Motor up, wheels down – Martha’s Vineyard Times

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Ocean Craft Marine (OCM) and its amphibious rigid hull inflatable boats haven’t been in the recreational market long, but have been trying to gain popularity on the East Coast through demos.

So on a hot, sunny Tuesday afternoon, we met with Jo Stapleton, director of sales and marketing, to get a firsthand look at one of their new models at Lagoon Pond Landing in Vineyard Haven.

These boats are similar to any other rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), but with the twist of having wheels that can be lowered and raised with a button. These so-called AMP boats, with five different models, take the nature and lightness of a rigid hull blow up boat combined with a built-in amphibious system to provide flexibility to boat owners and solve some of the common problems associated with being a boat owner.  

OCM said the particular RHIB design came from Europe, but has recently gained popularity in the U. S. as it is the highly maneuverable model. These types of boats feature air-filled sponsons with five air chambers on each side that absorb 30 percent associated with the shock created through bigger waves or chop. The sponsons act as natural defenders, and have edges that dig into the particular water as the boat turns, adding surface area back onto the water for a smoother ride and more control. Shock-absorption seats and consoles are also available to be added.  

Stapleton told The Times about the logistics of the boat, and how the design compares with other center console boat designs. He explained that OCM boats still have a full deep-v hull like any other center console, along with reverse chines to create an air pocket under the boat with their concave shape. The difference, Stapleton said, is there is 30 percent less fiberglass with the RHIB design, stopping just above the waterline, and making the vessel lighter and much more fuel-efficient. Additionally, hypalon is used for the particular sponsons instead of PVC, to provide military-grade materials that border on bulletproof.  

These add-on abilities are especially useful for professional boats for the U. S. Navy, Coast Guard, police and fire rescue, plus so on, accounting with regard to 95 percent of the RHIB market. Stapleton also told the Times that will when boaters are spending a lot of time being bounced around upon the water, shock-absorption features can save their bodies from some back and joint stress that takes a toll.  

When Stapleton took the Times out on water, this smoothness was felt, as even going 40 mph, the ride felt fast but controlled, with little need in order to brace yourself for a hard landing coming over waves, and it was a windy day when we went out. Stapleton also demonstrated the turning abilities, making tighter loops while still going 30 to 40 mph. While there has been some splashing, the motorboat turned with ease, and without being disturbed by cut or a need to slow down.  

But that is just the RHIB. For the amphibious part, the system is built within that includes a 40-horsepower engine that runs an electronically controlled hydraulic pump that sends hydraulic fluid in order to its wheels, making it drivable on land. While not a street-legal vehicle, the AMP boats can go 50 mph in water and 9 mph upon land. The component of four wheels is a notable addition from some other amphibious boat competitors, like Sealegs, which only has three, and the added wheel gives the ship a defined four-wheel drive.

Stapleton demonstrated how easily the boat can become taken out or put into the water using the cement boat ramp in Vineyard Haven (to see the particular video, go to above ). It seems to be as easy as starting up the amphibious system along with a button (red button on the console), then using a lever to put the wheels down, which is also used in order to steer the motor simultaneously. Stapleton put the wheels down while he had been approaching the shallower drinking water, then when it got shallow enough that the wheels were touching ground, he just lifted the motor up and used the amphibious system and controls to move the wheels forward. (Sure beats docking the boat, getting into a truck, and backing down the boat ramp with a trailer behind. )

At first there was some uncertainty about how well Stapleton was going to obtain the boat out, and more so how bumpy this would be to actually get on the ramp, but the first push forward lifted the front half associated with the boat out of the water with the particular wheels already down, plus the back followed similarly.  

For getting back within the water, this transition seemed even easier, along with little worries about the front of the boat coming into the water at too steep of an angle, as we were reminded that the vehicle has been still a boat, and the front began in order to float. Once the water was a little deeper, the engine was place down, as well as the wheels brought up. Just like that will, it was just the boat again.  

This amphibious technology was developed by OCM, the U. S. division of ASIS Boats, and its partner, Orion Marine, 15 years ago. They have since sold about 300 worldwide.  

As far as solving issues, this boat sure does a lot regarding waterfront property owners who don’t have a dock or, as the Island is well aware, a limited-availability mooring. The AMP boat design allows intended for easy launch and recovery, with only a single operator needed to get the particular boat in and out of water with its own power. These abilities extend the boating season with more leeway in currents and tides, make it harder to swamp or roll in high seas and choppy waters, and rid the chance of running aground, producing the boat “safety conscious, ” as Stapleton put it. “Our whole Sea Craft Marine mission will be to be a marine solution provider … That’s what we are doing with the amphib, we are solving the problem. ” 

Just like any kind of four-wheeled vehicle, there are some conditions the boat will not succeed in on ground, primarily thick muck that could cause the wheels to sink into it. Other than that, the half-land aspect of the vessel should perform on hard-packed sand and rocky problems, concrete, asphalt, and dirt boat ramps, or within shallow water. This makes it easier to go explore a sandbar, drive upward on a beach, or transport the boat. “The nature of RHIB is that we have a high-performance boat first, then all of us have the added benefit of an amphibious system that is mostly to get allowing you flexibility, ” said Stapleton.  

While obviously an useful invention for the particular professional field due to its versatility and quick responses, in order to The Times, it seems as though this boat would be family-friendly as well, especially with one of the bigger models that allows more room to walk around the console and reduce the risk of children tripping, or having to climb around on the sponsons. Stapleton also spoke about customizations that can be added to the particular boat to accessorize the back metal barring (roll bar) to make it more geared toward fishing or watersports, with added fishing pole holders, or a place to tie a rope for tubing, for example. Additionally, Stapleton told The Tmes that there is room and availability on the bigger models to add a sink, hose, or even other amenities that might turn it into a more livable space, especially useful if a family wants to set up on a sandbar for a day, furthermore made easier without worries of beaching the motorboat.  

What is not as flexible with this ship, however , is the price, retailing for close to $300, 000, with $90, 000 being made up of the amphibious system. When asked exactly how this price tag compares in order to its competitors, specifically Sealegs and Iguana, Stapleton said they are “competitively priced, ” but added, “We have more choice based on your needs and individual boating mission. ” Stapleton also said that these boats are about value plus “cost savings in terms of ownership is better than any boat on the market I may think of. ”

Stapleton did mention that OCM is usually starting to offer financing in hopes of taking the particular boats into a market that is a step below what they are finding themselves to be in, which is centered around high-net-worth individuals who can afford them. The hope is to expand reach and incentivise the buyback program to produce a second market associated with used boats. With that, a three-year warranty is definitely offered for that boat and engine, and an extended warranty is also obtainable, giving the customer 5 years of free maintenance, after which the boat can be bought back in market value and the customer can be put within a new one.    

As far as repairs and maintenance, the particular first scheduled maintenance upon the amphibious system can be 100 hours. Using this system 5 percent of the time, it could end up being two to three many years before the first maintenance on it. But if the particular hydraulic engine needs servicing, Stapleton said, there are many ways to do that, including flying a crew away directly to the customer to get it fixed.      

With mass control over their supply and production, electronics plus engines are the just things OCM do not make in-house, and the only things they have to worry about getting. With that will, OCM is also a good international Mercury engine dealer, so they have engines in stock and may get an engine sourced anywhere while getting a U. S. manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO). Normally, according to Stapleton, companies are 14 months out from delivering boats because of the delay in getting engines and other electronics. The particular only thing that can throw off delivery times, Stapleton said, is if the particular engine computer chips are delayed.  

In the U. S. boat business, OCM and its AMPLIFIER boats are in the particular beginning stages, but they have plans to build a complete production facility. Stapleton speculates that it will be somewhere around the East Coast, possibly in South Carolina or Maryland, with headquarters in Annapolis, Md. Until then, it will certainly continue to demo the boats, currently in Florida, Chicago, Lake Michigan, and New England, with plans in order to add more locations this particular year where there is certainly interest in these vessels and where they would certainly perform well.  

OCM currently has five versions for its recreational AMP boats: 320 Chesapeake (9. 98m), 310 Captiva Beachlander (9. 33m), 300 Bonaire (9. 10m), 280 Estero (8. 57m), and the 230 Cabo (7. 4 m). Stapleton is especially fond of the 300 Bonaire, calling it “the best value in boating, in general, at all in the marketplace, ” adding that it is great for families because of its size. The 280 Estero was demoed for The Times by Stapleton.  

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