The only problem with an expensive dinghy is worrying about it being stolen… Not sure how I’ll deal with the possibility… Suggestions are welcome…

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