iSups have taken the world by storm and the technology and materials are advancing at a rapid rate, but something still sits in the back of my mind. DEFLATION.
I know that nobody ever wants to think it could happen and more than likely the chances are very very slim, but as with any manufacturing process there will always be a slimchance of a product failure.
It may be a leaking valve or more dramatically it could be an exploding seam, but surely at some point an inflatable is gonna go pop.
If you are buying an inflatable sup for the family then you are even more responsible for your kids.
An inflatable sup is by default a “lilo” with a lot more material, glue and stitching so it is way tougher, but most have one serious flaw: they are a single air chamber!
Unlike an inflatable boat or rib that has multiple independent chambers that prevent total deflation in the event of a puncture, an inflatable sup could effectively have a partial or total loss of air and end up completely deflated.
So how are you going to keep yourself safe
– Keep the board clean especially around the valves and seams. Salt crytsals from the sea could build up preventing valves closing fully.
– Regularly check for any leaking valvle or seams. One way to do this is squirt a water and soap solution onto the board and look for bubbles.
– If you do get a puncture, fix it sooner than later. A slow leak could quickly escalate.
– Don’t leave your board out in the baking sun. The logic in me says, glue gets hot and has the potential to weaken as with deckpads.
– If you’re planning an adventure it is probably worth pumping up the board a few days before going out and leaving it so you can literally see if any deflation occurs.
For big paddles, especially offshore consider:
– a PFD (personal flotation device or life jacket) Kayak brands like Palm do a great range of products that are comfortable to use.
– always go out with a mobile phone fully charged in a suitable waterproof case.
– have a bum bag or other carry case in which you can keep some things like a length of windsurfing rope or similar to use as a tether.
– make sure you tell people where you’re going and the time you might be back.
I know some of this may seem way over the top and you need to liken it to what you’re doing and where you’re going, but in times of need there may not be a second chance.
A torch to flag someone down as the light is fading, a small rope to tether yourself to an open water buoy as the tide tries to pull you out or a pfd that helps you tread water if the worst happens.
Don’t be afraid to recognise your vulnerabilities or weaknesses. In fact embrace them and use them to improve what you’re doing.
If you can only swim 20 metres in open sea, put some more effort in and improve on that. You’ll never make it back to shore if you can’t.
If you’re paddling with friends make sure you have know each others limits and in open water never leave your mates way behind just because you’re much quicker than them.
I know we’ve gone off track a bit, but quite often we get swept up in the pzazz of everything and forget the harsher realities.