What to do if Your Inflatable Boat gets Punctured on Water

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What are Inflatable Boats?

Are you looking for a boat you can use for fishing, cruising while on vacation, paddling or even a rescue boat? The inflated boat is the perfect bet for any of the above at both a cost-effective and portability benefit.

Inflatable boats have become the preferred craft for many boaters over time. Starting off as a mere toy, these boats have come a long way and so has their diverse uses. They are excellent and cost-effective and hence their increased popularity.

These boats use inflated tubes for buoyancy and to help them stay afloat. The tubes are filled with pressurized gas making the boat difficult to sink. They come in different sizes and shapes, and one can pick a type depending on the use.

Why Inflatable Boats?

Versatile and diverse use

Unlike the other boats designed to fit a specific function, the inflated boats can be used for different purposes without any difficulty.

Highly portable

Portability sets these boats away from the other rigid boats. They can be deflated for both transportation and storage, and they also take up a small space.

Cost effective and easy to maintain

These boats are cheaper to buy and to maintain. Perfect for when you need a boat for minimal use.


The inflated boat sits flat on the water surface and maintains stability even on high speed. This is a crucial thing to consider when purchasing a boat as there is reduced chances of capsizing.

What to do if Your Inflatable Boat gets Punctured on Water

Assuming your boat has regular checks and maintenance

Inflated boats are known for their durability. Usually made from high-quality material and are hard wearing even in the harshest of weathers. Routine maintenance is essential if you want to keep the boat in excellent condition for a longer time. Even with excellent support and checks, accidents are still likely to happen and so the need to know how to deal with this, especially if you are in the water.

Punctures and leakages can be very scary especially if you are buried in the water and if they happen accidentally. Though they are scarce, it is advisable to know how to keep the boat afloat and still in movement so that you can finally get to the shores safely. Before you go into the water, it is advisable to do a check on your boat to ensure there are no leakages or any puncture that may cause air to escape from the tubes. Small leakages can be quickly repaired through while more significant problems will need a qualified boat mechanic.

If you are in the water and there is a sudden leak happening in one of the tubes, don’t panic as these boats have several other air chambers that will help keep the boat afloat. It is, however, good to check the extent of the damage and act accordingly.

Emergency repair

Always keep duct tape and a bottle of acetone on your boat at all times. These will come in handy in case you want to do an emergency repair. Leaks from an inflatable boat can be from anywhere, some places are accessible, and others are even hard to spot. If the puncture is in a convenient location, this method of repair comes in handy. The emergency repair while in the water is used for less severe leaks that have very small leakages.

To repair the leak, wipe down the leaking area with acetone and then apply the duct tape. Ensure the seal is tight after which you should pump in air to re-insulate the boat. After this repair, make sure you get back to the shore as you can to do more checks on the boat, monitor the extent of the leakage more and see if the boat is safe to get back into the water.

What if the leak is not accessible and I can’t even spot it?

The boat could be slowly deflating, and you are not able to spot the area where leakage is happening. In such a case, the first step to stop the leak is to find it. This can be very scary while in the water. You can still try to find out the leak spot while bringing the boat ashore, depending on the rate of deflation.

Identify the damage

There are a few ways to look for a leak in a boat. Depending on the area affected. Most interior surfaces of the boat are more accessible to spot leakages from as compared to the under the water line areas.

By now, it is clear that air must be escaping somewhere for the air chambers to become soft and the size of the boat to reduce. The best tool to find the leaking area is water mixed with detergent. Start by checking the valves.Most issues with punctures on the boat are usually caused by loosely fit pipes.

Finding leakages using detergent water:

Spray around the valves, if you see bubbles forming, check the valve fitting and make sure they are screwed in tight. After fixing the pipes and ensuring they fit well, and no air is escaping from them, check the other areas.

Repairing leakages on the boat

Scrub the detergent water over the boat surface.Watch out for tiny bubbles forming as you spread the detergent water on the boat.If you find one leak, never assume it’s the only one. The quickest way to repair the leak is using the emergency repair that in most cases is just a temporary fix. This uses the acetone and the duct tape.

For more severe punctures and long-lasting repairs, using patches are the advised solution. This is better done on the dry land.After patching, wait for approximately 30 minutes for the fix to cure before inflating the boat again.

Different types of glue work differently on different materials. Make sure the glue you use for your patch does not damage the boat’s material. Use the same patch the boat is made from for maximum effect.

Underwater line leakage:

Instances where the leakage is happening under the waterline, there is nothing much that can be done to patch or repair the leakage. In such a case, you will just need to keep pumping air into the boat to balance of the air leak and get to the shores as fast as you can. Identifying leaks under the main surface is best done in the dry land using the detergent method. In some cases, you would just need to pump air into the boat and listen keenly for leaking air. This is best done with a fully pumped boat and in a silent room.

What to carry on board when using the inflated boat.

You can rarely predict a puncture, and so it is best to be prepared when going out sailing with your inflated boat. Ensure you have these things on board as they will be vital in case the boat gets a puncture on water. The list below is not mandatory to have on board but they come in handy in case of a leak while in deep waters, and they are basically like emergency kits.

  • Personal flotation device
  • Every member on board the boat should have a personal flotation device which can be used in case the boat capsizes in water.
  • A whistle and Marine emergency radio to alert the people on shore or water patrol teams in case the puncture gets out of hand while in the water, and you need to be rescued.
  • A hand pump
  • After performing the emergency repair, you will need to inflate the boat to restore the lost air, and this will require the hand ump.
  • Duct tape, acetone, detergent water and a patch kit. These are the tools used to fix punctures and leakages.

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What to know about fixing the inflated boat punctures

Inflated boats have different chambers so that if one chamber fails, the others still work to keep the boat afloat. So when one chamber gets deflated, do not panic as the boat can again stay stable with the help of the other chambers, This helps give you more time to fix the leaking chamber and also get to the shore to diagnose more of what could be the cause of the leak and subsequent repairs.

Repairs while in the water are mostly just emergency fixes that need to be replaced by permanent maintenance while on dry land. Extensive renovations are best done in the dry area, in a warm space with room humidity for lasting repair.

Some adhesives require more time to dry up affecting the time needed to inflate the boat again and get it back to the water. When doing the repairs, usually, apply several coats of adhesive to repair site and patch, leaving some time for it to dry before applying another patch.

Always be on the lookout while on the water for anything changing with your inflated boat. Could be the speed, the air chambers getting softer or the boat getting less stable. You can use these indications to know if something is happening to the boat and be able respond in early stages. I hope this article has answered the question of what to do if your inflatable boat gets punctured on water. If there is anything I have left out please let me know in the comments!

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