Trip report – The Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin

Paddle destination: Horicon Marsh (southern aspect)

 

Launch/Land locations:

Horicon Marsh put in

Launch – Green Head Road N8600 Green Head Rd, Mayville, WI

Land – One Mile Island Trail Head and parking 204 N Nebraska St, Horicon, WI

 

Type of environment:

Hoircon Marsh

Did you know Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States? The marsh itself covers approximately 32,000 miles – majority of it is water. There are several small islands throughout the area – some are easier to walk upon than others (depending on water height/recent rain). The put in at Green Head has a rather large parking area – more like a dirt road with ample parking on the side of this road. This is a dead-end road, and there is a cul-de-sac which makes navigation with a trailer a bit easier. The launch has a gradual grade into the water, and you may need to get your feet wet. This section of water is the Rock river, and following it west will eventually lead you into the Horicon. One may see some smaller boats with trolling motors through this section of river, although rare. Traveling along this stretch, the trees and vegetation is pretty numerous and offers nice protection from the winds. As one exits this forest of trees, the water area opens up and the scenery changes dramatically. Didn’t really notice any current while on the water, until nearing the take-out area near Horicon. It was fairly gentile as it flows south towards the city. The take out at One mile Island, is slightly tucked away on the western side of the main channel. This parking lot is rather sizable and can hold easily 40+ cars. Total one-way distance is about 8 miles.

Hazards:

Horicon group leaving

One of the biggest hazards is the size of this place, and the ever-changing water levels throughout the year. This can be a unique maze, if one decides to venture away from the main flowage. I would highly recommend downloading this navigation map http://tinyurl.com/y3agdjc8 to aid your progression. A compass, GPS, or other tracking device will also be helpful. There are landmarks one can see from the seat of the yak – but the marsh can act as a cat tail maze at times. Once one gets nearly midway in to the marsh, a water tower in Horicon can be seen and can be used as a general reference point. Best suggestion I have is to go with someone who knows that marsh VERY well – or even go with the Horicon Marsh visitors center – as they offer guided tours throughout the year.

The navigation map provided displays the paddle route one should take, there are marked signs on this path, however at times can be rather difficult to see.

If it is a windy day, or chances for a breezy day – some may find it a challenge doing this route. The cat tails and scattered islands only offer slight protection.

There are the occasional tour boats which follow the main channel going north to south – these may be a good reference point to follow, should you need to find your way to the take out.

Horicon Marsh

Wildlife:

Abundant wildlife in all aspects. So great in fact, during water fowl season approaches, hunters enjoy this place. Depending on the time of year one paddles this area will dictate what is seen and heard. The times I have gone – there was migration of spring birds and other water fowl moving into the area, and at others, the cat tails were very tall and plentiful – at times obscuring distant views.

Horicon Marsh

Skill level:

If with someone knowledgeable about the area – this is a great beginner paddle when conditions are perfect. If going the entire distance from Green Head to Horicon, this may be quite the workout on windy days. Although there are a few islands in the heart of the marsh, majority of them have a solid ground (look for very established trees) and can be good resting place. Because of the chance for facing winds, and distance of this paddle, I would not recommend kayaks shorter than 10 to 12 feet.

Horicon Marsh

Other notes:

Definitely check out the Horicon Education and visitors center while you are there. There is such great information about the geological design of the marsh, how the marsh was used throughout the years, the mistakes humans learned when they attempted to change the landscape, and what the future of the area holds.

 

For the Paddler Within….

How to be a conscientious kayaker

As the season opener approaches here in the Northwoods and more kayaks are seen on the roof racks – let’s remember we are ambassadors of the water. We share the waters with humans and nature. The ability to return in the future to these destinations is everyone’s responsibility.

typical boat launch

Upon your arrival to the water destination or boat launch, ensure you are parked in the correct location and not taking up a boat trailer spot. Some boat launches have launch fees – which may or may not affect you, the kayaker. Read the postings for their descriptions of what craft warrant a fee. Some boat launches I have been to charge innertubes, and inflatable rafts the same fee as a power boat. Personally, I do not understand how a inflatable raft can deteriorate a boat launch like a 3000 pound power boat.. but that is for another debate. If you really like that body of water, majority of fee based locations have an annual rate (which is much more cost effective). Boat launches act as a first come, first serve basis and there is a unload/load process which is commonly understood to all. Since you had paid your fee, you have as much right to use the ramp as the next person. Try to launch and land as quickly as you can – but always ensure you are safely doing that. It is best to convey to the fellow boaters your intentions to come in and use the boat launch.

oh no hazard

Besides the normal obstacles and obstructions on the waters (piers, strainers, rocks, etc..) there are other concerns are on the waters. Folks fishing – When possible, make verbal contact with the person fishing – and try to see where the line is in the water. If able to stop, wait for them to reel in the line (if you know you will be very close to the end of the line), pass quickly and let them know you just say a big fish just upstream. Hunters (waterfowl) are a bit more difficult to see – being they are usually camouflaged and hiding behind those blinds. One of the more notable signs of these folks out and about would be the constant gun shots – or decoys floating around (why is that duck just sitting there???) If you believe you are near one of the blinds, stay clear. If you accidentally come up on one (especially paddling along the shoreline) change your heading away from them.

USCG navigation rules

Power craft at speed, have restrictive movement. They need to have some time before making quick positional changes. We on the other hand, can maneuver and swing our kayak in a different heading in a fraction of the time. As a paddler, one should have their head on a swivel when sharing the waters with power boats – and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Power boats may not see a single kayak in the distance, it is your responsibility to make directional changes first to avoid head on collisions. Paddling with friends in a group makes it easier for others to see you (since you are now a larger element).  The USGC sets the nautical rules of the road, and with other agencies enforcing the rules. Rules regarding kayaks are location dependent and change based on location – inside a harbor, in a channel, vs the open water. Let’s explore passing other vessels – and getting passed. There is a hierarchy of vessels and a ‘pecking order’ in which we are suppose to give way (to change direction) to avoid collision with another vessel.  Which kinda look like this: kayaks must give way to sail boats, which give way to power boats, which give way to Military or law boats – which have the ultimate freedom. Overtaking (the process in which a boat passes one from behind) may be done from either side. Normally you may hear a blast from the boat behind you, this signals they will be passing on the left – two blasts mean they will be passing on the right. I can’t say I have ever had this happen to me, either the river was wide enough, in a no wake zone, or I was close enough to shore. If there is a boat coming head on in front of you, the most common scenario is for boat boats to turn to starboard (the right) and pass the other.

boater safety tips

Inside the harbors and channels they follow a specific rule: Red Right Returning. These are marked with floating red and green objects, which can be either a buoy, can, panel, or nuns). Traffic flows to the right within this channel. Crossing a marked channel is much like crossing an intersection (although there is no crosswalk sign or button to push). When one comes upon a channel, slow or come to a stop, look both ways and all around you for any vessels, if none cross the channel with a quickness. When with a group, paddle together and try to stick together as a single unit (makes you a larger visible object.

leave no trace

While on the water, please do your part to ensure our waterways remain healthy. Follow the leave no trace process by not littering, pick up floating debris when you come upon it, and don’t litter – preform a small role in the big process. This notion applies to both water and land. If you are like me, I do a little kayak camping from time to time. I like think I am a ninja kayak camper….. Nobody knew I had been there, but yet I was.

canoe portage

There isn’t always public land along the water for us to get out or land wherever we want. Private property should be respected, even if it isn’t clearly marked by signs. If there is a need for a portage, look for portage signs, and follow the path. There are special occasions for getting out on private property – if there is an injury, damage to your kayak which needs immediate attention, or seeking safe harbor (when weather conditions could result in either of the two). The kayaker should attempt to make contact with the owner and notify them of the situation. Most owners will be more than happy to assist and have a better appreciation for you.

Swim area marker

When landing your kayak (if it is a location from your put-in), pay attention to the arrival location. There may be a dedicated swimmer section attached to a public beach. This area would be well marked and usually roped off. Attempt to bring kayaks out of the way of fellow beach goers, if possible, place the kayaks on a grassy area and off the beach. Everyone will be happier to share the beach with each other.

boat clean up station

After landing, there may be some unwanted passengers still on your kayak – I am talking about invasive species. These are non-native aquatic plants and animals which can be accidentally transported and introduced to other bodies of water. Once introduced in to different waters, they are nearly impossible to be eliminated. Ways in which one can assist the spreading is to remove these prior to leaving the water. Drain as much water as possible, use a sponge to wipe of the hull. When available, wash your boat at a  fresh water cleaning station, or to really kill these guys, a mix of bleach and water (one TBSP to one Gallon of Water) sprayed on the kayak will do them in. It is best to let the kayak fully dry a couple of days before placing it back into another body of water.

 

Being a responsible boater is everyone’s responsibility – either powered by gasoline or by granola. Be observant, predictable, and respectful. Enjoy ever river and be a ninja kayaker.

 

For the Paddler Within….

Getting the paddler’s itch?

 

Frozen rivers and early season kayaking #silentwake

As the spring thaw FINALLY shows up in the northern states, paddlers of all levels want to hit the water. Many of these paddlers, have no concept of the dangers of early season kayaking. Every year, we all hear various news reports of poor decision-making instances or worse yet, fatalities. Majority of these recorded kayak related events happen to paddlers who don’t have the knowledge, the safety gear, or the proper kayak. The most dishearten aspect to these occurrences – it could have been avoided. Today, I will cover cold weather-related injuries and proper paddle clothing for the late winter/early spring season.

Let’s take a look at a typical day these problematic events take place. It’s early March, the snow is melting, the rivers are up, ice is slowly leaving the launches/shorelines. The air temps are in the 40’s bright and sunny day, little winds, and calm waters….. So, where is the harm in that? Well, as mentioned in a previous blog about trip planning – one also must take in consideration another other factor – Water Temperature. Without proper paddle clothing, cold water can and will KILL. Even with the proper paddling clothing, one can feel the chill of the water – but it extends the survival time and increases chances surviving the cold water. This is assuming one has a 100% effective self-rescue technique, or their paddle buddy can provide an assisted rescue – and has practiced these rescues in this type of environment.

How cold is too cold to paddle and what should I wear?

That is really best answered with this thought perspective – dress as if you WILL have to do a wet exit, and be in the water for at least 10 minutes. Plus, the additional time paddling back to your car – or a place to get out of those wet clothes. One of the best items to extend your paddling season – as well as survivability – is to wear a dry suit. Dry suits are basically a full body suit which has [usually] latex gaskets at the neck and wrists. These are designed to be fairly tight against the skin – and act as a water barrier from touching the rest of your body (or one can think of them as a human sized Ziplock bag). Dry suits work by keeping the water out and off your body – but offer no real insulating properties. To help insulate, one wears base layers (think fleece-like materials, Morino wool, or long johns made from polypropylene).  One way to grasp if you are going to be under dressed for the water temperature is to actually stand chest deep in the water you are going to paddle. You will quickly realize if you are under dressed, for the conditions – but close to the shoreline to make adjustments before you paddle. One can over dress for the occasion just as easily – frequent stops or a slower paddle pace will aid in the heat build-up (along with consumption of hydrating fluids).

Cold weather paddle gear #silentwake

Dry suits will offer the protection to your core body and most of those vital organs… but, what about the hands, head and feet? There is numerous specific paddling clothing out there for the cooler weather. Many scuba dive shops have these items in stock. Materials made out of neoprene is usually the first choice to offer protection from the water, since it has some repelling factors (the skin can still get wet and cool – but it offers a level of protection). There are thickness levels from the lowest 0.5 mm (65 to 75 degree water), 6 mm (water from 45 to 50 degrees) and upwards to 10 mm (scuba cold water dives). As the thickness increases, the more protection they offer, but mobility is restricted. For some ideas of what to wear besides a dry or a wet suit, may I offer reading this?

What happens if I do fall into cold water?

Cold water injuries can happen in any water below 60 degrees. Living in Wisconsin, the water in smaller inland lakes, and rivers will may reach 60 degrees around May (sometimes), Lake Michigan usually gets to that temperature early July, sometimes late June – Yes, there have been ice floats in the waters on Memorial Day. This is all weather dependent and many continuous days above 70 will aid in warming that water.

What are some types of Cold weather injuries:

CHILBLAIN

  • Chilblain is a non-freezing injury that can occur after 1-5 hours in cold-wet conditions when skin temperature is > 32°F/0°C. The most commonly affected areas are the dorsal surface of the fingers, but the ears, face, and other exposed skin are also areas of occurrence. There are no lasting effects from chilblains.

FROSTBITE

  • Frostbite accounts for the largest number of injuries each year and occurs when tissue temperature falls below ~28-30°F. Frostbite can occur suddenly due to contact to cold metal or super-cooled liquids such as alcohol, fuel or antifreeze or can develop over time due to prolonged cold exposure. Frostbite is most common in exposed skin such as the hands, nose, ears, and cheeks but can also occur in the feet or in the hands while wearing gloves due to inadequate insulation and reduced skin blood flow.

HYPOTHERMIA

  • Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature below 95°F/35°C. Hypothermia is usually characterized as mild, moderate, or severe, based on body core temperature. Hypothermia occurs when heat loss is greater than heat production. This can occur suddenly, such as during partial or total immersion in cold water, or over hours or days, such as during extended operations or survival situations.

Symptoms

  • Vigorous shivering is typically present. Shivering may decrease or cease as core temperature continues to fall.
  • Onset of hypothermia is typically associated with the so-called “umbles”, the grumbles, mumbles, stumbles and fumbles that increase as cold affects muscle and nerve function.
  • Symptoms of hypothermia consist of confusion, sleepiness, slurred speech, shallow breathing, weak pulse, low blood pressure, change in behavior and/or poor control over body movements/slow reactions.

Stress upon the body:

Let’s understand what happens when a paddler falls into the cold water. There is a simple concept called the 1-10-1 rule, which is the current thought process among instructors. The first thing which will commonly happen is a cold shock reflex – a gasp from the mouth and the escaping of precious oxygen. We all have been there, when the water temperature in the shower goes from warm to bitter cold. We jump back, shriek, and say a few choice words. Instinctually, we move away from this, and luckily, we are in an oxygen rich environment while in the shower. However, many times when one falls into the water it is not intentional and preparations to hold your breath are seldom. Within the first minute, your body reacts violently to this immense temperature change. In order to conserve the vital organs, the body works in overdrive. The brain reacts by releasing various chemicals into the blood steam. Blood vessels begin constricting to the extremities. Hyperventilation (excessive breathing) takes place to aid the increased heart rate which is attempting to pump the blood to your body. If one is not wearing a life jacket (which aids in keeping your head afloat the water), the amount of energy expended -attempting to keep your head above the water- during this initial minute can enhance preexisting health problems (heart/lungs/circulation).

If healthy enough, had previously practiced cold weather wet exits (controlled environment), and wearing proper paddle clothing/life vest- your chances for surviving increase dramatically, However as I mentioned previously, even with this proper clothing, one can still feel the coolness of the water, but at least we are not completely wet and cold. After that initial one minute of cold shock, your body goes into survival mode. This is your window for getting back into the kayak. If alone, whatever solid self-rescue skill you have, you must pick that one – this is not the time to test out a new rescue. Concentrate on the task at hand, make this quick and effective use of your time. The longer you are in that cold water your ability to concentrate, effective use of your fingers, arms and legs decreases. If you can not get back into your kayak after two attempts, call for help! If the shoreline is close enough for a two minute or less swim – swim to shore without your kayak. These are critical minutes before the body goes into the next stages. If paddling with a buddy the dry one must remain calm, provide clear, concise, and simple instructions during an assisted rescue.

Depending on what paddle clothing you are wearing, water temperature, and how long you have been in the cold water will dictate your survival rate. Hypothermia will begin shortly after that second stage (the 10-minute window). If separated from your kayak (or you can’t see it) get into a fetal position to help conserve energy and loss of body heat. A person has approximately one hour to remain conscious before extreme hypothermia leads to death.

Once able to rescue yourself from the above, seek warm shelter, get out of the wet clothing immediately and into dry clothing. If needed, seek additional professional medical attention. When paddling with friends – have them help you get out of those clothes and warm up. Have a buddy system ‘group hug’ to increase the body heat of the victim.

Early season paddling can be just as enjoyable as any other time of the year, when extra precautions are taken. Taking those precautions are not totally infallible, but offers additional time and protection when in the elements – and future experiences on the water.Stay safe, my friends.

 

For the Paddler Within….

The Skeg and Rudder Explained

Kayak group

So many kayaks….

As you look at different kayaks, you may notice something a bit different with each of them. Some kayak models you come across may have a device on it which you may know of the name, but do you really know what it is used for – or how to use it? Today, I will be covering the difference between a skeg and rudder.

 

What do they do

To fully understand the dynamics of how these two function. Let’s first get a little technical with understanding basic physics as they act upon kayak hulls. Painting a picture of the paddle environment: calm winds, still water, no current, no waves. As a kayak sits still on the surface of water – there is equal pressure exerted along the entire hull. Since there are no opposing forces (mother nature/movement within the kayak), that kayak will continue to remain [almost] perfectly still. When we paddle forward, we are basically trying to ‘fly’ a kayak, with the water being our sky (might be a reason we sit inside a cockpit). Many laws of physics were used when designing kayak hulls as well as airplane wings – there is similarity between the two designs. Much like a taking off from a runway, in order to get that plane in the air it works by four main forces: Thrust (our paddle power), Gravity (the weight of our kayak and ourselves), Lift (high and low pressures on the hull), Drag (that wake the kayak produces). Active paddling creates all these forces directly upon the kayak hull. As we move forward on that calm water, the bow creates a high-pressure force upon the hull. The water passes under us and breaks surface tension, and creates a low pressure and turbulence at the stern. This can be clearly seen at the stern as it creates a wake, and at times, some bubbles can be seen. This has a reverse effect when one paddles backwards – the low pressure will be placed upon the bow, as the high pressure is now at the stern.

Without opposing forces at play (winds, waves, current) and with a really great paddler in the cockpit – with the ‘perfect’ paddle form and paddle stroke- that kayak will track [mostly] perfectly straight. Let’s throw an opposing force of wind into play on that same lake. The winds have pick up to 10 mph from the north, and we are paddling to the west. Without any change in our paddling technique (paddle stroke, edging, or shifting our weight) the tracking of that same kayak tends to veer towards the direction of the wind. What is going on here? This is called weather cocking. This is a perfectly natural effect which most, if not all kayaks will have. Remember that low pressure you are creating when you paddle – imagine this as a slight anchor dragging your stern, with wind this becomes more noticeable and apparent. When you stop paddling into this wind and come to a complete stop, eventually your kayak will rest with either the port or the starboard side facing the direction of the wind.

 

Differences between the two

So, how does one manage maintain directional control when there is a wind? One can either work strongly against an opposing force, work with that opposing force to your benefit, or just give up and go home. Personally, I like to work with the opposing forces and work with nature – mother nature and the water will always win, as she is the boss!

Which brings us back to the topic at hand. The skeg and rudder assist the paddler in maintaining a straight paddling direction. There is a slight mechanical difference between the two and what actions they can perform. Both are located near the stern of the kayak, and are manually deployed by using a mechanism attached to either cables or rope.

The skeg is a stationary item – meaning, it does not move in any other direction other than up (stowed) or down (deployed). The skeg can be adjusted in its depth in the water when deployed. A fully deployed skeg will provide the best forward tracking abilities, however decreases lateral adjustments made by the paddler. For the paddler who wishes to have tracking as well as more directional control and adjustments – deploying it half way or not fully deploying it will provide this outcome. The directional control is up to the paddler as they either edge, change paddle strokes, or shift their weight.

skeg stowedA skeg deployed

The rudder is usually mounted on the top deck of the stern. It has two positions – either stowed, or deployed. When deployed, direction is controlled by pushing on the foot pegs (or tipping your toes forward) on the same side one wishes to go. Pushing on the right side fully will place an angle onto the fin and creates resistance within the water – pushing you in that direction. A constant pressure on both feet will keep the rudder straight.

the Rudder

 

When to use them

When is the best time to use them, and how does one use them to assist when paddling? Best rule of thumb to know is when traveling with the wind in your face (and that is the direction you wish to go) leave them stowed. Like I had mentioned before, the kayak loves to be paddled into the wind, and will be drawn towards that direction. For winds to your back (downwind), deploy your skeg or rudder to maintain that straight line. For broaching winds (from the side), one may want to find what degree/depth in the water works best for the skeg. When using the rudder, a slight continuous push of the foot peg on the side the wind is coming from will keep you straight.

When launching and landing, it is highly advisable to stow these BEFORE you get close to shore. They can be damaged by the shoreline, can injure people, or can injure you if there are breaking waves and you become separated from your kayak.

 

It is clearly your decision  to have a kayak with a skeg, or a rudder (or both), or if you wish to use them while paddling. A skeg will maintain your course and provide the paddler the ability to play with boat control. A rudder can be used as a tool to help grasp the directional control abilities of the kayak without heavily relying on paddler skills. Whichever one you choose, experiment with them – find out how they can assist you in your paddle experiences.

 

For the Paddler Within….

Transporting and storing your kayak

One of the realizations you may have experienced when you bought your first kayak was – OK, now how am I going to get this thing home? Depending on where you bought your kayak, the staff there may or may not have assisted in your dilemma. If you haven’t bought a kayak yet, but are thinking about it – this blog is intended to assist in your thought process how to move it from one place to another, as well as what do I do with it when it isn’t on the car?

 

Types of carriers:

foam and saddle

This is a combination roof system – on the driver side, there are foam blocks which can be used in conjunction with crossbars, or stand alone and placing them directly on top of the roof. If there are no crossbars or luggage rack on top, one would further secure the kayak by running straps over the kayak, opening the doors, and securing the strap on the inside (placing the strap through the buckle and tightening it down). Besides the foam block, there are inflatable pads which may be installed. This isn’t recommended for long distances, or highway speeds, as movement to the yak could result. But, for the person on a budget, or just starting out – these foam blocks can get you started. On the passenger side are saddles which “hug” the curvature of either the hull or deck.

3 times the carrier

Shown here are a triple saddle carrier for a larger truck – based on the width of placement, narrow kayaks were transported. The rear hull would rest on a pair of these. There are matching saddles pairs on the front of this carrier.

J-Rack

This is an example of J-hooks. The kayak would be placed on edge, with the cockpit facing outside, with the majority of the hull resting on the more vertical bars.

For the above systems, (except the foam blocks) there are three main parts. The crossbars, the kayak support, and the mounting hardware (to either the existing luggage rails – or to the inside top of the doors, when there is no luggage rails). Each roof rack system is unique in the regards to which vehicle you have, and some kayak supports fit certain crossbars (round, square, or wing style). Three more common companies which specialize in roof rack systems are Malone, Yakima, and Thule.

For kayaks which do not completely fit inside the bed of a truck, there are truck bed extender T-bars which look like a field goal, and slide into the hitch. Securing the kayak within the bed is easy on the T-bar (much like a cross bar on the roof). The end of the kayak which is inside the bed may slide side to side, so a way to minimize this process would be to creating an X (with ropes or straps) over the deck and securing the ends to the bed of the truck. If your kayak sticks out way beyond the end of your vehicle, depending on your state laws, a red flag must be placed on the end of the kayak.

mega kayak trailer

This is a kayak manufacture company trailer above, not something the ‘average Joe’ would have in the back yard, but shown to illustrate how each single kayak (or canoe) is individually secured to the crossbars. Trailers make it easier to load and offload the kayak from near waist level, parking may be a challenge at times. The named companies above also carry dedicated kayak trailers. Extra credit if you can correctly guess how many this beast of a trailer can carry.

 

How to secure the kayak:

The main goal when securing your kayak to your vehicle is to ensure it doesn’t dislodge and become a hazard for others on the road. Whether you have a kayak you can place in the back of the truck, on top of the car, or on a trailer – a tie down will be used. Majority of main tie downs used will either be ropes or straps. When using ropes, they should be secured on both ends of the carrying device (truck bed, trailer frame, or roof carrier). Straps which have rubber/plastic ends covering the metal buckle reduce the risk of damage to your vehicle when the strap is thrown over the vehicle (or a strong wind blows the strap around). Ratcheting straps should not be used, as over tightening the strap can cause damage to both kayak and/or car. Bungee cords offer minimum support and security, and should not be used as a primary means. The overall effect one is achieving is to secure the tie down to the main base and the kayak is under the tie downs. For added security, bow and stern lines attached from the kayak to the vehicle aid in slight side-to-side movements of the kayak, when placed on the roof. This is extremely helpful for traveling at highway speeds, windy days, or getting passed by a semi-truck.

Shown below are examples how to wrap the strap around the support crossbar – and a close up look of the buckle cover, which is not over the buckle to better illustrate the method. For the remaining extra strap, I normally place the tail end inside the car and tuck it in the visor or grab bars. When I know it is going to rain – I will wrap the tail end around the support bar and tuck the end into itself. When carrying yaks on a trailer, I fully secure the tail ends, so they do not flap around as I drive.(Note: I place pool noodles on the trailer bars to reduce damage to the kayak).

car rack with strap  kayak trailer kayak trailer

Storage of yaks

Storing your kayak when not in use, one has many options to choose from. The main principal is to keep the hull off the floor, off hard surfaces, and placed on something soft. There is a term called, “Oil-canning”. This happens mostly to plastic kayaks which have been placed upon a firm edge (such as a 2×4 or metal bar). The edge imprints itself into the weight of the plastic kayak, leaving a lasting impression. Removing this oil-canning can be a daunting task, but sometimes placing the hull upwards and letting the sun warm up the plastic will sometimes ‘pop’ up the indentation.

pool noodles

Kayaks, when not in use, should be stored out of the sunlight to increase their longevity. For a cheap method of storage (if you have the floor space) is the purchase of two thick pool noodles. Place these directly on the floor, and then place the kayak on top of the noodles. For those who which to be a bit more creative, 2×4’s cut at an angle and secured to an exposed wall stud with the noodle attached to the 2×4. Various designs can be found for PVC kayak storage racks on the web. They are effective, if build correctly. For those who have a taller celling, and the floor space is a bit tight {in the garage} – there are slings which will lift your kayak with the aid of a pully system. These usually have straps which are about 3 inches in width, which do not add a pressure point to the hull. Ropes or thinner diameter cords shouldn’t be used as the main supporting element, as they will create the undesired oil canning in long time storage. Much like a roof rack system (J-hook), there are wall mounted, or free-standing kayak storage systems which are outstanding and well worth the investment.

suspendz

Transporting your kayak, and storage solutions doesn’t have to be a painstaking process – Just something in which needs to thought about before you get your kayak. Some of these systems will not break the bank, but you usually get what you pay for. For those of you wondering, that large kayak trailer carried 96 kayaks and 12 canoes, but that is a story for another day..

 

 

 

For the Paddler Within…….