So... that dreaded time finally arrives... the end of your paddling season! You sigh... think back to all those wonderful times on the water... and prepare yourself mentally for your "on shore" time during the paddling off season. Did you know that you should also prepare your idle kayak so it can effectively "weather" the off season too? You want your kayak to be as ready as you will be once its time to get back to paddling! Here are three tips on how to store your kayak during the off season.
Tip #1: Dry and secure: Make sure both your kayak and storage area are dry. Remove all gear. Sponge out the hull, paying special attention to any bow and stern dry compartments and under the deck storage areas. Indoors - The kayak may be stored inside your house, garage, or in another temperature-controlled building. Outdoors - If indoor storage is not possible, than a suitable outdoor shaded area needs to provide protection from both weather elements and direct sunlight. A carport, house eaves, or other structure that provides some protection from the elements is preferable than leaving the kayak out in the open. If you are storing outside, you can invest in a cockpit seal cover that fits securely and tightly over the opening. Make sure hatch covers are secure. You don't want either water collecting or critters making themselves at "home" inside your kayak! You can also store your kayak without a cockpit seal cover. I did it for one off season. But you need to check on your kayak frequently to ensure no water, insects, or animals have crept inside the hull. You can also use a water-resistant tarp stretched (not wrapped around) over your kayak. Be sure that water and snow cannot collect on it. You want air to be able to circulate around the hull so there is no moisture build up.
Tip #2: Even and level: Indoors - Invest in a wall, or floor storage cradle so the kayak weight is distributed evenly. An overhead cradle system is possible in a garage setting, but is a more involved project that requires some carpentry skills and adjusting pulleys. Plastic kayaks can be stored flat on a hard surface (like a garage floor) provided the hull bottom is also flat. You don't want the hull to deform or warp because of uneven weight distribution. Don't store anything inside or on your kayak - especially chemical solutions like gasoline, turpentine, paint, etc. Keep your kayak away from any heat sources like furnaces, hot water heaters, or portable kerosene heaters. Outdoors - Invert (flip over) your kayak and be sure the hull is supported evenly by padded wood blocks, wedges, or other cradles to distribute the weight evenly. Don't lay it on the ground by itself. Again, ensure that water cannot collect and pool on any hull surfaces. Visually inspect your outdoor stored kayak periodically - especially after rain and snow events.
Tip #3: Lock it down: Unfortunately, you need to guard against theft too. Indoors - An indoor storage location should provide adequate protection. However, if your kayak is stored in a garage or other structure with windows and the interior is viewable from the outside, you may wish to cover any openings so prying eyes cannot see into the building. Outdoors - Position your kayak so it is not visible from the front of your house - especially subdivision roads or other main avenues into your neighborhood. A security cable attached to a sturdy part of your kayak like the foot brace track or hull carry bracket and than locked to a fence, tree trunk, or pole will "discourage" thieves. You want to basically "hide" your kayak from view while making it difficult for a thief to do a "snatch and run" with your valuable kayak.
Follow these storage tips and both your kayak and you will be ready for many paddling seasons to come!