Care of Your Boating Gear

ArticleSeptember 17, 2014

Care of Your Boating GearYou spent good money for this stuff, and you want to get a lot of use from it. And you can, IF you take good care of it. You don’t expect to buy a car and never have to change the oil and check the air in the tires. With a little care and TLC, your boating gear will perform better and last longer.

Here are some care tips for you:

Inflatable Boats

Avoid overinflating your boat. For most NRS inflatables, we recommend 2.5 psi as a good, safe operating pressure. Be aware that heat from the sun expands the air inside the tubes. On a trailer or pulled up on shore on a long lunch break or at the end of the day, your boat can quickly gain pressure. With experience, you can estimate air pressure by seeing how much the fabric “gives” when you press on it with a thumb or knuckle. However, a gauge eliminates the guesswork. Take care when inflating and deflating boats with internal baffles between chambers. Too much pressure on one side of a baffle can rupture it.

If you have to store your boat deflated and rolled up between uses, it’s best to wash out sand and debris and dry it first. Inflatable Boat Cleaner is an excellent product for cleaning off stains and frame marks, if you care about that sort of thing. One product that is a no-brainer and something every boat owner should use is 303 Protectant. It is a non-silicone-based sunscreen. It really prolongs the life and looks of your boat’s material.

And another storage hint: beware of rodents (mice, rats, packrats, squirrels and porcupines)! Those creatures, with their efficient gnawing teeth, have been known to chew into a stored boat, doing horrific damage. Take precautions to keep these buggers away from your precious craft.

Wetsuits, Sprayskirts and Other Neoprene Items

One thing that’s death on neoprene is chlorine. If you’re using HydroSkin, a heavier wetsuit, sprayskirt, etc. in a swimming pool for roll practice or water aerobics, you’ll need to go the extra mile to prevent the rubber from disintegrating. Rinse with fresh water any items exposed to the high chlorine content of pool water soon after you get out. Gear Aid Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo has ingredients that neutralize chlorine, as well clean the gear.

Tears and holes in these items can be repaired with a couple of different products. Quick, field repairs are best done with Seal Cement, a contact adhesive. After cleaning and drying the tear area, apply the adhesive to both sides, and allow to dry for 5 minutes. Then put on another layer of adhesive, and let dry for about 10 minutes. Press the two sides together for at least 10 seconds, then you’re good to go.

Aquaseal Urethane Adhesive is another excellent repair aid for neoprene. Since Aquaseal is not a contact adhesive, it requires a slightly different technique. For a tear in the item, after cleaning and drying the tear area, bring the edges together, and use a piece of tape on one side to hold them together. Then apply Aquaseal to the other side of the tear, working it down between the edges and about 1/4' beyond the tear. Keep the repair area level, and allow overnight (10-14 hours) to cure. If you mix 1 part Cure Accelerator/Cleaner to 3-4 parts Aquaseal, you shorten the cure time to less than 2 hours. You can also apply Aquaseal on high-wear areas of your gear; urethane is a very abrasion-resistant material. Thinning the Aquaseal with Cure Accelerator also makes it easy to spread with a brush.

Dry and Semi-Dry Wear

All quality breathable drywear comes to you new with a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment on the outer fabric layer. DWR is a waterproofing of the threads of the fabric, making water that hits it “bead up” and roll or drain off the surface. With use and exposure to the elements, the DWR treatment wears off, resulting in “wetting out” of the surface fabric. Visualize it like this: with the waterproofing gone, water saturates the threads, and the water surface tension allows it to bridge the gaps between the threads. This sheet of water interferes with the transportation of moisture through the breathable membrane. Your under layers can’t pass your perspiration out through the material, so they get wet and clammy, losing much of the insulating value. You may even think the garment is leaking.

So, when you notice that water is no longer beading up, it’s time to reapply DWR to the material. Many of the products you find on the market instruct you to apply the chemical and then put the garment in a dryer to activate it. This may work fine for a ski jacket, but boating gear has latex or neoprene gaskets that will be damaged by this heat. The article, Dry Wear Checkup and Repair, covers the procedures and products for restoring DWR on your technical outerwear.

With drysuits, zipper care is very important. In order to be watertight, the darn things are tough to open and close. Cleaning and lubricating helps lessen stress on the zipper parts. Gear Aid Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant comes in an applicator bottle with a brush top. It cleans and lubricates without collecting dirt. Gear Aid Zipper Lubricant Stick is a semi-solid in a “lip balm”-style applicator. In addition to lubricating, it protects metal zipper teeth from corrosion. The Drysuit Zipper Care and Maintenance video demonstrates these procedures and covers how to protect zippers when transporting the suit.

This only scratches the surface of gear care. Go to our Learn pages for much more info.