Shipping 101: How Do Inflatable Boats Work?

Inflatable Boats

Inflatable Boats: All You Need To Know

At Link Ship Chandlers, we believe in the value of getting to grips with the basics of any industry before attempting to master it, which is why we will be sharing a range of Shipping 101 info guides here over the course of the next few months. Today we start with inflatable boats, how they work, a few of the most prevalent types and what they are used for.


What Is An Inflatable Boat?

Inflatable boat (definition): An inflatable boat is a lightweight vessel, normally constructed from flexible tubes that are filled with pressurised gas. The main benefit of these boats is that it can be deflated to a compact size for storage, and can be transformed into a usable vessel fairly quickly.

How Do Inflatable Boats Work?

As with most things shipping-related, inflatable boats have become a lot more tech-forward over the years due to new materials that become available (e.g. Hypalon and Neoprene) and construction technology that develops. These vessels are normally between two to seven meters in length and use motors of between 1.7 and 223.7 kW to propel them along. The major advantages of an inflatable boat are the convenience, speed and ease of mobility.

What Types of Inflatable Boats Do You Get?

The most popular inflatable boats available on the market today include:

Rigid inflatable boats (RIB): These boats have a rigid hull and floor, which give it strong endurance and make it suitable for use in inclement weather and unpredictable currents.

Soft inflatable boats (SIB): These boats do not have a rigid floor, but instead feature a low draft. As such, it is not as rigid as a RIB, but it can be folded up a lot smaller, which makes it suitable for use in situations where ease of transportation and simple usage are paramount.

What Are They Used For?

Rigid inflatable boats are most often used for patrolling, interceptions and as tenders for ships; while soft inflatable boats are most frequently selected as life rafts on bigger ships and used for recreational purposes.

There you have it – a short and sweet introduction to the wonderful world of inflatable boats. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for more expert insight into all things shipping. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to the Link Ship Chandlers team if you would like to find out more about our marine safety equipment and maritime supply services at Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay.

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