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With spring approaching it’s the time of year when folks are contemplating pulling their boats out of storage in anticipation of Spring paddling. The ice may still be on your local lake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get everything ready to go before the water opens.

The first task is to collect all your gear (paddles, PFD’s, dry bags, immersion clothing, and all the required safety equipment). If you’re anything like me, this may be more challenging than it should be with things strewn here, there, and everywhere.

Which leads us to the first pre-season tune-up tip: get your gear organized.

  • A check list ensures you’ve got all the necessary items or identifies any piece that has gone missing and needs replacing
  • Inspect PFD’s, spray skirts, paddling clothing, etc… for tears, rips, and other damage – patch or replace as needed
  • Air out dry bags, booties, gloves, and other clothing that may have been put away damp – clean using a mold remover if necessary
  • Replace batteries in electronics, test your flashlight, and make sure your throw bag rope is properly coiled

Once all your gear is accounted for, the next priority is your boat.

Pre-Season Tune-Up Tips for Paddlers

After pulling your canoe or kayak out of storage, give it a thorough cleaning to remove any grim left from last season’s adventures or dust that’s accumulated over the winter. Not only does it bring back the luster and beauty of your boat, but it helps you easily locate any small spider cracks in gel-coat (for composite constructions) that you may have missed in the Fall.

Should you uncover any dings, now is the time to fix them in order to prevent any missed time on the water. Gel-coat repairs, patching holes, or reinforcing compromised cloth are relatively easy and can be done on your own; to learn more about doing minor repairs yourself, check out the articles Canoe Maintenance & Storage and Kayak Maintenance & Storage. For major repairs, contact us to learn about our off-site repair technician.

Here are a few other tune-up tips relating to your boat:

  • Open hatch lids to allow the compartments to air out – clean with a mold remover if necessary
  • Inspect hatch lids for cracks and suppleness – apply 303 Protectant to ‘soften’ up the covers and prevent cracks / replace if necessary
  • Check functionality of skeg / rudder controls – repair if needed
  • Be conscious of temperature if conducting gel-coat or cloth repairs out side or in an unheated space – resin and gel-coat does not set-up properly if it is cooler than 10˚ Celsius

Lastly, it’s important to prepare your body for paddling and not just your equipment. If you find yourself hunkered down for most of the off-season, tuning up your fitness will go a long way to improving the experience of your first couple of trips. It will help prevent injury, reduce fatigue, and allow you to stay on the water longer during the inaugural outing.

  • Ease into a simple workout regime to up your cardio and strength
  • Participate in a few yoga classes to improve flexibility and strengthen your core
  • Stay limber by taking part in activities such as that activate your paddling muscles
  • Start off slow and increase the difficulty of your sessions as the start of the paddling season gets closer

Now get out paddling!

If there’s open water nearby and you have the skill and proper equipment for cold water paddling, then get a head-start on the paddling season. That said, be sure to exercise caution and don’t exceed your abilities; safety is paramount in paddling, and that’s even more true when it comes to being on the water in the late winter.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any Pre-Season Tune-Up Tips for Paddlers you’d like to share, please send them to us on Facebook, Instagram, or via email!


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