OK, we are not blowing up a lot of things… just the dinghy.
We do like our dinghy. Karen has christened it “Rhythm” (to go with Harmonie, get it?) Our inflatable dinghy is our local transportation wherever we go. Since we inflate and deflate it a lot, we have had a lot of time to work out what works best for us.
The normal air pump used on most dinghies like ours is a foot bellows pump. They work, but I find them awkward and uncomfortable to use. Pumping at full speed, it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to inflate our little boat. Not awful, but if it’s hot and sunny, it can be sweaty work.
When Amel built the Super Maramu boats, they included an electric dinghy inflator pump. As far as I know, these all died an early death, because it is really hard to find a well made unit on the market. So many of them are little more than toys, built for inflating other toys.
After an extensive search, we think we have found the right answer. An Italian company named Scoprega has an extensive line of both manual and electric air pumps sold under the “Bravo” brand name. We have found some of these to be well made and highly functional.
Bravo OV10 Air Pump West Marine sells the same pump with in a store-brand box. Note that the adapter required to inflate most modern dinghies is NOT included, but must be obtained separately.
This pump runs off our 110V inverter and it is also available in a 220V version. It takes about 3 minutes to have the dinghy nearly full. Although it does suck a fair amount of power (1000W) it goes so fast it has no real impact on our batteries. Other than the vacuum cleaner-like whine, is is an easy and pleasant process.
I say nearly full, because while this pump is really fast, it doesn’t QUITE get the tubes to the full pressure they need to be. For that we used another Bravo brand product, a Bravo 101 hand pump.
We liked this hand pump for a couple of reasons. The tube that runs to the dinghy is attached to a fixed point on the pump. On most similar products it is attached to the handle, and goes up and down as you pump. It also has an easily visible pressure gauge.
About 10 to 20 strokes on each side, and the dinghy is fully inflated and ready to go.
At least for now, we think we have the dinghy inflation process as close to optimized as it is likely to get.