If you've ever driven miles to the beach and unpacked your dinghy only to find that its covered in mildew, the valves are stuck or even worse, the mice have had a nibble, you will know the frutrations surrounding inflatable boats! Here we explore some things to check before you use it for the first time after the winter break.
Where to Start...
Unpack the dinghy and roll out onto a lawn or garage floor (check that there are no sharp items that could damage the dinghy). First inflate the dinghy and visually inspect the dinghy for any obvious problems. leave it inflated for an hour or two and check it stays fully inflated. Next, follow our step-by-step guide to check some key areas
Most dinghies are fitted with ‘push and twist’ valves where the internal valve mechanism is opened buy depressing the spring-loaded centre. When the centre is pushed in, it can be twisted to lock the valve in the open position. Sometimes these valves leak due to the seal being held open slightly by sand, grit or dried salt crystals. This can be fixed easily by just flushing the valves with some fresh water. Valves can also become damaged through general use so check that they operate correctly. If you have a damaged valve then remove it using a valve spanner (this should be in your repair kit that was supplied with the dinghy) and replace the valve.
Mildew and Mould
Once the dinghy is inflated, give it a clean with a rib cleaner - Muffanet and Heavy Duty cleaner are particularly good at removing stubborn stains. Then go over the dinghy with a conditioner such as August Race UV conditioner or Pro Marine Pro-Tection.
If you are unluccky enough to have a delating dinghy, you will need to look at a repair. To find small holes inflate the dinghy and cover with a soapy solution to find bubbles – once you have found the hole - clean, dry and repair with a PVC or Hypalon repair kit (depending upon the material you boat is made from)
If you can’t find the hole or you have lots of tiny holes use Polymarine Sealflex to seal the inside of the boat – pour in through the relevant inflation aperture. Inflate the dinghy and turn and roll the to ensure that the Sealflex gets into all the seams and tiny holes. Leave overnight then inflate to check.
Larger holes – if you haven’t got a repair kit or you have already used it then look at our range or repair kits – its important that you get the correct one PVC or Hypalon. Most UK dinghies are PVC if you are sure check with the manufacturer.
Other areas to check...
Seized Rowlock Pins
This is quite common as the salt and sand get into the threads and seize the retaining nut in place when left unused for a long periods. Use a release penetrant or WD40 to loosen the nut, clean off then lightly grease the threads to prevent the problem coming back.
Stuck Snap Joints on Jointed Oars
inspect the spring loaded “snap spigots” where the oars join. These can stick when left over the winter – release with WD40 and clean.
Check your Pump Works
Inflation pumps have a hard life, and are often overlooked when the dinghy is being washed. Check that the hose and fittings are free from leaks and damage. Check the bellows for tears and holes, and that the steel band clamps are not corroded or damaged. If in doubt, replace the pump, when the boat is in use a pump is an important piece of safety equipment.
Dinghy Upgrades & Modifications
Here's a few ideas for possible upgrades and mods you may find useful...