Proper Kayak Maintenance

If every paddler had their way, kayaks would glide through the years without a scratch or dent to it’s hull. But let’s be realistic here – a well used kayak takes a beating! The good news is that kayaks are very resilient and kayak maintenance requires minimal effort. There are a few basic things to do and think about to keep your kayak and equipment in good shape and soon, it will be routine!

Pre-Season Kayak Maintenance

Doing a little kayak maintenance at ACK Houston.
Doing a little kayak maintenance at ACK Houston.

The last thing you want to happen when you pull your kayak out of storage for your first spring paddle is to find that something was left broken from last year, or worse, was damaged during storage. Refer to these pointers to prepare:

Look over the hull for damage. Long term storage is one of the most common ways a kayak’s hull can be damaged. In the case of a depressed hull, heat will often be enough to return the kayak to it’s original shape. Leaving it in the sun on a hot day will often pop it back to it’s original shape.

Inspect the rigging. Make sure the hardware, perimeter lines and bungees are all in good shape. UV radiation can deteriorate plastic pad-eyes and degrade bungees/lines.

Look over the rudder or skeg if it has one and evalutate the deployment lines, stainless steel cables, pivot hardware and pedals. Make sure to repair anything that needs fixing now, rather than finding out on the water!

Replace old parts and accessories, or just add new ones. This is the perfect time to retire old gear like a seat or bulkhead. Look over all of your gear and remind yourself what was bothering you last year.

If you found yourself wishing for an extra something last season, like another rod holder, this is the time to add it!

Refill emergency gear. Go through your first-aid kit, bailout bag and emergency repair kit to make sure everything is stocked. This is especially important to do because if it needs refilling it means it was something you had to use last year!

In Season Kayak Maintenance

Keep these pointers in mind during the peak of your paddling season:

Avoid kayak maintenance by using a cart!
Avoid kayak maintenance by using a cart!

Use a kayak cart. Dragging your ‘yak on the ground will thin and weaken the material at the bottom, the worst case scenario being that it could lead to holes that will have to be repaired by a specialty shop. Kayak carts are a win-win because they will protect your kayak from damage plus make getting to and from the water a cinch.

Keep it clean. A kayak doesn’t need to look shiny and new, but it’s good practice to quickly spray down your kayak after every outing. This’ll remove grime and salt that can lead to corrosion of the hull and prevent mold from growing.

Usually just taking the hose and spraying down the interior and exterior will suffice but it’s a good idea to give it a thorough scrub with mild soapy water and a kayak sponge a couple times a year.

Protect it from the sun. Long exposure to the sun will affect more than just your kayak’s color – it’ll eventually weaken the plastic, making it brittle and prone to cracking. No, leaving it out for a few days here and there won’t mean you should expect to puncture your hull on the next outing, but several months will certainly lead to deterioration!

Spraying it down with 303 Protectant.
Spraying it down with 303 Protectant.

Using 303 Protectant is a popular method of stopping harmful UV rays, but this will wash away with rain and during paddling outings so it will require re-application. The best solution would be to use a kayak cover or store it indoors.

Cover the cockpit. When it’s not in use, it helps to use a cockpit cover to keep rain and critters out. Remember to dry out the inside before you cover it to keep mold, mosquitoes and scum from accumulating.

Proper kayak storage. It’s important both in season and off! Refer to the link for tips on how to best store your kayak.

Kayak Maintenance to Prepare for Off-Season Storage

Many of you won’t have an off-season, but for some there is a point in the year when water turns solid and the kayak has to go into hibernation. When that time comes, refer to these tips:

Clean and dry the kayak. On a dry day, unload any and all loose gear and put them aside, this includes any rigging accessories that are removable like a seat, deck bag or rod holder. Turn it upside down on a pair of kayak stands and lather it up with mild soapy water. From beneath, spray water throughout the cockpit interior and all the hatches, allowing any loosened sand, crud and dead bugs to drain out. Make sure to let everything dry out before putting it away.

Take a kayak sponge and scrub away if you think it’s necessary. Areas like the cockpit rim can end up being a nesting ground for insects if they’re left alone during storage.

Care for your rigging components. Look over any attached parts on the kayak – like deck cords, toggle handles and bulkheads – and take note of any frayed cords or parts that need replacing and order a replacement part promptly. If any of the bungees, straps or buckles can be loosened or un-done during storage, loosen them. This will help retain their elasticity.

Make sure dirt was removed from bolts/screws during your clean earlier and sponge away anything left over. The use of some WD-40 or other type of corrosion blocking product will keep metal joints in good shape.

Also, be sure to give this short video from PaddlingTV about kayak maintenance a watch:

Quick Tip – Keep It Clean!

As a female angler, I am in complete shock when I see my friends go out with their brand new kayaks looking all fresh and detailed only to return home with a filthy, full of dead bait kayak and never even clean it. Really?! Come on guys! Most launch points have a car wash within a few miles. At least rinse that thing off!

All joking aside, it really is smart to keep your kayaks clean and taken care of. Why would you spend that much on something and then not take care of it? That’s crazy! Here are a few simple suggestions to keeping your kayak clean and extending its life span.

Rinse your boat down and clean it out with “Simple Green” (an all purpose environmentally friendly cleaner you can get from almost any store). Be sure to clean it inside and out.

Once clean, I highly recommended “303 Protectant”, it’s like a sun block for your boat to help keep it from fading, keeps it shiny and holds the “new boat” look as well as keeping it from getting brittle. You would want to use 303 after Simple Green. Just spray your boat in sections, wiping as you go. Make sure to leave your hatches open to prevent moisture from sitting inside your boat too!

Fifteen minutes is all it takes!

Amanda @ACK Houston

Dare We Say…Time to Start Thinking About Kayak Storage?

Consider these tips and product recommendations to keep the critters out and your kayak in good shape.

Admittedly, the idea of long-term storage of a kayak seems like a strange concept to me personally. I’ve lived in Texas all my life and not to throw it in your face, but our paddling season extends well into fall and even through the “winter” season. That said we do recognize that a large percentage of our customers don’t live in the south and when winter comes, it really is time to start thinking about how to store your boats away for the season. Here are a few tips and product recommendations for those looking for affordable, space saving options and more importantly, the protection of your investment — your kayak.

Step by Step…Preparing Your Boat for Storage

  1. Start by washing your boat inside and out with a mild soapy water to remove dirt, grime and for you anglers out there…all that gooey stuff that comes from who knows what. Wipe it down and let it dry thoroughly, especially inside.
  2. Spray your kayak with 303 Aerospace Protectant but don’t over do it. A light coating is all you need.I like to put my hand in an old sock and use it to evenly apply the 303. This will keep your kayak conditioned — so to speak.
  3. Oil any metal parts…again don’t over do it!
  4. Tighten all screws, bolts, etc. to ensure a safe revival in spring in case you forget to do it then. This also gives you time to hunt down replacement hardware should any of it be missing or on it’s way to the rust bucket.
  5. Finally, if storing outside, remove any soft or fabric type materials such as the seat. If a rodent happens to make it’s way into your boat, this is the type of material they like for their nests.

Storing Your Boats
If you don’t already have a rack system setup, you should certainly consider it. Too often, customers will store their kayak flat on the ground resulting in a hull that warps. Your best bet is to store it off the floor and on its side or with the hull side up. The sides and gunnels (upper edge on the sides of your boat) are thicker and with less surface space in those areas, there is a less of a chance of warping. To properly store it on it’s hull or side, you’ll need to invest in a kayak storage device.

The following are a few of our most popular recommendations:

NRS Kayak Hanger – Simple and affordable. The NRS Kayak Hanger is the perfect solution for those with ceiling space in a garage, porch or other storage room. Can be installed in minutes and comes with loops to store you paddle. The kit comes with everything you need.

Talic Kayak Tilt Storage – My personal favorite is the Tilt Storage Rack. While not recommended for outdoor use, it is quite possibly the best looking and easiest to install wall rack system. When not in use, the arms can be moved up so they don’t get in the way.

Malone J-Dock Hybrid Kayak Storage System – Don’t be fooled, while affordable, this system can take a beating and boasts a corrosion proof construction. What makes this unique is it’s ability to hold more than just one kayak. Don’t have two kayaks? Use the top portion of the system for your paddle, snowboard or other outdoor gear.

Harken 90 lb. Kayak Lift System – Worried about how you plan to lift your kayak onto the wall or ceiling? The Harken Kayak Lift System is exactly what you need. Not only will it get it out of the way you can easily get it of the ground or your roof rack with Harken’s 4 point lift system. A 60 lb. version of the system is also available.

Cover It Up!
Regardless of where you store it, you may want to consider protecting your boat with a cover to keep critters out. We sell both full boat covers as well as cockpit covers for sit inside kayaks. Click here to view our complete line of full boat covers and cockpit covers.

Whether your store it inside or out, take care of your investment, otherwise you’ll be back at shopping for another kayak sooner than you think! :-)

Roland @ ACK

Too Early to Start Thinking About Spring? We Don’t Think So!

7 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Kayak for the Spring Paddling Season

For some, the idea of the “spring season” may seem a bit silly, because with the ponds and streams still frozen watersports may be the last thing on their mind. On the flipside, others are in the midst of an unseasonably warm winter. Then of course there are those paddlers who don’t believe seasons exist, and paddle all year long! Regardless of your position, now is a good time to take a look at your kayak or canoe to make sure that it is in tip-top shape for what we can refer to as the busy paddling season. We all understand that kayaks are virtually indestructible and part of what makes them appealing is the fact that you really don’t have to do much in terms of maintenance. However, over time and through heavy use, kayaks and canoes like everything else will begin to deteriorate. Here are a few quick tips that will help extend the life your boat for years to come.

1.) Check For Leaks:

Leaks are generally a result of a gash or more often wear on the bottom of your hull. While some leaks are slow and may not be an immediate threat, patching it up as quickly as possible will keep it from spreading into what may eventually become unrepairable or even worse, pose a safety risk. Also, check for thinning plastic on the bottom of your hull. When an area becomes thin with wear, even a small bump into a sharp rock can cause it to rupture. Obtain a plastic patch kit or take your kayak to your local dealer to repair any damage.

2.) Check the Hardware:

You may have experienced this before. You pick up your kayak only to find that the handle unexpectedly pops loose and your kayak goes falling to the ground. It’s always a good idea to tighten all of the hardware and replace any hardware that has rusted or is showing other signs of corrosion.

3.) Make Sure it All Works:

Sure, most kayaks have limited moving parts but if you own one with a rudder or pedal drive system, double check to make sure it’s all in working order before you head out. While you are at it, check all cables and tubing for fraying wires and cracking. Lubricate all moving parts per the manufacturers instructions.

4.) Check For Wear:

The first parts that typically need replacing are your straps, cargo bungee, rope and other fabric based materials. Check them all, these are usually easily replaceable. A seat that doesn’t provide the proper support due to a faulty strap is not fun when you’re miles from your destination.

5.) Check your Gear:

Just like your kayak, check that all of your gear is in good working order. Items such as your PFD, paddle, vehicle rack system (very important), cart, etc. This is also a good time to check to make sure you have all of your safety gear and replenish any consumables in your first aid kits that you may have used last season.

6.) Check Yourself:

Don’t forget, you are the engine of your kayak, without you, it’s not going anywhere. Start thinking about a conditioning program, shed a few pounds, work on those legs and get some cardio exercises integrated into your daily routine. It’s all for the benefit of your health and will lead to a more enjoyable day on the water.

7.) Make it Look Good:

Okay, maybe not necessary but cleaning your kayak with a mild soap/water mixture and conditioning it with some 303 protectant will not only bring it’s sheen back to life, but will help keep your kayak from fading. 303 contains UV inhibitors so it’s not just all about looks — it will also protect it.

Whether you are one of the few lucky ones experiencing this sensational mild winter or have your packed away in the garage, take a moment to look out for your investment and safety.

Roland @ACK

Give Your Kayak a Little Love

A 7-Step Maintenance Checklist to Help Extend the Life of Your Kayak.

When I left to home for the first time I kind of figured I would hear from my dad often to make sure I was focused on my studies — he didn’t. Instead, he periodically called to check on my truck’s tire pressure and to remind me about getting an oil change every 3000 miles. I always thought to myself, “Wow, is he really more concerned about my truck than me?” As I grew older I realized that wasn’t nearly the case. In fact, it was actually all about me, making sure that I never got stranded or even worse, getting myself into some tragic accident — I regress.

So how does this all relate to the topic of maintaining a kayak? Well, ever heard the saying “a well maintained kayak makes a safe and happy paddler?” Probably not, because I just made it up but you get the point! It’s not so much about keeping your kayak looking like it was unwrapped for the first time but more about maintaining a properly functioning kayak that will provide an enjoyable and safer paddling experience for years to come.

Here are a few tips that we’ve learned through the recommendation of manufacturers and our own experiences. In this case, we focus on both sit in and sit on top kayaks made of plastic.

ONE: Check and Repair Cracks and Deep Gouges
Polyethylene, what most plastic kayaks are made from, is a very durable material. However, it’s not bullet proof. An oyster bed can slice through it like razor blades, sharp rocks will gouge it and dragging a kayak over hard surfaces will eventually wear it down. If you end up with a crack or hole there is very little you can do as a permanent fix except patch it with the same plastic it’s made of. At first sign of a crack or what may lead to one, we recommend you bring your kayak to one of our shops so a professional can repair it for you. If you are a do it yourself kind of person or don’t have easy access to any of our stores, consider the KC Welder welding kit, which can be purchased at any one of our stores or online.

TWO: Wash and Rinse
Dust, salt and other natural minerals can eventually corrode certain parts of your kayak, even worse, your plastic. Simply washing your kayak with a little soapy water along with a good rinse will help extend its life. It also a good idea to carry a sponge with you when paddling, such as the as the NRS Deluxe Boat Sponge. Not only can you use it to clean your kayak but it will also be useful to soak up any water on the inside of your boat while you are out on the water. Once you are done washing it, be sure to let your kayak dry thoroughly before storing it to avoid the growth of mildew.

THREE: Care for Your Plastic
These days, manufactures mix UV inhibitors into the plastic while molding kayaks, which significantly reduces color fading. However, after a few years of being out in the sun, colors will eventually fade and in extreme cases may even turn brittle. As a preventative measure or even if you are already experiencing some fading apply 303 Aerospace or Hobie UV protectant. Both will not only rejuvenate your kayak with a nice shine but will also leave behind a UV protective layer. (Tip: Apply sparingly and rub it in well.)

FOUR: Protect Your Metals Too
One would think that stainless steel is more durable than plastic but when it meets water, specifically salt water, not so much. It’s always a good idea to spray a little lubricant on all metal parts. Not only will this provide a protective bond between metal and water, it will also aid in the addition and removal of accessories. Be sure to wipe down any residual grease or oil.

FIVE: Tighten all Screws and Bolts
Speaking of metal fittings, it’s happened to the best of us. You are happily carrying your kayak when suddenly the handle pops off and there goes your boat. It wasn’t broken — it simply unscrewed itself. Your kayak takes quite a beating and vibration from resting on your vehicle’s rack can cause screws to loosen over time. Periodically tighten all screws and bolts to avoid this scenario.

SIX: Clean and Lubricate
Like a bicycle, it is important to keep all moving parts in good working order. Wipe down excess build up around rudders, pedal drives and foot pegs. As mentioned above, spray some lubricant on any metal or moving parts. It’s also a good idea to lubricate rudder cables for smooth operation.

Malone J-Dock Hybrid Kayak Storage System

SEVEN: Store It With Care
Hopefully the idea of storing it is only for a few days at a time because after all, it’s summer! Unfortunately, for most of us, paddling on a daily basis is only a dream so storing it for an entire workweek is common. With summer comes heat and extreme heat can actually cause plastic to warp. Be sure to store your kayak properly with products such as the NRS Kayak Hanger, Harken Kayak Lift System or the Malone J-Dock Kayak Storage System (pictured) amongst several others. If you plan to store your kayak outdoors, consider a Dannu Cover.

There you have it, your quick 7-step kayak maintenance checklist! Now, you may be scratching your head thinking, “I was told that kayaks are virtually maintenance free”. This still holds true. Fact is, kayaks are built to withstand the elements of time but by taking a few extra steps in caring for your boat, you’ll significantly extends its life span over and beyond the expected.