Inflatable boats are known for being hardwearing but they aren’t bulletproof. Regular maintenance and correct storage are important if you want to keep your boat in great condition for as long as possible, but even with the best care in the world, accidents do sometimes happen.

Punctures and leaks can be scary, especially if they happen suddenly while you’re out on the water. Fortunately, these are rare and it’s more likely you will experience a slow leak or puncture - less dramatic but still a problem.

Before you go out on the water it’s a good idea to check your boat carefully for any obvious signs of leaks or escaping air. Small punctures can generally be fixed fairly easily but larger ones will probably need professional attention.

If you are on the water and you get a puncture don’t panic. While it’s far from an ideal situation, most inflatable boats have more than one air chamber, so chances are it’s not going to completely deflate all at once.

It’s a good idea to keep duct tape and a bottle of acetone on your boat at all times. This way you can make emergency repairs to any accessible punctures and get to shore. Simply wipe down the area with acetone and then apply the duct tape, making sure you have a good seal. Pump in air to re-inflate and get yourself to shore as fast as possible.

What if I can’t find the leak?

It’s a common scenario – your boat is slowly deflating but you can’t work out where the leak is coming from. Even a tiny hole or rip can cause a leak over time and there may even be more than one puncture. The first step to stopping the leak is to find it.

There are a few ways to look for a leak in a boat. The easiest is to inflate your boat and then cover it with a solution of water and detergent. As you spread the water over the boat, look for bubbles. Escaping air will create a bubble that will expand over time and this should direct you to the source of the leak. Even if you find one leak, never assume it’s the only one!

Once you’ve found the leak, you can patch it up yourself with a patch kit. Make sure you get the kit that is appropriate for your make and model of inflatable boat. Different types of glue work better on different materials, so if you use the wrong one it may not work and could even damage the material.

If you have any problems with repairing a punctured boat or inflatable kayak in Australia, or if the puncture is too big to fix yourself, give us a call. We offer a full repair service for all inflatable boats, from patching the smallest leaks, to complete rebuilding.