HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR KAYAK PROPERLY
Even though most kayaks today are designed to be maintenance-free out-of-the-box, that doesn’t mean that general upkeep isn’t a good idea. As with everything, over time, kayaks will be susceptible to general weathering, which can cause irreparable damage to the hull. That’s why you need to maintain it properly. It’s a skill that every kayaker must learn to do. So, how do you do proper maintenance on your kayak? Here are some helpful tips you can follow.
INSPECT THE HULL FOR DAMAGE
The last thing you want to happen when you pull your kayak out of storage is to find that something was left broken or damaged from your previous kayaking trip. So, the first thing you must do is to inspect the hull. Take note that long-term storage is one of the most common ways a kayak’s hull can be damaged.
In case you see your kayak has a depressed hull, leave it out under the sun on a hot day. The sun’s heat will often pop it back to its original shape. That’s because heat will usually be enough to return the kayak to its original shape.
INSPECT THE RIGGING
When you examine the rigging, you have to make sure the hardware, perimeter lines and bungees are all in good shape. UV radiation can cause deterioration in the plastic pad-eyes and degrade lines. Look over the rudder or skeg (if it has one) and assess the deployment lines, stainless steel cables, pivot hardware and pedals. If anything needs fixing, make sure to fix it now.
CLEAN YOUR KAYAK
Rivers, bays and even inland lakes are dirty, polluted and nasty places to play in. Sometimes, we forget that, but our kayaks won’t. So, make it a point to clean your kayak after using it.
These days, most hulls are designed with a fairly easy cleaning process. The general rule when it comes to the dirt your kayak picks up from the water is you have to rinse the hull down with freshwater after every trip. That’s a habit that will save your metal and rubber parts from being damaged and corroded, especially if you’re kayaking in saltwater. You can also wash it with mild soap and water solution a couple of times a year. Just avoid abrasives or solvents that can damage the hull.
KEEP IT AWAY FROM THE SUN
When the kayak isn’t used, keep it away from the sun. Exposing your kayak to the sun for extended periods will degrade your kayak’s colour and will eventually weaken the plastic, making it brittle and prone to cracking. A long period doesn’t necessarily mean a couple of days or weeks but several months. You can spray a UV protection solution, but a simple, practical solution is to use a kayak cover or store it indoors.
RIGGING COMPONENTS CARE
Inspect the attached parts of the kayak, like deck cords, toggle handles and bulkheads. Take note of any frayed cords or parts you need to replace. Order a replacement part promptly if you need to. Also, when you store your kayak, loosen the straps, bungees and buckles. This will help retain their elasticity.
FOLDABLE AND INFLATABLE KAYAK CARE
If you own a foldable or inflatable kayak, your life is a little easier. The materials and build-quality found in most folding and inflatable kayaks these days make them nearly as durable and maintenance-free as their plastic and fibreglass cousins. Although most of them can take their share of abuse, be prepared to repair any small tears or holes.
Foldable and inflatable kayaks made of urethane and Hypalon are pretty abrasion- and UV-resistant out-of-the-box, so no unusual hull maintenance is required. Since foldable and inflatable kayaks can be stored inside, cleaning it with soap and water and applying a suitable UV protection spray to keep the hull from weakening is enough. Just air-dry it thoroughly before storage.
To keep your kayak in excellent condition, it’s your duty as a kayak owner to learn proper kayak care and maintenance. The tips above can be your starting point, but it will be more helpful if you can put these into practice. However, if you’re not confident about fixing something that’s broken, it will be best to take it to the authorised dealer instead. Don’t force the issue, let the pros handle it.
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