Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kayak spring tune-up #5: Wrap it up, I'll tape it

In a series of recent posts, we’ve learned how to check that PFD for wear, prepare for cold water kayaking, keep the boat from blowing off the car, and how to get in better shape for paddling with yoga. (Okay, still working on that one. You can teach an old downward dog new tricks, but getting him to straighten up again -- woof. ) More spring kayak tune-up tips…

Camera, action, roll the tape

Photo from www.indestructables.com
No list of anything is complete without duct tape. Or as we call it in the South, “The perfect solution just waitin' for your problem.”
In the case of kayaking, the worst problem of all could be punching a hole in your hull during a trip. I know what you’re thinking – can duct tape really keep a boat watertight?

Those fearless guys at “MythBusters” on the Discovery Channel asked the same question – watch their amazing experiment with positive results. Also check out this do-it-yourself project that cost about $20 in materials and a couple of days of work (photo at right).

A shine that’s fine

Polish without the fuss
Now that you’ve washed the dust and grime off that yak, how about adding a little shine? Polishing composite shell boats can be a real pain, for sure, but here’s one product that works better than most – Turtle Wax Ice. It’s a bluish liquid available at big box stores. It goes on and rubs off easily. And it doesn’t leave a white film on the deck lines so you don’t have to remove all the rigging before polishing. Saves a bunch of time. And thanks to Cap’n Bob Moon for the tip.

Put out the welcome mat

 After a couple of hours on chilly water, cold can transfer from the hull to your legs – brrrrrrrrr. Try an old, rubber-coated bath mat between the seat and foot pegs. Assuming you keep the yak upright, you’ll definitely notice a difference in warmth. Plus, if you’re camping, it makes an excellent tent entry mat, keeping dirt out.And thanks to Terri Arbuckle of Headwaters Adventure Company for the tip.

It’s Hefty, but does it make me look fat?

A large, heavy-duty garbage bag is a multi-purpose yak accessory. It wads up small and light, but consider the possibilities: It can fix a leaky hatch. In a true emergency, it can be a poncho windbreaker or even a mini-shelter. Or provide an extra dry bag. And of course, it’s always handy to hold those wet paddling clothes and shoes back in the car. Thanks to kayak instructor Thomas Schuebel (FaceBook or thomasschuebel@sbcglobal.net)  for the tip.

Use your  noodle

A PFD for your waterproof camera
As in pool noodle, that extruded foam tube-like play thingy in swimming pools. Wouldn’t use it as a flotation device while kayaking, but it can come in handy for other things – for example, thread a cord through the noodle to act as a cushion between boats in transit, as a bumper between tie-down straps and vehicles, or under hulls when they’re sitting on concrete or rocky ground. Or how about this: That waterproof camera doesn’t do you any good if you drop it in 20 feet of water. Take a short length of cord, a small segment of pool noodle and voila! (Umm, test in shallow water to make sure you have a good float-to-weight ratio…)

And don’t gamble all your chips on one day….

Speaking of cameras and kayaking, always take at least one extra, empty memory chip on a multi-day paddle. That way, you can switch out the chips overnight, and should the unthinkable happen to your camera (glub, glub, glub), at least you’ll have some photos from part of the trip.     

© Glenn Brank 2013