LAHOWIND » Just you, me, + the dog.

The Soap Test! How We Found the Leak in Our Inflatable Dinghy

Once we start cruising full-time, our dinghy will basically become our little lifeline to land. I kinda see our sailboat as our home, and our dinghy as our car to get around once we’re anchored offshore.

So needless to say, we need that dinghy fully functional. And preferably leak-free! 😉

Unfortunately, we recently realized we had a minor dinghy leak after our dinghy kept (slowly) losing air, so we added this item to our boat project list.

We thought the cause of the leak might be a faulty dinghy valve that would simply need replacing. So, Jereme went to work checking both valves.

One valve seemed to have a noticeably jammed spring (for the seal), so Jereme unjammed it and the valve seems to work perfectly.  The other valve was fine too.  And since neither valve was actually broken and needing to be fully replaced, we now have a backup valve on hand to use in the future.

With both valves checked, we still needed to find our leak, so we busted out the “soap test” to get the job done!  Here’s how the process works:

1. Fully inflate your dinghy. Check!

2. Make a solution of soap and water.  We just filled up a bucket with water and a couple pumps of the Dawn dish soap we have on board.

3. Coat one section of your dinghy at a time.  We used our deck scrub brush to do this, just slathering on the soapy water.

4. Watch for growing bubbles. Bubbles formed pretty much immediately all over the dinghy (too much agitation from the brush perhaps — we should’ve slopped on the soapy water with a cloth), but quickly subsided.  So we just waited and watched for new bubbles to continuously grow.  After spotting a small patch of growing bubbles, we knew we had found the culprit. Or atleast one of our leaks. There could be multiple.

We kept searching for more bubbles.

Surprisngly, after quite a bit of waiting to see growing bubbles elsewhere, we still only found that one minor leak.

Since we were having leakage on both sides of the dinghy, we think the valve with the seal jam was probably the only issue on one half of the dinghy, and the small scraped area (identified by our soap test) was the cause of deflation on the other half of our dinghy.

Now we know and now we can fix the problem!  We will be ordering a patch kit to fix the issue before we set sail.

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing.

Mark and Cindy - s/v Cream PuffJanuary 10, 2014 - 10:44 pm

Better to find it now :)

What a bad day it would be to wake up and find the dinghy/motor that was tethered to the boat sank overnight. Oh – hate to even think about such negative juju things.

Mark and Cindy
s/v Cream Puff

[…] of course, now that we have ^^this^^ dinghy project done, we think we might have another leak. Lol. It’s always something, isn’t […]