How to Inflate and Deflate Cataraft Tubes
NRS catarafts have three inflation chambers in each tube. This is a great safety feature; if you get a puncture, you’ve lost only one-sixth of your flotation.
Internal baffles separate inflation chambers. Using proper technique when inflating and deflating protects these baffles from damage. Fixing a blown baffle is one of the most difficult inflatable repair jobs, usually requiring passing the job off to a professional.
In this video, Josh from NRS Repairs gives you the straight skinny on this important preventive maintenance boater task.
Start out by unfolding the tubes and laying them out flat. Air up the middle chamber to ~1.5 pounds per square inch (psi), or with the chamber fully shaped but not hard. Then, inflate the end chambers up to full pressure, 2.5 psi. If you don’t have a pressure gauge, you can use an “old boater fix.” When you press near the middle of a chamber with your thumb, and can depress the material approximately one-half inch, you are pretty close to 2.5 psi.
Now go back and bring the center chamber up to 2.5 psi. Following these steps keeps high pressure equally on both sides of the baffles that separate chambers. Doing this will reduce the stress on the baffles and prolong the life of your tubes.
When deflating the tube do not open one valve all the way. That will put high pressure unequally on the baffle, risking a rupture. Instead, let a little bit of air out of the center chamber, then a little bit out of each of the end chambers. Repeat that pattern until the chambers start to lose shape. Now you can fully open all of the valves and fully deflate the tube.
NRS inflatables are tough, but to fully protect your investment, a little bit of TLC goes a long way!