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Old 08 July 2010, 23:59   #1
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Country: USA
Length: 4m +
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Futura vs Achilles

Hello. New to the site and inflatables in general and I'm hoping to take advantage
and pick up some info/ advice on a couple of boats if I may.

I'm currently in the market for a new/newer inflatable and not really sure which way
to go. The boat would be used for both cruising and exploring lakes and rivers and also
scuba diving. Most of my diving is done with doubles/twinsets so toughness and durability
are high on the list of concerns.

Due to living on the East Coast of the U.S., the proximity of dealers, and my current
knowledge of manufacturers, I had somewhat settled on either Zodiac or Achilles. Nothing
against other makers, but these two seem to have the biggest base and strongest reputation as far as I know.

The boats that have made my current short list are the Mark 3 Futura and the Achilles
SG-156. The Futura has a console seating arrangement that I (the wife actually) would really like for non-diving trips. I'm also well aware of the PVC-Hypalon
debate but more concerned about the puncture and tear resistance of the fabric than
than 20-30 year lifespan. Does either one have a clear advantage at this ? Achilles also
has the SU series boats, which are double-layer commercial grade. Is this actually worth a
$3000 cost increase, or is the single layer SG fabric adequate for diving use?

My other question regarding the Futura. Does the console have enough clearance beneath it for dive tanks or could it be easily modified to? I wasn't able to find any
dimensions or photos that give a clear view of available space.

I'm taking a trip in a week to check the boats out firsthand, but I'm just trying get as
much info as possible prior to that.

Thanks in advance for any info, advice or recomendations you have.
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Old 09 July 2010, 13:22   #2
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Boat name: Pisces
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Hi BECKETT

The bench seats on the Futura MKIII should give you 9" clearance from an ali floor.

I can't really comment on the puncture / tear resistance compared to other fabrics, other than to say that I've never encountered either......but then I don't dive from my boats.

Cheers

Wayne
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Old 10 July 2010, 14:17   #3
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I am not personally familiar with the Achilles, but have read that they make very robust boats. If you are using your boat for diving, a heavy duty SIB would be quite important. Another option to consider is if you can find a used zodiac FC-470, or an FC-530 or an HD-Mark IV futura (same length as the FC 530). All 3 of these have the futura hull design, but are made of heavy duty hypalon. Since they are mil spec, they are quite pricey new, but every so often, a good deal (under 10,000 US) can be found on a slightly used one. You might also want to look into the various cat-hulled (or tunnel-hulled) SIBs that are out their (the round nosed types, rather than the zapcat/thundercat styles). These hull designs have amazingly good sea handling capabilities.

While I have never used the futura bench seat/console set up, I have seen it often and am very dubious of it. Sitting on a seat that is only 9" higher than the floor may be OK for calm conditions, but would be rather unpleasant when in large waves or a nasty chop. The futura Mark II Sport, comes with a jockey seat/console (not sure if these are still sold) which looks to have better ergonomics, but unfortunately it gobbles up alot of the deck space. Here is a link.

http://www.vente-larmor-plage.com/di...ra-sport-5.jpg


Zodiac offers Jockey seat/console systems for their military/commercial foldable boats of Mark III size and larger. Here are some links to these

http://www.zodiacmilpro.com/product/...20sequence.pdf

http://www.zodiacmilpro.com/product/...K%202%20GR.pdf


Better still, IMO would be a jockey seat similar to the Ribpack version positioned neat the stern for tiller steering. A tiller will also give you much greater control when in challenging water conditions and is more fail proof. For diving, a tiller setup will provide you with much more gear storage space.
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Old 11 July 2010, 09:49   #4
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Thanks for the info Sharkbyte and prarie tuber. Hope to be able to make the trip to check
some boats out firsthand in the next week or so. Inflatables are rather uncommon in my
area and not having the chance to closely inspect them myself is making any decisions
rather difficullt right now. I do have the inkling that at 6' with a somewhat troublesome
knee I'd be cursing those Futura seats in no time.

Cool videos by the way Sharkbyte!
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Old 13 July 2010, 10:37   #5
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I had an Achilles SG-14/Honda 40 for about 4 years. Great boat. Did about 500 dives off it in the 4 years, then upgraded to my current RIB.

Couple of observations:

Seating and console is nice for cruising, but takes up a lot of space when you're diving with a few friends. You get a lot of deck space back by going with a tiller and sitting on the tubes.

Boarding ladders are hard to mount sensibly on a SIB; plan on kicking up over the tubes.

Get the max HP the hull will allow. Eventually, you'll be toting yourself, dive gear, and 5 or 6 diving friends. Nice to be able to move at more than 5mph.

Don't worry about durability of the Achilles boats; they're built really well. With a little care, they'll last easily 20 years or more. If you look at the more popular boat diving ramps, you'll see many *really* old Achilles boats.

Luck;

jky
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Old 13 July 2010, 22:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyasaki View Post
Get the max HP the hull will allow. Eventually, you'll be toting yourself, dive gear, and 5 or 6 diving friends. Nice to be able to move at more than 5mph.
Great advice!!! On my 15' 9" boat, I find myself really wishing I had quite a bit more power than my current 40 hp 2 stroke provides. It's not that it is terribly slow - I'll get 30 mph (GPS) when solo with a reasonably light load (~200 lbs of fuel and gear), but the boat could easily handle higher speeds in reasonable conditions. Also, if you load the boat up with gear & people, the max speed really drops down. Am hoping to find a lightly used ETEC 65 commercial at a reasonable price within the next year.
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