Are Inflatable Boats Safe On The Ocean?

Written By: Jen

Last Updated:

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

While it is an exciting place, the ocean can also be high-risk where safety is concerned. There are a lot of dangers out there, and most people aren’t used to them.

For that reason, many people tend to question the safety of inflatable boats, mostly because they can get punctures when they hit sharp objects in the ocean. The idea of a puncture out at sea sounds a lot scarier than it would do on a lake.

white inflatable boat

So, how safe are inflatable boats for traveling in the ocean? Read on to find out.

Can You Safely Use An Inflatable Boat At Sea?

Inflatable boats can be used at sea safely, provided they are well maintained. They aren’t suitable for rough seas, as they are more lightweight and can be tossed around. But punctures aren’t a concern as they use multiple air chambers, so will stay afloat.

Inflatable boats don’t just use one air chamber – that would be a terrible design because if you did get a puncture, there’d be nothing keeping you afloat. Instead, they use multiple. When one gets a puncture, you’ll still know about it, but you’ll have plenty of time to turn back to shore.

Inflatable boats are also very unlikely to capsize in water. The oversized inflatable tubes result in a low center of gravity, so it is almost impossible for the boat to overturn. If they do overturn, you can usually flip them relatively easily since they are so lightweight.

The features of an inflatable boat render it the preferred rescue craft by the U.S. Coast Guard. The military, Navy SEALs, and other emergency personnel prefer an inflatable boat too because of their ease of transportation and deployment.

white inflatable boat

Safety Tips When Using an Inflatable Boat in The Ocean

While an inflatable boat is generally safe for the ocean, that’s only if you treat the waters with the respect that they deserve. This means proper maintenance of your boat and monitoring conditions.

Inspect Your Inflatable Boat

Make sure to inspect your boat before you get into the water, every time you’re going to sail. Inflatable boats are susceptible to punctures, which you might not spot immediately until you get onto the water. So a thorough examination is always a good idea.

Check The Weather

Weather can mean the difference between a good and a disastrous day in the ocean. Naturally, you want to avoid the ocean when there is a storm and strong winds, especially with a lightweight inflatable boat.

You should be aware that weather in the ocean is super dynamic and, as a result, will change unexpectedly. So it’s not good enough to just check the current weather, but you have to stay on top of predictions and nearby weather fronts too.

The National Weather Service provides weather forecasts for specific coastal areas, so take a look at them before making a move.

Put On a Life Jacket

Life jackets have saved many lives in the ocean. According to data provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, almost 90% of boat-related accidents in the ocean can be attributed to not wearing a life jacket. Thus, putting one on could determine whether or not you make it back to shore safely.

It is important to have a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is in good shape and the right size.

O’Neill Men’s Reactor USCG Life Vest

Check Latest Price

I get it, wearing a bulky lifejacket isn’t always the most comfortable. If you’d rather not feel so restricted, then an inflatable PFD is another great option. They are a little pricier though, and you’ll need to replace the CO2 cylinder from time to time.

Let Others Know Your Location

You can take every safety precaution going and still sometimes get into trouble. So never sail without letting someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. That way, if you don’t get back safely, they can raise the alarm and start the search to find you.

Follow The Rules And Regulations Of The Sea

Anyone boating in ocean waters in the US is under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Each state has boating laws that differ slightly from other states, so you should learn and understand the rules and regulations of the state in which you intend to go boating.

While the laws may seem basic and common sense, they’re still important – they make sure sailors don’t compromise their safety or that of other boaters. Failure to adhere to rules and regulations will get you in trouble with the authorities.

Take A Boating and Safety Course

This mostly applies if you are new to boating. Take a safety course for the type of boating you intend to do. You should practice the things you learn in calm waters near the ocean before you head out into the deeper waters.

inflatable boat on calm waters

What Should You Do When Your Inflatable Boat Gets A Puncture While In The Ocean?

If you get a puncture while at sea, don’t panic. Immediately turn back to shore. If you can find the puncture and it’s above the waterline, repair it quickly. Otherwise, use a hand pump to re-inflate that chamber until you reach the shore.

It can feel a little scary when you get a puncture at sea but it’s really not that bad as long as you’re prepared. You’re not going to sink. You can patch an inflatable boat at sea relatively easily if you need to, and even if you can’t the other air chambers will keep you afloat.

If the puncture is accessible, carry out a basic repair. First, use soapy water to identify the exact place the hole is located.

Once you identify it, apply some acetone to clean out the area around the hole. Next, stick duct tape on it to prevent any more air from escaping. Lastly, pump the boat to replace the lost air as you sail to the shore.

man in inflatable boat

Final Word

Inflatable boats are as safe in the ocean as traditional boats in many cases, provided you are careful in how you use them.

These measures include wearing a life jacket, inspecting your boat regularly, and informing your family of your location and expected time of return. As long as you follow these steps, and remain calm if you do get a puncture, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Related Posts:

Photo of author


Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

Leave a Comment