How do I prepare my inflatable boat or RIB for the winter?
In the autumn, when the days get shorter and the summer sun gives way to harsh autumn weather, it is time to prepare your inflatable boat for winter. We have put together some tips on “How to store your inflatable boat in winter”. Improperly stowed boats can cause a variety of problems, from mold to rodent damage. Inflatable boats are made from PVC or Hypalon. Both materials are fabrics and are somewhat delicate and easy to damage if not handled properly.
How do I clean my inflatable boat?
When you have decided that you won’t be using your inflatable boat for a few months in, it is important to know how to store your inflatable in winter. Proper cleaning with the right products is the best way to start the storage process. Caked-on dirt can eventually cause porous spots in the rubber and even rust on the metal parts.
Very Important: never use solvents such as MEK, toluene, acetone, bleach, ammonia, highly alkaline cleaners (anything with a pH greater than 11.5), scouring pads or steel wool to clean your inflatable boat. These products will weaken, damage and discolor the fabric and attack the adhesive bonds that hold your boat together. Soaps and detergents leave a sticky residue on your boat that attracts and holds dirt. Soap scum is food for mold and mildew, so if you want to maintain your boat properly, spend a little extra on some boat cleaners. This will save you money in the future and extend the life of your boat.
HIBS sells a number of boat cleaners from August Race (see link), which have been specially developed for inflatable boats and RIBs. The best overall product to use is August Race Boat Wash Pro, capable of removing dirt and grime from most substrates.
Especially developed for the tubes is August Race Liquid Rib and if you treat your inflatable boat afterwards with LR Sealer Coat your tubes are protected and it leaves a silky soft finish on the tubes. Check out the image below which can be seen before and after using August Race. The results can be astounding. See photos below
Cleaning your inflatable boat or RIB.
When you wash your boat, all you need is a garden hose with a bucket of warm water with boat cleaner in it. Do not use a pressure washer, no matter how dirty your boat is. Pressure washers can cause enormous damage to inflatable boats and can tear the seams of the boat. No matter how tempted you are, don’t do it. This can seriously damage the seams.
If you have a RIB, the polyester hull after a summer in the water will most likely have a dirty brown/yellow deposit on it. To clean this, we recommend August Race Bright Coat – Gel Coat de-stainer Treatment, this is a very strong fast-acting stain remover for gelcoats. It can remove most yellowing, rust stains, water stains and mud stains. Due to its high strength, we recommend re-polishing the hull with August Race Smooth Opacity UV afterwards. This also helps protect future blemishes.
In our webshop we have put together an AUGUST RACEWINTER SET , this kit consists of Boat Wash Pro, Bright Coat en Smooth Opacity UV.
Store your boat
Store your inflatable boat in a clean, dry place unaffected by big temperature changes and other harmful environmental factors. When choosing a storage location, keep in mind that rodents like to chew fabric, including inflatable boat equipment. If space permits, leave the boat with some air in the tubes. If this is not possible, store loosely rolled up with the natural air that remains in the tubes. Do not use a vacuum to extract the remaining air unless the packaging absolutely requires it. Make sure all valve caps are in place before storing.
Tip: Keep your inflatable boat off the floor and away from the wall. In addition to avoiding objects that could pierce your boat, it keeps the mice away.
Keep your RIB inflated or deflated?
Perhaps the most common confusion about winter storage of RIB boats is to keep them inflated or deflated. It is best to keep your RIB inflated when possible.
When you store your RIB inflated, the surface of the tubes becomes tight and resistant to puncturing and the seams hold best when under pressure. RIB tubes are strongest pumped up. Also when you store your RIB inflated, it is immediately protected from nibbling mice in your storage area.
Sometimes thought to be a good idea to split the difference between inflated and deflated, it is thought to give them the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, this is not the case. RIBs are only strong when inflated, so it is better to find new storage space for your boat than to compromise. Remember to check your inflatable boat regularly to see if it needs more air pressure. With varying temperatures and long-term storage, the air pressure can slowly decrease.
Sometimes indoor storage is not always an option, you can store your boat outside with a cover. This is also an effective way to protect your boat. But it is important to make sure you choose a cover that will be properly fastened and will withstand harsh conditions. After heavy snowfall or strong winds, check your boat to make sure everything looks good and the cover is still in place.
In addition to using the correct cover and storing your boat when inflated, it is important to check the fuel system as well.
We hope this has helped you prepare your boat for winter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.