A 30’x8’6” response boat with full foam collar and detachable hardtop was the latest offering from Inventech Marine Solutions at Pacific Marine Expo last week, where Micah Bowers of the Bremerton, Wash., maker of Life Proof Boats took potential customers for spins in the Seattle harbor.
"The whole idea was to build a multimission boat that is really tough. This one will do about 65 (mph) with the right props,” Bowers said. With a pair of Mercury Verado 300-hp outboards on the transom, the boat responded rapidly on plane passing 30 knots.
“It’s about a three and a half, four-second plane time,” Bowers said, advancing the throttles. Dodging sea birds and timbers floated on a high moon tide, he reached the boat’s usual top speed.
“Every day, you’ve got a 60-mph boat,” Bowers said.
Executing a series of turns, Bowers pulled the boat into a hard circle — about two and a half to three times its hull length. A passing ferry provides the wake to demonstrate the big chop capability of the convertible’s hull — and its Shox impact-mitigating crew seats. A launch about 10’ high landed the boat running smooth and straight.
Compared to similar designs the Life Proof boat has a very low center of gravity, with a step down about 14” from the after deck into the walk-though crew cabin with four seats and a cuddy cabin area forward. That gives an extra margin of stability, along with the Inventech patented FAST collar system cored with close cell polyethylene foam.
Using the Mercury digital throttle and shift trim controls — ergonomic thumb buttons on the throttle handle —activates a pop-up trim display on the Mercury VesselView control screen, showing the operator precise settings. With proper settings the operator has additional lift under the hull — there is a small bottom tunnel aft — and stable tracking.
“We designed this boat so the operators has the same eye height whether he’s standing or seated,” Bowers said. “We incorporated the throttle controls into the arm rest, so in heavy sea state or choppy conditions, they’re moving with you.”
Drawing 22” draft at rest, the boat reveals a lot of daylight under the forward hull when it passes at high speed. In sudden stops, pulling back the throttles makes the twin Mercury props act like drogue parachutes, helping halt the boat within a couple of lengths — without a big backwash coming over the bow.
The removable fiberglass cabin top weighs about 400 lbs. and “one person can take it off in about an hour,” Bowers said. That gives operators flexibility for using the boat in a wide range of weather and climate conditions.
The aluminum arch that supports the radar and antenna mounts is convertible to an A-frame to use in removing the cabin top — or retrieving buoys or other objects. It also folds flat, and with the cabin top being removable enables transport by C-130 cargo aircraft, Bowers said.