Loving your inflatable
Whilst inflatable SUP technology has advanced over the years, one thing remains true and that is that they still require the end-user (you) to take good care through responsible ownership. Inflatable anything, means PVC, seams, valves and a host of other weak points, which if not properly cared for, can lead to a partial failure or something more serious.The advantages of iSUP ownership are clearly related to convenience of transportation and storage, cost and low impact use and in general the benefits out weigh perceived limitations; limitations which are dynamic and by default, largely controllable. It would be easy to suggest ownership of an inflatable board is in fact a low maintenance proposition, but the facts are, laminated hard boards are more often easy to live with from the point of view of neglect – which should never be your relationship with your watercraft.
Common sure sign ways to recognise that you’re already failing in your responsibility to maintain and ‘love’ your inflatable will include;
- Failing to wash salt water from it after use with fresh
- (Air drying after use in salt water, will leave salt crystals)
- Throwing it around whether in the bag or when inflated
- Dragging it around by the leash or handle
- Leaving it to sunbathe in strong UV
- Storing in a humid place
- Using is a table storing objects on top of it
- Letting sand fall into the valve
- Placing close to a camp fire to sit on
- Over inflating
- Storing fully inflated
- Storing when wet
If your relationship with your board is as above, expect;
- Possible seam failure
- Valve leaks
- Colour fading
- Degradation of webbing and elastics
- Scratches and even punctures
- Bacterial growth
- Twist caused by over inflation due to internal threads straining
- Bubbles caused by over inflation due to internal threads snapping
- Reduce lifespan
This list is not exhaustive but you get the idea and indeed the most important issues relate to atmospheric and storage issues. The most critical failure an inflatable product can have is seam failure and is the most common major failure, while valve failure is relatively uncommon. These issues are of course avoidable so as to extend the life of your board beyond 2-3 years life-expectancy if you fail to take care of it.
PVC, like all forms of plastic, is oil derived and when the essential oils leak out of the fabric in which they are stabilised, this marks the beginning of the end of your boards life.
Strong UV will onset this process simply via intense heat and UV rays which draw out and dry out the PVC. Salt crystals will do the same as will high levels of humidity during storage, accelerated by wet storage or stowing somewhere humid, such as in a garage where there is a boiler, airing cupboard and even in the hold of a boat. With this leaching of the fabrics essential oils, this can result in seam failure on account of the seams drying out and ultimately letting-go.
Our boards are UV protected with a unique coating and we use the highest levels of seam technology, but we cannot protect you against yourself if you fail to care properly for your inflatable.
AFTER WINTER STORAGE
If you’re getting your iSUP out of storage after a long winter, it’s advised you take some time to do some basic maintenance checks at home.
- Inflate to recommended PSI
- If stored deflated check fold lines are OK
- Make a close inspection of the seams for any leaks
- Do same with the valve and re-tighten using the valve spanner
- Check fin box and fin fitment
- Check D-Ring connections
- Check deck pad
- Check for any discolouration due to bacteria
- Wash and scrub board with cool soapy water
- Observe for any ‘bubbling’ caused by leaks
- Make a note of PSI and leave for 48hrs
- Check PSI and note any lose of pressure
- Investigate any issues and address / fix
- For minor none seam leak issues fix using repair kit
- Seam failure often requires professional input
- Consider contacting inflatable boat repairers
All in all you need to have a dynamic and engaging relationship with your inflatable board being as it is somewhat more prone to mishandling and environmental factors of wear and tear and certainly unable to cope with too much abuse.
Love your inflatable and it will give you years of good service and in the meantime, we wish you many safe and happy hours of on water fun for the coming spring and summer!