Pontoon Bladder Leaking-Patch Advice

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Cliff, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. Hello,

    Looking for advice. I have an old pontoon boat that someone gave me a while back, and I just discovered a leak in one of the bladders. It goes flat within 20-30 minutes. The bladder is a clear plastic, polyurethane or some similar clear vinyl. I've isolated at least one tiny leak along the seem near the front of the pontoon, but there may be more. Can someone tell me how to patch this leak? I don't know if I should approach it with some type of urethane tape, conventional patch kit, or what. Never had to patch one of these before.

    Thank you,
  2. Cliff,
    You may want to try Aquaseal. Use Cotol to speed up the drying time. You can also contact the manufacturer to see what they recommend.
    The safest route would be to replace the entire bladder.
  3. Aquaseal or Seamgrip. They make a tape also where you glue over the leak and slap a piece of tape over the glue and you are done!
  4. Either of the above mentioned works real well. I use the Aquaseal. If you want to make sure you find all the leaks, use soapy water (dish detergent) and look for the tiny bubbles. You might miss them with plain water, but not with the soap. Inflate the bladder and rub down all the surfaces with the soapy water. When you find a leak, dry it and mark it with a marking pen. I've had a couple small ones elude me for a long time before I used this technique, which shouldn't have been that much of a mystery.
  5. A water bed repair kit works great on polyurethane.

  6. Just a quick note to say that I patched this bladder with a waterbed repair kit and it seems to be holding just fine. Just to be safe, though, I'll be sure to wear a pfd this weekend in the basin! I appreciate the advice.

  7. As some folks around here have found out the hard way, unlike with float tubes, PFDs are *required* whenever one is operating a pontoon boat.

    On one of my first outings in my then-new Outcast, I was startled by a WDFW enforcement officer who wanted to see three things: my fishing license; proof that I had the matching yellow sticker properly displayed on my vehicle (the description of which he radioed to his partner in the parking lot to confirm); and that I was wearing a PFD.

    Get yourself one of the thin, CO2-powered SOSpenders PFDs that fit comfortably under a vest or jacket. They're about $75, USCGS approved, and will save you a $100+ ticket if a zealous enforcement officer happens to feel like teaching you a lesson.

  8. Kent, I'm really glad I logged back in to read this message. I've never "pontooned" before and had no idea the pfd was a legal requirement. I was planning on bringing one anyway,but it's nice to know...

  9. Let me make a clarification on the PFD requirement for WA DFW. You do need to possess a Coast Guard approved PFD when operating a pontoon boat. You are not required to be wearing it. I wear mine when I think that conditions might be dicy but not all the time; that's probably just hubris on my part. In Washington, children 12 and under must wear their PFD when the boat is moving; rules in other states vary. Technically, the PFD should also be the appropriate size for the intended wearer; you won't meet the requirement if you have a small PFD and you're an extra-large kind of person.

  10. Just to clarify--is it a PFD (lifejacket) or can it be something simple, like a seat cushion that floats? I borrowed a pontoon boat from someone yesterday, and they also gave me one of those seat cushion deals with the strap loops on the sides. For an adult who can swim, I'm thinking that's going to be fine if something were to go wrong (but I'm new, and do not know how heavy waders can be when they get water in them), but I wonder if this is legal? Forgive me for my ignorance on what exactly constitutes a PFD because I *thought* that meant a lifejacket type of device.

    If I have opportunity to borrow a pontoon boat again, it would be good for me to know what my responsibility is in case the man shows up.

  11. regardless....... be smart and have a life jacket that fits YOU, you never know if you snag your tube/toon with a huge fly or catch a submerged stick
  12. Yo, there are special products that are designed for that repair. AIRE make one; it is a tape that adheres to the bladder material. I am sure that the other stuff will work too, but it might negate the warranty. Something to consider.
  13. Well it depends on what kind it is. If your 'toon is from a reliable company,you maybe could send it in for a repair or if it is a bladder that you can remove you could order up a new bladder.

    Just a thought.

  14. The type will vary from state to state. I would recommend that you contact WA DFW and find out exactally what type of PFD is required. Seat cushion PFD's do not normally satisfy the legal requirement.
  15. an inflatable PFD, according to coast guard definition, only qualifies as an approved type III device IF YOU ARE WEARING IT at all times! USCG also requires that you have a whistle as well. you can find these at most big box sporting goods stores in their 'boating' section or at west marine, cheap plastic but it qualifies when you are inspected.
  16. This was quite a hot topic about five years ago on another flyfishing list.

    While there was some disagreement, the general concensus was that when using pontoons, a wearable PFD is required and that floating seat cushions were insufficient.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, when I was checked a few years back, the enforcement officer wanted to verify that I was WEARING my PFD, not that I had one stowed in my gear bag behind the seat. Fortunately, I was.

    However as others pointed out, there is some amount of discretion allowed individual officers in how they choose to interpret the rules (which regrettably aren't very clear on the subject).

    It may well be that the guy who checked me was more zealous than most. Right after he left me he stopped a small boat with a couple of adults and a child who had just two seat cushion PFDs between 'em and no yellow sticker in their truck window. He wrote them a ticket for several hundred dollars that caused some pretty loud complaining and swearing. In response, he ordered them off the water. Since he had a gun and a badge, they ended up leaving, but not quietly.

    Bottom line: I wouldn't want to roll the dice with an inadequate or illegal PFD and risk a possible fine, let alone my life in the event of some catastrophy.

  17. iagree

    As a former coastie, I've pulled far too many bodies from the water than was necessary.
  18. i don't think there is ANY ambiguity regarding safety requirements when you are floating around on your pontoon boat. a boat is a boat whether you pump it up or not. you can visit the state marine board (http://www.boatwashington.org/) site and confirm this for yourself, clear as a bell for everyone to read and comply.

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