Reflections from the Cockpit "Equipment Maintenance"
April 2002

I am often asked "what is the breaking strength of your tow line?" My standard reply is "the breaking strength of the bow loop it attaches to when using it." This thought combined with the arrival of spring and the spring cleaning that comes during this time of the year made me realize some reflection and subsequent action was needed in the relm of equipment maintenance.

Some of us paddle all year long while others take a break during the winter time. Regardless of the length of your paddling season an annual (if not more often) inspection of your equipment is a necessity. It could be anytime during the year but Spring seems like the time that fits my sense of order.

The type of maintenance you will have to do is dependent upon how well you care for your equipment during the year, how you store it and how often you use it. Right off the bat I can say UV light plays havoc with equipment. Whenever possible, keep your equipment shaded when not using it if you want it to last longer. Also, rinsing equipment in fresh water and proper air drying adds to the life of your equipment.

As I reflected on this subject my "Spring Cleaning List" grew. I am sure I have not covered all the bases but here are my thoughts (in NO particular order of priority or importance.)

Wayne's Kayaking Equipment Spring Cleaning List:

1- Clean the kayak inside and out (wash, wipe, wax and buff.) Be proud of your kayak!
2- Make sure all moving parts move freely (clean out sand and lube as directed by manufacturer)
3- Coat wood kayaks as needed. (I don't own one but I hear it needs to be done, inside and out)
4- Test and reseal if necessary: bulkheads, hatch covers and sea socks. (We want those compartments dry)
5- Check all fittings, handles and cords. Replace as needed. (Remember the strength of your grab loop)
6- Add non-elastic deck lines if you don't have them. (Outfit your kayak so it works for you)
7- Put on new bungee cords.
8- Inflate all inflatables and keep them inflated for an hour to see if they leak. (fix or replace)
9- Examine and test all buckles and straps.
10- Try using your pump to make sure it still works.
11- Examine the seams of your PFD and be sure all closures are working properly.
12- Condition the gaskets and zippers on your dry suits. (Keep sunscreen off of drysuit gaskets)
13- Try your whistle.
14- Clean the rust off of your knife.
15- New batteries for you lights.
16- Properly dispose of expired flares.
17- Restock your kits (repair, first aid, signal and day bag.)
18- Stock plenty of sunscreen and lipscreen for the season and use it often.
19- Examine your spray skirt: tunnel, seams, deck and grab loop.
20- Test the joints and closures on your two piece paddles.
21- Splurge on a new sponge if the old one stinks.
22- If those booties have a life of their own, let them walk away and get new ones.
23- Do you need a new safety strap for your glasses?
24- Do your dry bags still work?
25- Does you seat back still support you?
26- Do you have all the pieces for your folding kayak and can you still put it together?
27- Test your tow ropes and clean carabiners.
28- Getting out and practicing a few capsize recoveries wouldn't hurt.
29- If you need help with #28 purchase our Capsize Recoveries video set ;-)


Of course, adjust this list to fit your particular needs. Also, please share items (e-mail us) we may have missed that you have on your list. If you don't take care of it now you will have to deal with it later. If you have to deal with on water repairs please see our April 2002 skill of the month (On water kayak repair).

If you do nothing else at least clean out the spiders from the cockpit. I hate it when I feel the sweat dripping up my leg and thigh.


Wayne Horodowich


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