If kayak care sounds like work, don’t worry … a little attention goes a long way. There are a few basic things to do and think about to keep your equipment in good shape and soon, it will be routine.
First – dragging a kayak on the ground will thin and weaken the material or worse, create holes that will have to be repaired, this is a big “no-no”!
UV Protection – just like your skin – you need to protect your kayak from UV sunlight and oxidation. It’s a good idea to apply a coat of spray-on UV protection at the beginning and end of the season after it is clean and dry. You can find it at most sporting goods shops.
Cover – your cockpit when you aren’t using it – this helps to keep rain and critters out. Dry out the inside before you cover it to keep mold, mosquitos and scum from accumulating.
In Season Storage – if you store your kayak outdoors just for the paddling season – there are several ways to properly store it – (don’t forget to dry it first).
- Upside down – draped with a tarp that allows air to flow into the inside area – and raise it off the ground.
- If you have a plastic kayak – it’s best to store it on its edge to protect the hull formation. In the alternative, upside down and supported on each side of the deck.
- You can purchase a commercial kayak cover. These are the best protection from UV rays, critters and moisture (providing you make sure your kayak is completely dry before covering it). You can find some good one’s on Amazon or Ebay.
- You can easily build a simple stand with saw horses – by fastening wide nylon straps of equal length across each end of the saw horses – add padding where the hull will rest and set the kayak on its hull.
- Alternatively, you can purchase a manufactured type of this stand. These are basically a set of scissor-type stands that fold when not in use – they are referred to as “sea horses”.
- If you are fortunate to have some garage space, you can purchase or build a kayak storage rack.These racks have either fixed curved arms or adjustable straps to secure your kayak against a wall.
(You can find storage solutions here).
Storage Damage – In the instance of restoring a depressed deck, say from storage, you can use the sun to your advantage. You can prop up the depressed deck on the inside to the desired level and leave it in the sun for a day. Most often, depending on the severity of damage, this method will take care of it by “remolding” the deck shape back in place by the next day. I refer to this as “creative” kayak care!
Preparing for Off-Season Storage
In the Fall or any time you store your kayak and equipment for a long period, you will want to do a few basic things.
Simple maintenance is especially important if you are kayaking in salt water. Salt crystallizes into welds, screws, pulleys and well, just everywhere – so be observant. Personally, there are three products I cannot do without . . . “eraser” type sponges – duct tape and WD-40 – all of which you can get at any supermarket.
Clean and dry the kayak
Inside the kayak
On a dry day – unload any and all loose gear, hatch covers, straps, seat, etc. and put them aside. Undo the plug and drain any standing water. I like to have at least four of those wonderful “eraser” type sponges – they’re terrific at thoroughly cleaning surfaces very quickly. Hose out the loose dirt and drain it out. Next thoroughly wipe the inside (as far as you can stretch) and hose it out again. Let your kayak thoroughly dry upside down and off the ground.
Outside the kayak
After I clean the inside I like to raise it up on something that will support it while I clean the bottom. You could use yard furniture or prop up an end on a fence, etc, if you don’t have a kayak stand system.
Again, I use the “eraser” sponge and start on the hull and entire exterior while it is upside down. First hose the loose dirt. Then begin at one end – sponge off the dirt, working your way to the other end.
My kayak stays in the water all season so the bottom gets pretty grungy – I pull it out from time to time in season and I find the “eraser” removes the scum quickly and effectively.
Make sure you run your sponge in all the sneaky areas that bugs like to nest like under the cockpit rim – perhaps way inside each end and in the deck hatch areas. If you don’t thoroughly clean these areas – you may have uninvited guests hatching while in storage.
The loose gear, paddle, hatch covers, straps, seat and any other components that were removed from the kayak, will need some care too. First clean the individual parts like the seat. Any loose straps or spare lines can be soaked in a bucket of warm sudsy water (no bleach as this will burn the fibers), use only a mild detergent – rinse then thoroughly air dry the items.
While going over your kayak for a cleaning, check any attached parts – like the deck cords, toggle handles and bulkheads – take note of any frayed cords and fix or replace them promptly (or at least make a list of the things to work on in the winter if your kayak is stored indoors).
If you have a two-piece paddle – take it apart – wash and rise it too – then allow to thoroughly dry.
If you have a rudder system – sponge off and check all the control lines and moving parts in between seasons. Clean away all dirt and tighten bolts and screws as necessary. The use of some WD-40 or other kind of corrosion block product on metal joints or fittings (moving parts) – this will keep them in good shape.
In addition to damage that sun can do – another important threat to kayaks is stress on the hull formation or decks. Particularly plastic kayaks will take the shape of what they are sitting on over a long period of time. That’s why it’s not advisable to leave your kayak on top of your car for days at a time.
The best way to store your kayak is on its stern, standing up – why? – because this is the point with the least amount of stress. Not everyone has an area tall enough to accommodate this so there are a few other options for off season storage.
- Boone Blue Kayak Crib 2 Paddles found at Amazon, can be mounted in a basement, shed, garage or any sheltered area
- a sling system against a wall
- a sling system that is mounted on exposed rafters
- a hoist system – mounted on rafters
With all of these alternatives, hanging the kayak on its side is advisable.
Checking the Hull
After a season of paddling and you’ve done a thorough cleaning of both your kayak and equipment – inspect the hull for any damage like gouges or curls.
On plastic (rotomolded polyethylene) curls can be removed using a disposable razor. I find it’s easiest to “shave” these at an angle and with care.
Some depressions and scratched areas can be smoothed by carefully using a hair dryer. Keep the hair dryer moving and at a distance to avoid melting or thinning the plastic.
Kayak care includes cleaning and checking your life jacket also. Make sure to follow the manufacturers’ label (remember to save this when purchasing) for instructions for your particular PFD. Check the straps, zippers(s) and any clips for damage. Do not put your PFD in the washer or dryer, this could damage it. Also – let it thoroughly air dry outside before putting it away for the winter. Do not store it in plastic – this traps moisture and creates mold.
Finally – remove your roof rack in the off-season. It will also need to be cleaned and checked to ensure that it is ready for the next paddling season.
Kayak Maintenance Tips
Whether you kayak is new or old, there’s going to be a time when you’ll need to perform some maintenance on it in order to keep it in tip top shape. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you out the next time you find your kayak needing a little tune up.
The kayak’s door lock is often in need of maintenance.
Tip: Here’s how to mount fuse lines to your gaps.
The door locks can have several different fixing methods on the deck. They can be fully integrated in deck level, and folding places high demands on tightness. Such gaps are often found on home-made wooden kayaks, and Vkv’s kayaks in fiberglass. On fiberglass kayaks, there are otherwise two methods that are most common: gaps that sit above the tire contours, and gaps immersed in the tire to harmonize with the tire contours. Both methods work well and have different sequencing effects.
A lid on the deck is exposed to more power from the waves, and sometimes some drops can be pressed under the edge. Make sure the door is properly closed before you get out.
If you choose a kayak with immersed door locks, make sure the gutter around the door is wide enough to allow your fingers to open the door. Also, make sure that the channel has drainage for the water that is collected. And the cover has a protruding plastic tab to pull in. Good for stiff fingers. Then you should remember to place the cover so that the protruding tab is at the drain so that your fingers can grasp it.
Plastic Hatches in the Kayak
There are several types of plastic hatches.
Oval, soft, flexible plastic hatch from Kajaksport. Most common Oval, harder plastic cover that does not bend in place but is pressed firmly over the entire surface at one time. Also from Kajaksport. Among other things, at Skim kayaks. Easier to squeeze out on the water than the soft.
Square hard-plastic door that is clamped on top of the door with a strap. Some kayaks are supplied with this type of gaps.
Packs when the kayak is stored
Keep the doors open when the kayak is at home. Then the moisture can come out and you avoid mold inside the packing rooms. In the same way, it’s good to air out the spaces once you have landed for the day on an island. However, in the evening, it’s good to close the doors for the night so you do not let in the evening heat.
Like the rest of the sea kayak, the gaps are good to rinse off from the salt water when you landed after your paddling trip. The packing rooms themselves do not usually need to be rinsed, but they are often wiped out, so they are clean and avoid odors. Visible debris should be wiped out immediately after the trip. Vacuuming is also good.
The soft plastic doors become gray when they age out of the sun. Or they are gray when you get your new kayak. Then they are dry and are good at silicone spray so they keep soft and do not crack.
- Spray the outside, allow to dry for a few minutes and then wipe the overflow with a cloth.
- Or spray the cloth and grease the lid with the cloth. Note that only the outside cover should be lubricated.
- Avoid spraying on the kayak’s closing wall, then do not close the cover tightly. Spray spray sparingly on the inside of the cover.
- Avoid spraying on the kayak deck as far as possible.
- The stiffer gaps from your kayak should be sprayed on delivery. A small splash in the middle of the inside of the door, which is then lubricated along its edge. Then the door will be smooth enough to be pressed with one hand in the middle of the cover with even pressure.
- A sprayed cover becomes softer and easier to close. Not least wintertime when the cold shrinks the gap and makes it stiffer.
Lost gap during paddling trip
If you want to get rid of a gap while paddling, there are solutions. Have plastic bags or a black bag in the kayak, they have several uses. And silver tape is always smart to have on board. Tape the bag or plastic bag over the door opening, then the kayak is tight again. A bag can also act as an emergency cabling, just make sure that it is possible to get out of the kayak when shooting.
The kayak’s locks and bulkheads have the primary purpose of contributing to the kayak’s floatability over the water well’s cockpit. It’s important to always keep an eye on these in order for your kayak to do its magic!
A little kayak care will keep you paddling happy for many seasons.