So you’ve purchased your kayak and on your way to getting out on the water, but now you have another dilemma. How can you transport it safely and what do you need to do to prevent damage of your new pride and joy?
The thing that you will be happy to know is that your kayak is designed to require minimal maintenance, but a little timely care will ensure a lifetime of enjoyment.
Here are some simple guidelines to help store, care and prevent damage to your kayak as well some tips on transportation of your kayak on your car and ways to get them to and from the water.
1. Transporting your Kayak
Depending on what type of vehicle you have, transporting a kayak can be tricky and roof racks are a necessity. With only a couple of different types of roof rack styles on the market (hard or soft racks) you have limited choice with them.
Hard racks offer a good stable platform for you to be able to load a lot more weight. This is more ideal for your larger and heavier kayaks and the added benefit of these is that most sit on top kayaks can be transported upside down without the need of kayak carriers. If you have already purchased kayak carriers, we suggest you check with the manufacturer for instructions for use to ensure safe transport.
Soft racks can also be used for larger kayaks but be sure to check the compatibility of them with your car before purchasing, as some may not be rigid enough to support the weight and ultimately bending your roof.
2. Securing whilst transporting
Now that you have got your kayak on your car, how are you going to secure it? Again there are a lot of products on the market for doing this with ratchet straps and pull down straps being the most popular. The main thing is you must ensure that your kayak is safely strapped to your roof or kayak rack before transportation. This is an important step in ensuring safety on roads and potential damage to your vehicle where the kayak may become loose.
Ratchet straps are great for securing your loads as you can get great tension and tie them down securely. However, when tying your kayak to roof racks we suggest to use pull down straps for an effective means of getting the right amount of tension and to minimise the risk of damaging/scratching your kayak’s hull. The Sea to Summit Bomber Straps or the Tie Downs with silicone cover are a perfect choice for this.
The back end of the kayak should be strapped to the roof rack or another secure point (i.e., tow bar) on the car as third point of attachment. If you are not comfortable with tying down your kayak, there is a saying – if you can’t tie knots, tie lots.
3. Initial Kayak Checks and Safety
Prior to putting your kayak on the water, operational check-ups should be carried out to keep your kayak in tip top condition. Conducting a visual inspection of the kayak for any noticeable holes, deformations or damages is good general practice and helps to ensure your own safety on the water.
We recommend that you regularly check hatch covers, cables, buckles, straps and other moving parts for wear, and replace them as necessary. Make sure that the hatch covers can close and open properly to ensure the latch/locks are in good working order. Keep all nuts tight and check all components for watertight silicone seals. Give your hull and deck a thorough review whenever possible before going on the water.
If you notice any holes or deformations, it is a good idea to not place the kayak into water and make sure to attend to the issues as soon as possible before your next paddle trip. And as always feel free to contact us for repair help and advice.
4. Kayak Care and Storage Tips
It is very important to plan how and where you can safely store your kayak from the elements because the unfortunate thing is that most kayak hulls will likely deform or bend over time if not stored properly. Also sunlight can degrade just about any kayak hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to coated fabric and leave your kayak faded in colour.
Here are a few main tips on how you can make sure that your kayak will stay in tip top condition for years to come.
- We recommend that you plan on storing your kayak indoors, such as your garage.
- If house or garage storage is not possible, then try to find a shaded spot or consider using a weather resistant tarp that will cover the entire hull. Ask your local hardware store for a suitable outdoor weather resistant tarp.
- The tarp should cover the entire hull at all times of day and ensure it is suspending above the hull to prevent mould or fungal growth in wet conditions.
- If you store your kayak outside, make sure rain can’t collect in the tarp and press down on the hull.
- Always store your kayaks well off the ground to prevent further mould or fungal growth. This can be achieved using kayak racks or wall slings.
- Always strap your kayak using tie down straps to prevent fall and damage of hull and/or accessories.
- Saltwater can degrade hull materials and corrode metal parts. Always be sure to rinse your boat thoroughly with fresh water before you store it.
5. Getting your kayak to the water’s edge
The kayaks are tied down and you have arrived at your launch spot but the water is 100 metres away! What do you do when you don’t want to carry all your gear and make 10 trips to and from the car.
In the majority of cases and regardless of your kayak type, a kayak trolley is likely the answer! Again with many different models and brands on the market your choices here are just about endless. However, there are few main types that you may want to consider depending on your kayak type and your carting and terrain requirements.
For most sit on top kayaks with self-draining scuppers most kayak carts and trolleys are suitable including sit thru scupper trolley or the sit on top type cart. Although if you own a sit in kayak or sea kayak with no scuppers your choice may be limited to only the sit on top type of trolley with a strap.
The other thing to consider is the terrain that you may need to cross. Are you a recreational paddler and only enter the water via a boat ramp or other hard terrain or do you love to launch from a beach where you may need to cross a lot of sand or soft ground before entering the water.