Your Guide to Storing a Kayak

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Your Guide to Storing a Kayak

Once you have bought a new kayak, the first realisation that you are likely to come to is that unless you spend absolutely all your time on the water, you need a place to store it. Since most people cannot spend all their time on the water even if they wanted to, the need to store the kayak is likely to be front and centre for many prospective purchasers even before they buy it. Luckily, a kayak is relatively easy to store, all things considered. They are large and can be easily damaged, but if you are willing to take the time to do the research, they really are not that difficult to store at all. The key to remember is that you cannot put too much weight or stress on the weakest parts of the kayak. Once you understand that, and can make the room necessary to store a boat that is several metres long, you should have very little difficulty in storing your kayak.

History of the Kayak

Although most people associate the kayak with the native peoples of the Aleutians, Alaska, and northern Canada, the evidence indicates that they most likely originated in Siberia some four or five thousand years ago. As the populations expanded into the Americas, so did the kayak. This was particularly important for the coastal and island peoples such as the Aleuts who lived off the sea. Over the centuries they developed what is arguably the best ocean-going small craft ever devised. After contact, kayaks slowly began to fall out of favour until they were almost a historical footnote by the turn of the twentieth century. Sea kayaking was almost forgotten everywhere except Scotland, where a few hobbyists kept it alive. Even so, modern kayaking owes its revival to George Dyson, who renewed the hobby in the 1960s.

Difference Between a Kayak and a Canoe

Before looking at storage, it is important to note that a kayak is not a canoe, and thus cannot be stored in the same way. The first and most obvious difference between the two is that the kayak is fully decked, unlike the canoe, which is an open boat. The second key difference is seating position: kayakers actually sit in the kayak, with their legs out in front of them, while canoeists kneel in a more upright position. This difference in seating leads into the next major difference between the two craft: namely that canoeists use a single-bladed paddle while kayakers rely on double-bladed ones. A big part of this is leverage, a seated person simply does not have the right leverage to use a single-bladed paddle properly.

The Basics of Storing a Kayak

There are two key things to remember when storing a kayak, position and conditions. Everything comes down to the fact that because the plane surface, or bottom, is often made of a very thin flat plastic, it is extremely difficult to keep it from deforming, as it has a natural tendency to warp. This means that it is vital to keep the weight of the kayak on the strong side, and not on the plane surface. The key to managing the storage condition is temperature control, as something as simple as a sudden temperature change can lead to warping. It may seem surprising, but direct sunlight can contribute to warping even if it does not increase the temperature in the rest of the room appreciably. The best way to avoid this is to store a kayak indoors in a windowless room. Finding the right position is a little more complicated.

Upright on its Stern

The best overall position to store a kayak is standing on end, stern down, with the planing surface against the wall. This has the benefit of putting the least stress on the planing surface, and taking up the least floor space. However, it does require a space tall enough to hold the kayak vertically, as leaning it defeats the purpose and puts stress where it does not belong. In some cases it may be necessary to use a frame to hold the kayak in the vertical, but it is important to remember that it cannot put pressure on the plane surface as this damages the kayak.

Suspended on its Side

This is the second best way to store a kayak. It requires more floor, or rather wall space than storing it upright, but it does a good job of balancing out the weight and putting the stress on the strongest rather than the weakest part of the kayak. The key is to keep the weight evenly distributed near the centre of the side, and not at the ends. When storing a kayak on its side it is a good idea to use either webbing or foam to distribute the weight and help prevent problems from occurring.

Upright or Upside Down

While some people may choose to store a kayak this way, it is not a good idea. Both options take up at least as much space as suspending the kayak on its side, but put more stress on the plane surface. There really is no reason to store a kayak in this fashion as it takes up more space than suspending it on its side, and is more likely to damage the kayak. Some people may want to transport kayaks in this orientation, but that can be equally damaging. Simply put, it is a bad idea to rest a kayak on either the plane surface or the top.

Suspended From the Ceiling by the Ends

The single worst way to store a kayak is to suspend it from the ceiling from the bow and stern. This puts the entire weight of the kayak on two points and maximises the stress on the plane surface. This guarantees hull deformation at some point, and more rapidly than not. Anyone who suspends their kayak this way is looking to replace it, and sooner rather than later. This may be an efficient use of space but the cost to the kayak makes it an ultimately bad idea.

The following table provides a concise list of all the options and the benefits and disadvantages thereof:

Method

Rating

Benefits

Drawbacks

Standing on end

Best

Best for plane surface, uses minimal area

Needs vertical space

Suspended on side

Good

Good for plane surface, does not require much height

Requires clear space along wall

Upright or upside down

Bad

None

Takes more space than suspended and greater chance of damage

Suspended from ends

Worst

None

Greatest chance of damage

By paying attention to the above table you can quickly see how, and how not to store a kayak. It is important to remember that a dark temperature-controlled environment is recommended regardless of whether the kayak is stored vertically on its stern or suspended on its side. Proper storage is an important way to maximise the life of your kayak.

Buying a Kayak or Storage Accessories on eBay

eBay is a good place to buy a kayak, or whatever else you need to store it. It has a huge variety of products available to meet any need. The best way to start is by typing what you want in the search box, there is one on every page, and watching the results come up from there. Once you have a screen full of results, the next thing to do is narrow them down to just the ones you want and the best way to do that is with the filters in the sidebar. You can limit by everything from price range, to brand, or even the material they are made of. You can also separate out new from used kayaks and suspension equipment. Then, once you have narrowed down the list to just what meets your requirements, you can use the sort function to put the best fit at the top of the list.

The next step is to look for a good match amongst eBay's many reputable sellers. The place to start is their seller profile page, where you can see everything from their feedback to their location. Some sellers may also allow purchasers to bundle storage accessories with kayaks, or even allow local buyers to pick up a kayak and save on shipping.

Conclusion

The key to properly storing a kayak lies in making sure that there is no weight or stress placed on the plane surface. So long as you keep your focus on that, storing the boat is relatively easy. All you need is a dark, temperature-controlled space with enough room for the kayak to be placed without a load on the plane surface. Both the darkness and the temperature control help prevent warping, as both temperature changes and direct sunlight can cause the hull to warp.

The best way to store a kayak is upright on its stern, with the plane surface against the wall, as this minimises the stress on the plane surface. The second best method is to suspend the kayak on its side against a wall. As long as the weight is distributed, this method also prevents warping of the plane surface. Kayaks should never be supported on the plane surface or cockpit, as both positions put unnecessary stress on the plane surface. As for suspending them from the ceiling by the ends, this is the worst possible option, as it almost guarantees immediate warping. Still, as long as you have space and take the time to make sure you are not putting pressure on the plane surface, you can safely store and enjoy your kayak for years to come.

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