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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi All,

I have read some of the past posts on inflatable dinghies. We think we want one, even though we're not planning on doing mooring or on the hook. Something to take with us on our "cruises" and to play around with.

Looked at West Marine... I think they jack their prices cause they can. Found virtually any Zodiac on Amazon for far less than West Marine. My specific question for you all today is does anyone own one of these? Any Zodiac owners, what do you think of Zodiac durability, quality and customer service? Thanks.

Dave
 

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I have a 230 that I bought from Defender a couple of years ago. It does the job nicely. The PVC material won't hold up as well as hypalon in extended UV, but that isn't much of a problem around here. The 230 only works well for 2 people (and maybe a dog), you'd want something bigger for a family.

You might also consider a rigid dinghy, especially if you aren't also buying a motor. They are a lot nicer to row, and having them be silent makes it really easy to check out wildlife in local ports.

Anchoring is a huge part of the cruising around here, I wouldn't assume that you'll never do it. A lot of the nicest spots in the San Juans have very limited dockage, quite a few more mooring balls, and tons of anchoring room.
 

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We have a Zodiac Classic, mark 2 and it has been (and is) a fantastic dink. Though it does cost more than most other inflatables, ours was purchased in 2007 and since 2009 it has seen daily service (we are on our anchor at least 11 months of the year), without any problems, so in the long run it is probably cheaper. We opted for a soft bottom with the alloy floor boards and with a 15 hp, 4 stroke it will plane w/ 4 adults and their gear. I could easily carry 2, 55 gallon drums of fuel in it and it would still scoot along nicely. The best advantage to a soft bottom boat, which may not be of much value to you, is if the weather on a crossing deteriorates to a point we might lose the dink on deck, we can deflate it and put it below.
I am a true believer; you get what you pay for, in inflatables.
 

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Dave

I am considering the Zoom Aero 260 as well. Use case as a dinghy for two adults, two small kids on the Chesapeake from our Cat 27. Will be pushing it with a 2.5Hp Suzuki outboard. We are limited by the space on our foredeck so 8'6" is about the right size. Also like the roll up option for compact storage and quick inflation.

Josh
 

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We have an Achilles 11'6" Rigid Hull (RIB) with 20 hp Tohatsu. Got it at defender 4.5 years ago. It gets up on plane with 5 or 6 people (may have to have everyone lean forward a bit). Also goes 25 mph, but we don't run it wide open really. At it's light enough that I can drag it up (with lots of effort) on the beach myself, above the high tide line. Have to dig in and pull like Im rowing, but

In other news, when our saiboat's engine died (bad thermostat) in the middle of Long Island Sound a couple months ago, HugoSalt and I "flew" the dinghy off the beam of our sailboat. It kept us going at 3.5 knots, for miles, into Port Jefferson harbor.

Regards,
Brad
 

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We think we want one, even though we're not planning on doing mooring or on the hook. Something to take with us on our "cruises" and to play around with.
If you truly are not going to need a dinghy for transfer to and from the boat, then consider a pair of kayaks (whether inflatable or not). Way more comfortable and fun for playing around with and checking out nearby areas within paddle distance. That Zodiac Zoom 260 will not be fun to row, so you'll really need a small outboard which (in my view) is just one more thing to have to store, maintain and mess around with.
 

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If you plan to power the dinghy with an outboard most or all of the time the Zodiac is good. We have an 8' 6" that's worked well for transferring 2-3 people & a medium-large dog to shore. If you want to mostly row you might want to reconsider though. As Caberg said, they don't row very well generally. Also, in my experience the oarlocks are good for a couple of days use and then they bend/break. You might (just hypothetically) find yourself some distance from shore with a good breeze blowing and trying to improvise a way to tie the oar to the boat. I have not found a good solution to this (the new versions are slightly better but still bend and appear to be failure-bound).
 

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You might (just hypothetically) find yourself some distance from shore with a good breeze blowing and trying to improvise a way to tie the oar to the boat. /QUOTE]
Perhaps a bit off topic, but it may be helpful for those of you who have or are considering inflatable dinks.
The above scenario is where knowing how to scull a boat, especially from the front, comes in pretty handy. I have managed to get inflatables where needed, when necessary, by front sculling them, even in windy conditions. It's not easy, but it is doable. By having the oar in the water at all times, you lose nothing between strokes, as one would when rowing. Though I've never tried it with rigid inflatables, it should work just as well.
 

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Bought from Defender at annual warehouse sale last spring...
Zodiac Aero Wave Air floor 9' 6" just under thousand dollars.
Serves my needs as used approx 1 month a year and then actually rolls up to the same size when new for storage aboard.
.....Key for me is that weighs only 54 lbs....as Aero Zoom, although
less expensive, weighs 80-90 lbs. depending if air or wood floor.
The 54 lbs. assures I can manhandle as needed, not so sure about
80-90 lbs.
 

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I am considering the Zoom Aero 260 as well. Use case as a dinghy for two adults, two small kids on the Chesapeake from our Cat 27.
I think that is the smallest size that you'll want for that crew, but you may also find that it won't fit onto the front of your Catalina 27 while inflated. the sub-8' 230 didn't fit onto the foredeck of my Catalina 25 when inflated.

The good news is that the 230 at least could be inflated with the foot pump in a couple of minutes. The slat floor made it quick to roll up and stow out of the way. This made me comfortable putting it away whenever we didn't need it.

My 8' rigid dinghy (Dyer Dhow Midget, not a pram) fits easily onto the foredeck of my Pearson 28-2, and would probably work well on the foredeck of a Catalina 27. The shape of the bow matches the shape of a sailboat well and leaves plenty of foredeck space for going forward. It works well with 2 adults, but gets crowded and slow to row with 3 adults. I've never tried it with 2 adults and 2 kids.
 

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I have the Zoom Aero 260 as well.

Although I've had it for a couple of years, I've only really been getting use out of it the last six months. I have maybe 10 hours on it and the motor.

Cons:
As others have stated. Oar locks. Broke one the first time I ran out of gas and needed to use it. $40 for two to replace.

Oar lock holder oner thing. It's a small tube that runs in the oar lock base attached to the dink and runs through the oar lock, lock. It works it's way out while rowing. The holding screw doesn't (hold, not screw). Glued it in.

Air valve. Cleaning the dink last weekend the center part of the air valve just fell out when I removed pump tube. The spring and center pin. It held air fine without it, though it was just on my driveway. Running around, there is no spring to put pressure on the valve so not sure if it will lose air. I think I found a replacement valve, which needs a tool (of course) ~$40 I think.

Reg. Sticker doesn't stay on. I know not model specific buy they are brand new this Jan and already starting to fall off. Any suggestions to keep these on?

Pros:
Small, rolls up and I carry it in the back of my truck. My boat is on a mooring so I pump the dink up to get to the mooring and can deflate at end of the day or weekend. Takes about 15 min to pump it up and get going. Not bad at all.

Carries what I need. Three people easy, four if its a relatively short trip or flat water. No way it planes though, maybe with one. (6hp Tohatsu)

Inexpensive ~$800 I think, through Defender.

Tows easy, though I've only towed it about 30 miles so far. No issues with tow rings and I never knew it was there.

Stows easy on my boat. Either inflated (or rolled up) on fore deck or rolled up in its case down below. It's light enough to put where ever you have room.

Overall I'm happy with it, the failing parts are an issue but I guess I'll pick up some spares.

G
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After some research and your comments, we decided even just another foot was going to make it more comfortable (and possibly safer) to use. We just ordered a Saturn SD290 (9'6"). Now comes the motor delema... cost, hp, weight...

Thanks - Dave
 

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I am getting ready to finally purchase the dinghy and debating between the

Saturn SD260

and

Zoom 260 Aero


Any final thoughts that can help me out?

If the zoom really "sucks" can someone elaborate?

Josh
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am getting ready to finally purchase the dinghy and debating between the

Saturn SD260

and

Zoom 260 Aero


Any final thoughts that can help me out?

If the zoom really "sucks" can someone elaborate?

Josh
Hey Josh,

We got our SD290 (260 is the same, just 1' shorter). The inflatable floor and keel are really going to make the difference, I'm glad I went this way. The reviews I read about the little Zooms said alot about weak floor material (getting holes easily) and it's flat bottom. After getting the Saturn, I think it's a much better equiped and looking boat than the Zoom.

Dave
 

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For what it's worth contributing to an already closed discussion: I have a very bad experience with my Zodia Zoom 260 Aero which delaminated severely several places after 2 years and 2 month (right after warranty expired) The wooden plate at the aft where you place the enginge (sorry, don't recall the term for this) has practically lost all contact to the side tubes. This boat was stored in a dry storage room and was used a total of 2 months during summer. During storage it was inflated to about 80%. Zodiac didn't want to repair or compensate in any way for this obvious production flaw. Instead I received an offer from them (through my dealer) to repair it for 350€ plus taxes (I paid 700€ incl. taxes for this boat when it was new). Clearly, this wouldn't make sense because you can expect the rest of the boat to delaminate within a short period of time, too (why should the rest be better than the large seams that have already delaminated, right ?). So in conclusion: a very bad experience, I won't buy a Zodiac again and I will post this message and documentation to all the forums I can find an to anyone who might be interested (yes, I'm pissed).
 

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I have a Zodiac Zoom 260 as well and have the exact same problem with the Transom mount at the side tube. Very disappointing in that like everyone else I have always associated Zodiac with high quality products. My boat is 3 years old but was only used one time then stored in the garage. I would have hoped that Zodiac would have backed their product much better than this. Most disappointing!
 

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Huckleberry here (former GMFL, couldn't log in on that acct, so started an new one) Thought I'd update on this thread.

I've had the Zoom for about 5 years now and although I had the initial problems with the valves going bad, after replacing two, I never needed another. The boat worked fine was light weight and still holds air fine. I only have it inflated for the weekend or about a week at a time though.

However, the real issue I had with it started last year when I had it in the water for about two weeks not being used much. The tubes became sticky and would get dirty the second you touched them. At first, I thought it was from the jet plane exhaust (unspent fuel?) that covers most everything as my mooring is under the flight path from JWA. I cleaned it up (or tried) and it quickly became sticky again. Scrubbed it down with acetone and a rag, boat looked great, clean and not sticky....for about an hour. Comes right back.

Discovered that the PVC starts to break down and that's what causes the sticky tubes. I'd still be fine with the Zoom if this didn't happen.

So, overall the Zoom was a pretty good investment for the price and use/ Essentially an "entry level" dingy. I've recently upgraded to an Achilles 290 (i think) with the inflatable floor. It's a foot longer, much needed, and CSM. I'm told this one won't break down like the PVC. More expensive, but not too much ~$500 more than a PVC model.

FWIW
 
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