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Kayak Maintenance and Storage

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We suggest You Do an Annual Inspection! Before you put your kayak away for the off-season and prior to a long trip, a thorough inspection and proper kayak maintenance & storage is recommended. Using a flashlight, put your head inside your cockpit & hatches to inspect composite kayaks for stress cracks, which look like spider web cracks on the inside. Please do NOT confuse an outside only hairline gel-coat crack (cosmetic) with a real stress crack (structural). Inspect composite kayaks deck & hull seams and cockpit combing seams inside & out for stress cracks usually caused through lifting or improperly transporting boats.

Check for leaks by filling your boat’s cockpit & hatches with water, tilt to one end and look for seepage. Sometimes impossible to find leaks are found by filling the hatch compartments, firmly re-attaching the covers, and then turning the boat upside down. Leaks are often from bulkheads separating due to stress, loose hardware, and occasionally poor factory workmanship.

Check all rudder & skeg system cables, foot peddles, tracks, and all fasteners for wear. Remember, replacing a rudder cable at home is much easier then dealing with a snapped cable during a big water excursion. Replace frayed perimeter lines, rudder lines, bungees & grab handles, tighten any loose hardware and replace any corroded fasteners. Inspect your seat system, back band, and thigh brace padding for wear.

Note: This is also a great time to upgrade or custom fit padding to your individual needs. Ask Frontenac Outfitters’ staff what upgrades best fit your boat(s).

General Care for your Kayak

Wash your kayak thoroughly inside & out after each use. We use an environmentally friendly household dish detergent, non-abrasive kitchen-cleaning pad, and a soft cloth. Special attention should be paid to flushing sand and grit away from tracks, foot braces, and out of skeg boxes. Acetone is great for eliminating tough marks or stains on composite kayaks (it can be picked up in your local automotive department). If you cannot find Acetone try using nail polish remover as it contains some Acetone.

Note: Acetone should NEVER be used on Poly or Thermoform Kayaks as it will melt the material.

A UV inhibitor (UV Tech, 303 Protectant) will help protect plastic & composite finishes from fading – think of it as sunscreen for your boat. It is also important to treat VCP hatches, gaskets, and all rubber materials to maintain supple watertight seals.

Note: Frontenac Outfitters does NOT recommend waxing your boats hull. Although waxing will do no harm, it actually decreases hull speed and interferes with the UV protection application of 303 Protectant.

Gel-coat Repairs for Composite Kayaks

Unless scratches expose the kayaks cloth we recommend to ‘NOT’ seek repairs. Instead think of scratches on composite boats as “love bites” – gentle reminders of past excursions; the deeper the scratches, the better your stories! However, exposed fiberglass or Kevlar cloth could “wick” water into the cloth, which in time could begin to separate the boats cloth from gel-coat layers. A simple fix is to fill the area with 5- minute epoxy – for a more visually appealing repair we use gel-coat.

Note: All gel-coat scratches will show white regardless of the boat’s colour.

Gel-coat Repair Materials

  • Gel-coat – custom ordered by us to match colour from the boat manufacturer 
  • Hardener with MEKP (automotive) 
  • Rubber Gloves 
  • Kitchen Stretch Wrap 
  • Electrical Tape 
  • 100-grit Sandpaper (dry) 
  • 300, 600 & 1000-grit Automotive Sandpaper (wet)

Gel-coat Repair Procedure

  1. Wipe the repair area with Acetone 
  2. Rough the area with 100-grit sandpaper for better adhesion 
  3. Mix gel-coat with hardener (10:1 ratio)
  4. Fill damaged area 
  5. Stretch kitchen wrap over area to smooth the gel-coat & remove air bubbles – tape wrap down with electrical tape 
  6. When dry, wet sand the area to blend with 300 & 600-grit paper – for best results, finish with wet sand of 1000-grip paper. 

Note: A 2nd or 3rd gel-coat application may be required depending on the severity of damage.

Repairing Composite Kayaks – Small Holes & Spider Cracks

Looking inside your boat, if spider cracks or holes are clearly visible, your kayaks integrity may well be compromised.

Hole Repair Materials

  • Fiberglass or Kevlar cloth 
  • Epoxy Resin 
  • Hardener with MEKP (automotive) 
  • Rubber Gloves 
  • Kitchen Stretch Wrap 
  • Electrical Tape 
  • 100-grit Sandpaper (dry) 
  • 400-grit Automotive Sandpaper (wet)
  • Cardboard & Wax Paper

Small Hole Repair Procedure

  1. Rough the inside of the kayak with sand paper to prepare 
  2. Tape the cardboard backing with wax paper to the outside of the repair area as a base to repair onto 
  3. Saturate the fiberglass or Kevlar cloth with the mixture of epoxy & harder 
  4. Apply cloth to an area 2 inches larger than the impact region 
  5. When dry, apply a 2nd slightly larger application 
  6. Gel-coat the outside of the repair area and wet sand per above instructions and paint gel-coat onto the cloth on the inside 

Note: For composite repairs larger than discussed above, please see your boat dealer about returning your craft to the manufacturer for professional repair. 

Repairing Polyethylene (Plastic) Kayaks

It is unlikely you will face major repairs with polyethylene boats as they are very impact resistant, but small holes can easily be plugged with hot glue or Ptex candle (sold in ski shops). Other repairs that may be needed on a polyethylene kayak are reforming hull distortions or reattaching foam bulkheads that begin to separate from the kayak. 

Small Hole Repair Procedure

  1. Clean the repair with rubbing alcohol 
  2. Apply duct tape to the underside of the hole 
  3. Over fill the hole from the topside with glue or Ptex 
  4. When dry, use a razor blade cut the repaired area flush. 

Note: Although impact resistant, plastic is soft and therefore is very much effected by stress and heat usually caused by leaving your boat in the sun’s extreme heat or tying it down incorrectly for transportation.

Repairing Hull Distortion

Simply placing your kayak upside down in the sun & allowing heat to build up & rise will often eliminate hull distortions. In severe cases, fill the distorted area with hot water (not boiling); the combination of the waters weight, heat, and uniformity should repair your boats shape after a couple of hours.

Repairing Foam Bulkheads

Over time, a kayak’s foam bulkheads may tend to separate from a polyethylene kayak due to repeated hull stress or heat buildup. A re-application of a quality marine sealant should reattached the bulkhead to the kayak providing watertight storage.

Kayak Skeg Jam Repairs

Skeg jams often occur when a small pebble, sand, or other obstruction has jammed the workings. A good water rinse will usually correct the problem. The most skeg problem occurs when the paddler forces the skeg control down (backwards) which kinks the cable. When this happens, the cable must be replaced with a new skeg cable that must be custom ordered from the manufacturer to fit that your particular kayak model.

Note: Proactively drilling a small hole into the bottom corner of your skeg and adding a small 4” line provides access to manually pull a skeg down to repair.

Kayak Rudder Repairs

A rudder line falling off the cam track, a rudder being bent, a down haul line or rudder cable caught up, and broken or missing hardware are the small & easy to fix problems most normally associated with rudder failure. Foot brace jams are usually caused by sand or grit or loose hardware. Flush the area with water (a pressure washer works great) then applying a light spray of W.D.-40 to lubricate moving parts normally fixes this.

Kayak Storage – Inside

Inside storage is preferred if available as prolonged UV exposure and snow or ice buildup can shorten the lifespan of your kayak. Store your boat hull up on parallel bars that are evenly spaced under the bulkheads or about a 1/3rd of the way from bow and stern. For large cockpit recreational boats, position the cockpit combing so it rests on the storage bars. For Sea & Day-touring kayaks, position bars so they contact the hull between the cockpit and any hatches.

To build an on-wall storage system, attach an L-shaped frame using 2×4’s to a bearing wall and add nylon slings for a simple way to store kayaks. A sling & pulley system is also an effective and easy way to storage boats. For this application place two 3-inch nylon slings around the kayaks underneath the bulkheads and hoist up & out of the way.

Notes:
i) DO NOT Store your Kayak by suspending it through the grab loops at either end of the boat as such suspension can cause the hull to bow.
ii) DO NOT store poly boats on the floor on their sides as it may cause a flattening or deformation to the kayak’s side.

Please Contact Us and ask a staff member about the storage systems we stock or visit Gear Site to view a complete listing of our inventory!

Kayak Storage – Outside

If you must store your kayak outside, suspend a tarp over the boats leaving the down wind end open to ensure circulation. It is also important to store the kayak off the ground on two parallel bars as explained above – saw horses work great for this!

Note: DO NOT wrap your boat in a tarp as it trap holds moisture and may discolour your kayak.

Kayak Maintenance Prevention

Frontenac Outfitters’ staff is pleased to teach you how to enter / exit your kayak from beach areas, deep waters and from docks. A few of our tips will go a long way to eliminating most normal kayak wear & tear. We will also show you the best way for you to carry, put down, and transport your boat(s).

Excursion Repair Kit

A kayak field repair kit is an invaluable tool and it might just save a trip or a life, so we suggest you put one together! Below is a list of items that a typical kayak repair kit should consist of:

  • Quality Multi-Tool that includes a Knife and correct Driver Bits 
  • Tube of two-part epoxy/resin 
  • Tube of Aqua Seal 
  • Tire Patch Kit 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Lighter or Waterproof Matches 
  • Fishing Line 
  • Garbage Bag 
  • Self-Tapping Screws, Bolts, Lock-Nuts, and Cable Swags
  • Additional Skeg or Rudder

Should you have any questions or recommendations to improve this article please call 613.376.6220 or email [email protected]

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