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Old 02-04-2017, 08:51   #1
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Inflatable 101

Hi All,
As our retirement cruising departure date draws closer (late July 2017) we are wrapping up Her Diamond's refit and beginning to focus on the ancillary/supporting equipment. We recently purchased a West Marine aluminum RIB. While most of our 32 years of Great Lakes sailing involved marina hopping, we did own a Boston Whaler Squall for a number of years - used as life boat when crossing the lakes (thankfully never needed) and for exploring rivers. Switched to a tandem kayak in recent years.
Soon heading to points south, we purchased the RIB to use as tender - but know little about how to care for it. Hope you can help with following questions and offer any advise we haven't thought to ask about.
Thanks,
Bob
1. Is it necessary to apply any kind of antifouling paint (or other substance) to the aluminum hull or bottom of hypalon tubes?
2. Is there something we should apply to top of the tubes to protect from elements (sun and salt)?
3. Is it important to purchase and keep a cover on the dinghy when not in use?
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Old 02-04-2017, 08:56   #2
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Re: Inflatable 101

You don't say whether it's hypalon or pvc, but in either case it definitely extends the life if you minimize the sun exposure - just more critical if pvc, that's all. That means a cover, and chaps too maybe.

Bottom paint is only necessary if leaving a boat in the water for long periods.
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:29   #3
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Re: Inflatable 101

Bottom paint is nasty if you ever have to store the dink on the deck or use it for diving. As long as you don't leave it in the water for weeks at a time it will be fine.
Chaps will make it last longer, protecting from UV and chafe.
Make sure you have a long painter, so that you don't rudely block dinghy docks when you tie up.
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:54   #4
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Re: Inflatable 101

My experience is that a decent hypalon dinghy will last about 10 years of full time cruising without a cover. In addition to sun damage, it will get worn from bumping against docks, scratched from pulling up on the beach, bitten by a shark, etc. When you are tired of patching it and or looking at it, you buy a new one.

If you pull the dinghy out of the water every 3-5 days, the bottom should stay clean. If not, turn it over and use a scrub pad--if its stained a solution of oxalic acid will work wonders. If the hypalon gets stained, use acetone sparingly.

Carry a patch kit. The two part glue is the best, but doesn't have a good shelf life. In a pinch, you can use contact cement for a temporary repair, or 3M 5200 if you have the days to let it set up.
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Old 02-04-2017, 13:19   #5
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Re: Inflatable 101

Here in NZ one month out in the sun will take a year off the tube's life.
Covers whether chaps or a bottom cover when inverted on deck will protect the tubes.
Chaps normally need extra fastening points around the hull.
We never leave our RIB in the water over night. Simple to make up a sling and winch it clear of the water. Ensure it angles transom down and leave the bung open. Heavy rain can be a problem.
Good luck.
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Old 02-04-2017, 13:41   #6
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Re: Inflatable 101

When cruising we always pulled our dinghy up out of the water within three days to keep bottom growth from developing. "Chaps" do prevent UV damage, but they also can be a problem with mildew beneath them and a haven for spider's nests and insects. I choose to apply a coat of rubberized paint (Hengs) as a protective coating that is simpler and easy to keep clean.
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