Unpacking Your New Inflatable Watercraft

So, you've just received your brand-new inflatable boat, kayak, or SUP board. It's quite an exciting moment. There's nothing quite like unboxing a new piece of gear, particularly when it's going to open up a whole world of adventure.

So, let's dive straight into it. The first step – and it's kind of the grown-up version of kids tearing into their Christmas presents – is unpacking your new toy. But let's do it with a bit of caution, shall we? 

Unpacking Carefully

When removing the contents – be it a boat, kayak or SUP Board – do not use a sharp object. Sounds pretty obvious. But trust me, the excitement can get the better of us. The last thing you want is to puncture your new inflatable watercraft before getting it in the water. A pair of good old-fashioned hands should do the trick nicely here.

Also, consider your right of return. Marine Deals offers a phenomenal 28-day' change of mind' policy - but - you need to return the item in its original packaging, in a condition where it can be sold again as new. Look after that packaging, just in case you open it up, only to realise it's not what you expected or wanted.

Get it All Out

Once you've manoeuvred your precious new watercraft safely out of the box, lay everything out on the floor. Inflatable watercraft like these often come with many parts and pieces – paddles, foot pumps, repair kits, carry bags – it's a puzzle for grown-ups. So, make sure everything that's supposed to be in the box is, well, out of the box.

We have people regularly contacting us to say they are missing a particular part of a new product, only to find it tucked into some part of the packaging. Some companies are crafty with using all the space in their packaging to hide and protect regulators, tools, and screws. Have a good check before you throw anything away that you are not biffing something important.

Usually, the box or the manual will have a list of contents or inventory – an essential checklist. Make sure you cross-reference it, and hope there are no unexpected absences. If anything's amiss, though, don't panic! A quick call to us will resolve things. It's inconvenient, but imagine heading out to the water and discovering the foot pump is missing. Now, wouldn't that be an adventure of the wrong kind?

Inspecting Your Inflatable Boat, Kayak or SUP Board

Now, you've gallantly wrestled your inflatable craft from its packaging, and everything seems to be present and correct. But before we start daydreaming about gentle river trips or fierce rapids, more work must be done. Please think of this phase as your first meeting with a new acquaintance; it's a chance to examine your boat, kayak, or SUP board and make sure nothing looks awry. While it might not be the most stimulating part of your boating journey, it's crucial.

Basic Visual Inspection 

To begin with, let's do something called a basic visual inspection. We're looking at the general condition of the boat, searching for any obvious issues that could hint at trouble later on. 

Start by inflating your boat evenly to 50% of its intended PSI. Not sure what PSI stands for? Don't panic! It stands for Pounds per Square Inch; the unit used to measure air pressure in your boat or board. The PSI level should be specified in your manual.

Check for uneven surfaces, discolourations or signs of wear and tear that might tell a worrying tale of manufacturing faults or transportation damage.

More In-Depth Checks 

Time to dive into the details! 

At this stage, you'll engage in more thorough sleuthing as you sniff out any problems with your craft. Go through the following steps: 

  • Examine every seam, inspecting for any twists. Seams should be smooth and lay flat; otherwise, it indicates a potential for leaks.
  • Check the quality of the boat's fabric or material. This material is the primary barrier between you and the water, after all.
  • Inspect the valves and ensure that they are securely fastened and without any signs of wear or damage.
  • Give the oars or paddles a once-over, too.

Note: Should you find any issues during your inspection, don't go about trying to fix them yourself. Contact us for advice or replacements; not doing so will likely void your warranty. 

Checking for Leaks: Ensuring a Watertight Vessel

Well, now you've got the hang of it. But before we move on to the fun part, there's an important step you should never, ever skip: checking for leaks. Sounds obvious. But you'd be surprised how many people neglect this step, only to sink halfway through their maiden voyage. I am not trying to scare you; I am just painting a realistic picture! So, let's dive into the crucial bit: ensuring your new watercraft is shipshape and Bristol-fashion, as the salty sea dogs would say. 

The Inflation Test 

Start by filling your inflatable with air. No, you don't need to huff and puff till you're blue in the face. Most inflatables come with pumps, provided you didn't accidentally throw it away during your 'Get it All Out' stage. Once it's all ballooned up, listen carefully. Hear any hissing sounds? Do you feel any air brushing against your cheek? If you answered 'yes' to either of these questions, we may have a leak. 

The Soap and Water Method 

If you're unsure or want to be doubly sure — it's time for a little bath time. Mix a bit of soap with water, slather it on your inflatable, and blow bubbles. Notice any areas where the bubbles seem to grow or pop? That's your leak right there.

Valve Leaks

Valve leaks are not uncommon - but they are also a straightforward fix.

Most inflatables use a screwed-down valve system and include a tool in the package for tightening them up. If you notice a slight leak in the new equipment, a simple 'nip-up' should be enough to stop the leak.

The Patch-Up Job 

If you find a leak from a pinhole-sized point or a seam not sealed, contact us, and we will sort it. From now on, there shouldn't be any. However, this is also why it's essential to check as soon as you get the item, as once it has been used a few times, it will be considered wear and tear.

Dealing with damage - fixing wear and tear

Most inflatables come with a repair kit clutched in their box. This package typically contains sealant and repair patches. Just make sure you follow the instructions to the letter. Once done, voila – you've fixed your first leak!

Reading the Manual: A Key Step for Safety and Success

Now, I know what you might think—'Manuals are for squares!' But hold your horses. Whether you're a buoyant beginner or a seasoned seafarer, this step is an absolute must, so don't you dare think of skipping this section.

The Details are in the Directions 

If you've never put together, inflated, or deflated your type of watercraft, the manual is your ultimate mate. It'll have all the assembly, inflation, deflation, repair, and maintenance instructions for your craft.

Understanding Safety Briefings in the Manual 

It's all fun and games until someone goes overboard, right? All manuals contain a safety section, usually containing recommended guidelines for operating in various weather conditions, safe water types and depths, load handling, balance, and so on.

In summary, the manual might seem like a dull piece of paper or PDF, but it's your Fast Pass to a fabulous time on the water. Stay safe and have fun!

Common Issues

Pump Guage Not Working

A common question/report is that the pump gauge is not working. The gauge will often not show pressure until the inflatable is nearly full - not while inflating it. Additionally, these boats often take more air than people realise.

If you want to test the pump, simply take the hose off, cover over the outlet on the pump and try pumping. The gauge should come up.

Leaking from Valve

leaksAs per the manual, if the valve is leaking, it can be tightened up. It's an easy job.

Safety First: Essential Gear and Equipment to Consider

Now, kayaking or paddle boarding can look deceptively low-maintenance. A boat, a paddle, and a vast blue yonder, right? Well, there's always more to the story than meets the eye. This is where our trusty gear and equipment come into play. 

Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) 

The first essential item on any savvy water adventurer's list is a safety vest or a personal floatation device (PFD). Now, you might be bobbing about just fine in your neighbour's pool, but open water is a whole other kettle of fish (pun intended).

The Repair Kit 

Once you've got your safety and protective gear sorted, it's time to think about your equipment. An inflatable boat, kayak or SUP board repair kit is essential. Yes, you heard me right; these things can puncture, and when they do, you'll want a quick fix handy. Keep that repair kit close; it's like an insurance policy for your watercraft.

Paddles and Pumps 

Last but most definitely not least are your paddles and pump. Forgetting a paddle is like heading out on a road trip without your car keys - not much to do without them, folks! Similarly, your pump is vital. We are talking about inflatables, after all. You could try blowing it up yourself, but I don't fancy your chances or your lung capacity!

So, there we are, kitted out like real water adventurers! Next time someone remarks how "easy" your new hobby seems, you tell them about your extensive equipment list; I guarantee they'll be surprised. Safety first, always remember, always prepare!