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Taking care of a kayak, or any sea-going vessel, is a primary importance.   We want our kayaks in tip-top shape; healthy and able to bring us to the fish whenever we need or want to.  However, a kayak that isn’t maintained could spell trouble on the open waters or damage to your wallet if it needs repair, or worse, replacement.  Proper kayak care and maintenance is vital to your and your kayak’s lifespan…

Seriously, though, despite all of the “doom and gloom” about what could happen out on the water with a kayak that hasn’t been cared for properly there’s a more practical way to look at all of this:  Kayaks are freakin’ expensive!  A new kayak, depending on brand, type, purpose and size could actually set you back upward of several thousand dollars.  That’s an investment.  And even though many of us (including me) opt for kayaking rather than a traditional motor boat because of the price that doesn’t mean I’m willing to let my kayak go by the wayside willy-nilly.  I pride myself on taking better care of fishing yak than some people do of their “real boats”.

Simply said:  Protect your large investment and your life with proper care and maintenance of your kayak by keeping seaworthy and ensure that it maintains its water-tight integrity.

As a kayak owner you need to have a pretty comprehensive understanding of the different types of kayaks, the materials they’re made from and the way the elements will impact it. Properly cleaning and protecting the materials from UV damage (it’s sunny here in Hawaii!!) and even minor dings and scratches that could turn into something else.

Lastly, it’s important for you to know how to do basic repairs to your fishing yak.  Either because you need to fix on the fly while out on the water OR in order to save you lots and lots of cash by NOT taking your kayak into a shop every time it gets dinged.  You need to know!

Here we go!

The Type of Material Your Kayak is Made Of

Proper kayak care and maintenance

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Many different types of material make up today’s kayaks and each provides a slightly unique experience for the user/owner.  With a few exceptions and not including custom built/traditional kayaks, the following materials are usually common kayak makes:

  • Polyethylene
  • Thermoformed
  • Composite
  • Wooden
  • Inflatable

So, obviously, dependent upon the type of material your fishing kayak is made of will determine the type of maintenance and care that you give your yak.  Before buying a kayak make sure that you research the material that it’s made of and the type of care and maintenance will be required of you.

Types of Kayaks

Initially, you can usually separate kayaks by 3 different characteristics:

Polyethylene Kayaks

These are the kayaks that you will most commonly see.  They have a plastic appearance.    These are made in two ways:  The first is by placing polyethylene pellets into a doubled part molding. Once melted and spun, the kayak molds are separated and the kayak remains.  The alternative method is called “cross-linked”.  In this method, a layer of polyethylene is placed on the outside and inside of a foam shell and cooled.  This results in a more durable kayak but a more expensive one as well.

Thermoformed Kayaks

Asides from the kayaks themselves, many kayak seats and back supports are made from thermoform. Thermoform kayaks are created by wrapping a plastic sheet over a mold. This produces a very resilient surface that is scratch resistant and doesn’t gouge or damage easily.  Thermoform is a little heavier than composite materials but lighter than polyethylene options.

Composite Kayaks

Composite kayaks describe those that are made of carbon, fibreglass, and Kevlar; a “composite” of materials.  Composite kayaks are made by layering strips of cloth into a mold covered in gel. Over the cloth, a resin is added to create a stiff material when subjected to several processes including lay-ups and high tech vacuum bagging. The gel coating allows the kayak to be easily removed from the mold and produces an attractive finish. While carbon kayaks are extremely lightweight they are also easily shattered so may not be the best choice for sea and ocean fishing.

Wooden Kayaks

Wooden kayaks were the earliest form of kayak to have existed and with us being in Hawaii, you still see great pride in traditional, wooden kayaks. Originally, they were handcrafted and still many are. You can still buy kayak building kits to allow personally built, wooden kayaks but may not be the best choice for your first fishing yak.   Nothing looks more awesome than a custom made, wooden kayak but they lack many of the advances and rigging capabilities that other types of kayaks have.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks have definite benefits and detriments.  Just because they’re full of air, inflatable kayaks should not be scoffed at or ruled out.  Many materials are durable.  They store easy and are ready to go quickly.  Also, a simple rinse and making sure there are no leaks can often be the extent of care and maintenance of an inflatable kayak. However, because they are inflatable, they suffer from drag when propelling. That makes them less responsive, slower, and not as easy to “turn on a dime” than their contemporaries.

Kayak Care and Maintenance Guide

Kayak care and Maintenance Guide

We review many different types of fishing kayaks here at The KayakFisha’ and each one will probably require its own specific methods for caring and maintaining.  Many of our kayaks are of the polyethylene make but each kayak has its own personality.  To preserve your kayak and get the most out of it for as long as possible, it is important to keep it clean, protect it from the sun and UV damange, the salt water, and repair dings/cracks/scractches/splits, etc.

Keeping Your Kayak Clean

After use, a kayak needs to be rinsed out and cleaned. This is particularly important if it has been used in ocean water.  The salt in seawater can bring havoc and damage to even the most durable of materials. For proof of this, look at the steel hull of any wreck that has been underwater for any amount of time.  Every part of the kayak must be thoroughly rinsed with freshwater to remove the salt and any other residue (mud) that has found it’s way onto the yak.  Make sure that you yak is fully dried before storing it.

Protecting Your Kayak

Just as polyethylene is the preferred material for many fishing kayaks, it is also the most susceptible to heat, sun and UV damage as it tends to lose it’s shape.  If you are transporting your kayak on the roof of your car, make sure that the kayak cradle has a rigid make and sport rack that is proper for the kayak.

Of course, any kayak can be damaged and weakened by the sun and other damage if they’re not properly taken care of.  Make sure that you’re applying an ultraviolet protection coating to your kayak.  Don’t scrub your kayak with abrasive cleaning material or surfaces as a small scratch coupled with saltwater and sun can become disastrous over time.  Also, keep wary of low water areas or high coral areas like here in Hawaii to avoid bottom scratches.  When necessary, two-many carry your kayak (watch this video) over danger areas.

How to Store Your Kayak

Properly storing the kayak is  as important part as taking care of it. In other words, if you rub your baby with a diaper then make sure that the crib is soft and secure, as well. During extended of storage, such as seasonal, it’s wise to have an indoor or outdoor stand on which to store your kayak.  You can buy ultraviolet protection coating but a few simple pieces of equipment will do the trick if you’re not hard up on space. ultraviolet protection coating to keep your yak off of the ground and a ultraviolet protection coating to cover and protect from sun and elements will do the trick just as well.  Always ensure that the kayak is completely dry before storing.

Repairing Your Kayak:  Damage, Scratches

Let’s face it:  We use our kayaks.  We use them in environments that are rugged and we do rugged things with them.  They’re also exposed to the elements of wind, rain, sea water, pond water, rocks, sand, branches, and even improper storage, etc.  Our kayaks are pieces of sporting equipment that need to be taken care of.  This requires the owner to have a “more than basic” knowledge of his or her kayak and to be very diligent.

To properly maintain a kayak, you should address and fix even the smallest of scratches to maintain the structural integrity of the exterior.  Scratches are eliminated by using a ultraviolet protection coating By using a rubbing compound, which is similar to liquid sandpaper, and then a marine boat polishing compound with a soft cloth, superficial marks are buffed out.

Repairing Your Inflatable Kayak

Although inflatable kayaks rarely develop punctures from normal use (unless you rub on coral or rock with a little bit of force…such as larger than normal surf in tropical areas…like Hawaii) the larger risk to inflatable kayaks being punctured is from storing it incorrectly. When a hole develops, it is easily fixed by using a commercial repair kit.

Materials Used for Taking Care of Your Kayak

Below is a small table with necessary repairing and protection equipment for your fishing kayak.

Repair Tools/Material

Used For:

Composite Kayak Repair Kit Repairs major damage; reconstructs front; refines scratches
Gel Repair Kit Repairs the following: large scratches, gouges; adds filler
Inflatable Kayak Repair Kit Repairs the following: small holes, large holes, small tears
Marine Boat Polish Protects the surface; fills in superficial scratches; adds shine
Tarp Protects kayak from the following elements: animals, dust, leaves, mould, rain, and snow,

Shopping for Materials to Care for Your Fishing Kayak on Amazon

After reading a post or tutorial like this one, you should have a basic understanding of the different materials that kayaks are made of, the risks to those materials from the elements, error, and improper storage, and how to maintain and care for your kayak, as well as the the different tools and materials to help in maintenance and care situations of your fishing kayak.

You can find most (actually, all!) of what you need by shopping on Amazon.  Here are a few searches that will help find exactly what you need for your kayak care and maintenance:

The Final Analysis:

Taking care of your requires that the owner/operator have an understanding of how to identify hazards and risks to your kayak, what needs to be done/what action to take, and where to go/how to get what is needed for repair and maintenance. A kayak needs to be properly cared for in order to maintain the integrity of the craft and ensure the safety of its occupants AND to last as long as necessary for the money that you’re paying for it!

If you’re still in the market for a good fishing kayak, then check out our Top 5 Fishing Kayaks Reviewed page.  From there you can follow the links to each individual kayak review that we’ve conducted.