Kayaks make the almost perfect personal watercraft. Not only are they cheap to purchase but also easy to maintain. But this does not mean they do not require any maintenance at all. With the proper care your kayak will provide reliable use season after season, without it you will risk unnecessary damage and untimely failure.
Prior to use
It is important to perform some simple preventative maintenance when first removing kayak from storage, even if you had properly prepared it in the fall. Having it in storage probably did not cause any damage, and obviously it did not result in additional wear or tear. However, it may have made it possible to see damage gone unnoticed during last use.
Check all fittings, lashings and other accessories
Look for loose screws, worn or weakened bungees and cracked or otherwise damaged fittings. Replace or repair as needed.
Inspect the hull
You are looking for any signs of damaged or weakened areas caused by heavy use. Some of these will be obvious, resulting in a crack or hole, others will appears as discoloration in the hull.
Refill emergency supplies
Every paddler should have basic lifesaving equipment, such as a PFD & flashlight, as well as a small first aid kit on board. This is a great time to inspect these items as well and replace any which were used last season.
In Season Care
Basic in season care will not only increase the life span of your craft it can also make its use more enjoyable and comfortable.
Keep it clean
A clean kayak will not only be more comfortable it will also make it easier to identify any damage as it occurs. I recommend spraying down the hull, inside and out, after each use. Every couple uses, or once a month, you should give it a quick scrub with soap and water.
Protect the hull from the sun
The sun can damage you and your equipment so protecting both is important. By using a spray on protectant and covering the hull when not in use you will greatly reduce this damage.
Do not drag it
It is easy to grab your kayak and drag it from your car to the water but doing this will eventually cause unnecessary damage to the hull, even weakening it to the point it fails. The solution is an easy one – a cart. Whether you buy a cart or make a simple on in your shop the time and money will be well worth the investment.
After season has come to an end it is time for some pre-storage preparations.
Clean & dry
The first step to pre-storage care is to clean the entire kayak, accessories and cover. Once everything is clean dry it completely – not only will this protect from water damage it will prevent dangerous mold from forming over the winter months as well.
Loosen bungees, tie downs etc.
Anything which is normally under strain should be loosened during storage to prevent unnecessary damage. Just remember to tighten again in the spring.
Store out of the way
Storing your kayak out of the way not only makes it easier to access the storage space it will lessen the temptation to place other object on top of your craft. While your hull may appear to be a perfect shelf placing heavy object on it for extended periods will likely damage the hull.
For more information on kayak storage and maintenance check out this You Tube video.