PVC boats are inflatable boats, the elastic hull of it is made of a special polymeric material. The main distinguishing feature of PVC boats is a light inflatable hull, and it has both advantages and disadvantages. These things and much more will be discussed in this article.
PVC inflatable boats have the main undeniable advantage over rigid boats – lightness and mobility. When folded, they can be transported in the trunk of a car or carried in a special bag or backpack. And an inflated, fully equipped PVC boat can be carried by 1-2 people over a short distance. The flat bottom of the PVC inflatable boat even in the presence of an inflatable keel makes such boats passable in any shallow water.
PVC boat does not need a permanent place of storage or parking at the berth, it can be easily stored in the garage, on the balcony or in the country-house. Small models can be stored in a bag in a city apartment. Although, it is better to keep the inflatable boat slightly inflated.
The advantages of PVC boats include their price, which is usually lower than the price of rigid boats. Inflatable boats do not require registration for lengths up to 4 meters and motor power up to 10 hp.
The main disadvantage of PVC boats is the vulnerability of the hull. Hull material can be damaged by snags, ice and other sharp objects, burned (if the boat is parked close to a fire), punctured or damaged during fishing or hunting. However, the maintainability of PVC fabric allows you to seal the damaged area quickly with a standard repair kit. In addition, modern PVC fabric is not so easy to break.
The material used by the vast majority of manufacturers of inflatable boats is multilayer polyvinyl chloride or PVC, reinforced for strength with a mesh of polyester threads. This is a synthetic polymer fabric, it is much superior to rubber in its performance properties. PVC is resistant to motor oils and gasoline, has high wear resistance and is not prone to rot or ultraviolet radiation, which is especially critical in the summer in open water.
There is also non-reinforced PVC material, it is cheaper and inferior in strength to reinforced. There are boats made of awning fabric or rubber. They are the lowest in quality and price. They are not considered in this article.
PVC fabric has different density, regardless of the number of layers in the fabric structure. In most common models of boats from different manufacturers, the density of PVC material is standard. High-density PVC is significantly more expensive, it is used only in certain models of boats for extreme conditions – lifeboats, arctic conditions, military use, etc. In addition, the denser material makes the boat heavy and expensive. For most cases of tourist or fishing purposes, boats made of high quality PVC do not make much sense.
The hull of any inflatable boat consists of inflatable tubes (they can have several independent sections), the bottom (it can be strengthened by a rigid floorboard, slatted laminated deck or an inflatable flooring air-deck of a high pressure), a stern transom (from plywood or aluminum, for motor models), inflatable keel (for motor models).
The boat hull consists of inflatable tubes-boards. The tubes are inflated with a pump, they have overpressure valves to equalize the pressure. The tubes in the inflatable boat is divided into airtight sections, which gives the vessel reliability and in some sense even unsinkability in the event of failure of one of the sections.
The bottom of inflatable boats is often flat, it is a single layer of PVC material attached to the perimeter between the tubes. It is reinforced with a special removable deck – it can be a slatted laminated deck made of slats of moisture-resistant film faced plywood, a folding flooring (sole-book) or aluminum flooring with the stringers for greater rigidity. There are also inflatable flooring of high pressure – Air-deck. The rigid deck gives the boat hull stability, makes its use safer and more functional – the bottom deck does not slip, it is convenient when you focus on it with your feet while rowing.
In addition to the closed perimeter PVC hull, some inflatable boats have a rigid transom for mounting the outboard motor. The transom is attached symmetrically and without skew to the PVC fabric in the stern of the boat. The transom is aluminum or moisture-resistant film faced plywood.
Motor inflatable boats are equipped with inflatable keel. It serves to add stability to the vessel at speed.
So, we found out what a PVC inflatable boat is, how it differs from a traditional rigid boat, we considered the advantages, and mentioned the disadvantages.
You can read about choosing a specific boat for your needs in our other article “How to choose an inflatable boat: 6 advices”, which describes in detail the evaluation criteria for different models of rowing and motor boats for fishing or boat trips.