Kayaking is not always about paddling in the water and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. It also entails some kayak maintenance work, a part of being a kayaker that many people often seem to forget. Fortunately, modern-day kayaks are resilient and require minimal effort to maintain. That said, here are our five tips to help you keep your kayak in tip-top condition so that it’ll be ready to hit the water when you are.
Replace Old Parts and Accessories
One thing that you’ll notice with many avid kayakers is that their kayaks don’t always look shiny and well-cared for. Actually, that’s pretty normal since a well-used kayak is expected to take a beating, especially when we’re talking about whitewater kayaks which can find themselves colliding with rocks and logs. But then, even when you’re mostly paddling in calm waters, your kayak will still suffer some form of damage brought about by aging and normal wear and tear.
That said, it is important that you regularly inspect your kayak and repair any damage or replace old and worn out kayak accessories like scupper plugs and others. For instance, if your beloved kayak seat is showing signs of too much damage or is no longer comfortable, then perhaps it’s time to retire it. Check the rudder on your touring kayak and see if it’s still in good condition, otherwise, you may want to have that replaced as well.
Transport Kayak Properly
An important and often over-looked part of kayak care and maintenance is proper transportation and logistics practices. The simple and seemingly harmless act of propping a kayak on top of your vehicle without a kayak roof rack and tying it too tightly can damage the kayak’s hull. And even the absence of a roof rack is no excuse to treat your kayak that way since there are acceptable ways of transporting a kayak without a kayak roof rack. If you are transporting more than one kayak at any given time, you may want to consider getting a kayak trailer.
Another mistake that many kayak owners often make is dragging their kayak on the ground. Some of them think that dragging their kayaks over the sand or the grass is okay since these surfaces are soft; however, even these can cause a certain degree of damage to the kayak’s hull. That said, it is always recommended that you may use a kayak cart to move your kayak from the parking lot to the dock or your launch area. If you don’t have a cart or forgot to bring one, then be sure to learn how to carry a kayak properly and safely to prevent damaging it and causing injury to yourself.
Apply a Sun Protectant
It is a well-known fact that too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous to your skin, often leading to sunburns and even skin cancer if you don’t wear a good sunscreen and take the necessary precautions. However, what many people seem to ignore is the fact that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are also detrimental to a kayak.
When a kayak is exposed to the sun for too long, the sun’s ultraviolet rays will negatively affect the kayak’s color and cause it to fade. Eventually, it will also cause the plastic (or whatever material the kayak is made of) to weaken and make it brittle, which in turn makes it prone to cracking. That said, make it a point to apply a sun protectant on your kayak from time to time and make it a part of your kayak care routine. Think of it as sunscreen for kayak and an essential practice whenever you go kayaking in the summer.
Keep It Clean
A shiny kayak is definitely something to be amazed about; but let’s face it, if you’re an avid kayaker, you know that your trusty boat won’t look that way for long. However, this does not mean that you can leave it at that. Regular cleaning is part of being a responsible kayak owner. In fact, it is recommended that you clean your kayak every after kayak adventure. Cleaning a kayak doesn’t always require excessive effort. Sometimes, hosing it down with water, giving it a good rub with some mild detergent, and rinsing it properly is enough to make your kayak squeaky clean.
While you’re at it, be sure to clean the accessories as well. For example, if you have a kayak bilge pump, you’ll want to give that a good washing with some mild detergent, and letting it dry completely before putting it away.
Store It Properly
One of the worst things that can happen to a kayaker is excitedly pulling out your kayak for the season and finding out that it has been damaged while in storage. Maybe the rudder or skeg is misaligned, or maybe you forgot to put on the kayak cockpit cover and some spider, rodent or any other critter has decided to make the inside of your kayak their home. In any case, many of these problems could be avoided by following proper kayak storage practices. There are many things to consider when it comes to storing your kayak properly, from cleaning and drying it to hanging it in a kayak wall mount or suspension system and others. Responsible kayak storage is essential both in-season and off, so be sure to observe these practices all year round.
The Case for Folding and Inflatable Kayaks
Many kayakers are starting to appreciate the benefits of folding and inflatable kayaks. They are just as sturdy and resilient as traditional hardshell kayaks and equally as fun.
Maintaining inflatable and folding kayaks are pretty much the same. That is, you still need to inspect and replace damaged parts and accessories, clean them regularly, and observe proper storage practices. One thing you should never forget though is to dry the fabrics completely before putting the kayak in storage. Otherwise, it will make an excellent breeding ground for mold and mildew. Also, be sure to clean the wood or aluminum tubes (for folding kayaks) properly then let them dry thoroughly as well since moisture will have negative effects on such materials.
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To ensure that you get the most out of your kayak, you’ll need to spend some time maintaining it. It may seem like a lot of work, but it actually isn’t. Besides, kayak maintenance is not only necessary to keep your kayak looking good. It is also important as it helps to ensure that your kayak is in safe and excellent working condition whenever you feel the need to use it.
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