Winterize kayaks and canoes so you'll be ready to hit the water next year.

By Allen B. Bunting
July 25, 2007
 Sara Gray 

Summer's gone, and it's time to put away your water toys. A bitof seasonal TLC now will guarantee fun and safety next spring.

First, remove all gear. This includes life jackets, electronics,and paddles. Inspect the vessel's interior and exterior for rust,corrosion, or other damage, then wash thoroughly to remove all saltwater and residue. Touch up scratches with paint or varnish (lookfor marine-grade coatings from Rust-Oleumor Valspar), andapply a UV protectant (look for biodegradable products such as 303Aerospace Cleaner and Protectant, UV Tech Surface Protectant andRejuvenator, or Nautical Reflections all-in-one cleaner andwax).

Make sure the watercraft is completely dry to prevent mildew andmold. Moisture-control products (such as DampRid or Star brite's NoDamp) offer extra protection in areas with high humidity. Above allelse, remember to check your owner's manual for uniquespecifications.

You should store your kayak after each use to prevent damagefrom sun, salt, and sand, but seasonal storage requires a bit morepreparation. Open hatches and drain plugs, and check hardwareconnections and straps for deterioration. In a dark room, shine aflashlight inside the kayak to expose cracks, holes, and weakspots. Inspect foot braces, and lubricate the rudder and controljoints.

To prevent warping and body damage, never store a kayak upsidedown or hang it by its handles or straps. Instead, buy additionalstraps and suspend the kayak from a secure beam, preferablyindoors. Space the straps evenly along the length of the cockpit.Other storage options: wall mounts and freestanding racks.

Always rest canoes upside down with weight distributed evenlyfrom bow to stern. Keep them off the ground, either on paddedsupports to protect the gunwales or elevated with a hoistsystem.

Canoes stored outdoors should be covered by a heavy-duty tarp orother shelter to safeguard against winter elements, and anchored ifthey're subject to heavy winds. Make sure the tarp is pulled tightto prevent snow and rain from collecting and exerting pressure onthe hull. Trapped moisture can cause discoloration and foster mold,so leave a space between the cover and the hull, as well as anopening for ventilation.

Storage Supplies
· The Boundary Waters Catalog, Piragis NorthwoodsCompany; 800/223-6565 or

· Danuu Kayak and Canoe Covers; 877/326-8863 or

· Martin Creek; 888/985-1031 or

· OutdoorPlay; 800/994-4327 or

· Tom's Top Kayaker Shop; 603/323-8090 or