Congratulations on the purchase of your new SOTAR, and thank you for choosing us for your whitewater needs. In an effort to make the world’s best boats, we are very proud that since starting the company in 1980, Glenn Lewman and the SOTAR staff were the very first to produce self-bailing rafts, all-welded seams and then completely all-welded boats. We strive to make our boats the toughest, lightest and highest performing inflatables on the water, and are always happy to hear the enthusiastic confirmation from our customers that we have continued to succeed in doing so.
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The information contained in this manual is intended to help you maintain your boat. We have a dedicated staff that is eager to help if you have any questions about your new SOTAR inflatable. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
We are required by the US Coast Guard to put a serial number on each of the rafts, catarafts and kayaks that we manufacture for numerous reasons including the requirement to register the craft if you put a motor on it. The serial number is imprinted on a 4” circle patch in the bow or stern of your boat. The serial number consists of 12 numbers and letters. It will always start WWQ and then the next 4-5 digits will be your boat number followed by a letter representing the month that it was made and then the model year that it was built. Our contact information is also on this circle patch.
This serial number also helps us at the factory to track your boat and the history of additions or repairs over the course of its life. If you want to add any accessories, find out exact dimensions for making a frame, or want to make a duplicate of your boat in case it was stolen or damaged beyond repair, we can look up the serial number and get all of the information needed off of the original work order. If you want to sell your boat or need to turn in a claim to your insurance, we can look up your original work order, give you an approximate value of your used boat, and tell you how much it would cost to make you a new one.
WARNING! DO NOT DRAG OR ROTATE
WHEN BOAT IS ROLLED ON ANY SURFACE
BECAUSE DAMAGE WILL OCCUR.
To get the best performance and life out of your boat you need to properly inflate and maintain the correct pressure. Select an area free of sharp objects such as rocks, sticks or debris. Unroll the boat and lay it out flat. Avoid standing on the boat before and during inflation to prevent scratching and possible pinhole leaks. We use D7 Leafield boat valves; to open the valves unscrew the cap, which covers the entire exposed valve, by turning counterclockwise. The stem will stick up in the middle of the valve, to deflate the tube you need to push the stem in and turn it counterclockwise to lock it in the open position. You do not need to open the valve in order to inflate your tubes. The air pressure from the pump will push the stem/plunger in and allow the air to go into the tubes. You can use a foot pump, barrel pump, electric pump or other low-pressure device to inflate your tubes. However, you should not use high-pressure devices such as air compressors to inflate your boat.
The boat is divided into separate air chambers using a baffle system. Start by inflating one end of the boat, then a side section, then the other side section, the other end, floor and then the thwarts. It is important not to over-inflate an air chamber as you can blow out the baffle. We recommend that you put about 2 lbs. of pressure in each chamber and then go around the boat again and top it off. You want between 2.5 to 3 lbs of pressure in the boat when topped off. We currently provide a pressure gauge in every patch kit.
All of our 3-Piece, 2-chamber Cats have an internal lengthwise baffle (a cat tube inside the cat tube). You must inflate the inner baffle first and then the outer baffle. The inner baffle valve is always on the inside of the boat. Locate the serial number patch on the inside of the tubes and the correct valve should be the closest one to the patch. Inflate just until it takes shape, and then fully inflate the outside chamber to 2-3.5 lbs.
To deflate your boat, remove the cap, push the stem down and twist it to the left. This will lock the valve open. Try to do all of the valves at the same time (this will require two people), or push on each of the stems to release a little pressure, and then open them all as quickly as possible to avoid putting pressure on the inner baffles. It is important to close the valves by turning the valve stem to the right until it pops up and closes the valve, and replace the cap when the boat is not in use and prior to rolling. This will protect the stem of your valve and also prevent water and dirt from getting inside your boat. Dirt or debris can keep the plunger inside from sealing and cause a slow continuous leak. We also recommend the valves be checked every 6 months or so to see if they need to be tightened, cleaned or changed. This is your responsibility.
Kayaks should be inflated as follows: right tube, left tube, floor, then backrest.
Proper care and folding are important in extending your boats life. Your boat comes with a boat bag and we recommend that if it is rolled up, you keep it in the bag or another wrap such as canvas, heavy duty plastic or other protective material. This will not only help keep it clean, but will protect it from accidental minor damage. Even when the boat is wrapped, we cannot stress enough the importance of not dragging your boat while it is deflated. Our boats are the toughest around when inflated, but the folded corners are very susceptible to abrasion when the boat is rolled and dragged on surfaces such as cement and gravel.
Roll kayaks flat starting with the foot peg end of IK. Roll cat tubes with one tube lined up on top of the other.
After deflating all chambers of your boat, you will need to take one side of the raft and fold it over to where the floor meets the tubes on the opposite side (Diagram 1).
Then take the other side and fold it over the top so that it is in thirds (Diagram 2).
Then you want to roll it up like a cinnamon roll starting at the valve end of the raft (Diagram 3).Use your boat strap to secure it and then wrap it in the boat bag.
DO NOT USE 303 (30308) UV PROTECTANT it interferes with the welding and adhering that may be necessary to perform a repair. And our Urethane is formulated to withstand high sun exposure.
Use a mild dish soap and water to clean off any dirt or sand on your boat. If you get rub marks or frame marks on your tubes, we recommend Inflatable Boat Cleaner, or RAM cleaner which does not contain oils like 303 Protectant. Although oils give your boat a shiny new appearance, the oils soak into the material and will make it difficult to add any accessories such as chafe, wrap, d-rings or foot cups later or do any needed repair work. If you want to use 303 Protectant on your boat we recommend you only use it once a year. It has oils in it that soak into the material coating and make it difficult to do repairs or additions such as top chafe, bottom wrap, footcups, extra d-rings, etc.
Inflatable Boat Cleaner and 303 Protectant can be purchased from us at SOTAR, or Northwest River Supply (800-635-5202).
It is recommended that you keep your boat partially inflated in a clean, dry place. If it is stored outside, be sure to keep a tarp or other form of protection over it to keep it out of the elements. You may also store your boat fully deflated and rolled (as we do here at SOTAR). It is very important that you make sure that your boat is clean and dry prior to rolling it up for storage. You should also wrap it in the boat bag or tarp to help protect it, keeping in mind the edges on a rolled boat are more susceptible to abrasion and extra caution should be used in moving the boat around. If stored in a garage or shed you may want to put out bait for mice and rats as they will chew and nest in rafts. We have seen some considerable damage done to rafts in storage by rodents.
Each boat comes with a patch kit. Inside your patch kit you will find 4 circle patches and 2 long strips of material with the corners rounded, a can of Clifton Urethane glue, a bottle of MEK, cleaning rags, and a valve tool. Your boat must be deflated in order to properly patch your boat.
For minor repairs, clean the surface to be patched and the patch itself with MEK until all dirt and oxidation is removed. (The shiny material should show through). Apply the first coat of adhesive immediately, brushing it evenly on each surface. Allow it to dry for 20 minutes before applying the second coat. When the second coat is dry, reactivate both surfaces with MEK. When aggressively tacky (like duct tape), assemble and apply pressure using a smooth hard object. If no MEK is available, the patch may be applied when the second coat is tacky. Rub thoroughly for superior bonding.
If you are repairing a rip of over five inches we suggest that you patch both inside and outside. The size of the patch should be at least two inches larger than the rip in all directions. Most importantly, keep the surfaces dry at all times. We recommend that you let the patch dry 1 hour for on river repairs and for a permanent patch you will need to let it set 24 hours.
Your patch kit Glue and MEK will need to be checked every season as the glue can harden usually after 1-2 seasons and the MEK will evaporate. You can get fresh Glue and MEK from SOTAR or from Northwest River Supply. Also, if you notice any pinhole leaks or scratches on your boat, Liquid Urethane (clear and colored) is available from SOTAR, which will seal them up. You do not need to put a patch over it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you ship a boat in for repairs, submit photos of the areas where damage has occurred. In some cases, boats are not reparable and presenting photos of the damaged areas will prevent the cost of shipping if repairs cannot be made.
In case you need to send the boat back to SOTAR for repairs or additions, it is best to call us (800-467-6827) or e-mail us (email@example.com), and get a repair authorization number so that we can schedule you in. If you contact us before you ship and let us know what the problem is, it will help speed up the repair process. You will need to send your boat to our physical address on the back of this manual. Please put a note in the box that has your name, address and phone number so that we can contact you after our evaluation is completed. We will go over your entire boat and let you know of anything that we find.
Unless the repairs are warranty, we cannot start the repair work without authorization and 50% deposit. Shipping charges are not covered under the warranty (see page 9 of manual) and we have found that the cheapest and easiest way to ship is using a standard UPS office (not a Mailboxes etc.), or we can arrange for Conway Freight to pick up your boat as we get a 70% discount with them and are happy to pass this discount on to you. We will contact you when the repairs are completed and will let you know when we are shipping your boat back to you.
We try to keep repair turn-a-round time to 2-4 weeks depending on the work needed. However, if you have minor warranty repairs that need to be done and can wait until the end of the boating season, you may want to do this as we sometimes get very busy in the spring and early summer and turn-a-round is faster in the off-season (September – February). Factory repair work done by SOTAR carries a one-year warranty.
Repair rates on non-warranty work are $65 per hour plus materials. We do work on non-SOTAR rafts as well for $75 per hour. We do not work on Hypalon boats, but do sell materials for you to do repairs yourself if you choose to.