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Discussion Starter #1
Currently in the market for a new boat in the 16' realm. One boat that's on the list is the 156R.

One topic that's coming up in our discussions is the ballast floor. It's a sweet idea, lots of them out on the water and they track great. Aside from the hulk moment of getting it back on the trailer, I wonder about the potential for future regulation around this tech. More and more rivers are taking precautions to stop the spread of invasive species. It sure seems like this is a potential avenue for the transport of invasive species into some of our more pristine waterways.

Anybody else ever consider this? I don't expect I'd be buying another boat for a long while after this one, so having a regulatory roadblock in the future would sure be a bummer.
 

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Absolutely worth considering, both from a regulatory and an ethical perspective.

Not hard to put on the trailer: just pull it on shore for one minute, let the water drain out, then onto the trailer.
 

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Yes SlimShady, it has been discussed. Frankly, my thinking is that they are BAD for the environment.

Sorry, but I'm going to call you on that MT. First, to pull a mud filled ballast floor "onto the shore" takes an Army. Maybe not in MT where there is no mud/silt but down south 5 gallon poly buckets of mud can be shoveled out of the bilge of a ballast floor. Kid you not. They are a potential super fund site of contamination.

It is a technology that dates back to pre invasive species considerations and pre ah, pre"globalism" where one day your boat may be toward the south and the next day back in Montana. Think about it MT. Potentially all your rivers, all your lakes screwed because of ballast floors. How would you feel if you might come to the realization that it was your floor that destroyed the rivers and lakes of Montana. Just saying.
 

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I could see it going a lot of ways from a regulatory standpoint...but I'm no expert. Seems like it could very well be down to which ranger/LEO is enforcing it and how they interpret things.

That said...if you are set on a specific Aire boat (they ARE pretty awesome) but are worried about it... you can order your boat with a sealed floor. It still uses a bladder but doesn't have the holes in the outer shell of the floor. It has a waterproof zipper up top. Both boats I've ordered from Aire have this option and I like it for various reasons. I mostly got it because I raft on a lot of silty rivers and didn't wanna deal with having to clean it out but it also helps with the invasive species thing too.
 

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Please explain - preferably from the invasive species' perspective - the difference between being trapped in a ballast floor and being trapped in the seam where floor meets tube on any other boat...

Have three Aire boats, use 'em on silty rivers all the time. Takes about 10 minutes with a hose - or less at the car wash - to get the water running out of the holes in floor completely clear. I do unzip and wash at the end of every season, & thoroughly dry before putting away.
 

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I suppose the difference is that when it's in the ballast you couldnt ever see anything unless you take it out. Seems like if regs get to a certain point they could just be not them on certain rivers one day 🤷‍♂️.

I'm thinking of a MFS trip where the ranger wants to look over your boats before they were ever rigged up so you could flip them over etc.

I suppose the same could be said for any boat that uses a bladder system.
 

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I run nothing but Aires. All cats. Much to consider because no boat will be foolproof.

I prepare most days a river/snow report. I try to identify in that report rivers of concern.

I guess that is the best we can do. Clean up after running rivers of concern.
 

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Shit. I just bought an old cheep tomcat. I've always rode hypolon. Its my first aire, and a 15 year old one at that. Is there a procedure that can sterilize the floor? I don't think its carrying mussels, but how do I really know?.
 

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Please explain - preferably from the invasive species' perspective - the difference between being trapped in a ballast floor and being trapped in the seam where floor meets tube on any other boat...

Have three Aire boats, use 'em on silty rivers all the time. Takes about 10 minutes with a hose - or less at the car wash - to get the water running out of the holes in floor completely clear. I do unzip and wash at the end of every season, & thoroughly dry before putting away.
The difference is the seam between the floor an tubes is easy to just bend over and look at. Might have to deflate it a bit to really get a good luck but that is still worlds easier then having to derig your boat enough to unzip the floor. I've yet to hear of a ranger asking for that...but if you are worried about it...the sealed floor is maybe worth it to you. I know a lot of guys really like their ballast floors too... so its just a consideration.

I haven't really heard of anyone who has tried both a ballast floor and a sealed floor in an otherwise identical setup, so its hard to say how big a difference it makes either way. Some swear it lowers their CG a ton and has kept them from flipping. The sealed floor maybe rides a little higher and is potentially a bit quicker since its not moving as much water mass around. Not having to clean the floor out from silt is nice too.

Every experience I've had with the MFS rangers has been pretty easy. They tend to just ask what the last river you did was and how long ago it was. I think the only way they'd maybe freak out is if you drove straight from a trip on the Green or Colorado river to the MFS. As long as the boat has been dried out they don't seem to have an issue with it.

Worst case...just stop at the check in points at the state borders and I've heard that they will steam sanitize your boat for you. Probably needs to be setup on a trailer to do that though.
 

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I'm just stating what my experience with rangers has been...they inspect the crevices between the floor and tube. Perhaps they have been trained to look for signs that the boat has been in an area with invasive species 🤷‍♂️

If they are microscopic...why are there inspection stations? Do they get swabs and microscopes out?

If you can't figure out how the space between the tube and floor, that is easy to spray out and see if there is debris or moisture in, is different then a ballast floor... then I'm not sure what to tell say other then one is easily cleaned and inspected and the other you have to dismantle the boat. The floors in the raft regularly go under water and the floors get water, debris, invasive species and whatever else above the bladder so plenty of places to trap stuff that isn't just something you can spray or blow out without unzipping the floor. I'm sure its fine...but if someone, like the OP, is worried but still wants an Aire...the sealed floor is one way to lessen that worry.
 

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Shit. I just bought an old cheep tomcat. I've always rode hypolon. Its my first aire, and a 15 year old one at that. Is there a procedure that can sterilize the floor? I don't think its carrying mussels, but how do I really know?.
Dry completely for 48 hours, freeze until solid, use 303, use salt solution @5%, use dish soap @5%. Not rocket science, just normal science.
 

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Dry completely for 48 hours, freeze until solid, use 303, use salt solution @5%, use dish soap @5%. Not rocket science, just normal science.
Would a very diluted solution of bleach and water work as well?
 

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Those who have lace in floors need to inspect webbing; after a 9 day main salmon trip, I found that larva had bedded and developed in the webbing and had already bedded themselves quite well. Had to go through and scrape the critters off. They are out there and seem to be everywhere now, so diligence is prudent.
 

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I see the potential hassle of cleaning the silt out from desert rivers and for those that run consistently maybe the sealed pocket is a better fit. I mostly run CA rivers which are generally clear. Also living in CA I can leave it in the sun to get it over the temperature threshold of survival for the larvae. Even covered under a tarp @ 90-100F between runs will do this.
 

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If you're going to run Cat or Deso a lot - and maybe WW (Marshal?) - probably worth it to get this certificate:


You can print or make multiple copies and just leave on your windshield at takeouts.

I thought the point of this thread was to query whether the Aire ballast floor is any more prone to spreading AIS than sealed packet or other (inflatable or not) floors. Agreed if you have concerns it's worth the extra $300 or so to go with sealed packet, and yes, they handle a bit differently.

But I don't know that there's any evidence the ballast floor is higher risk for contamination. Utah says 7 days dry in the months of June, July & August is sufficient to self-certify for purposes of the decontamination form.
If you run a multi-day setup with floor in captain's bay or beaver board(s) there is no way a ranger or any other inspection personnel can see the seam between floor and tube, and that is exactly where water will be trapped. Yes, the veligers (larvae) are microscopic. So they could be there and neither you nor ranger will know...

Been using the Aire ballast floors for 22 years on silty rivers. If you're after total dry, dry the boat suspended on tubes, turn over after a day or two, and flip again - won't take 7 days to dry completely... at least where I live.

Inspection personnel and rangers will start with asking you where boat has been in last 30 days and whether you're aware of AIS protocols. If your boat is clean and dry - and unless your answers or attitude give them a reason to further inspect - that's been the end of every conversation/inspection I've undergone or been around (half dozen or so in Wyoming and Idaho). The inspection stations are geared towards powerboats, not inflatables, and I've never spent more than 5 minutes on them (used to be volunteers who knew nothing about rafts, last time in Wyoming was actually a Game&Fish guy who just waved me through).
 

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I haven't really heard of anyone who has tried both a ballast floor and a sealed floor in an otherwise identical setup, so its hard to say how big a difference it makes either way.
I bought my 156R years ago with the ballast floor, didn't like it. Bought just the sealed pocket floor in 2018 and switched floors. To me, it's been a world of difference and I'd never buy an Aire for myself again that doesn't have the sealed pocket. Love it!

Keeping with this thread topic, if you are worried about invasive species in the floor system definitely check out the sealed pocket floor!
 

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If you're going to run Cat or Deso a lot - and maybe WW (Marshal?) - probably worth it to get this certificate:
We don't have any "requirement" for this, that I'm aware of, but obviously it would appear to the managing personnel that you've gone above and beyond what the typical boater would do were you to have completed the "class". The Gubbermint is all about education in most instances. Some of it valuable, some a waste of time, but none the less all are required to complete all this "Interactive Instruction" which involves hours in front of a computer screen watching videos and answering quizzes LOL.

The sole time I've ever been checked for the invasive species thing would be last year at Bullfrog Marina off lake foul after a 300 mile motor trip. There wasn't a lot to inspect on the snout, and the gal that was inspecting did her job professionally and in short order. I don't have much input to the AIRE floors holding water to make them less "flippy", I've only rowed one, and noted that the ballast floors helped the boat stay in the current a LITTLE better, but it handled like a tank compared to a Hypalon boat that tracked as well, in my case an Avon.

Common sense would dictate that since silt could get into the floor and tubes and part of owning a bladder boat is the maintenance one needs to perform each year wrestling with zippers and getting the baffles realigned, that if it can harbor sand and silt, they it can harbor larvae.

That being said, I believe most of the issues with the zebra / quagga muscles is centered in them inhabitating the reservoirs, since the rivers lead to these environmental catastrophe's, some agencies are starting to enforce the inspection and decontamination stations, but I have not, outside of reservoirs, seen any "inspection stations" here in CO or UT. These seem to be more prevalent in the PNW from what I'm told, but I've never seen one, never been stopped at one, and don't really worry about it as my boats are either hard shelled as in Dories, or Hypalon as in Hyside and Avon. Not many places for the little suckers to hide in the first place.

Rereading the above, makes me think along the lines of G. W. Hayduke, in that if we didn't have reservoirs, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. But perhaps I'm a dreamer, and it didn't help any that I just re-read "The Emerald Mile" again, gotta be the 8th time I have read it, and it still puts me on the edge of my seat in many places. What if the dam HAD toppled????
 
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