The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Inflatable Boat Maintenance Wisdom

I just got off the phone with a local guy who repairs inflatable boats.

Seems like he really knows of what he speaks. I learned a few things:

  • Hypalon, the material our old Avon is made of, goes on pretty much forever, even when exposed to sun. He sees old Hypalon Avons still holding air after sixty, yes sixty, years.
  • Parts are still available for old Avon dinghies, even though the brand is out of business—bought by Zodiac and then trashed…but I’m not bitter.
  • He says he can fix pretty much anything that needs it on this old dinghy, and that when he gets done it will be functional for many more years.
  • If the floor is leaking on any flexible bottom inflatable:
    1. Wait for nightfall
    2. Take the boards out
    3. Flip the dinghy upside down
    4. Put a bright light under it
    5. Circle the little stars of light you see with chalk
    6. Flip over and patch the chalk circles

He is going to rehab our nearly four-decade old Avon. If it goes another 20 years I’m thinking I might be done with it.

Final tip from me: Hypalon may be a lot more expensive, but it’s worth every penny.

More on dinghies (tenders).

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Terence Thatcher

My Avon Redcrest is 40 years old and is still going. If they begin slow leaks, a good repair shop can fill them with air and some sort of adhesive and the leaks stop. I did that about 12 years ago.

Neil McCubbin

We are in the Marquesas, with little expertise or Mterial available.

Our Aluminium AB dinghy has started to have the metal separate from the hypalon tube.

We have Sikaflex 291 and G-Flex epoxy and are wondering which would work best.

We have Ospho, which I plan to use to sprepare the aluminium, and strong solvent for cleaning