As paddling season approaches, with the promise of both warmer air and water temperatures, you need to be sure the most essential gear - your kayak, is ready for those eagerly anticipated hours of adventure on your favorite lakes and rivers! Here are three tips to ensure that your kayak is as ready as you, when is is time to get back out on the water!
Tip #1: All tight and snug: Check for loose or frayed deck rigging. Tighten the deck fitting hardware and replace any frayed or worn out line rigging. Check for loose or damaged foot braces. Tighten or replace as needed. If your kayak is equipped with either a skeg or rudder, check the rope-controlled or cable-controlled mechanism for worn or damaged parts. Replace as needed. Visually and physically, check all hatch covers, especially the seals, to ensure the covers fit securely and are water-tight over the wells. Check the cockpit seat for loose bolts and either damaged, worn, or badly discolored foam cushions. Tighten and replace as needed. Never store gear in your kayak for long periods of time, especially during the off season, because of the danger of mildew, insects, or other critters that may burrow into creases and folds of clothing, storage bags, or other loose gear.
Tip #2: Water tight: Visually check the hull for any nicks, dings, or other blemishes that may signal a less than water tight condition. Pay specific detail to the hull near the water line and under the keel, areas that absorb the most impact from under water hazards and rough landings. Since kayak hulls are constructed from different materials such as roto-molded polyethylene (recreational kayaks), polycarbonate plastics, fiberglass (sea kayaks), kevlar, and wood, ALWAYS consult with a paddle sport expert or kayak manufacturer, for the appropriate repair kits and techniques to use in repairing your kayak's hull.
Tip #3: Tidy up: Check all your loose gear (e.g. PFD, lines, cockpit skirt, etc.) for frayed, torn, or worn out fittings, elastic, or edges. Replace as needed.
Paddlers who follow these three tips will help ensure their kayak is ready for the paddling season! See you on the water shortly!