Kayak fishing is different from a lot of other types of fishing because of how close to the water you and your gear are when afloat. In most cases you will not be more than a couple of inches above the surface of the water. Even if waves are not breaking over the bow or stern of your boat, spray will be carried across you by the breeze and before long you, your kayak and all your gear will be covered in a fine coating of sea salt. Any of you that have neglected to rinse and clean reels will know exactly how damaging and corrosive salt can be.
The virtues of cleaning and maintaining tackle are well documented and I am not here to regurgitate the importance of dunking reels in fresh water after a fishing trip. What I would like to cover is a few pointers that will be very relevant to kayak anglers; things to look out for when trying to get a longer life out of your kayak. One of the real benefits of using a plastic kayak is that they are relatively maintenance free. However, small steps can be taken to ensure that your kayak will last far longer than the warranty period.
Where possible, it is a very good idea to hose down the kayak after each use in the salt. Pay particular attention to any metallic parts such as bolts or rivets. Reputable kayak brands will use marine grade parts when factory fitting accessories. Those that do not will rust very quickly and rusting parts should be replaced immediately. Nuts and screws are self-explanatory; to replace rivets you need to drill out the centre of the rivet to remove it. It pays to run a bead of marine grade sealant around any replacements to ensure a watertight seal. Other metallic part like hinges for bow hatches or battery storage should be checked regularly and replaced if needed.
The next thing to pay a little attention to are the perishable bungee cords that will be on your kayak. Most manufacturers incorporate elasticated bungees into kayaks for a host of reasons. Bungees usually cross the rear tankwells and are used to keep items secure and in place. Most paddle keepers tend to be elasticated bungees and a lot of them are used to secure tackle boxes and other accessories within the kayak cockpit. This material, as useful as it is, will succumb to the salt water eventually and the best course of action is to simply replace it with new bungee. Sports stores and DIY outlets should have lengths of bungee cord which can be cut to measure.
That aside, there is not much else that can go wrong with your kayak through normal use. The accessories that most like to carry will need some special attention, particularly electronics like your fish finder/chartplotter. It pays to look after the expensive electrical items properly. I rinse the head unit after each trip to make sure all traces of salt have been removed to prevent any interior corrosion. Just as important is to pay close attention to any cables and connector blocks used when fitting the unit. Exposure to salt can damage electrical items very quickly so any exposed connections should be housed with the battery, in an airtight container. A silicone spray is a great addition to any connections and to the pins at the back of the unit. I will coat these areas with a silicone spray after every couple of trips. The silicone creates a seal that the salt cannot get through but it must be reapplied regularly enough.
Kayak maintenance is an easy task. All it requires is to keep an eye on your gear and if something starts to deteriorate then restore or replace it immediately. The points above are just as applicable to anybody looking at buying a second hand kayak – bungees and fittings like rivets or bolts are areas to pay close attention to for signs of wear and tear. Bad bungees and rusted bolts do not necessarily mean that the kayak on offer is a bad one but they should raise awareness and the inclination to take a closer look at the rest of the boat. Look after your gear and in return it will give you many years of happiness.
Article seen in Sea Angler