This is the fourth year in a row of testing for our inflatable-keel Selva 320 VIB tender, which has spent the winter, as usual, under the deck of our lab-boat without anyone having bothered to clean it or fold it up too carefully: we do this on purpose, we always want to stress it to the utmost, so that our test is as truthful as possible.
Last year we took it with us on the ‘1000-mile cruise in the Tyrrhenian Sea’, and it was really indispensable considering that we practically spent the whole time at anchor, do you remember?
This year we put another 900 nautical miles or so on its shoulders between Sardinia and Corsica, mostly leaving him towed by the boat, so as to take full advantage of the zero-impact recharging effect of the Epropulsion Spirit 1.0 Evo engine.
This is how it went.
Launching the Selva inflatable keel tender
We take it off the deck and it comes back to me how we had stored it: badly. It is still full of salt, as we had purposely not rinsed it, which has had an impact on its colour, which is of course no longer that bright white of a few years ago, and there are several creases caused by the fact that we had folded it up and folded it in no more than 10 minutes without paying too much attention to the shape.
It inflates quickly, the creases disappear and I pay attention to all the details to see if there is any deterioration damage. The tubulars still fill evenly, but I had no doubts about that, so I focus on the most delicate parts, i.e. the valves, which are the area where most air leaks could occur, but nothing: it is inflated, stable and ready.
Sure, it needs a clean and after a wash with a special product we remove the accumulated salt and the various encrustations: here too I am particularly careful, but the Selva 320 VIB’s quality is very good and, apart from the obvious and symptomatic ‘signs of time’, I do not notice at first glance any problems that could affect its sealing or stability.
But I look in detail and check the flaps, I run my fingers over the entire V-shaped hull, diligently searching for a few air bubbles, then I dedicate myself to the handrails, the towing attachments and the engine support plates, but nothing: it is a solid fighter and I can smile because I think that it has fared well this year too. But now it’s time to launch him.
We’ll hoist it aboard a little this year, even in windy conditions and rough seas we’ll try to leave it in the water as much as possible: it’s now in its fourth year of testing and I already know that it won’t let me down.
Selva 320 VIB Test
The retaining line is firmly secured to the stern bollard of our lab-boat, and follows us everywhere.
Its tubulars are very solid, all the Selva quality we know so well is visible, but at the same time the structure is very light, as befits a tender. Its dimensions are sufficient for what we need: 3.20 m long by 1.53 m wide, for a floor area of 1.41 square metres, where we can fit four people without any problems.
We use it a lot.
Sometimes to pick up some guests who come to visit us on the boat, sometimes to run small or big errands, on the boat we are an average of 4 to 6 people, so there is always something to go ashore to stock up on or to retrieve something, or simply to disembark in the evening and go to some little restaurant.
It’s practically always in the water: even when sailing for long stretches we keep it there, to let it take the waves and the sea, and stress its joints. Moreover, the fact that we always leave it in the water is not only convenient but also very useful, since we have an Eproplusion Spirit 1.0 Evo electric engine that recharges itself while we drag it along in the wind. It’s something that always excites me when I think about it: maximum output, minimum expense, and I never get stranded.
Between nights at anchor, rough seas, time spent working but also, and above all, the pleasure of sailing, we have put another 900 miles on its shoulders, but it doesn’t seem to have felt them at all and indeed I detect a note of sadness as we go to put it away. Everyone notices that: this is one of those gestures that mark the end of the season and so melancholy is always a bit in the air.
Once again this year, no favourable treatment for the Selva 320 VIB inflatable keel tender. We don’t even rinse it out, tighten knots and ties, and store it on deck. It will stay there all winter, waiting for the next season, and as I say goodbye to it with the customary pat of thanks, I already have the feeling that I already know that not even another year will affect this solid and irreplaceable friend of mine.
Of course, I will let you know…