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.
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.