The Age Of Used Inflatable Boats
Is Very Very Very Important
When looking at used inflatable boats knowing how to find the age of the boat is very important.
The life span of an inflatable boat is about 10-15 years. A few boats last longer, many don't even last this long.
PVC boats that live in the tropics and are not kept covered could be beyond repair in as little as 5 years!
For Hypalon or glued PVC boats the age of the glue is a concern. Glue greater than 20 years of age is at risk of failure. Higher quality boats tend to use better glue which lasts longer.
I have read about lots of 25-30 year old high quality boats that are still going strong. We had a 30 year old Zodiac that showed a few signs of aging glue, but who knows, it could still be going strong 5 years from now.
Check for lifting around seams, transom, bottom, accessories. (A friend of mine had seams blow apart on his old zodiac while out fishing one day! He swam to shore!)
Welded PVC boats from the '90s can have problems due to poor welding of seams - so, heat or radio frequency welded boats older than 10 years should raise a red flag for you, as the welding process was in its infancy and had problems.
As well, re-branded Asian imports that are welded or glued have a much shorter life expectancy than some of the high quality brands.
To determine the actual date of manufacture on a used boat, look for the Hull Identification Number (HIN). The HIN will be affixed to the transom within two inches of the top.
The HIN is a 12 character serial number that gives you important information and can allow you to find out if there has been a recall on the boat for any reason.
The first 3 characters are the manufacturer's identification code.
The middle 5 characters are the boat serial number.
The last 4 characters are the date of certification for the boat.
Learn more about the Hull Identification Number to protect yourself when buying a used inflatable boat.
It is easy for someone to tell you their boat is only 5 years old.
They may not really remember when they bought it.
Perhaps they have only had it for 5 years but it was 5 years old when they bought it!
If you are reading this, you are a smart boat shopper, so make sure you do this little bit of research and get the HIN off the boat you are looking at.
Check for recalls and determine the real age of the used inflatable boats you are thinking of buying.
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