Mercury Inflatable Consumer Review
by Bob Pomichter
I purchased a new 2008 Mercury Inflatable, Model 285 AF Limited Edition from Defender Industries in March of 2010. I took it out of its box for the first time and inflated it.
The first problem was that the keel tube would not sit centered underneath the air floor. So I removed the air floor and re-inflated the keel tube with the air floor out of the boat. Sure enough it rolled over and twisted to one side. In addition I found a small leak at the seam of the tube. I sent the inflatable back to Defender. They sent the boat back to me after supposedly replacing the keel tube.
The same summer another leak problem occurred while I was towing it on a two week cruise. The starboard side tube was loosing air. I rolled the boat up, secured it to my boat deck and finished the cruise without its use. I found a pinhole on the bottom side of the tube and repaired it myself. I also noticed a “fraying” on the skin just below the “Mercury” logo on the same tube. It was not leaking but I patched it anyway to reinforce the damaged area. It was then late in the 2010 boating season so I put the boat away for the winter.
The following summer (2011) I re-inflated the boat and once again the same tube was loosing air. This time I took it to an authorized dealer. The dealer found 2 more pin holes: one on the top side of the keel tube; the other located on the top, inner side of the tube itself. (See attached photo). There were no surrounding marks nor were they located in areas that could come into contact with other foreign objects. I was told they were not covered under warranty and paid $248.00 plus tax to have the two pinholes repaired.
I picked up the repaired boat went immediately to my marina and inflated the boat. Again, another leak in the same tube appeared. However, this time the air was escaping from underneath the rub rail. (See attached photo). The hole itself is located underneath the pointed edge of the rub rail and is the result of a design flaw in the rub rail itself.
What occurred was that every time the dink was rolled up, often in this case, the pointed edge of the rub rail rubbed against the skin below it until it finally penetrated and caused the hole. The “bull nose” design also caused the “fraying” mentioned above. If the rub rail was designed in one piece and extended to the stern of the boat, as is the design practice of most manufacturers, this problem would not have occurred. This hole, and what caused it, is so obvious, distinct and glaring, that to deny it and not recognize it as a design issue tells me the technicians at both Defender Industries and Mercury Marine are incompetent. As a result I will never purchase a product of any sort from Mercury Marine and only use Defender Industries for purchases that don’t require warranties.
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