We get asked quite often what one can do to best prepare their composite boat for winter. It’s tempting to just put the boat in the garage and forget about it, so here’s quick look at the best steps to winterizing your canoe or kayak.
First, grab a couple sawhorses (or foam blocks) and fill up a bucket with mild soap. Dawn is perfect. If you have access to a hose, set the horses up near it. Spray into both the cockpit and hatches to loosen up dirt and ensure the best wash. Wash your boat inside and out with a mild soap.
Inspect it as you do, take note of any damage that may be new from the last season. You’ll want to have a plan for repairs, whether that is doing it yourself in the spring or scheduling with a local repair shop. Lincoln’s short window for repairs fills quickly and we often have to disappoint folks with a less than ideal turnaround time.
If you have anything on your boat that has tension, relax those things. Drop the skeg or rudder, loosen any straps you might have (older Lincoln’s have hatch straps, keep them connected but loosen them just a tad). Use 303 Aerospace Protectant on rubber hatch covers to condition the rubber. Once everything dries, seal your cockpit with a cockpit cover to keep critters out. We recommend the product line from Seals. Orders can be placed through us for direct ship to you.
Over the winter your kayak is best stored with minimal pressure on the hull by placing it in cradles that tilt it on its side. Some folks have cradles installed on the wall, or a suspension pulley system is a great option too. If you’re using these methods, make sure you align your brackets/straps with the bulkheads where the hull is strongest.
For CANOES: Everything above applies, and they are best stored upside down on their gunwales / rails (or suspended with pulleys).
Canoes and Kayaks are ideally stored inside. If you must store outside under the elements, keep the boat up (especially the canoe’s gunwales / rails), removed from the frost and moisture. We’ve seen racks built, or sawhorses used.
Also key to keep in a place away from possible snow melt. We saw quite a few canoes and kayaks come in this spring that had cracked under the pressure of large snowfalls.
- Wash with mild soap
- Examine for repairs and plan (or schedule) them well in advance of next season
- Loosen any straps, condition rubber with 303
- Store on racks, especially if stored outside
How about the gear?
Just like the kayak, examine and wash your gear with mild soap (or specially formulated dry / wetsuit soap if applicable). This includes your PFD, spray skirt, hatch covers. Several companies make a neoprene shampoo. We recommend . You can also use MiraZyme Odor Eliminator with gear that’s getting especially ripe. This is a great time to apply 303 Aeropsace Protectant to your neck and wrist gaskets and if necessary, replace your gaskets. Store your gear in a cool, dry place with zippers open. If you use a hanger, make sure it’s wooden or metal. Plastic react negatively with the latex over time.
Lastly, do a quick look through your first-aid kit and bailout bag. Throw away any perishables or items that could cause damage, like leaky batteries. Especially focus on removing food. You don’t want to attract friends through the winter!
Perfect. Now you know you can spend the winter on the trails and slopes and your gear will be in great shape when you open things up for the next season.
- Wash your gear with mild soap and take note of any need for repair
- Condition your latex with Protectant 303 to ensure maximum lifespan
- Store dry gear in a cool / dry place with zippers open and avoid plastic hangers
- Remove anything from your kits that could cause damage or attract unwanted visitors over the winter: batteries, snacks, et cetera.