Title:
Inflatable boat
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Inflatable boat comprising two inflatable buoyancy chambers (1) extending at least laterally and spaced apart by a rigid floor (3) at least transversely, at least one operator's seat (4) being fixed on said rigid floor and an operating console (5) being arranged in front of said seat, characterized in that: the seat (4) is provided with a support member (9) located in front of its seat part (6), the support member including at least one housing (10); the console (5) comprises a casing (12) that is equipped with at least one projecting spindle (13) with a shape that complements that of the housing (10) and is suitable for being fitted into it, the housing (10) and the spindle (13) being arranged such that, in the assembled position, the console is arranged in front of the seat within reach of the operator's hand.



Inventors:
Boudeau, Lionel (Roses, ES)
Pommier, Emmanuel (Figueres, ES)
Application Number:
10/845365
Publication Date:
07/07/2005
Filing Date:
05/13/2004
Assignee:
BOUDEAU LIONEL
POMMIER EMMANUEL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B7/08; (IPC1-7): B63B7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SWINEHART, EDWIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - East Coast (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
1. An inflatable boat comprising two inflatable buoyancy chambers extending at least laterally and spaced apart by a rigid floor at least transversely, at least one operator's seat being fixed on said rigid floor and an operating console being arranged in front of said seat, wherein: said seat is provided with a support member located in front of its seat part, said support member including at least one housing; said console comprises a casing that is equipped with at least one projecting spindle with a shape that complements that of the housing and is suitable for being fitted into it, said housing and said spindle being arranged such that, in the assembled position, the console is arranged in front of the seat within reach of the operator's hand.

2. An inflatable boat according to claim 1, wherein said support member is a bar extending transversely to said seat part and equipped with two housings that are distant from one another, and wherein said casing of the operating console is provided with two projecting spindles suitable for being fitted into the two above-mentioned housings, respectively.

3. An inflatable boat according to claim 2, wherein each housing is a bore passing substantially vertically through the bar.

4. An inflatable boat according to claim 1, wherein said spindle or at least one spindle includes a through-bore suitable for receiving an immobilization peg.

5. An inflatable boat according to claim 2, wherein said seat is a jockey seat resting on the rigid floor by means of an underframe, and wherein said transverse bar is secured to said underframe.

6. An inflatable boat according to claim 2, wherein said seat is a jockey seat resting on the rigid floor by means of an underframe, wherein said transverse bar is secured to said underframe, wherein said underframe of the seat comprises at least one tubular arch in the form of an inverted U fixed transversely on the front of the seat part, and wherein the bottom of the U forms said transverse bar.

7. An inflatable boat according to claim 2, wherein said seat is a jockey seat resting on the rigid floor by means of an underframe, wherein said transverse bar is secured to said underframe, wherein said underframe of the seat comprises at least one tubular arch in the form of an inverted U fixed transversely on the front of the seat part, wherein the bottom of the u forms said transverse bar, and wherein said seat is a multiple, particularly a triple, jockey seat.

8. An inflatable boat including: a rigid floor consisting of a plurality of panels assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said floor panels having raised edges that slope in the general shape of a V with a truncated point; a flexible bottom lining the rigid floor at the bottom and secured in a leaktight manner over its periphery to the buoyancy chambers and to a rear panel; a V-shaped rigid underwater hull formed from a plurality of underwater-hull portions assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said underwater-hull portions being assembled in a detachable manner on the underside of the movable bottom and being dimensioned and shaped in order to extend substantially as an extension of the raised edges of the rigid floor; wherein said seat is a jockey seat resting on the rigid floor by means of an underframe, wherein said transverse bar is secured to said underframe, wherein said underframe of the seat comprises at least one tubular arch in the form of an inverted U fixed transversely on the front of the seat part, wherein the bottom of the U forms said transverse bar, and wherein said seat is a multiple, particularly a triple, jockey seat.

9. An inflatable boat according to claim 8, wherein, in the deflated, dismantled state, it can be arranged in the form of a package in order to be transported and/or stored, comprising: at least one multiple jockey seat fixed on a support plate via its underframe that comprises two tubular arches in the shape of an inverted U, which are located, respectively, at the front and at the rear of said seat and are each equipped with the two above-mentioned through-bores; two longitudinal bars supported above the seat by feet engaged, respectively, in the bores of the arches; a part of the material constituting the boat, particularly amongst the most voluminous elements that are stacked on one another and rest straddling the two bars; and the rest of the material arranged on the plate, under the seat and between the arches supporting the seat; whereby the entire assembly may be covered in a leaktight manner and strapped over the plate in order to constitute a package that is easy to transport and/or to store.

10. An inflatable boat according to claim 8, wherein, in the deflated, dismantled state, it can be arranged in the form of a package in order to be transported and/or stored, comprising: at least one multiple jockey seat fixed on a support plate via its underframe that comprises two tubular arches in the shape of an inverted U, which are located, respectively, at the front and at the rear of said seat and are each equipped with the two above-mentioned through-bores; two longitudinal bars supported above the seat by feet engaged, respectively, in the bores of the arches; a part of the material constituting the boat, particularly amongst the most voluminous elements that are stacked on one another and rest straddling the two bars; and the rest of the material arranged on the plate, under the seat and between the arches supporting the seat; and wherein the package comprises two multiple jockey seats fixed side by side on said plate and in that the two longitudinal bars are fixed, respectively, to the two seats.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to improvements made to inflatable boats comprising two inflatable buoyancy chambers extending at least laterally and spaced apart by a rigid floor at least transversely, at least one operator's seat being fixed on said rigid floor and an operating console being arranged in front of said seat.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART OF THE INVENTION

In certain applications and/or conditions of use of such boats, even simply in order to simplify their manufacture, there may be a requirement for the motor assembly, i.e. not only the outboard motor or motors in particular (fixed on a rear panel extending between the end parts of the two buoyancy chambers), but also its control console arranged on the inside and generally towards the centre or the front of the boat and attached operationally to the motor by cables, to be assembled simply and rapidly.

In currently known arrangements, operating consoles are generally included in a base fixed to the floor. It takes a long time to assemble them and dismantle them, and this requires the use of tools.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the invention is to satisfy certain users who seek a compact operating console of simplified structure that is also as light as possible and can be assembled/dismantled very rapidly and very simply without tools.

To those ends, an inflatable boat is proposed as mentioned in the preamble, which, being arranged in accordance with the invention, is characterized in that:

    • the seat is provided with a support member located in front of its seat part, said support member including at least one housing;
    • the console comprises a casing that is equipped with at least one projecting spindle with a shape that complements that of the housing and is suitable for being fitted into it, said housing and said spindle being arranged such that, in the assembled position, the console is arranged in front of the seat within reach of the operator's hand.

By virtue of this arrangement, the console is reduced to just that which is strictly necessary, i.e. a relatively small casing suitable for supporting, in particular, the steering wheel and the control lever or levers, and the customary substructure (often arranged in a storage box in the lower part) is eliminated. Assembly/dismantling is simplified in the extreme and made very rapid by virtue of the projecting-spindle system.

Stable, robust fastening may be obtained by making provision for the support member to be a bar extending transversely to the seat part and equipped with two housings that are distant from one another, and for the casing of the operating console to be provided with two projecting spindles suitable for being fitted into the two above-mentioned housings, respectively. Therefore, each housing may simply be a bore passing substantially vertically through the bar.

In order to make the assembly of the console on its support more secure, provision may advantageously be made for the spindle or at least one spindle to include a through-bore suitable for receiving an immobilization peg.

In a version that is very advantageous because, in this case also, there is a simplified structure and a time saving during assembly/dismantling, the seat is a jockey seat resting on the rigid floor by means of an underframe, and said transverse bar is secured to the underframe; preferably, therefore, the underframe of the seat comprises at least one tubular arch in the form of an inverted U fixed transversely on the front of the seat part, and the bottom of the U forms the above-mentioned transverse bar.

In specific inflatable boats for particular uses, the arrangements according to the invention just described are employed in conjunction with at least one multiple, particularly a triple, jockey seat, i.e. a seat suitable for accommodating a number of persons, in particular three persons, seated such that they straddle the seat, one behind the other. If the boat thus arranged has to transport a large number of persons, provision may then be made for two multiple jockey seats in series (e.g. two triple jockey seats in series), or, optionally, two multiple jockey seats side by side if the dimensions of the boat allow this.

Although the arrangements according to the invention may apply to all types of inflatable boat, these arrangements nevertheless appear to apply particularly advantageously to an inflatable boat with a detachable rigid underwater hull formed from a plurality of portions as described in document FR-A-2 765 855 and illustrated more specifically in FIG. 9 of that document, such an inflatable boat including:

    • a rigid floor consisting of a plurality of panels assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said floor panels having raised edges that slope in the general shape of a V with a truncated point;
    • a flexible bottom lining the rigid floor at the bottom and secured in a leaktight manner over its periphery to the buoyancy chambers and to a rear panel;
    • a V-shaped rigid underwater hull formed from a plurality of underwater-hull portions assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said underwater-hull portions being assembled in a detachable manner on the underside of the movable bottom and being dimensioned and shaped in order to extend substantially as an extension of the raised edges of the rigid floor.

The advantage offered by this type of boat is that of being able, despite the presence of a rigid underwater hull, to be dismantled easily and to be transported and/or stored in the form of a relatively small package (the motor generally forming a separate package). The arrangements according to the present invention are thus advantageously incorporated (although this is not their exclusive application) in the design of this type of boat so as, and therefore preferably in conjunction with other types of fitting, to form a boat whose simple, rapid assembly/dismantling can be carried out without tools.

Therefore, a further aspect of the invention relates to the proposal of a package for transporting and/or storing the inflatable boat with detachable rigid underwater hull consisting of a plurality of portions as set forth above, which package is characterized in that it comprises:

    • a plate;
    • at least one multiple jockey seat fixed on said plate via its underframe that comprises two tubular arches in the shape of an inverted U, which are located, respectively, at the front and at the rear of said seat and are each equipped with the two above-mentioned through-bores;
    • two longitudinal bars supported above the seat by feet engaged, respectively, in the bores of the arches;
    • a part of the material constituting the boat, particularly amongst the most voluminous elements that are stacked on one another and rest straddling the two bars; and
    • the rest of the material arranged on the plate, under the seat and between the arches supporting the seat;
      whereby the entire assembly may be covered in a leaktight manner and strapped over the plate in order to constitute a package that is easy to transport and/or to store.

At this point, it should be emphasized that, during assembly of the boat, the plate and the two support bars are superfluous pieces that are not used in the boat.

When the boat is equipped with two multiple jockey seats, provision may then advantageously be made, when making up the above-mentioned package, for the two longitudinal bars to be fixed, respectively, to the two seats: in this configuration, the spacing of the two support bars may be greater than in the configuration with a single jockey seat. These bars thus spaced apart form a more stable support for the equipment placed on top, and the package thus formed is less likely to lose its consistency during handling operations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be better understood on reading the following detailed description of certain preferred embodiments that are given solely by way of nonlimiting examples. In this description, reference is made to the appended drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of the front of an inflatable boat, showing an illustrative embodiment of the arrangements of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a seat for equipping an inflatable boat and showing another illustrative embodiment of the arrangements of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a lateral perspective view of another type of seat for equipping an inflatable boat and showing another preferred illustrative embodiment of the arrangements of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an inflatable boat equipped with the seat of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective three-quarters front view of the seat of FIG. 3 equipped with a view to the transportation or storage of the dismantled inflatable boat;

FIG. 6 is an end view of a package for transporting or storing the inflatable boat, such as that of FIG. 4, dismantled, said package being formed around the seat equipped as illustrated in FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 illustrates a variant embodiment of the package of FIG. 6 formed around two seats arranged side by side.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference, firstly, to FIG. 1, the invention relates to an inflatable boat comprising two inflatable buoyancy chambers 1 extending laterally and, in the example illustrated, meeting towards the front in order to form a stem 2. These inflatable chambers 1 are spaced apart by a floor 3 that is rigid at least transversely and by a rear panel (not visible in FIG. 1) generally arranged in order to support an outboard motor. Under the floor is a V-shaped-section underwater hull (not visible) secured over its periphery to the inflatable chambers 1 and to the rear panel.

At least one operator's seat 4 is fixed to the floor 3, arranged in front of an operating console 5, the seat 4 and the operating console 5 being located generally towards the centre or, preferably, towards the front of the boat, as illustrated in FIG. 1.

In the example shown in FIG. 1, the seat 4 comprises a seat part 6, with a back 7, which is supported by an underframe 8, for example in the form of a column secured to the floor 3.

According to the invention, the seat 4 is equipped with a support member 9 located in front of the seat part 6, said support member 9 including a housing 10. In the example illustrated in FIG. 1, the support member 9 is in the form of a square-section tubular portion, the inside of which forms the above-mentioned housing 10, extending approximately vertically. The support member 9 is secured to the end of an arm 11 that may be fixed under the seat part or (as illustrated in FIG. 1) be fixed to the underframe 8.

The console 5 comprises a casing 12, and is arranged in any appropriate manner for operating the boat, this console 5 being connected, via control cables that are not shown, to the outboard motor or motors mounted on the rear panel.

Within the context of the invention, the casing 12 is equipped with a projecting spindle 13 that has a shape complementing that of the housing 10 (in this case, a square-section spindle), so as to be able to be fitted into said housing 10. The arrangement of the casing 12 and of its spindle 13 is such that, when the spindle 13 is fitted into the housing 10 (in this case, approximately vertically), the console 5 extends in a tilted position in front of the operator seated on the seat 4, the arm 11 having a specific length so that the console 5 is within reach of the operator's hand.

This thus forms an arrangement of very simple structure, which is easy and rapid to assemble/dismantle and requires no tools for this operation.

In order to immobilize the console in the assembled position, provision may be made, still in a simple manner, for there to be a peg 14 that can engage in aligned holes 15 in the support member 9 and 16 in the spindle 13. The peg 14 may be attached to the casing 12 by a small chain 17 (captive pin). Optionally, the peg 14 itself may be provided with a diametral hole suitable for receiving an immobilizing member, for example a pin (not shown).

A mechanically strong assembly of the console 5 may be obtained by doubling the housing 10/spindle 13 assembly system. To this end, it is possible to use a support member constructed in the form of a bar 18, as illustrated in FIG. 2, extending transversely to the seat part and equipped with two housings 10 that are distant from one another, whilst the casing 12 of the console 5 is equipped with two projecting spindles 13 suitable for being fitted, respectively, in the two housings 10. In a simple manner, the bar 18 may be a tube portion pierced with two holes or diametral bores forming the two housings 10.

Two immobilizing pins 14 may be received in two transverse holes 15 in the bar 18 and 16 in the spindles 13, or, alternatively, a single pin 14 may suffice to obtain the required immobilization.

The arrangements just set forth appear to have a particularly advantageous application when implemented in conjunction with a specific type of seat, namely a jockey-type seat (the operator sits straddling the seat), as illustrated in FIG. 2. In this example, it has been assumed that the transverse bar 18 was supported at the end of an arm 11 itself secured to the underframe 8, for example to a front underframe.

The arrangements according to the invention appear to have an even more specifically advantageous application in the case of a jockey seat equipped with an underframe comprising, as illustrated in FIG. 3, at least one tubular arch 19 in the form of an inverted U, which is fixed transversely on the front of the seat part 6. In this case, the above-mentioned bar 18 consists, in a simple manner, of the part of the arch 19 that forms the bottom of the U.

This arrangement is most particularly advantageous when, illustrated in FIG. 3, the jockey seat is a multiple, particularly a triple, jockey seat, the seat part 6 of which is supported by two tubular arches 19, at the front and at the rear, respectively, the rear arch being able to receive, in its housings 10, the ends of a back 20 formed from an inverted-U tube. The two, front and rear, arches 19 may have their ends integral with longitudinal members 21 so as to form a rigid, strong assembly that is easy to install.

In order to make the concepts clearer, FIG. 4 shows an inflatable boat equipped with two triple jockey seats 4 arranged in series and fixed to the floor 3, the console 5 being mounted, using the above-mentioned means, on the arch 19 located at the front of the front seat.

The arrangements according to the invention appear to apply very particularly advantageously to the fitting-out of an inflatable boat that includes:

    • a rigid floor 3 consisting of a plurality of panels 25 assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said floor panels having raised edges that slope in the general shape of a V with a truncated point;
    • a flexible bottom (not visible) lining the rigid floor 3 at the bottom and secured in a leaktight manner over its periphery to the buoyancy chambers 1 and to a rear panel 30;
    • a V-shaped rigid underwater hull 31 formed from a plurality of underwater-hull portions 27 assembled end to end in a detachable manner, said underwater-hull portions 27 being assembled in a detachable manner on the underside of the movable bottom and being dimensioned and shaped in order to extend substantially as an extension of the raised edges of the rigid floor;
      such a boat being described in document FR-A-2 765 855 and illustrated diagrammatically in FIG. 9 of that document, and also in document FR 03/05554 and illustrated, in particular, in FIGS. 6 and 7 of that document. FIG. 4 of the appended drawings shows such a boat in sailing configuration.

The arrangements just described with respect to FIGS. 3 and 4 are also very particularly advantageous in another field, namely that of the transportation and storage of the boat. In fact, as emerges from the above-mentioned two documents, inflatable boats with a rigid underwater hull consisting of a plurality of portions have been designed with a view to facilitating their assembly/dismantling, their transportation and their storage. However, it is understandable that this type of boat, once dismantled, should result in a significant number of elements that it is desirable not to disperse in order to facilitate transportation and storage. Certain users therefore wish that all the component elements should be combined in a single package that can be transported or stored as it stands (the motor or motors generally being packed in a second, separate package). The larger the boat, the heavier, more cumbersome and thus more difficult to form such a package will be, and this is, in particular, the case of a boat of the type illustrated in FIG. 4, which is equipped with a triple jockey seat, or a fortiori equipped with two triple jockey seats in line.

It is precisely for forming such a package that the means envisaged above for facilitating rapid, easy assembly of the operating console may be prove to be advantageous.

To those ends, the invention proposes forming, in the manner set forth below, a package for transporting or storing the inflatable boat with rigid underwater hull in a plurality of portions described above.

A plate 22, for example made from wood, is arranged and dimensioned in order to support, in the configuration shown in FIG. 5 by way of example, a triple jockey seat 4 such as that illustrated in FIG. 3, which is, if necessary, fixed to the plate in any appropriate manner. Equipment may then, of course, be stacked on the plate, between the arches 19. However, the volume available for this stacking is insufficient, and the remaining equipment, notably including the most voluminous elements, has to be positioned in a high position, on top of the seat.

In order for it to be possible for this equipment to be supported in a stable manner, provision is made for the seat 4 to be equipped with two rigid bars 23 (for example metal bars, in particular made from aluminium), equipped towards their ends with feet 24 that are fitted into the housings 10 provided on the arches 19 of the seat with a view to receiving the spindles of the console (front arch) and the arch forming the back (rear arch) during assembly of the boat.

Preferably, the feet 24 mounted on one and the same arch 19 are arranged (elbowed, curved, etc.) in order to be spaced from one another in order to leave a sufficiently large gap between the two bars 23. The feet 24 are also shaped such that the two bars extend slightly above the seat part 6, or at least at the same level as the top of the seat part 6.

The distribution of the various component elements of the boat between the plate in the lower part and the support bars in the upper part may be performed in any appropriate manner suitable for forming a stable package that is as compact as possible.

For example, as illustrated in FIG. 6, the floor panels 25, generally 2 to 4 in number (in this case, 3 in number) are placed on the bars 23. These panels 25 have raised edges and are stacked on top of one another with their concave side facing upwards. This concave stack accommodates the flexible pack 26 formed by the pneumatic element or elements (buoyancy chambers) in the deflated, folded state. The assembly is topped off by the stack of underwater-hull portions 27, in the general shape of a V, that are upturned with the front portion arranged on the top. The remaining equipment 28 forming the boat is placed on the plate 22, under the seat part 6, between the arches 19. The whole assembly is surrounded with a flexible envelope 29, closed in a leaktight manner and strapped over the plate 22.

The package corresponding to the boat of FIG. 4, with two triple jockey seats, may be formed in the same way, except that, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the two triple jockey seats 4 are arranged and fixed side by side on the plate 22, which is shaped and dimensioned as a result of that. In this case, the two bars 23 may be mounted in housings 10 that neighbour each other belonging, respectively, to the two seats 4, the increased distance between the two bars 23 allowing the bars to support their load in an even more stable manner. By way of example, FIG. 6 illustrates a preferred way in which to pack the equipment: the equipment 28 is distributed over the plate 22 between the arches 19 and surmounted by the floor panels 29 stacked one on top of the other. The rear and centre underwater-hull portions 27, stacked one on top of the other, are arranged on the bars 23 with the point of the V engaged between the bars 23 so as to be held laterally, even if not very firmly, by those bars. The flexible pack 26 formed by the deflated, folded inflatable elements is arranged in the upper underwater-hull portion 27 and the whole assembly is covered by the lower underwater-hull portion 271 that is upturned and whose raised point matches the shape of the pack 26. The whole assembly is covered with the leaktight envelope 29, which is strapped over the plate.

A package formed as just described is particularly stable by virtue of the presence of the bars 23 that make it possible to stack the equipment in layers, the placing of these bars being made possible by virtue of the particular arrangement provided within the context of the invention for a rapid, tool-free assembly/dismantling of the console.