Taking care of your kayaks while cruising is easy. When we bought our fantastic plastic kayaks (Wilderness Systems RIOT), the kayak store told us not to expect they’d hold up more than 10 years in the intense tropical UV and sun. Almost 15 years later, they’re still in great shape, thanks to a bit of maintenance and replacing rotted webbing handles. I am NOT claiming they don’t have abundant scratches on the bottom from being pulled up on all many of beaches with shells and/or rocks, but I figure those are “character” attesting to where these kayaks have explored, more than “scratches”!
1. 303 Aerospace Protectant is sunscreen for your kayak. We reapply 303 at least every six months and sometimes in between. Alternately, you could consider a canvas cover, but that’s more expensive and 303 has worked just fine for our kayaks.
2. A good freshwater rinse is as beneficial for kayaks as it is for any other cruising equipment. While not necessary or even desirable while out cruising for extended periods, give them a nice washdown when you return to the dock.
3. Always store seats, life jackets, paddles and extra stuff inside the boat when not in use for extended periods. Having said that, we do leave our seats and life jackets on the kayaks while we’re cruising six months a year because it’s easy not to use them if it’s too much trouble to get them ready.
4. Handles and webbing will rot quicker than anything in the tropical sun, be sure to have replacements… we’ve replaced ours twice in 6 years. 303 sunscreen will slow, but not stop the deterioration.
Do you have any other tips for taking care of kayaks aboard a cruising boat? Please leave a comment and share! Happy Kayaking! Jan