Musings

Crystals in the Krypt?

Fedden's miracle 'Deflat-O-Valve' plug inserted leaving the valve open

There was something rattling around inside my Krypt surfmat. I could feel something gritty in there. I thought it might have been bits of sand, perhaps also some shell grit. Gently rubbing the corner of the mat I could feel hard, gritty lumps. Were these little bits going to poke pin-holes or cuts from the inside? How the heck could this have gotten inside my surf mat? Perhaps the winter hammerings I’d taken in the shorebreak at White Rock here in Dublin? Something had to be done.

Luckily I got some post today. Matt Fedden (Mc Surf Mats) had posted me over a tube of polyurethane goo to grip-up the Krypt and had thrown in one of the valve caps that come with his mats along with his miraculous Deflat-O-Valve keys that come attached. I thought it was a pain that the original valve-cap that came with the Krypt never did fit over the mouth of the valve so I cut it away. The Krypt has a spring-loaded two-way valve that you free blow into to inflate and the spring closes off the valve when you stop blowing. Handy but a bit tedious to deflate as you have to poke in and hold your finger depressing valve spring open until the mat has fully deflated; not great for post-surf frigid digits. With Matt’s Deflat-O-Valve key I can hobble back to the car with the mat folded, free-deflating under my arm as I go.

The front of the Krypt surf mat with Matt Fedden's Deflat-O-Valve key (red)

The mat is now fragment free and the source was unexpected (but in retrospect, shouldn’t have been). Here’s note on how it went down:

  1. Fully inflate the mat.
  2. Hold up bottom up so the valve is facing down.
  3. Beat the bejaysus out of it to dislodge any and all of the ‘bits’ inside and send them rattling down toward the valve.
  4. Tilt the mat to one side and shake it, with a bit more beating, to send all ‘bits’ into the lower corner; keep the mat tilted – the bottom corner down.
  5. Use a peg to pinch off the I-beam opening immediately above the valve – now when the mat is tilted in the other direction, the bits will rattle down toward the valve but not past the pegged off I-beam opening.
  6. Keep the mat tilted toward the valve and the pegged I-beam opening and do a bit of jiggling to direct the bits toward the valve.
  7. When you think they are in the area of the valve stem (the clear ‘elbow’), use your finger to flick the valve – this had the effect of bouncing the fragments down into the valve elbow where you can see them.
  8. Insert Matt’s Deflat-O-Valve key to hold the valve open and continue to flick at the valve.
  9. Viola! Hard fragments of ‘stuff’ came tumbling out.

Fedden's Deflat-O-Valve key inserted leaving the valve open

What did come tumbling out were white crystal like chunks… of salt. The fragments were about as thick as a pencil lead, jagged and sharp. Crikey. I repeated the shaking, jiggling and valve flicking another couple of times until I’d shaken out everything that was making that rattling sound  – all salt crystals. It seems obvious now that tweaking inflation out in the surf had let some salt water inside. When the mat had been hung up afterward the brine inside trickled down to the lowest point and dried out to leave these delightful little fragments.

The extracted shards of salt crystals from the surf mat

Ahh, easily solved. Let the problem become part of the solution (yes, all pun intended). If there were other bits in there likely to grind away at the seams then all would be dissolved with a little warm fresh water. Thus:

  1. Inflate the mat  so it is almost fully inflated and hold upright – valve up.
  2. Insert the valve key to keep the valve ‘open’ and pour in a litre or so of warm water.
  3. Pull out the valve key to close the valve.
  4. Spend a few minutes tilting the mat up and down, turning it around, and generally shaking the bejaysus out of it to rinse the warm water around the innards of the mat. This should dissolve any of the remaining crusty salt crystals and bring them into solution (see what I did there?).
  5. Fully inflate the mat, insert the valve key again and turn upside down (valve-down) and tilted so the valve become the lowest point – allowing the briny water  to drain out.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 again for good measure so that the mat’s guts are salt free – taste the water to see how you’re doing.
  7. Finally, fully inflate the mat again, insert the key and rest the mat upright/valve down and rest it up against a wall or peg it up on the clothesline so it can slowly deflate and all the inside to dry for a while.

A side note here for the donkeys: mind the valve key doesn’t slip out, sealing the valve, causing the air inside to heat up and expand (because you’ve been a goose and hung it out in the sun) and cause the mat to explode. Ahh sure, what could possibly go wrong?

Pouring warm water into the Krypt surf mat with the valve held open