Zodiac Diving Boat

Look like fun?

What kind of small boat does Jacques Cousteau use when he wants to go diving? That's right, a Zodiac boat. These things are extremely stable workhorses that are relatively inexpensive, durable, and loads of fun to ride in over the waves. We regularly pay money to ride them in Hawaii, for example, on the Captain Zodiac or other outfits. The inflatable pontoons cushion the rider against the rough wave action. If you want a Zodiac-style boat that can go really fast, opt for a RIB, or rigid bottom boat.

My brother and I are frequent Monterey Bay divers, and one of these boats would infinitely improve our diving capabilities. It has been my experience that the visibility at the areas reached by boat is always better than what you see beach diving. Boat diving is also a whole lot easier than schlepping gear down to the beach and going in and out of surf. The idea of having one's own boat to go do this any time we like is incredibly appealing. The waters of Monterey Bay can be extremely rough--most of it is directly exposed to the Pacific Ocean without much shelter--so it's very important for a boat out here to be durable and capable of handling some serious waves. You can see from the photo of a Coast Guard Zodiac that these bad boys can handle most any condition you want to throw at them. If the Hummer was a boat, it would be a Zodiac Hurricane!

With the right model Zodiac, we can use the boat for a lot of purposes. They'll pull a water skier, and my brother might choose to go fishing with it. These boats are incredibly light for their size, so are much easier to tow than a regular boat. Besides, I've got my Suburban as a dive/tow vehicle, and it should make short work of the job.

24' Hurricane H733 OB w/ diver side door...

Zodiac is a French company that manufactures a complete range of inflatables. They also own some of the other brands, like Avon. There are distinct lines for leisure and commercial/military, with the latter being much more overdesigned, larger, and more expensive. The boat above is about a $40-50K vehicle, for example. I'd go for that one if funds are unlimited, but the leisure line is much more reasonable.

Zodiac Medline

The Medline I and II would make excellent choices for a diving platform.

Avon Adventure 450...

I like the Avons quite a lot too. These boats are outfitted pretty nicely. The Adventure 450 costs about $14K new, and would make an awesome dive boat for 4 divers.

To really make one of these boats ideal, we need to outfit it with the proper accessories:

Sunshower: This is just a little solar powered water rinse so you can get the salt out of your eyes.

Swim Ladder: So you can get out.

Oxygen: Never get on a dive boat without an oxygen set.

Radio: In case you need ot call for help.

Nav Gear: A GPS and Depth Sounder to find just the right spot.

Sources for these inflatable boats:

Allinflatables.com: Site for those interested in inflatables.

Zodiac Marine USA: The horse's mouth.

Zodiac Hurricane Models: These are the way-cool military/commercial high-dollar boats.

Defender: These guys will ship you a Zodiac with outboard all ready to go.

DirectBoats.com: Another online dealer that'll ship you a Zodiac.

I hope to own one of these bad boys sometime in the next few years...

All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.