Buyers guide

INFLATABLE BOAT HISTORY AND RELIABILITY

Inflatables have a very interesting history, which, like many types of boats, predates their use as recreational vessels.

To prevent damage and injury when transferring people from one boat to another, the inflatable collar was developed to ring the entire boat in what amounts to a shock-absorbing inner-tube.

When the utility of this type of craft was recognized, inflatables developed at a rapid pace, and today they’re quite advanced as compared to the early versions.  

 

Today inflatables come in the form of fully inflatable SIBs (Soft Inflatable Boat) and RIBs (rigid inflatable boats), which have a rigid hull that’s surrounded by a large inflatable “collar.”

There are also a few versions that split the difference, by adding a fold-up hard deck that gets inserted into the boat when it’s inflated (F-Rib).

Fully inflatable boats gain the advantage of easy storage, since they can be deflated completely and packed away into a small area. This makes them ideal for fishing, or as a tender for larger vessels.

RIBS, on the other hand, enjoy the abilities of a rigid wave-splitting hull which can smooth out a bumpy ride.

Both versions are considered extremely seaworthy – remember, they’re essentially wrapped by a gigantic PFD – and thanks to today’s tough materials like Hypalon and Neoprene, puncturing the collar is an extremely rare event (and when it does happen, patching the hole is an easy process).

These materials are also resistant to UV radiation and often are protected by a layer of nylon to extend their lifetime.  

 

While inflatables have mostly been used as tenders and for commercial purposes to date, SIB and RIB versions have gained wide acceptance in Europe as dedicated leisure and fishing boats.

There’s no arguing the rugged, seaworthy nature of inflatable boats these days. 

WHY FISH FROM AN INFLATABLE BOAT?

Let’s start by looking at the advantages of inflatable boats. In this case SIBs (Soft Inflatable Boats).

Portability, affordable, easy to care for with lots of space on deck to store gear, rods, tackle, nets, and cool boxes. 

Thanks to their ability to serve as a general-purpose craft, inflatables are enticing more and more boaters to make the switch from hard-hulled boats. 

You might be wondering why in the world someone would want to fish from an inflatable boat. Maybe you’re just curious to know what the pros and cons are. Either way, we’ll explain why you should choose an inflatable boat over any other boat to go fishing. 

The first and most common reason is portability.

Owning an inflatable boat means you can store it easily in the garage, spare room, garden lock up or similar.

Where are you going to store a large boat other than paying for it to be moored or taking up your front drive.  

The second reason is cost. Inflatable boats are much cheaper than a regular wooden, metal or plastic boat, if you’re on a budget but still want to go fishing, buying an inflatable boat is the best choice for you. 

SIBs are easily kept requiring very little maintenance.   

OK Inflatables will never be as durable as boats made from hard and solid materials.

You can run a wooden boat into a sharp rock without making too much damage, do the same with an inflatable and you’ll be swimming back to shore.

Punctures do happen from time to time but try not to mistake a SIB made from PVC and a small child's toy made from orange plastic. 

 

 SIB OR RIB? 

Wait, what? Are they not the same thing? There’s a confusion going on where people mistake RIBs for SIBs and vice versa. The difference between the two is the floor/deck. A RIB has a Rigid floor so will be unable to fold down and be packed into a car and will require a trailer. RIBs require much bigger engines ranging from 30hp right up to 300hp.

You will need to have it moored or kept in a garage or drive while a SIB has a Soft floor that can be taken apart and folded down making it easier to transport. These days air decks are becoming more and more popular making them very light. 

WHICH IS THE BEST SIB TO BUY? 

People ask this question all the time so here is a complete buyers guide for people interested in fishing from an inflatable boat. 

Let’s just start by saying there’s no best inflatable boat for fishing. Sorry to say it, but that’s just the way it is.

What might be the best fishing boat for one might be completely different for someone else.  

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, location, what type of fishing you’re going to do, how many there are of you, experience level and your budget. These are all things you must think about when choosing your boat. 

Instead of taking a gamble and hoping to choose the right boat, let us help you. 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR BOAT. 

There are lots of things to take in to account when choosing the right boat for you.

 

WHAT SIZE SIB WILL I NEED?

That all depends on a few things.  

How many of you will be using it on a regular basis?  

If using it for fishing, then consider how much equipment you have. Then add an auxiliary fuel tank if needed as well as a builder’s bucket (Gorilla Tub) or box to store your anchor. Possibly even a 25-50L Dry Bag for keeping valuables dry. 

Most SIB lengths range between 2.4m and 5m. 

I have a 3.2m which is adequate for two people with one set of fishing gear. If you add the second persons fishing gear to that it starts to get a bit too cosy so opt for something in the 3.4m+ region.

3.2m is light enough for one person to carry and set up and yet big enough if there are two of you.    

A good size SIB can carry up to 6 passengers with a fair amount of fishing gear. 

PVC OR HYPALON

Inflatable boats are constructed from either PVC or Hypalon, and the trade-off here is between price and durability. PVC is extremely popular because it's lightweight and affordable. It's easily folded, and recent developments in polymers mean that modern PVC can also be remarkably strong. Some come with threads woven into the material, and these threads are measured in denier. A higher rating denotes a stronger thread, but you should also pay attention to the nature of the weave, as a more tightly-woven thread (for instance, 6x6 per cm rather than 3x3) is likely to prove more resilient. On the downside, PVC remains susceptible to extended exposure to sunlight, heat, and humidity. 
 
Hypalon, on the other hand, is a weighty, expensive, but extremely robust fabric. That's why it's commonly used in the construction of heavy-duty RIBs. Plainly then, your buying decision should be based partly on budget but also on you're intended usage. If you want to keep your SIB ready-built and routinely exposed for frequent use, then Hypalon is the answer. However, if you want a more compact and portable boat and for stowing away between outings, a modern, lightweight PVC SIB is likely to prove the better compromise. 

Most inflatable boats available in the UK are made from PVC anyway so I’d stick with that option. 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF FLOOR

What makes a SIB stand out from the rest is it's type of floor, there are three types of floor a SIB can come with; slatted deck, air deck, and a solid deck. They all have their own special feel to them, what floor you get depends on budget as well as preference.

Slatted Deck

 

 

 

 

 

This This type of deck consists of wood or plastic panels that you slot into the base of the SIB. They’re usually 8-10 inches wide and leave gaps in between them. They are found on the cheaper SIB’s. Their main advantage over other floors is the fact that they can be rolled up, easier to set up and easier to store. 

Air Deck

This kind of deck does not have any slats or inserts. The deck inflates like the rest of the boat, which makes set up time a little longer compared to slats, they do however feel more solid than slats. Air decks add more mass to a SIB, making them slightly heavier than slats (still more portable than a solid deck SIB and much easier to set up). 

Solid Deck

Aluminium or wooden decks will be the most solid out of all three, it makes the SIB feel like a real boat. A solid deck is made from panels that you piece together. Because it’s a hard and solid deck, the keel will be pushed down, this makes for better steering and handling. There’s a drawback, however… These kinds of floors are a real challenge to put together, especially if you’ve never assembled a floor like this. We highly recommended that you get a friend to help you out. Trying to assemble a floor like this by yourself for the first time will drive you nuts. Luckily it gets easier with each time you assemble it, so give it a couple of weeks and you’ll have it done it in no time. The main advantage of having a solid deck is being able to mount a bigger outboard engine. 

ENGINE SIZE

This depends on the size of the boat and how much you will be pulling. Below is a rough guide as boat manufacturers engine limits will vary slightly.

WHAT SIZE ENGINE SHAFT WILL MY BOAT NEED?

There are lots of charts out there that explain what length represents what size shaft. I found this diagram as it explains the most common lengths as well as explaining the cavitation plate should be in line with the bottom of the boat. 

Most if not all SIBs will require a short shaft engine. 

FOUR STROKE OR TWO STROKE ENGINE?

Due to advancing technology and ongoing research you’ll have several options when finding the right outboard for your SIB. 

The main factors are weather to purchase: 

  • Used outboard (two or four stroke) 

  • New four stroke outboard 

  • New direct fuel injected two stroke outboard 

 

Each have several different main features, for example two stoke outboards are lighter, faster (in some cases) and less expensive. Four stroke motors are cleaner, smoother, more economical, great trolling motors and meet environmental requirements. This is not to say two stroke outboards can’t troll or four strokes are not faster, the advancing technology of each outboard manufacturer is improving each individual factor, it is a matter of preference and which best suits your requirements. Below is a list of pros and cons. 

TWO STROKE ENGINES 

Pros

  • Lighter 

  • Accelerate fast and in some cases more top end speed 

  • Purchase price is cheaper 

  • Easier to repair 

  • Strong used market 

  • Used parts availability 

  • Simple design allowing for less to go wrong 

  • Strong resale value due to cost of new 

 

Cons

  • More pollutant 

  • Recurring cost of oil 

  • Mixing of oil with fuel must be correct to avoid serious damage 

  • Smokey 

  • Rough idle 

  • Carburettor can gum up easier if not used due to oil mixture in fuel (not true for direct fuel injection two stokes) 

  • Nosier 

  • Spark plugs blackening up 

 

 

FOUR STROKE ENGINES 

Pros

  • Quieter

  • Less pollutant 

  • Future production, technology and research is amid at four strokes or similar 

  • No oil needs to be mixed with fuel 

  • Great for trolling 

  • Fuel economy 

  • Very reliable 

  • Smooth idle 

 

Cons 

  • Heavy 

  • Limited used market 

  • Larger in size 

  • A little more expensive to purchase 

  • Often more expensive to service or repair 

  • In some cases, many not accelerate as fast 

  • Harder to transport or store must be laid on a certain side if not upright. 

  • More parts, possible meaning more can go wrong 

 

You can’t go wrong with either outboard but research to find out what is best suited for your requirements. 

TRANSOM WHEELS

Make sure you buy launching wheels that are rated for the weight of your boat and motor and remember the size of the wheels will greatly affect how easy they are to use. 

Think about where you intend to launch on a regular basis. Do you have a concrete slipway nearby or will it be a sandy or shingle beach launch most of the time? 

Small diameter, narrow hard plastic wheels are hard to roll across soft surfaces like sand and harder shingle but work well on slipways. Larger diameter wider wheels roll more easily. 

I have used my inflatable launching wheels on all kinds of sand, shingle, as well as on concrete. The large diameter, wider tire design makes it relatively easy to move the boat.  

Most inflatable launching wheels need to be either flipped up or removed once on the water. 

Avoid pneumatic wheels as they tend to puncture when you need them the most. 


IBF offer solid (puncture proof) wheels. Only buy once.  

 

If installing wheels that can’t be removed, then make sure when folding the boat up it still fits into the carry bag. 

Each model has advantages and disadvantages.... you will need to figure out which is most important to you depending on where you plan to launch most often.  

TRAILERS

Trailers vary in size and type. 

Some are not road worthy and are only intended to lower the boat in to the water. Often a T shaped metal frame with small pneumatic wheels, used for SIBs 3.2m to 3.7m long.

Larger SIBs or those with a solid deck where it's a struggle to launch for one reason or another may opt for a full road worthy trailer. 

 

Getting Started with a Trailer 

  • Make sure the trailer capacity is correct for the boat and the vehicle tow capacity is correct for the boat and trailer unit. 

  • Make sure the boat is fitted correctly to the trailer 

 

Tying Down the Boat 

  • Tie down the transom of the boat with quality transom tie down straps (either ratchet straps or the cam lock style that hook over the top of the transom) 

  • Make sure the winch strap is attached to the bow of the boat 

  • Make sure the winch safety chain is hooked to the bow of the boat 

  • Tie down the gunwales of the boat by using a long ratchet strap over the boat (especially with collapsible inflatables that are very light for their size and can bounce around on the trailer) 

  • The outboard motor should be in the lowered position when trailer towing to safeguard from damage to the lift mechanism during travel (many boaters use special outboard motor brackets called transom savers to stabilize the motor in a partially lowered position during road travel) 

 

Connecting the Tow Vehicle

  • Make sure you use the correct ball size on the tow vehicle hitch before connecting the trailer for towing 

  • Hook up the trailer safety chains by crossing them under the hitch on the vehicle 

  • Plug in the lights before driving and check that they work every time you hook them up!  

 

Traveling 

  • After trailer towing for a short distance (like just outside of town if it is the start of a long trip) stop and double check, tie downs, safety chains, hitches and lights. 

  • At every stop check the tie downs, safety chains, hitch and wheel bearing (touch them to see if hot) to make sure things are riding properly. Frequent checking can save you from big repairs down the road. 

  • A mechanic advised me to touch the wheel hubs at every stop to check for heat build-up. This is a great way to catch a problem before it becomes a seized bearing. 

  • Remember to take corners wide if trailering is a new experience for you. The trailer tires follow a different path than the tow vehicle! Practice backing the trailer in a vacant parking lot to become comfortable backing down a boat ramp. 

 

The Trailer 

  • Check tire pressures on the trailer tires frequently 

  • Wash off the trailer with fresh water after use in salt water (this will greatly increase the life of your trailer) 

  • Service brake assemblies regularly 

  • Make sure the hubs are repacked yearly, and other maintenance is done on the trailer by yourself or a mechanic you trust 

 

Trailering Checklist

  • Lights working 

  • Ball/receiver latched and locked 

  • Safety chains connected to tow vehicle 

  • Fenders secure/ tires not rubbing 

  • Tire pressure correct 

  • Boat secured to trailer 

  • Test brakes (if applicable) 

INFLATING YOUR SIB. WHAT ARE THE BEST PUMPS? 

 

This one is down to personal preference and budget. There are many on the market with prices ranging anywhere from £40 up to £200+  

 

 You could just opt for a foot pump but with two or three tubes and possibly an air deck to inflate too, you’ll certainly be considering easier options before long. 

 

So electric pumps are your best bet to get your SIB pumped up the quickest and easiest,  

 

The most popular seems to be the newer improved for 2020 Bravo GE BTP 12V pump at around £140  

 

 

The Bravo 12V BST800 is super quick, priced a bit higher than the BTP but does the job quicker.

This one comes with a 12V Battery included meaning you can inflate your boat close to the water instead of requiring a car lighter or battery terminal.

 


 

Check out our full selection of pumps

 

ANCHORS

Fluke or Danforth - This style has two large hinged flukes and is designed to bury in the bottom to create the holding power. They are light weight and flat when stored, which makes them a great option for SIBs. 

Grapnel - Works well if there is something solid down there to get one of the hooks on. If it does get a good hook it can be next to impossible to retrieve! Easy to store and carry. Inexpensive to purchase. Found in most SIBs. 

Check out the anchor kit we've put together

Adding the chain will weigh your anchor down enabling it to dig in to the ground. There is however a risk of snagging the chain on a rock so using this cable tie method means you can retrieve your anchor with a hefty tug. 

Simply attach the chain to the eye next to the arms and run it down the shaft to the opposite end. Thread a cable tie through the end eye and chain together and you're all set.

 

In the event of a snag all you do is give the rope a good tug and it should break free and release. 

Grapnel anchor with chain and breakaway tie

ANCHOR RETRIEVAL

To prevent breaking your back when retrieving your anchor, you may choose to use the Alderney ring method.

This method is an alternative to hauling by hand. It uses the forward motion of your boat and the resistance of the buoy to haul the anchor.

The Alderney ring is the ring that the anchor line runs through while also being attached to the buoy. The buoy needs to be large enough to be able to float the combined weight of the anchor and its chain.

One method of raising the anchor is to position your boat parallel to the position of the anchor (down tide) and then follow a curved trajectory up tide.

This creates an upwards pressure on the anchor which makes the anchor lift out of its position on the seafloor. The Alderney ring must be large enough to allow the chain of the anchor to pass through. The advantage of this method is that the buoy takes all of the weight making it easier to haul the anchor in once the chain has passed through the Alderney ring. 

 

 

The method to “heave anchor” with an Alderney ring can be found on the internet, for instance on YouTube, where you will find the method quickly described. The anchor is raised by using a buoy and a ring and the power of your SIB. The resistance of the buoy in the water is greater than the resistance of the line against the ring. This means that the boat will pull up the anchor when the boat moves.

Outboard engine size chart
Outboard engine shaft sizes chart
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Of course, safety on the water is paramount and having the right safety gear with you is vital. 

Life jackets and buoyancy aids

Life Jackets are designed with a specific shape which when inflated enables you to float above and with the direction of the waves, while keeping you buoyant in a safe position. If a spray hood is fitted it protects your airways from sea spray. A man overboard casualty can not only drown from immersion in water but can drown from inhaling the sea spray and mist. If you are likely to be offshore, a spray hood is vital.   

Life Jackets consist of an outer cover and waist belt with crotch strap which contains a fluorescent inflatable lung which when required contains the ability to fill with gas, inflate and become buoyant. At other times it is worn deflated and in theory, close to the body.   

All life Jackets are either “Manual” or “Automatic” and irrespective of whether they are Manual or Automatic, can orally inflate using the oral Tube on the lung or manually inflate using the pull cord. 

A Manual Life Jacket will only inflate on demand when the manual pull cord is pulled. This pulling motion detaches a clip on the mechanism which breaks and activates the gas bottle, releasing the CO2 gas which then inflates the lung. 

Manual Life Jackets are particularly effective for confident sailors or mariners who are familiar with the product; they could be inshore or on the dock. Manual jackets are also required when operating a SIB when you will be in contact with a lot of sea spray and sitting low down in the water.   

Cons: wearing a manual life jacket, imagine getting knocked unconscious on the way into the water, if you were unconscious a manual life jacket will do nothing for you. 

Pros: wearing a manual life jacket include it not inflating accidentally when water splashes over your SIB. 

So, weigh up the chances of you getting knocked unconscious in a SIB compared to how likely you are to get it wet accidentally. 

An Automatic Life Jacket can be inflated manually, as above, or automatically on contact with water. An automatic life jacket can be relied on in a man overboard situation if you are not an experienced seaman, it will also still work if you are knocked unconscious or disorientated by the fall and are unable to pull the pull cord.

The Automatic Life Jacket contains a mechanism which when wet activates a sensor which fires and activates the gas bottle, releasing the CO2 which then inflates the lung. 

On both manual and automatic life jackets you can also top up the air within the lung with the oral valve.  

There is a whistle fitted on the lung of every life jacket for attracting attention. 

Make sure you always wear the crotch strap. 

 

There is also an option for a SOLAS LIGHT which is imperative if out at night or if there is potential for you to be still waiting rescue during dim or dark hours of the day, if you are offshore or travelling distances, even around the UK Coastline, you could be awaiting rescue in dim and dark conditions. The SOLAS light is also recommended to give you additional piece of mind. 

The inflatable "Bladder" or "Lung" is constructed from marine grade High-Viz Yellow or orange fabric which has three bars of SOLAS approved reflective tape on, this would reflect your personal SOLAS Light or search lights which will attract attention. 

There is also an option for a Spray Hood which is used for protection of the airways from sea spray and water whilst waiting for help in a search and rescue situation. There is a long black grab strap which you pull, and this brings the hood over your head and the inflated life jacket. There is also 3-bars of SOLAS approved reflective tape on the spray hood. 

 A Buoyancy Aid contains buoyant padding which helps keep you above water. Buoyancy Aids are often bulky and cannot be relied on in an emergency as they only aid floatation. If you are unconscious or injured, they do not keep your face out of water and you do need a certain amount of ability to tread water to keep yourself safe. 

FLARES

Another thing to consider having on board are Flares.

These can be bought from most chandlers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pack like this will set you back near £100 but you can spend anything between £15 and £300 on them.  

The only problem with flares are they require someone to see them. 

 

PLB’s and EPIRB’s 

 

A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a personal electronic transmitter used to alert rescuers that there has been a life threatening man over board (MOB) situation with a need to be rescued. When activated, the PLB sends out a signal on either a 406MHz frequency or Local Area System using 121.5MHz, VHF DSC and/or AIS.  

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination centre. 

Some EPIRBs also have built-in GPS which enables the rescue services to accurately locate you to +/- 50 metres. 

Who uses EPIRBs? 

EPIRBs are generally installed on boats and can either be operated automatically after an incident or manually. In most countries they are mandated to be used in all commercial shipping. However, they are also used on yachts and leisure boats. 

How does an EPIRB work?

406 MHz EPIRBs work with the Cospas-Sarsat polar orbiting satellite system, giving true global coverage. There is an alert delay of about 45 minutes dependant on when the satellites come into view on the horizon. 

The satellite can determine the position of your EPIRB to within 5km (3 miles). The coded message identifies the exact vessel to which the EPIRB is registered. This information allows the rescue services to eliminate false alerts and launch an appropriate rescue. 

GPS-enabled EPIRBs have a built-in transmitter which will typically alert the rescue services within 3 minutes and to a positional accuracy of +/- 50 metres (updated every 20 minutes) given a clear view skywards. 

Some EPIRBs also have a secondary distress transmitter. This transmits on 121.5 MHz and is used for "homing" purposes. When the rescue services get close, this allows them to direction find on the signal. Some EPIRBs also have a high brightness LED flashing light that aids final visual location. 

The differences between EPIRBs and PLBs

 

Personal Location Beacons work in the same way as EPIRBs by sending a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency which is relayed via the Cospas-Sarsat global satellite system.

However, there are several differences between them.

PLBs are designed to be carried on the person so they are much smaller, some such as the 'Fastfind' are not much larger than the size of a mobile phone.

PLBs are designed to be used anywhere in the world, on the sea and on land.

Some don't float but may come with an additional flotation sleeve which they should be carried in.

PLBs, once activated, will transmit for a minimum of 24 hours; while the battery life on an EPIRB is at least double (a minimum of 48 hours).

An EPIRB is registered to a vessel, whereas a PLB is registered to a person.

This means that if you have it registered to your SIB and you switch to a new SIB the PLB is still correctly registered; however, if you have an EPIRB and buy a new SIB you will need to re-register it when registering to your new boat.

VHF RADIO

A means of calling for help in the event of an onboard emergency is essential for all boaters.

There are lots on the market. Just get one.

For the sake of £100 it’s a no brainer. Although in many instances a mobile phone may work, it is not designed for the marine environment and coverage may be non-existent just when you need it most.

Another means of communication is therefore essential.

The carriage of at least a handheld VHF is in most cases practical, and a handheld will suffice if only a limited communications range is required.

A fixed VHF set can allow communications to be made over a range of up to 20 – 40 miles depending on the installation and conditions.

VHF also allows search and rescue (SAR) authorities to locate you using Radio Direction Finding (RDF) equipment.

We have a wide range of Icom radios available. 

VHF RADIO COURSE

 

If you have a VHF radio, then you need to take the course so you know what you’re doing and more importantly saying.

The RYA Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) is the minimum qualification required to operate marine VHF radio equipment on a UK flagged vessel.

This includes both fixed and handheld equipment with and without Digital Selective Calling (DSC).

It is obtained by successfully completing and SRC exam conducted at an RYA Recognised Training Centre.

Most candidates are required to complete an RYA SRC course prior to taking the exam, therefore the majority of exams take place after marine radio SRC courses.

When booking a SRC course the RYA training centre will give you details of the time and location for the exam.

 

The SRC course may be taken in a classroom or online through an RYA Recognised Training Centre.

There is no age limit for taking the SRC course although exam candidates must be 16 years old on the day of the exam.

 

Course subjects include:

• routine operation of marine VHF radio including Digital Selective Calling

• the correct VHF channels (frequencies) to be used for each type of communication

• distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures

• ship to shore communication

• practical use of Marine VHF DSC radios

• Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

• Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)

• Search and Rescue Transponders (SART)

 

The exam

 

The exam is a combination of a written theory test and practical assessment in the use of Marine VHF DSC radios.

Candidates must be 16 years or older on the day of the exam.

RYA SafeTrx APP

 

The RYA SafeTrx app monitors your boat journeys and alerts emergency contacts should you fail to arrive on time.

RYA SafeTrx app is an app for both Android and Apple iOS smartphones that allows you to track your journey (in UK territorial waters) on your phone.

RYA SafeTrx app provides all recreational boat users, particularly dinghy cruisers, PWC users, RIB & SIB users, canoer's, kayakers, wind and kite surfers and smaller boat users with an easily accessible and simple to use means that can inform HM Coastguard of their voyage plans and dynamic location in the event of distress.

 

This app is freely available to anyone who wants to be safer afloat.

It is free to download and there is no charge to use it.

 

How does it work?

You can enter your journey details directly from your smartphone and set off knowing that should you not arrive by the time given, a nominated emergency contact will be alerted and advised to initiate appropriate action.

 

Where an emergency contact calls HM Coastguard about an overdue trip, they will have access to your location and SafeTrx trip data through a secure SafeTrx server.

Since RYA SafeTrx periodically sends your location data back to our servers, HM Coastguard's response team can get help directly to you, and quickly.

Whilst components of the GMDSS system remain the preferred means for communication and distress alerting, RYA SafeTrx app is a useful backup and particularly helpful for those on the many small craft that do not have the ability to fit or carry standard GMDSS equipment.

RYA SafeTrx is an accessible tool that SIB users can use when going to sea.

It does not replace GMDSS, EPIRB, PLB or AI.

Download it from the App Store here

Or on Google Play here

 

SIB INSURANCE

Insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK yet but is strongly advised.

In the event of an accident or if your SIB is stolen or damaged you’ll be glad you did.

Look up online or one of the groups ‘Trusted Suppliers’ is Rod Daniel from Craftinsure.

You can get an immediate quote online at www.craftinsure.com

Or call Rod on 0345 2607 888.

 

 

KILL CORD

 

What is a kill cord? How does it work?

Always, always, always use a kill cord and ensure that it is attached to the driver of the boat.

Most outboard engines will normally be fitted with a kill cord which, if used correctly, will stop the engine if the driver becomes dislodged from the helm position.

 

Attaching the kill cord

The kill cord is a red lanyard which has a quick-release fitting at one end and a clip at the other end.

When in use, the quick-release fitting is attached to the console and the end with the clip attaches to the driver.

The kill cord is normally attached around the driver’s wrist or leg and clipped back onto itself.

A kill cord is coiled in its design to allow the driver the natural movement required when helming a boat.

Should the driver move away from, or be thrown from, the helm position the kill cord will detach from the console and the engine will stop.

Detaching the kill cord also allows a crew or passenger to stop the engine if the driver were to become incapacitated whilst at the helm – e.g. they fainted.

In most instances the boat will not start without the kill cord in place therefore a second kill cord should be kept on board to allow boat to be re-started if the driver and kill cord have gone overboard.

The kill cord should be worn by the driver whenever the engine is running.

Should you for any reason not wish to attach the kill cord around your wrist or leg, attach it securely to your personal buoyancy.

In either case it should not foul the steering or gear controls.

The kill cord prevents the driver moving away from the normal operating position either intentionally or by accident.

It might therefore be tempting to use a kill cord that is longer than the item provided by the manufacturer of the engine, to allow you a little more movement, but this could result in the kill cord not doing its job when you really need it to.

 

If you need to leave the command position, or you are changing driver, you should turn the engine off.

The engine should only be re-started when the kill cord has been secured to the new driver.

Check the kill cord works Check your kill cord works at the start of each day or session by starting the engine and pulling the kill cord to makes sure it stops the engine.

POWER BOAT COURSES

 

If you’re new and inexperienced to any style of boating you may consider going on a course to gain confidence as well as knowledge on how to handle a SIB in harsh conditions, what to do in emergency situations and knowing all the correct procedures when it comes to power-boating.

 

Level 1 Start Power-boating 

 

This training course is for those keen for a basic introduction to power boating or as a taster session.

No previous knowledge is necessary.

Additionally, partners of boaters can use the training course to acquire the skills necessary to handle a craft in an emergency. This course provides you with the basics in powerboat handling and safety.

It is not a requirement for adults to take Level 1 before taking Level 2.

The RYA Powerboat Level 1 Training Course syllabus is also an appropriate entry-level course for introducing children to power-boating and is ideal if your children use a tender or dinghy around the marina.

The cost is in the region of £130

 

Level 2 Powerboat Handling

 

Without doubt the most popular RYA Powerboat Course in the world, the RYA Powerboat Level 2 is a two-day practical and theory course which acts as the starting point for providing all the skills and background knowledge that you need to go afloat safely, including man overboard recovery and collision regulations.

 

The two-day Powerboat Training Course covers all aspects of power-boating and provides the skills and background knowledge required to be a competent Powerboat driver. It is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence.

You will also receive the Coastal Endorsement to your certificate, which will cover tides, rules of the road, basic pilotage and navigational skills, and the general seamanship needed to keep you, and your crew, safe at sea.

The cost is in the region of £200

Tim from Sea Training Sussex offers members of the Facebook group a great discount on the course as well as the VHF Radio course so be sure to check out the website and contact them mentioning IBF.

DIY SIB REPAIRS

If you have the confidence to do your own repairs, then read on.

Once you have determined what type of material your SIB is made from you will be able to make your own SIB repair.

The most common type of SIB repair that you will need to make is stopping a leak.

Sometimes when trying to inflate your SIB it simply will not hold pressure.

This may be because of a cut, tear or maybe even a deep scratch within the material itself but, it could be due to a faulty valve.

 

Here are the steps you need to take to find where the leak is coming from. 

Pump air into your boat until you reach the optimal pressure indicated in your owner’s manual.

If you slap the tubes with your hand it should produce a hollow ring like beating a drum would.

When your inflatable boat has been filled with air, check all the tubes as well as the keel (if you have one) or collars to see if there are any areas where the fabric has been damaged.

To check the valve stems to see if they are the cause of the leak, remove the cap and see if the rubber diaphragms show any signs of escaping air and make sure they are seated properly.

 

Take a spray bottle and fill with washing up liquid and water, add the mixture to the spray bottle.

Spray the mixture on the boat areas and look for any bubbles.

You may need to do this slowly and only spray small areas that you can watch carefully.

If you see bubbles in one area, make sure you check in other places, you could have leaks in multiple areas.

After you have sprayed the entire area and found leaks, deflate the inflatable boat.

It may be best to mark the areas where the leaks have occurred with removal ink.

NOTE ALL SOAPY WATER MUST BE COMPLETELY REMOVED BEFORE YOUR REPAIR.

Use the correct patches and adhesives to make the repair.

Applying a Patch

 

The first thing you need to do before attempting any inflatable boat repair, whether to the tubes or to any other area, is to have the right work area.

You do not want to have a very humid space to work in as this can affect the adhesive.

Working in a shaded, dry area that is around 18-25 degrees Celsius and less than 60% humidity is best.

After you have prepared your workspace, you need to get the right tools for the job.

You will need the right fabric, solvents, and adhesive.

Items you will need for your inflatable boat or SIB repair

 

For a temporary adhesive repair, you will need a 1-part adhesive

For a permanent or large patch, you will need a 2-part adhesive

Fabric patch (it is imperative that you use the right fabric & adhesive)

Primer and/or solvent for the patch (Solvent is optional but advised for larger repairs)

A short, stiff brush (a paint brush is fine)

A lint-free, clean cloth (any debris can ruin the adhesive)

Fine sand paper. (Only needed with Hypalon)

If you are using a 2-part adhesive you will need a mixing stick

Pencil or marker

Masking tape

Wallpaper seam roller or Something heavy to make sure the patch is firmly stuck.

Inside Patch (Only needed if the hole/tear is greater than 30mm if this is not the case skip to Outside Patch)

 

Measure the hole and cut your patch to be 30mm longer in every direction over the hole.

Make sure when cutting the material that all the corners are rounded.

If you are undertaking a Hypalon SIB repair you will need to sand the top surface around the hole until it has a matt finish.

The same process needs to be repeated to sand down the inside surface of the tube and the patch.

Using the solvent cleaner, wipe down the area that was sanded and allow the solvent sufficient time to evaporate until the surface is dry (Solvent is not essential but advised for larger repairs).

 

Following the directions on the adhesive tin, mix half.

Using the small stiff brush, thinly apply a layer of adhesive onto both surfaces so that it looks wet.

Allow the surfaces to dry for approximately 30 minutes.

Add a second coat of adhesive to both surfaces and allow it to dry for an additional 3/15 minutes (See your tin of adhesive).

At this point the adhesive should feel tacky when lightly touched.

With the inside patch, apply a piece of polythene onto the adhesive on the patch so that it can be rolled up and pressed into the hole.

Place it inside the tube and put it in position.

Using the seam roller, roll from the middle to the outside of the patch.

It is important to make sure that no air is trapped between the patch and the adhesive.

Let the adhesive dry for at least 18 hours.

Once the adhesive has dried, inflate the tube and check for any leaks.

 

Outside Patch

Once the area has been identified, cut a patch of fabric about 5cm larger than the hole the leak is coming from.

Place the piece of fabric over the hole and outline it with your marker.

Using your sandpaper, lightly sand the area where the patch will be added

 

(NOTE ONLY SAND HYPALON)

Using a Solvent & a cloth carefully wipe down the area to be repaired as well as the back of the piece of fabric to be used as a patch.

Use the correct solvent on the fabric (MEK for PVC and PU or Toluene for Hypalon) Note solvent is not essential

Use masking tape to surround the area that will be patched so that no adhesive leaks over.

Apply the adhesive according to the package directions using the brush; 2-part adhesives will have to be mixed and typically cure quicker.

After the adhesive dries for 30 minutes, add a second and third coat leave for 3-10 minutes (See your tin of adhesive) or till the surface becomes tacky.

Once the surface is tacky, add the fabric patch to the area.

Be careful because once you add the patch there is not a chance to add it again.

Use a decorator’s wallpaper seam roller or a rounded object to roll across the patch and remove any air bottles.

Remove the tape and clean any adhesive that leaked onto the tube using the solvent.

After you have cleaned the area place something heavy on top of the patch and let it set for at least 18 hours to cure.

After 18 hours you should be able to re-inflate your boat and hit the water.

How to find a water leak in your SIB floor

Damage to the floor is another common problem that affects SIBs.

Here are the steps you should take to make a repair to the floor of your inflatable boat.

Ensure that your inflatable boat repair is on a dry, flat surface, such as a table.

It is not advisable to attempt floor repairs on the ground outside as moisture can cause problems.

Inflate the boat completely and turn it upside down so that the bottom is facing up.

Sprinkle talcum powder across the entire base of the boat and use a dry brush to spread it onto every part of the surface.

Turn the boat back over and pour about 1 litre of water into the boat.

Gently move the boat back and forth to ensure that the water has completely reached every part of the floor.

Lift the boat up and see where the leaks are coming from.

The talcum powder will appear wet and make any leaks visible.

Use a marker to mark where any holes may be in the floor.

Repair the hole using a patch of the right fabric, the proper solvent, and the correct adhesive.

BOAT MAINTENANCE 

Be careful when using household cleaners as some of them contain chemicals that can damage the seams of your boat

August Race is one of the market leaders in PVC and Hypalon cleaners with a whole range of products including Spot Off mould remover amongst others

FISH FINDERS AND GPS NAVIGATION

There are many fish finders out there or as I like to call them ‘Feature Finders’.

You can spend anything from £100 to £600 for a small enough unit perfect for a SIB.

They can cost much, much more but for a SIB you don't need anything too fancy or expensive.

I personally prefer sea fishing as opposed to river fishing so the fish I like to catch don’t tend to stick around in one place for too long, so as a rule I never use these devises to find fish, I use them to find features and then hope fish will be there.

The argument is always, was that a fish or a bit of seaweed?

If you see what you think is a fish on the display, by the time you’ve got your lure or bait to where the fish was on the screen it’s now in a totally different location.

That’s the way I look at it anyway.

Yes, the units that cost in the region of 3k plus might be more capable of detecting a fish or a shoal of fish but I’m not spending that much when there’s really no need.

I’ve recently purchased the Lowrance Hook 2 4x with GPS. £140 all in.

Paired with my phone that has the Navionics app which I use to plot coordinates of wrecks and reefs, that’s all I need.

Use the Navionics app to get to your coordinates and then use the Feature Finder to pin point the marks.

The Lowrance Hook 2 unit 

Paired with the Navionics app available here

Take a look at our whole range of fish finders

 

ACCESSORISE YOUR SIB

You will want to accessorise your SIB.

Railblaza have everything you need including '3M VHB RIB Port Mounts'.

Simply peel off the back and apply to your SIB and wait for it to set then you can attach any of the many accessories that they supply to get fishing for that lovely size Bass you've been struggling to catch from the shore 

SO, WHERE CAN I FISH WITH AN INFLATABLE BOAT?

 

Since an inflatable boat acts almost the same way as any other boat, it can go pretty much anywhere.

Lakes, ponds, rivers, inshore and even offshore.

Certain UK rivers require that you have a boat license and insurance but check with local councils for details.

Most if not all beaches around the UK are free to use.

Just get yourself a SIB and join in the fun.

 

So, there you have it.

That’s the majority of things covered.

Obviously, others will have their way of doing things.

This is just my personal look on inflatable boat fishing.

Please comment in the group if you have anything you’d like me to add.

 

Happy floating and tight lines.

We're all in the same boat

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