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My AF 1 Review and modifications to make it better!

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:32 am
by micahgee
Hey guys, I am a recent owner of a AF1 Kayak w/ backbone and as a 5'10" 200 pound man, I seem to comfortably fit inside.

I have used inflatable boats and hard shell kayaks. My first dabble in inflatable boats was the Sevylor series Tahiti and then Rio. Now I am looking for a more seaworthy craft to cross multiple mile crossings in many foot swells....

I live in (well most of the time) the South Puget Sound of Washington State. There are many beaches and tide pools filled with tasty critters! There are abundant and edible Oysters, Rock Crabs, numerous species of clams etc. that require almost no equipment =)

Which is where the AF1 comes in. Here is an affordable inflatable boat that tracks well with the backbone (60+ bucks should just include it in higher priced package IMHO), attaches a spray skirt and even looks like a kayak!

However, after paddling around in moderate swells (6"-1'), I noticed water dripping in at the feet around the zipper. This seems to be a major flaw: the porous zipper seam. I used Aquaseal (gore tex - neoprene sealant but most pvc repair glue should work), in a thick coating to essentially seal the zipper from water. The other area that leaks around the front edge of spray skirt can be mended with duct tape.

After these quick fixes to an otherwise great product, I crossed a 2-mile passage with 10kt winds with around 1' swells getting only a few drops! It feels like a new boat when you don't get your lower torso soaked every time

Advanced Elements, you guys have a good product, but you really gotta work on sealing up your kayaks. Perhaps a second zipper with a neoprene flap could be sown in to prevent leakage.

The leakage is the bad part of the boat. The good part is the very good stability, good tracking and speed, and sheer convenience.

This boat just seems a cut above them Seyvlor inflatable bathtubs, who get blow around like a Kite whenever the wind picks up, something the AF is much less prone to doing.

I am eagerly anticipating purchasing the 13' Expedition to explore onward!

Pictures will be coming soon of how I made my AF1 nearly watertight.

Bottom Line
Advanced Elements AF1: affordable, stable, nimble design but the zippers really hold back its potential. Perhaps you could offer a model with a double zipper for extra waterproofing and the backbone in a combo.

If you read this far, an open question to you all:

What is the longest distance traveled in your AF kayak (7 miles AF1 for me)?

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:20 am
by dspid2404
You are correct. That is the big flaw of these kayaks. However there is another option. The reason it leaks is because water is allowed to pool up in this area. What Advanced Elements needs is a deck lift. I have built my own based on Pearly's design. Take a look at the following subject and look for Fishing Setup. Its about 18 or 19 pages long at this point. Take a look at page 7, a bit past half way down. Its make of white plumbing tubes.

Advanced Frame Expedition & Ultralite
AE1009-R Ultralite(2006) AE1009-Y Advanced Frame Expedition(2007-Present)

You don't really need the fish finder section, just the frame. I got a bit creative with it, adding optional adapters for fishing poles and I'm working on one for the new sail. I'll be posting something on it soon. I works great on my Expedition and also give you a bit more knee room.

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:34 am
by diemonde

Luckely the shop in The Netherlands sells RVS frames with the AE kayaks (see my blog). They really work well.

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:14 am
by micahgee
Cool RVS frame, gives me another idea...

I am not worried as much about the shape as the porousness of the zipper itself. When I go in 1' + swells, the water simply goes over the front bow, so I need it more waterproof.

While an improved frame may help prevent water from pooling it still does not prevent water leakage.

I believe the front zipper needs to be sealed with some kind of PVC glue as it serves no function and only allows water in. Keeping the back zipper unsealed seems to be fine even in rough seas.

Damn camera isn't working, will get pictures ASAP


Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:34 am
by micahgee
Here are a couple of photos of my waterproofing seal.

Zipper Seam ... CN0098.jpg

Spray Skirt Seam ... CN0096.jpg

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 3:14 pm
by dspid2404
Not sure why your zipper is leaking. Other than the pooling of water, which the deck lift resolved, my zipper doesn't leak at all and I go through bigger waves than 1'.

In regards to the RVS frame, we can't seem to get those here in the US. Only Europe had them. Not sure why.

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:30 pm
by micahgee
How did you resolve the deck lift?

I have tried a few different things including a inflatable pad and a foam pad.

Nothing works as well as sealing the zipper in keeping out water in large swells. I'm talking about

I just came back from a 5 mile paddle with swells up to 3' and only took on a few drops of water.

Here is a sample of edible delights to be found. Pacific Oyster (5"), Nuttal's Cockle (4") and Red Rock Crab (6").


Disclaimer: Always check the local biotoxin and pollution status for the area you intend to go collecting, obey seasons and catch limits and never eat dead shellfish.

I took out the AF1 today! The winds were really whipping up the South Puget Sound today (4/29), 15kt gusts sent up some large whitecaps, but the AF1 seems to cut right through the waves no problem.[/img]

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:40 pm
by diemonde
The RVS frame was made by a man who lives in the Netherlands. He came up with it because water was pooling when he would be in rougher water. The problem is that it's probably to expensive to send them over. Because they do not come cheap themselves (one front, one back). But maybe with the low euro-dollar rate it would become more attractive.

On the other hand, you only need to find a person that can weld and you can make it local.

The zipper should not leak unless you get a pool.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2012 4:44 am
by John
I concur about the leaking zips. These are the AE's main weakness in what is otherwise a fine product. I have the convertible which is worse with a zip all around.

A question. Once the aquaseal is applied how can you then open the zip if necessary? Does it not gunge up the zip permanently?

Re the RVS. I wondered about using a batten from a windsurfing sail (wedged at each of the two front inflation flaps) to create a rounded lift mor like a hardshell kayak. I have one but haven't got round to trying it.