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Old 29 September 2014, 10:33   #1
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Zodiac 340 Acti-V & Mercury 15 2-stroke Mini Review.

Looked through the forum and couldn't see a review of the Zodiac 340 Acti-V so here's how I've found the new to me one I bought last week... might be of interest to anyone who searches in the future thinking of buying one.

Just bought an outfit of a 2004 Zodiac 340 Acti-V (air floor with high pressure keel) and 2004 Mercury 15hp 2-stroke.

The outboard was gleaming and little used but the Zodiac was grubby with an air floor that went down in a few hours. It came with genuine Zodiac transom wheels, seat, oars and Zodiac seat bag but no pump. Priced taking condition into account.

A quick scrub of the boat itself brought it up nicely but as usual with these Zodiac air floors with a coarse texture some dirt remains on the floor. The boat held pressure perfectly in a 6 day test on the lawn and the air floor leak was simply the connecting hose between air floor and keel. Bought a new one (£25) and it held pressure for 4 days without losing any. The boat isn't showing any signs of glue failure and is free of patches so far so looks OK for a good few years yet.

I treated it to a new Bravo 9 pump and Bravo gauge that both works inline with the pump hose and as a stand alone when on the water.

The Mercury 15 2-stroke is well known on here and it's not so long since I (stupidly) sold my mint Mariner 15 so I knew what to expect. I serviced the outboard inc new plugs and gear oil. After an unknown time stored it started in the test tank first pull before the cord was even half way out which was promising... and it pumped water so well I'll leave the impeller for now. As reported elsewhere the tilt bracket pins were a little dry and stiff and the tank pickup needed mending but with those sorted it looked ready to go.

After our previous 160lb Honwave 3.5m alloy floor handling the 88lb Zodiac is a dream. I can easily move it about single handed packed or inflated. The Mercury 15 is on the limit of handling for me so we use the boat with transom wheels as it's trolley and park so we can get the boat to the back of the car to minimise how far I have to lift.

I like the genuine Zodiac transom wheels as they are some of the strongest but I have to admit I've got used to the folding Trem type on our Avon 3.1 inflatable so will sort some Trems out for this Zodiac.

Where we usually set up the boat is some 300m from the slip and a single handed trundle down the streets to the water is very easy with the light Acti-V.... little different to trolleying a suitcase at the airport.

I always worry about a newly purchased outboard but thankfully this one was faultless on the water with first time cold start and no more than a third of the pull cord out started it from hot. After the last few outings with our Avon and a 4hp it's nice to have a bit of power under the twistgrip again.

There is no doubt the high pressure and slightly deeper air keel of the Acti-V gives it a better performance feel on the water than either our Avon or Honwave 3.5 with sausage keels. I've not had the 15 on the Avon to compare but this Zodiac is quick to plane and seems quicker overall than our old Honwave.

The keel arrangement and the two extra little fin keels near the transom do seem to make a small but worthwhile difference in turns and it seems to handle better than any other conventional inflatable I've usd so far... but of course don't get me wrong it's no Aerotec!

We were launched for 6hrs inc stops and did 25Nmls in the Zodiac on Sunday. It was a bit choppy so time on the plane was minimised as the wife finds it uncomfortable but we saw a snatched max of 17Knts into the waves before I had to ease down to stop the smallish dog being bounced into the sea.... and a comfortable-ish cruise with the wave direction was 13Knts.

We didn't feel any significant air floor issues either humping up or cavitation which I can only put down to the HP keel and the fact this boat is a little shorter than our previous 360 Fastroller so less floor to bend. The wife with slight joint problems says on balance she now prefers the air floor.

So for now this Zodiac seems to ideally suit our "easy to manage daily inflate for two persons & dog" needs.... as Max said it might.

Until of course something else interesting comes along and we change tack again!
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Old 29 September 2014, 13:00   #2
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Looking at the pontoon cleat, I take it your worried it might float off !.
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Old 29 September 2014, 13:12   #3
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Ha yes that was a helpful non boaty type with his kids fishing off the pontoon who was so keen to help as we motored/drifted in! Seemed rude to undo all his good work.
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Old 29 September 2014, 15:04   #4
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Nice review, nearly gone full circle David!
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Old 29 September 2014, 16:50   #5
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No humping----no cavitation------------envy is such a bad thing !!!

Phil
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Old 29 September 2014, 17:00   #6
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I know I was a bit taken aback. Far less of such things than any sausage keel air floor I've been in and less than the 360m Fastroller. There is flex under your feet of course, not saying it's like a wood or alloy floor.

Mind you I've only been on the plane in very bumpy water and I remember from the 360 sometimes the best time to experience the issues was on dead calm water so you knew anything "lumpy" was the floor.

Are you still using yours or is end of season for you now?
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Old 29 September 2014, 17:17   #7
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No, I will be out this week and all through winter either fishing on the rivers or sea. I am not sure how this is going to pan out but it is nice to hear that someone has a good air floor with none of my issues.

Phil
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Old 03 October 2014, 05:28   #8
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A non-forum boaty friend has just read this thread and said "surely some negatives"?

Well yes nothing to spoil its suitability for our current need but...

I still think Zodiac should have put on a stronger transom, perhaps like the Honwave GRP with timber core.

The textured air floor surface is a pig to clean.

Far prefer all round grab ropes than the Zodiac strap/grab loops than only extend from forward seat position to transom.

I really would like two more lift handles nearer the front.

The seats on this model are very fiddly to attach.
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Old 07 October 2014, 15:21   #9
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Nice outfit, though supprised you have gone 360deg back to the Zodiac. I'm interested in what the advantage was in going back?

Seats could not be simpler once you have the technique. Just attach them while the tubes are soft, or one side at least, also donít push the seat onto the mounting points, instead lift the mounting points into the seat clip, otherwise they just push out of position.

I agree with the air floor being hard to clean, subsiquently we only use ours for occasional trips off Lyme Bay now, as local river trips are out of the question.

Something to look out for: Inflate the keel / floor until its fairly hard & leave the tubes deflated, lift the front of the boat & you may notice the keel is noticeably off centre, with the tubes deflated you can reach underneath & centralise it (itís usually actually the edge closest to the air floor which needs centralising before then centralising the edge that points into the waterline)

We rarely use ours & are now saving for some sea kayaks, if we can pick a few up cheap during winter we may keep the Zodiac but it's more likely ours will be sold next summer, boating for a family of 6 on a budget is a challenge
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Old 07 October 2014, 18:47   #10
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>>>surprised you have gone 360deg back to the Zodiac. I'm interested in what the advantage was in going back?

Well (if you can stick with the story)....

We came back to smallcraft boating about 10yrs ago after a longish break. Bought a brilliant outfit of a 13ft GRP sporty Bonwitco dinghy with console/remotes and a 25hp (it had a 20 as well for a period) Mariner on a trailer.

Had great fun with that, often Scottish West coast hols, but realised greater portability would be an advantage for some outings so bought a truly mint early 70s 3m hypalon Zodiac which fairly soon gained a 9.8hp Tohatsu. We ran this alongside the Bonwitco for a while using whichever suited what we were doing at the time.

It soon became clear the old Zodiac was more use and easier to store than the Bonwitco but a bit small and I was worried (wrongly as it happens) about the integrity of a 40yr old inflatable so in a quick series of deals we sold the Bonwitco, sold the Zodiac then bought a 2001 sausage keel Zodiac 340 air floor which had a choice of our Tohatsu 9.8 of a Mariner 15 2-stroke we'd bought for more power.

We were so pleased with the 340 and by chance almost immediately a bit of spare cash appeared and the wife said why not buy a brand new boat then we'll have something to last for the next 10yrs+. So we sold the 340 and bought the new Zodiac 360 Fastroller which I guess you've read about... it had a seam issue the first time it was pumped up then it's replacement had even more issues so I took a full refund.

Somewhat on the rebound from these Zodiac issues we went for a new Honwave 3.5 with alloy floor. This was loads cheaper than the Zodiac and when we started using it I was very impressed with design and quality.

Not much time passed before our teen girls were less certain to come with us and sadly my wife showed early signs of joint issues.... so we had gone down from 4 + dog to 2 + dog... and I was getting almost no help with the carrying, setting up and taking down.

Then by chance daughters college/uni hassles made us miss a couple of holidays and I realised the weight and single handed assembly of the Honwave/15hp was putting me off using it and it was spending far too much time in the garage so we sold the outfit and considered giving up boating for a while.

But by chance almost immediately I spotted a mint condition Avon 310 with 4hp Mariner and bought that cheapish outfit so we at least could still get on the water. Great as far as it went but after the 360 and Honwave with 15hp we soon found it too slow and the small tubes compared with the newer boats allowed it to ship water as soon as it was choppy.

Then we happened to see this 2004 340 Acti-V with a great condition Mercury 15 and thoughts turned to how we liked the old 340, how it seemed better built than the newer 360, how its light weight/air floor suited single handed setting up/launching and how much fun it was with a 15hp so on a bit of a whim we bought it. After just one outing it suited us so much we've just sold the Avon (but kept the 4hp Mariner for local river use).

So that's where we are now. And as I said above only until another bit of man maths sends us off in a different direction!

Re seats ours attach in a different way to yours, I think you have the same as the Fastroller where you push in a button either side of the fixing? Ours slide along a "pipe ended" tab with a further tab to be threaded through the fixing to stop forward/aft movement.

I was involved in discussions here on the HP keel twisting because it had caused some of the fixing tabs (keel to outer floor skin) on my second 360 to tear. I have it sussed now though. Due to a leak I had to replace the hose that connects floor to keel on this latest 340 and when fitting the new one I found it was possible to align the (fairly stiff) hose in a position that made the keel stand at right angles to the floor. By default it seems the hoses are fitted in the factory so they tend to twist the keel over a little which is then made worse during floor inflation.

I've just done the final bit of tidying on the 340. Decided to change the Zodiac launch wheels for some folding Trem ones. So I filled all the holes from the Zodiac wheels and repainted the transom which was a bit scuffed. Then I fitted the Trem wheels which freed up the top mount holes that the Zodiac wheel bolts go through and I've put a towing eye each side in these redundant holes.

So it's now 100% how I want it except for a second seat. I'll look for one on Ebay over the winter.... or just get the fittings and make the seat.
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