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A pneumatic boat is a light vessel built with its sides by an arc made of flexible tubes containing gas under pressure. For smaller boats, the floor and hull are often flexible, however, for boats more than 3 meters (9.8 feet), the ground typically consists of three to five thin wood or Aluminum between tubes, but without rigid joints. Often, the transom is rigid, providing a place and structure for mounting an outboard motor.
Some inflatable boats have been designed to be dismantled and packaged in a small space, so that they can be easily stored and transported. When inflated, removable seats can be attached. This feature allows these types of boats to be used as liferafts for large ships or airplanes, and also for recreational travel.
The most common terms to designate inflatable boats are: inflatable boat, inflatable boat, inflatable boat, rubber boat, auxiliary boat, dingui, pneumatic and zodiac.
Semi-rigid inflatable boat
The modern rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is a development of the inflatable boat that has a rigid floor and solid hull, which allows to cut the waves more easily, even with the sea in bad conditions. The hull structure is capable of supporting a more powerful engine mounted aft outboard or even an inboard engine. Some RIBs measure 14 meters (46 feet) long and include the rudder inside and luxury features such as bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.
Although most of the semi-rigid ones are not really inflated, they float through the air chambers in the hull, as well as through the foam of the closed chambers inside the hull. In addition to their proactive functionality as lifeboats, these boats are used to do daily jobs at sea and as pleasure boats. They are floating and / or unsinkable, and have a large load capacity in relation to their length.
Types of Inflatable Boats
Inflatable boats with a small gas or eletric outboard motor
The most advanced pneumatic boats today are made using multi-layer fabric with an internal fiber mesh. They are made of synthetic fabrics, CSM hypalon / neoprene rubber, PVC or polyurethane. Depending on the choice of fabric, fabric panels are assembled using either hot or cold manufacturing processes. Different types of valves are used to add or remove internal air, and some brands include communication valves between the chambers and thus reduce the effect of a puncture. The zodiak are available in different types of soil. The most prominent are wood slats, high pressure inflatable floor (HPP), fiberglass (RIB) and aluminum or wood panels for rigidity. Pneumatic boats that have panels or, where appropriate, HPPs have an inflatable keel to create a "deep-v" along the hull line, which improves wave cutting and gains spinning performance.
There is increasing use of pneumatic boats for personal use for recreational purposes in lakes, rivers and oceans. Pneumatic bottoms (non-RIBs) can be deflated, folded and stored in compact bags, making them ideal for users with limited storage, as well as providing quick and easy use.
Inflatable sailboats belong to a small, but growing, recreational market. Sailing platforms are now available for boats, kayaks and inflatable catamarans. According to the portability of the inflatable hull, the components of the sail accessory are folded or separated to fit into a compact package.
Professional grade inflatable boats and RIBs
These inflatable boats have been around for many decades. Modern versions are complex, and can be inflated quickly using compressed air bottles, CO2 or air compressors. Professional RIBs are available in many sizes and styles, some sporty T-tops, with booths, etc. Since the late 1990s, many varieties of pneumatics have been manufactured, such as rafts for rivers, kayaks and canoes all over the world.
Repair of inflatable boats
Generally, the pneumatics are manufactured with several inflatable chambers, which means that if a camera is drilled, the remaining chambers will keep the boat afloat. In the case of a perforation the camera can be repaired, while still running, with a repair kit. However, it is advisable to make a permanent repair, which is carried out on land. Larger boat repairs are best performed in a dry, warm, well ventilated interior space and away from dust and other contaminants. The humidity of the air is important, a repair with specific moisture of more than 70% will produce a repair with a shorter service life.
The process of repairing an inflatable boat is basically the same for rubber or PVC fabrics. The procedure is the next:
First, the place of the damage must be identified. If the site is not visible, you can spray a mixture of soap and water on the surface of the swollen ship, bubbles will appear where there is a puncture. Mark the puncture site.
Thoroughly clean and dry the surface of the boat before proceeding.
Create a round patch of material about 10 cm. diameter. Use a cloth of the same material from which the boat is built to obtain the best effect.
Prepare the repair area by scraping with fine-grained sandpaper, being careful not to reach the internal fiber mesh.
Do the same preparation on the surface of the patch you have prepared
Clean the repair area and the patch with a suitable cleaning fluid. This should be toluene for ships built with (Hypalon, EPDM, neoprene) and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) for PVC-based boats if available, or rubbing alcohol if not. Do not wait more than 30 minutes between cleaning and applying the patch.
Mix the adhesive to be applied if it is a 2-component adhesive. Adhesives commonly available for rubber and PVC fabrics come as an adhesive and a hardener.
Apply 2 or 3 very thin layers of glue to both the repair site and the patch, waiting 10 minutes between layers.
Use a clean, dry finger to press on the surface of the glue, this should not go to the finger but should be sticky.
Apply the prepared patch at the repair site, starting at the center or at the edge, pressing to remove air bubbles. Use a pair of clamps to hold the two parts tightly together.
Wait at least 2 hours for the repair to dry before attempting to inflate. Some adhesives require a cure time overnight. Read the instructions for the adhesive product you purchased.
Uses of inflatable boats
The most common pneumatic boats are usually between 2 and 7 meters (6.6 and 23.0 feet) in length and are propelled by outboard motors from 1.3 to 300 horsepower (1 to 223.7 kW). Due to their speed, portability and weight, inflatable boats are used in different cases.
RIBs, or semi-rigid boats, are usually used for diving excursions.
When used as life-saving equipment, they must comply with the standards established by the SOLAS Convention. Some inflatable life rafts also contain an additional section to ensure that the raft is turned alone in thick sea.
Pneumatic rafts have also been used since the 1930s on military aircraft operating over water.
These ships are often used by special operations units of the armed forces of various countries, for purposes such as landing on beaches. Because inflatable boats can be stored in small spaces, they can also be transported in small submarines, such as those operated by the Advanced Delivery System - SEAL. They have also been used by groups such as guerrillas, pirates or terrorists.
Lifeguards use pneumatic boats or jet skis to reduce rescue time to reach a distressed swimmer.
There are racing tires that can reach 100 km / h (60 mph).
Pneumatic boats are used in some sports and entertainment events, such as rafting, water skiing or fishing, among others.
Inflatable boats are also widely used as an auxiliary boat for boats of more than 5 meters, such as sailboats or yachts that, due to their draft, can not get too close to the coast or beach.