The Bullet Owner’s Manual
Take good care of your boat, and it will serve you well for many years. Drag it across concrete or let it fly off your roof-rack on the highway and you’ve got some repair work to do. Let’s divide proper care into three areas: storage, transportation, and on-the-water.
When storing your boat, keep it out of direct sunlight. There is nothing that hurts fabric more than days sitting under a hot, baking sun. Imagine yourself sitting for a week in the sun all day without sunscreen. A simple UV-protective tarp secured over your boat(s) will do the job. For commercial operators, consider constructing a boat shed.
If you store your boats semi-inflated for regular use, make sure to “bleed” the boats. Let air out of the floor and all chambers, including thwarts/cross-tubes. Err on the side of letting out too much air, especially if the boat will be sitting in direct sunlight as the heat causes air to expand.
If you are rolling up your boat, keep in mind that PVC boats are easier to fold than rubber boats. Make sure the boat is clean and dry. Be sure to remove any dirt and leaves, as decomposing organic matter can destroy material. Deflate the boat and bring the side tubes in toward the center of the boat. Then, starting from the side of the boat furthest from the floor valve, fold about 1/3 of the boat over onto itself. Wait for air to exhaust. Begin rolling or folding the boat from the fold towards the floor valve. Repeat until the whole boat is rolled up. Rather than tying ropes directly around the boat, consider packaging it in your included Bullet Boat Bag for storage and transportation. These bags are designed to make storage and transport easy. Otherwise, secure the rolled boat with a shielded cam-strap (so that the metal does not chafe on the boat’s fabric) or a rope.
Do not store your boat on its side while rolled up. If someone drags the rolled up boat across a floor, it will quickly abrade the fabric. Imagine dragging your knuckles against concrete. It hurts. Never drag any boat across a rough surface. Instead, store your boat lying flat on the ground or on a padded mat.
When transporting boats, always make sure they are securely attached to your roof rack, trailer, or truck bed with multiple, redundant straps/ropes. There are many ways of tying a boat down. One bomb-proof suggestion is to tie the bow and stern of an inflated boat down, along with at least 2 straps or ropes over the boat. Another option for straps that run over the boat, is instead to run them to the perimeter line or D-Rings of the boat. This distributes the pull to the D-rings and keeps ropes from wearing on the fabric through repetitive use.
If transporting a rolled boat, ideally keep it in your included Bullet Boat Bag. Make sure valve caps are locked in place. If not, be careful that your vehicle’s bumping action does not cause excessive friction on the boat’s fabric. A random screw or nail, a sharp edge in a truck bed, high-heeled shoes thrown into the back seat, and hard edges of a roof-rack can all cause wear as a boat vibrates over them. Make sure your boat has a comfortable landing-zone for the ride to put-in, away from sharp objects.
If you’re boating on a very hot day, consider occasionally splashing your boat with cold water to keep it cool. Luckily, PVC boats are rated to much higher pressures than rubber boats- and so can resist the higher chamber pressures that come with hot days well. After inflating your boat, make sure all valve-caps are locked in place.
When putting your boat into the water, keep an eye out for sharp, potentially trip-ending objects like rebar, construction materials, exposed boat-ramp nails, axes, syringes, and broadswords. Dragging a boat over a broadsword, even a Bullet, will probably cause damage.
Keep river knives secured in your life jacket, and at lunch spots, be careful with utensils and boat landing options. Don’t pull bow/stern lines through a tight bow/stern D-ring. Deflate your bow/stern tubes to release pressure and avoid rope burn.
Bullet boat maintenance is easy. We strive for simple designs that allow for quick and easy repair work. If you have punctured your boat or torn off a D-ring or handle in an intimate encounter with a house-sized boulder or bus-sized hole, contact us for replacement parts. We’ll get the parts to you quickly, and then give you instructions on how best to repair your boat. We highly recommend consulting or using a professional boat-repair shop, but for everyday people with a bit of gumption, simple puncture repairs are not difficult. All repairs require some preparation, followed by the actual repair.
Find a clean, dry, well-ventilated area. This does not include the kitchen table, your child’s bedroom, or the tiny apartment you share with three friends. If you have trouble finding space, consider spending a day at a park or campground near the put-in to your favorite raft run. Make sure this is ok with whoever’s in charge, of course.
You want to have the following clean repair materials accessible:
Repair Kit for Punctures
2 Pair Latex/Rubber Gloves
1 Face mask/Ventilator
1 MEK solvent/Rubbing alcohol for cleaning PVC
1 Repair fabric – at least 2 inches longer and wider than your puncture
1 Container Stabond Glue – available from outdoor suppliers and some hardware stores
1 Ball-point Pen – for marking your patch area
1 Scissors – for cutting patch fabric
1 Small paint brush – for applying glue
1 1” Roller – for rolling out any bubbles from patch
Basic Puncture Repair
Find the leaking puncture or wear spot. This can be done by washing soapy water over the boat. After finding the spot, and with gloves and a face mask on, dry and clean the area at least two inches around the hole. Using MEK or rubbing alcohol works well to remove any oily residue. Lay out the piece of the boat that holds the punctured fabric on a flat surface.
Get your repair fabric and draw out a patch on the inside of the it with a ball-point pen that extends at least two inches past the extents of the hole. Make sure your patch has only smooth, rounded corners. Measure and test the patch dimensions over the hole before cutting the patch with scissors. Once a suitable patch is cut, lightly outline where the patch will be placed over the puncture.
Apply an even coat of glue to both the ball-point marked side of the patch and the fabric around the puncture, inside of the outline you have just drawn. Allow this glue to dry for 15 minutes. Add a second coat of glue on both surfaces and allow to dry until tacky, about 5 minutes. Carefully place the patch over the puncture area, making sure it lines up with the outline you created. Then press the patch and fabric together with a flat surface. Use a roller to focus pressure over the entire patch area.
Allow the patch to set for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Inflate the boat and begin rafting again!
Advanced Repairs: D-Rings, Handles, and Valves
Occasionally, it happens that something more significant happens. You pop a D-Ring, break a handle, or shatter a valve. These are rare events, but luckily fixing them is straight-forward. Please contact us for replacement D-Rings, Handles, and Valves as well as further repair instructions.