Reinforcing inflatable boats is key to getting the most from your investment. Here we will look at ways to reinforce the bottom of your inflatable boat and how to avoid damage. As you will see, one of the best forms of protection is prevention as there are several simple ways to reduce the chances of damage.
For this article, we will be focusing on how to reinforce inflatable boats that are in the mid to high end tiers of quality that you would use on lakes and rivers. Lower end inflatable boats are often little more than pool floats and are really only good to be used in a pool. Reinforcing that type of boat is not really possible or worth the effort.
How to Reinforce Your Inflatable Boat’s Bottom
There are a wide range of products that are made to either reinforce or repair inflatable vessels including marine glue, paint, and tape. Each of these products creates a protective layer that will reduce the chances of a sharp object penetrating the boat’s materials. Some important things to note when using each of these products include:
Choose a Product Compatible with Your Boat’s Material: Inflatable boats are mainly made of two types of material Hypalon and PVC. When choosing a marine product for reinforcement or repair, make sure the product corresponds with your boat’s material type.
Spread an Even Coat: For the best protection from marine glue or paint, you should spread an even coat along the whole bottom of your inflatable boat. These products are most commonly recommended for repairs but they can also go a long way to reinforcing an undamaged boat.
Double Up the Layers: Whichever product you buy, it will typically give you instructions to allow the material to dry or cure before using the vessel. For extra protection, you should add at least one to two more layers for additional strength.
Patch Tears as They Happen: One of the most important ways to ensure the continued safety of your boat is to fix tears with a patch kit. Use the patch kit that comes with your boat or buy a similar, high-quality patch kit specifically intended to be used with boats. Avoid getting patch products that are not intended for boats and always patch a tear as soon as possible. Allowing a tear to remain even when you are not using the boat, may result in the tear getting bigger and more difficult to repair.
How to Maintain and Protect Your Inflatable Boat
Properly Store and Maintain Your Inflatable Boat: Inflatable water crafts are much easier to care for compared to a traditional boat but don’t skip the maintenance that is required. Primarily, you want to ensure you fully clean and dry your boat before storage. You should also inspect your inflatable boat for tears or weak spots before and after each use.
Test the Waters: While reinforcing a boat takes a bit of time, ruining one can be quick if you go in the wrong waters. Accidentally going through shallow water is the number one reason boat bottoms get leaks or tears. To avoid this, always use a stick or paddle to test the depth of the water to ensure your boat can clear it.
Know Your Boat’s Clearance: Each boat will have a somewhat different depth clearance in terms of how shallow of water it can safely travel. Look at your owner’s guide to know yours and then “test the waters.” Use a waterproof marker or paint to mark on your paddle or stick the depth that is safe for your boat.
Avoid Bad Weather: While you should never be out on the water in a small craft when there is inclement weather, you should also not leave your boat out on its own either. Flying debris can cause punctures and wear down the material. Similarly, you should not store your boat outside without protection as sunlight, cold, and heat can all weaken the material as well.
Be Aware of Other Sharp Objects: While jagged rocks and sticks are the primary concern for most inflatable boat users, other objects can also cause damage. Natural items like barnacles and algae can attach to the boat and weaken it. However, you must also be careful of any sharp objects you may bring near the boat such as fish hooks, tools, and knives.
What To Do if Your Inflatable Boat Springs a Leak
The two most important things to do in case your boat springs a leak are 1) make sure you pack a proper repair kit and 2) stay calm. Fortunately, even if your boat does spring a leak, the boat has multiple air chambers and a single puncture will not sink the whole boat. Ideally, before you ever get out on the water you will review safety information and detailed repair instructions should a situation like this occur.
It is also typically best to take your boat to shore before attempting to make a repair. However, if this is not possible, you can make a quick fix by locating the leak, applying acetone around the edges to clean the area, and then putting duct tape over the tear.
If you cannot find or access the leak, you should continue to pump air into the chambers in order to slow down deflation. Then, most importantly, paddle your boat to safety as quickly as possible.
Invest in quality
One of the most important ways you can protect your boat and yourself is to invest in a quality vessel. When it comes to inflatable boats and kayaks, quality is not just about getting certain features or aesthetics, it is about safety and durability. Unless you plan to use your inflatable boat exclusively in pools or ponds, you will want to opt for a model that is made of quality PVC and has welded seams. This will not only last longer but will help you avoid dangerous and inconvenient situations should your vessel get caught on a sharp rock or branch.
Find the Right Inflatable Boat for You
New to inflatable boats and unsure what’s right for your needs? Perun Outdoors is here to help. We love the great outdoors and helping others discover the joys of boating. Each of our inflatable boats and kayaks is made of premium PVC material and has welded seams for extra protection. Shop our catalog or contact us to get started.