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Airdock-a way to wet slip with no worry and no fixed lift

Julian

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@Glassman have you tried this? My immediate reaction is....well that will cover the part you can see....which is really only cosmetic. The key is the lower hull towards the centerline of the boat (the primary wetted surface areas). I bought my lift because of the loss of performance and cost of gas. All the growth on the bottom would take my boat from a top speed of ~50mph to a top speed of ~37mph. When you translate that throughout the speed ranges to RPMs, to ski at 28mph would take 9000rpm dirty, and 7800rpm clean. If you look up the GPH of those two RPMs from boattest, this was costing me a tangible dollars (just straight math alone says 15% increase in gas consumption, and I'm not sure GPH is a linear increase).

Back to the lift....we have gotten into a good routine now for launch and return.

LAUNCH-I go down and open the lift valves and start uncovering the boat (carry any big stuff to the slip with me). Family flows along with the smaller stuff. By the time I have the boat uncovered, bimini up, GPS attached, stuff loaded and put away on boat, bumpers off and lines removed the boat is down.

RETURN-Pulling into the slip is easy....no one needs to do anything to "help". Drive onto the airdock and cut the engines when I'm about 1/4 of the way on, then the boat slids to a halt most of the way on. Then get the boat ready to be put to bed - bow cover on first, GPS off, stuff off the boat, cockpit cover on, plug pulled). Then I walk to the front and position the boat properly on the lift (a little side to side adjustment is usually needed - just a pull with a rope) and turn on the blower. Finish snapping on the dock side of the cockpit cover, then 2-3 minutes later she's up and I adjust the levels as it get to fully raised. Shut off the front bag first, then slow down the starboard bag and then shut both starboard and port bags and shut off the blower. Front fills the fastest as it is the smallest. Starboard fills slightly faster than the port bag as the line to it is shorter.

Hopefully this helps understand the operation better.
 

Glassman

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Nope, haven't tried this particular product, but I have used a very similar (might be the same material) on automobiles. I would think this would best suit someone who might need to slip their boat for a week or two and where the growth isn't that aggressive. If you own the slip or will be in the water for long periods, a lift of some sort, like you have done, is the way to go.

There are a few other products that help reduce growth that can be applied to the entire hull, here's a good article with links:
https://www.auroramarine.com/ask-the-skipper/forum/BoatBottommarineGrowth.html

You might want to consider using something like that foul release bottom coat: https://www.auroramarine.com/catalog-vs721-bottom-coat.php in addition to lifting.
Doesn't "some" water get trapped under the hull when on the lift?
 

Julian

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So far the hull is clean during lift use. Some water is on the boat right after lifting, and from rain etc. But I think the black color of the ballast bags absorb heat and are likely drying off the trapped water. In fact the only issue I've had (twice) was the boat was stuck to the lift...probably dried onto it. Rocking it back and forth a couple of times unstuck it (tossing some water on it would probably work too)
 

leeatmg

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I love this idea, @Julian, but your last post makes me wonder whether it would survive the Arizona sun. Black ballast bags seem like a bad idea in such harsh sun. I am imagining them exploding, or perhaps turning into a hot air balloon and floating away...:eek:
 

Julian

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These are really heavy duty ballast bags....think Zodiac/RIB type thickness. There is a large volume of air and plenty of expansion space - they specifically tell you not to over inflate them. Also air pressure is a factor. I had to go and look this up out of curiosity, but doubling the temp from 68 deg F to 104 causes an expansion by 6% (same pressure). With that info, I am CERTAIN there is WAY more than 6% expansion space in the bags (and that assumes that the pressure stayed the same).

I did ask them about UV resistance, and they told me that the bags were designed to sit in the sun and were tested for UV resistance. They said it wouldn't hurt to put a UV protectant spray on the bags, but it wasn't necessary.
 

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@Julian - Thanks...we are seriously considering this as an option. I am told the algae situation in AZ is...brutal. My only hesitation (aside from selling the wife on ANOTHER expensive option on top of the slip cost) is the construction/assembly/installation process. I'm sure it's reasonably simple, but I'm not sure I want another project right now...
 

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@Julian one more question - you solved the algae-on-the-boat issue with the lift. But what about the algae on the lift? Any issues with that? Just curious...
 

Julian

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Good question....the lift has algae on it, but not enough to matter. If it ever gets thick enough to be an issue, I can take the bags out of the water and use a broom or something to scrub it gently with. But I'm not sure I'll need to do that. My guess is that in the fresh water, the algae dies in the winter and most falls off, then grows back in the summer. I can't see it getting like barnacles where it will result in a lot of weight...but I'll keep an eye on it.
 

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@Julian thanks...that's helpful.
 

Julian

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And one more thing....their support and service is excellent! The owner has even read this post and emailed me to say that it shouldn't take 10-12 minutes to deflate and to contact him to troubleshoot. I had to admit to him that I've never actually timed it! I've just guestimated that it takes that long to get the boat prepped, loaded, uncovered etc, and by that time the boat is down (10-12 minutes), so now I have to REALLY time it to in order to be accurate with you guys! (Edited---I did time it and updated the first post)

Bottom line....love it so far, and Ken at Airdock rocks! He may even sign up here and weigh in himself! (you are welcome to Ken!)
 
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Julian

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OK just reviewed the website and found the info..:)
Should work....but you will need to put a PVC frame kit in (you can see the PVC pipe in the photo of mine.
 

Julian

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@Ken at AIR-DOCK I timed lowering it the weekend and it took 6 minutes and 50 seconds to completely lower. Much faster than I estimated. I have updated the original post.
 

cane.mba

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@Julian how will the Airdock hold up to fish hooks? We get a lot of "Bass Pro" wanna be's that want to fish under under docks, and they don't seem to exhibit any concern for other peoples property.
 

Julian

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@Julian how will the Airdock hold up to fish hooks? We get a lot of "Bass Pro" wanna be's that want to fish under under docks, and they don't seem to exhibit any concern for other peoples property.
That is a great question for which I don't have a good answer. We also have a lot of fisherman that fish around our docks (despite the large signs saying NO FISHING AROUND DOCKS), and no issues thus far. I think the bladders are too smooth and have too few catch points for hooks to get onto. Now the ropes that attach it.....wouldn't surprise me to find a few hooks stuck on them!
 

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Unfortunately my cove is still being flooded with mud from the dam break, and I think it may be a year to 18 months until the offenders have it dredged. They have to build a "weir" (spillway), and repair a road that's been closed for 16 months now, before they begin dredging. The Airdock is at the top of my list for when it's all done.
 

Julian

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So this spring I found my first hole in my Airdock. It was actually a crack from where the dock creases over and over. I noticed a small stream of bubbles coming out when I put the boat on her first thing this year (year #4). So I looked up how to fix it (found the kit that came with the air dock) and went out to do battle.

There are 2 ways to fix it...the fast and the slow (24 hour) way. I chose the fast as I had the boat waiting to go back in the slip. The only difference is you need a heat gun to do the fast fix.

I found the crack/hole pretty easily as I marked where it was bubbling up.
You then:
  1. Clean the area
  2. Sand the area and patch
  3. Clean with MEK solvent (bought at Home depot)-Klean Strip Methyl Ethyl Ketone
  4. Apply glue to patch and area being patched
  5. Heat both with heat gun until bubbling and goes grey
  6. Put both sides together and hold/press as much as you can (5 minutes?)
This took me 1-2 hours total to accomplish because I had to move the boat, undo the airdock ropes, pull it onto the dock etc. But all in all it wasn't hard at all and I got lucky and had a perfect day to do it weather wise!

This is a photo of the airdock pulled to the side after cleaning the spot where the hole/crack is:
20170514_125453_resized.jpg

Here is the crack (about 2-4 inches long) with a circle drawn where the patch will sit:
20170514_125521_resized.jpg

Here is the repaired spot:

20170514_132521_resized.jpg
 

JetBoatPenguin

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@Julian - Fast Forwarding to the present since your last post. How is it holding up and working with the additional +1.5 yrs on the AirDock. And do you have any other "Care Tips". My boat will be in Western NC, so very similar climate expansion rates on the bladder I expect. Thanks in advance for the update.
 

Julian

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In the last year the starboard stern bag deflated on its own a couple of times. The first time towards the beginning of the season, I tightened all the connections and looked for a leak. I found no leak, but it didn't go down again, so I assumed it was a leak at a hose connection. At the end of the season it went down again. As I was pulling the boat out the following weekend, I didn't investigate it, inflated it for winter and figured I'd check it out in the spring. The air dock remained inflated over the winter and last weekend I again tightened all the hose connections (one was a little loose, one was tight).

This will be season 6 for the lift, and I hope to make it through this season without needing to fix or replace a bag....we'll see.
 
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