Inflation/Deflation in Hot/Cold Weather

PSI, Proper Technique, Valves etc.

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lee johnson
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Inflation/Deflation in Hot/Cold Weather

Post by lee johnson » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:38 am

Winter kayaking in Canada (here in the Vancouver area) with my West Marine versions of the AF 1 and Dragonfly have taught me that carrying the little wedge (foot or hand) pump along is a good idea. When air temps are near freezing and water is chilly, the air in the main chambers tends to contract - just the opposite problem faced by hot-climate kayakers who sometimes have to let a bit of air out of their chambers as they (the chambers and not the kayakers!) heat up and expand. I am also getting a BackBone for my AF 1 - which may help counter the slight but temporary sag from cold weather and water - until one puts into shore, after a half hour or so, and tops up the pressure. Jeremy's advice on inflation is terrific: main chambers are tough; floor is not. After awhile, one gets a "feel" for proper pressure - actually, back pressure - and one needs to know these things in changing conditions because a gauge is not useful on the water!

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Daddy-O
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Post by Daddy-O » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:04 am

You know, I was wondering about this. I have the opposite problem than you in that we have warm waters and a very hot sun beating down upon us here in the Dominican Republic. I kind of thought that I might not want to inflate my AE Convertible completely hard since the air is sure to expand under our tropical sun. I suppose, it might be wise for me to experiment here at the house before taking it out on the water. I could fill it up and set it out in the sun for an hour (in the yard) to see what happens. That way, I can have an idea of what is going to happen on the water. Is it hard to let a little air out of the kayak while on the water? Knowing me, I'd break something, or lose something while doing it and lose all of the air. Hahaha! I can see it now. :D I'd better experiment at the house first!
Daddy-O

lee johnson
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Post by lee johnson » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:06 pm

Daddy-O wrote:You know, I was wondering about this. I have the opposite problem than you in that we have warm waters and a very hot sun beating down upon us here in the Dominican Republic. I kind of thought that I might not want to inflate my AE Convertible completely hard since the air is sure to expand under our tropical sun. I suppose, it might be wise for me to experiment here at the house before taking it out on the water. I could fill it up and set it out in the sun for an hour (in the yard) to see what happens. That way, I can have an idea of what is going to happen on the water. Is it hard to let a little air out of the kayak while on the water? Knowing me, I'd break something, or lose something while doing it and lose all of the air. Hahaha! I can see it now. :D I'd better experiment at the house first!
Daddy-O
Actually, letting a bit of air out of the big "S" valves while on the water should not be a problem - just press your finger down on the valve for a couple of seconds, and, when you release, it should (will?) spring right back up and seal the chamber shut again. Just don't turn the valve when you depress it, or you could deflate on the spot. But, what the heck, if the water is warm in the Dominican Republic, an impromptu swim might be nice! My problem here in the Canadian winter is trickier, I would think, because pumping up the main chambers while on the water is more than my agility can handle - hence the need to head for shore to top up a contracting main chamber. Mind you (as we say up here), we are talking about extreme conditions. If your weather is 75 degrees and sunny, your initial inflation should be good throughout your trip - as it is, even here, during the more habitable parts of the year.

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Post by JCOOLEY » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:16 pm

Typically the water temperature offsets the air temperature. If it is hot and sunny outside, usually the water temperature will balance it out so that you won't have to release any pressure in the kayak. The only time that pressure needs to be released is if you are leaving it out of the water for awhile in the sun. The tubes will expand and this can cause possible over inflation. If leaving it out in the sun for any long period of time, 45 min. + let some air out of the two main chambers and the floor. This will allow the air inside the tubes to expand without over inflating the tubes.

In cold weather it is of course opposite. Since the water temperature is usually colder than the air or just around it, you should inflate the kayak and let it sit in the water for about 10 min, if you have the time. Let it adjust to the water temperature then pump some more air into it because it will more than likely need it. It is hard to pump more air into it when out on the water so you can go out and paddle right away but stay close to shore and come in after about 30 min to put more air into it. Once it has adjusted and you have put more air into it, it should be fine for the rest of the time.

Jeremy
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lee johnson
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Post by lee johnson » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:34 pm

Good advice, JC - about waiting for the kayak to cool down to ambient temps before launching it - this ploy might obviate having to top up the main chambers mid-trip with a shoreline visit. I am still interested in hearing from other cold-weather kayakers out there - have they experienced the sag or potato-chipping or tacoing of their craft when cold air and cold water gang up on their IKs. We are talking about extreme conditions here - under more normal conditions, I am sure the physics of water and air offsetting each other is correct and balances out the inflation. BTW, it is hard waiting 10-30 minutes for cool-down before launching at this northern latitude: in the winter, the sun sets about 4 p.m. - and there is only so much time to be out on the water. Patience, patience - so hard to do in the face of short days!
JCOOLEY wrote:Typically the water temperature offsets the air temperature. If it is hot and sunny outside, usually the water temperature will balance it out so that you won't have to release any pressure in the kayak. The only time that pressure needs to be released is if you are leaving it out of the water for awhile in the sun. The tubes will expand and this can cause possible over inflation. If leaving it out in the sun for any long period of time, 45 min. + let some air out of the two main chambers and the floor. This will allow the air inside the tubes to expand without over inflating the tubes.

In cold weather it is of course opposite. Since the water temperature is usually colder than the air or just around it, you should inflate the kayak and let it sit in the water for about 10 min, if you have the time. Let it adjust to the water temperature then pump some more air into it because it will more than likely need it. It is hard to pump more air into it when out on the water so you can go out and paddle right away but stay close to shore and come in after about 30 min to put more air into it. Once it has adjusted and you have put more air into it, it should be fine for the rest of the time.

Jeremy
8)

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Daddy-O
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Post by Daddy-O » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:06 pm

I was looking at the photos on the flickr AE photo group the other day. http://www.flickr.com/groups/585246@N21/ I noticed that there were one or two with people bundled up (like it was cold outside) in a sagging kayak.
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Post by JCOOLEY » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:57 am

More than likely, they just put in and paddled. With the cold water, the kayak probably lost some pressure and they hadn't put more air into the kayak. If you look at the pictures on our website, there is also a picture of a guy paddling around icebergs and a few others with people paddle in very cold and snowy conditions. If you put in in cold water, stay close to shore so that you can come in after 20-30 min and put more air into the kayak when it has lost some pressure. Once you put more aire into after it has lost some, you should be fine for the rest of the journey. You can try to put more air in while out paddling but it is a little more difficult.

Jeremy
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lee johnson
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Post by lee johnson » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:00 am

JCOOLEY wrote:More than likely, they just put in and paddled. With the cold water, the kayak probably lost some pressure and they hadn't put more air into the kayak. If you look at the pictures on our website, there is also a picture of a guy paddling around icebergs and a few others with people paddle in very cold and snowy conditions. If you put in in cold water, stay close to shore so that you can come in after 20-30 min and put more air into the kayak when it has lost some pressure. Once you put more aire into after it has lost some, you should be fine for the rest of the journey. You can try to put more air in while out paddling but it is a little more difficult.

Jeremy
8)
What Happens When You Actually Read Your Owner's Manual: Section 3.4 (for example): "Water temperature and weather will affect the air pressure of the kayak. In cold weather your kayak will lose some pressure. If this occurs, you may want to add a bit more air to the kayak to improve performance. In hot weather or prolonged sunlight, the air inside the kayak will expand. You must let some air out of the appropriate chambers to prevent the kayak from failing due to overpressure. You should avoid exposing your kayak to extreme temperatures."

At this point, Jeremy's tip is the best - in cold weather, give the IK a few minutes to cool off in the water (and in the surrounding air temps), and then check the inflation level before launching for your trip. Any other tips will be greatly appreciated. The AE kayaks are so forgiving - so stable and comfortable compared to almost anything else out there - I grew up by a lake in Minnesota and have lived by the water in Vancouver, B.C. for many years now; and I have used watercraft all my adventurous six decades plus - but I have never used anything so wonderful as my AE kayaks - there is simply no excuse not to use them as much as possible. And the moral here is that the best kayak is the one you use the most. My point about inflation levels in extreme conditions of hot or cold is simply part of my ongoing desire to get the best performance out of these wonderful craft, at all times, in all conditions. It will be interesting to me to see how the soon-to-arrive BackBone for my AF 1 will affect not only overall performance but that slight sag in air pressure in cold conditions. Even then, I will continue to refine my "back-pressure" technique for determining optimum inflation levels and keep my little wedge pump on the craft. I promise not to ram any icebergs. :D

lee johnson
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Post by lee johnson » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:06 am

As an experiment, I took my West Marine Skedaddle XC (aka AE Dragonfly XC, aka Lagoon 1) to Buntzen Lake in British Columbia in temperatures that were hovering at the freezing level (Jan 14th, 2009). I pumped up the kayak's chambers, crunched along ice on the beach, and then let the kayak sit in the cold air and icy water for ten minutes. I then topped up the main chambers and proceeded to paddle around the six miles of the lake's perimeter over the next two hours. Chilling the kayak before actually doing the trip did the trick: when I got back, the chambers were still at full inflation - no air loss from contraction - and the kayak performed wonderfully throughout the trip. So, Jeremy, your tip of cooling the kayak for a few minutes and then topping up the chambers was just the right advice - thanks again.
One more tip: when I brought the kayak back to the car, the PVC tarpaulin hull was very stiff from the cold. Rather than try to fold it up and put it back into its bag at that time, I simply placed it unfolded in the back of the car to warm up on the trip back home, allowing it fold easily, as usual. I am sure that AE's tough PVC hull would stand up to being manhandled when cold, but why tempt fate and needlessly ask for trouble by possibly abusing it when the solution requires only a little patience and common sense?
So there we have it: two tips for trouble-free, efficient kayaking in freezing conditions. One of my sons and I will take our AF 1s out tomorrow, same place, same freezing conditions - but we will know precisely how to make our AE kayaks show why they are at the top of their class.

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