Boat Test: 2017 Zodiac Cadet Aero 230

Boat Tested2017 Zodiac Cadet Aero 230
Price As TestedNot Available
Category Inflatable
Manufacturer Zodiac
Length7ft 7in / 2.31 m
Beam4ft 5in / 1.35 m
Fuel Capacity0.3
By Steven Bull

Zodiac is synonymous with inflatable boats. It’s like Kleenex to facial tissue or Band-Aid to adhesive bandages and for good reason. They are very well built and very popular.

I had never actually inflated one,but within 30 minutes of arriving at our test beach I had unloaded the bag, deciphered the instructions and this bad boy was ready to rock.

We ran it both with an electric, Torqeedo T-1003, and a traditional internal combustion outboard, the 4-hp Mercury FourStroke. Both work great on something like this, but which one you prefer depends on a few factors.

The Torqeedo is lightweight and very quiet with just a high-pitched whir when you crank the tiller throttle to full blast. It’s easy to store since there is no oil or gas to leak out. Performance is understandably on the slower side, but it will get you where you need to go, no problem.

Multiple runs while shifting my weight around to find optimal distribution yielded a top speed of 5.5 mph as a one-off and a 5.1 mph top speed could be hit consistently.The main downside would be recharge time. If you drain it, you’re looking at six-to-seven hours, or manpower using the oars that come with the Zodiac.

The Mercury was heavier, louder and burns fuel but it’s twice as fast. It’s still environmentally friendly with a CARB Star rating of 3 - the highest - and is considered ultra-low emission. There’s an integrated 1.1-litre fuel tank, which is perfect for short toots, but there’s also a connector for an external tank.

The Cadet 230 has a hard roll-up or inflatable option for flooring and we tested with the latter, hence the Aero in the name. I was surprised at how sturdy it was. It’s still a tiny boat, but has a maximum payload of three people or 300 kg (662 lbs). It would be a tight squeeze. For a roll-up, hide-away, safe and stable tender, this Zodiac lives up to the reputation.

Mercury FourStroke, 4hp, 1 cylinder, 0.123 L (7.5 ci) carbureted two-valve pushrod (overhead valve)
Torqeedo Travel 1003, 520 Wh Li-Ion battery, 1000-watt input power/480-watt propulsive power (comparable to 3-hp gas engine in propulsive power and 4-hp in terms of thrust)

Mercury: 11.0 mph
Torqeedo: 5.5 mph

Length: 7 ft 7 in / 2.31 m
Beam: 4 ft 5 in / 1.35 m
Weight: 53 lbs / 24 kg
Folded dimensions: 39” x 22” x 11” / 1.0m x 0.57m x 0.29m
Fuel Capacity: 0.3 gal / 1.1 L integrated tank on Mercury
Price: $ 1,297 USD (boat only)

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