Whilst kicking some air into my boat this clear chilly morning my stomach reminded me I forgot to fill it up with breakfast. My primative brain remembered to get feed for the outboard and I was feeding my Zodiac it’s breakfast of clean cool morning air at the time. It’s like muscle memory, check the fuel, kick some air, conduct the day’s mission, pull the boat and clean everything off before stowing it in it’s proper place for the evening. Pretty simple right? You’d think that these things are all obvious and not worth mentioning yet again, but….. for some reason we keep getting inflatable boats, pontoons and kayaks in for under inflation failure modalities in need of repair.
I know not everyone is an engineer or deep sea crusty salt covered salvor but simple understanding can prevent many preventable problems with your inflatable boat which we will just call a Zodiac or “Z Boat” moving forward.
Bouyancy as it was explained to me during my indoctrination into submarine repair is simply achieved by displacing water. The more water you displace the greater the bouyancy or lift, it’s the reason why stuff floats on water. The “stuff” weighs less than the water it displaces therefore it floats. Understanding a submarine or a ship weighs many tons more than a Zodiac you’d think there is more to it than this, but you’d be wrong. Classical construction of boats from wood, steel, fiberglass or even cement all use the same principal of displacment of water to achieve bouyancy. The Z Boat is filled with air and therefore much lighter, but the volume of water that it displaces is much more than it weighs so therefore again, it floats. It floats very well indeed! Because of this huge difference in weight VS displacement of the inflatable boat, Z Boat, Zodiac, what have you, will in fact carry a far greater load than classic boat materials and construction techniques. If you don’t have enough air in your Z Boat it will not carry the same load as a properly inflated one, nor will it offer the same rigidity and strength it should.
Remember getting that helium ballon at the circus when you were 5 and taking it home? (yeah I’m dating myself). When you woke up the next morning excited to take it to school and show it off for “Show & Tell” it was markedly less full and mabey even sat a little below the ceiling. The gas inside your floating wonder ballon was escaping it’s confines from the moment it was filled and continued to free it’s self from its rubber prison the whole night while you slept peacefully. It was a bit of a disappointment and attempts to loft it higher were met with the crushing reality that gas doesn’t want to be confined. In heliums’ defense it’s a pretty small molecule and it will fit thrugh everything it’s contained in eventually, albeit slower than hydrogen. We’ll save that discussion for the nuclear engineers at a later time.
Your Zodiac instead of helium uses the same air we breathe, it’s a mix of mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and some other rare and noble gasses. These molecules are very big in comparison to helium, they don’t fit into and thru atomic lattices and seals like helium and hydrogen do, plus it surrounds us and costs nothing to use. While the molecules are bigger they still leak out eventually no matter what you make your container out of including PVC, Hypalon, CSM, Polyurethane etc. By not feeding the beast it’s share of delicious air regularly you’ll end up killing it in the worst way or damaging it enough to come to our repair shop for some emergency medical treatment. A trip to medical is never fun, and it’s never cheap, not like air, air is free to use all of the time. If you’re a space commando or or a saturation diver it might be a different story.
As a boy on the water I was taught that a boat and all things associated with it need constant care and upkeep to keep it safe and seaworthy. Going to my first command at the ripe old age of 17 I knew better than to walk by a “problem” without addressing it, and it is something that I still maintain today. If your Zodiac will take air, feed the beast, and kick in some air before going out. If you’re one of the people who have a winter season and the Z Boat isn’t used as often, you still need to top it off regularly. Your new boat can loose more air than you think in the span of 24 hours, especially if it’s a glued boat like a hypalon boat or cheaper Chinese knockoff brand. Don’t just walk by a problem with your boat, problems are always more complicated when you’re on the water so minimize your risks, kick some air and feed your beast.
If you have questions about your inflatable boat give us a call, or if you’re looking to minimize your impact on the environment while maximizing your fun stop by and see what a new Zodiac Inflatable Boat can do for you.
Our winter hours are the same as our summer hours.
9-5 Tuesday thru Friday
Closed on Sunday and Monday.
Our Phone number is (503)235-2628
We even have web chat from our website inflatableboats.com during those same hours.
We also stock, service and sell Yamaha Outboards.