Gear Guide: Maintenance Musts

 After paddling, take your gear straight to the hose for a fresh water rinse. 

After paddling, take your gear straight to the hose for a fresh water rinse. 

This week, let’s talk about one of the less fun (but very important) aspects of paddle sports. In our hot, humid Southwest Florida environment, proper gear maintenance can mean the difference between replacing your equipment every 12 months, or every 12 years. Luckily, the to do list isn’t very long.

The number one rule is that all paddle-powered vessels should be rinsed thoroughly with fresh water after paddling to avoid corrosion from saltwater. Also make sure the vessel is dry before storing. Once a month or so, wash your boat with gentle soap and a sponge for a deeper clean, which will discourage the growth of mold. The sun’s rays can be very damaging to paddling equipment, so be sure to store your gear under a cover or indoors. This also prevents pooling water and deters creatures from making your vessel their home.

SUP paddlers should check vent plugs for any sand or debris that could block air flow, and make sure fin boxes are clear of sand and debris as well. Look for any cracks or dings in your board, and if you notice damage, complete the repairs right away – before water has a chance to seep in and wreak havoc. If you are skilled at repairs, epoxy ding repair kits are available online. If you’re a beginner, consult with an expert at your local board shop.

If you have a kayak or canoe, you have a few more components to consider. When you exit the water, give your boat a once over for any hull damage, broken cables or hardware, deteriorating lines or bungees, etc. If repairs are required, order the necessary parts right away and complete the maintenance as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than heading out for your next kayak fishing trip, only to remember you never fixed that rod holder. We also recommend using a kayak cart for transport, which will help you avoid damage caused by dragging.

Check with the manufacturer of your board or boat for additional tips. Paying attention to the condition of your equipment, and providing a bit of TLC when needed, will help you enjoy your gear for many years – making the most of your investment and your time spent on the water.

Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribepaddlers.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.