How to get ready for kayak season. Pulling out your Kayak.

Kayak Spring Prep: Winter Prep in Reverse. Sort of.

Spring means a happy return to the water – if you follow a few simple procedures in preparation for that beautiful, sunny day with a slight breeze out of the south and a chance of rain overnight.

Kayak Prep: Look at your boat

First, look your boat over from stem to stern. Inspect the hatches and the cockpit. Focus on the hull, checking particularly for any effects of misplaced winter storage. Too much pressure improperly placed is the principal cause of damage to the hull, warping it into a bad, bad banana shape at the worst.

Make a promise to yourself right now that next winter you’ll invest in a storage system for your beloved kayak.
Inspect the deck hardware, perimeter lines, and bungies.

Kayak Prep: Now Clean your Yak

Here’s some fun. Look for vagrants and their remains. Scrub away mold. Destroy nests of any sort. Search intently for black widows and brown recluses, insidious little bastards just waiting to ruin an early April afternoon. They love and live in dark corners. Roust them. Roust them right now.

You were advised, last fall, to remove your seats for safe storage indoors. If you didn’t listen, well, inspect kayak’s softer materials for damage that nasty weather or nastier critters may have inflicted.

Now let’s get to cleaning. Soap, warm water in a thorough scrub-down inside and out with – after careful drying – a light coat of 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Kayak Prep: Tweak and Tighten your Kayak

If again, contrary to loving advice from the Hughes Winter Storage Corporation, you failed to tighten connectors and eradicate any looming rust, you really must do so now. Every technical part of your craft warrants a long look and attentive service to tight joints and fluid movements. Give special attention to your rudder, should your kayak have one, ensuring lubrication for the cables and fine-tuning for the rudder’s pivoting. Inspect closely its deployment lines, its stainless steel crimps and cables. Clean the rudder’s main pivot points, and apply a spray lubricant – same for the pedals or sliders.

Kayak Prep: Supply and Stock your Kayak

Lastly, replenish supplies – in your first-aid kit, in your bailout bag. Lay in energy bars, batteries, glue, firestarters, sunglasses, insect repellants, sunscreen, a multitool of some sort, duct tape, materials for an improvised shelter, signal mirror, compass, maps of the area where you’re yakking, and on. The Coast Guard teaches, “If you don’t have it on you, you won’t have it with you.” A good dictum to follow, most especially in the matter of ID, keys, phone, money, vital prescription drugs.

Pedal safe now. Hear?

Check out complete list of Kayak Reviews here.

Time to put her up. How to winterize your Kayak

Storage for your Kayak over the Winter

Unless your kayaking in the lowest of the Lower 48, you’ll inevitably find a weekend in late October or early November when it just makes senses to put your buddy into storage for the winter. Remember now, kayaks do not go gently into that long winter’s night as readily as does a bike or a bag of golf clubs.

By all means, try to avoid outside storage, much less outside on the ground. (If you have no choices but these, we’ll address the inevitable at the end of this article.) Suspended storage, inside, is key – closet, garage, shed, the corner of the rec room.

Storage your Kayak in Position

And now the cardinal rule of kayak storage: always, always, always upside down. Not right side up, not standing up straight and not sideways. But top down. Always. Storage in any position other than upside down will bend your boat. Badly. The ropes or straps used for suspending the kayak should be placed squarely under the bulkheads. This puts all the weight and pressure on those reinforced points of construction rather on the hull material itself. The keel will always be the toughest part of the boat. Its inversion will prevent bending. The linear strength of the keel will prevent any warp, bow to stern, the sides stiff and straight, the weight distributed across them.

If you’re storing your yak in a tight space, consider wall mounts or ceiling suspension systems to conserve precious wall space. Amazon serves up a nice selection of options – in style, size, and price — as do your local big-box sporting good stores and specialty stores.

Prepping your Kayak in Storage

Count on giving your kayak a sudsing once-over using boat/RV soap and lukewarm water. Be especially careful to scrub into far corners and down into small cracks and crevices. Turn your hose into the cockpit and the hatches, draining away sand and dirt and insects recently passed to the afterlife. Remove the seat bottom, and wash below. Nothing out of the ordinary here, just the careful cleaning an old friend deserves. Just be advised that household detergents will do the job just fine. However, it will likely take, along with the grime, any wax you might have applied.

Dry your kayak thoroughly, completely, attentively.

Oil all metal parts. Once more, as with protectant, a light coat will suffice.

Check bolts, screws, and other connectors, tightening where necessary. Inspect all hardware. Better to replace now than next spring when you’re aching to return to the water.

Does your rudder use bungees for return tension on the pedals? If so, be sure to loosen the adjustment straps on the pedals – the bungees will retain their elasticity far longer thereby. Also, release any buckles on hatch straps and remove the hatch covers from their rims.

Kayak Protectant

Fall is the perfect time to apply protectant to your watercraft. The Hughes reviewers recommend
303 Aerospace Protectant.

The clear choice for UV screening technology, with regular use 303 guarantees total protection from UV-induced slow fading of your boat’s colors. The protective shield will resist soiling and staining of every stripe. It will repel water. And it will deliver a lasting matte likeability to colored surfaces. It will perform as advertised: on Kevlar, on fiberglass, on polyethylene, even on those rare and beautiful varnished wood-strip boats. Spray 303 lightly onto the boat’s surfaces, wiping dry with a towel, and being extra careful to remove any accumulated residue.

The Hughes Boys also must mention M Essentials UV Tech Plastic and Rubber Protectant It is an outstanding protectant, fully worth its price versus Armorall, the most heavily advertised of such spray-on shields. Using either McNett or 303 then, apply frequently during warm-weather paddling or pedaling as well. Constant exposure to sunlight poses the greatest possible danger to your kayak, leading to color fade in the short term, and to actual weakening of the plastic in the long term.

Final Storage Considerations for your Kayak

If you absolutely must store your kayak outside, remove seat cushions and other soft fabrics susceptible to infestation by insects or homemaking by rodents. Protect the kayak as best you can, using a tarp or a full-boat cover. Pay special attention to the cockpit, covering it from any possibly intrusion by a passing raccoon, a curious opossum. And of course, of course, of course, store the kayak upside down at a bit of an angle so that rain and snow slide away. Oh, and keep the coverings a bit loose, so that direct contact does not causing staining from condensation and other sources.

Avoid Kayak Theft

Finally, outside storage may present danger of theft. Two solutions here:

1) hide your wrapped kayak from the prying eyes of evil passersby.

2) secure it with a chain lock or locking cable of some sort, securely fastened to a tree, post or, yes, building.

Check out complete list of Kayak Reviews here.

Do I need a Skid Plate on my Pedal Kayak?

A little love for your Pedal Kayak Skid Plate

Not all kayaks come with a skid plate. (A strip of hardened plastic, along the keel, at the stern.) If your boat happens to include one, be sure to check this easily replaced, but quite critical part from time time. Designed to absorb the damage that inevitably comes from transporting your boat or from shoving it over low-water obstacles – the shallow bottoms that sometimes just cannot be avoided – the skid plate maximizes the overall toughness of your boat.

The skid plate must always, always ride flush with the hull. The factory-installed plate should endure quite well for several years. Nonetheless, the Hugheses (Boy Scouts all) suggest that you always keep a replacement plate in your hatch.

Loosen two bolts, remove, replace. That simple. That important.