Protect your Kayak Gear from Saltwater

Most paddlers in our neck of the woods paddle on the Puget Sound, a saltwater body of water that provides a great diversity of kayaking options. But we do pay price to paddle in such a beautiful setting. Saltwater is tough on our gear. Lets take a moment and talk about some of the things that all paddlers who frequent the saltwater can do to prolong the life of their equipment.

Metals really suffer from exposure to saltwater. The surfaces of many metals corrode, giving a pitted, rough appearance. Over time, the corrosion can weaken the material and cause structural failure. In a much shorter time, moving parts can be ruined.

Galvanic corrosion is a process that occurs when there’s a connection between two dissimilar metals that are then exposed to a great electrolyte solution, like saltwater. So, when you have an aluminum carabineer or cam buckle, with a steel hinge pin on the gate or spring clip, you have the perfect setup for gear-wrecking corrosion.

After using metal gear on the water, wash it in a mild soap solution and rinse thoroughly in fresh water. A light spray of water displacing lubricant like WD-40 can provide protection. Check local hardware or marine supply stores for other corrosion protectants. Store this type of gear in a dry place, away from salt air.

If you have a kayak with a rudder be sure to rinse the rudder housing and the foot pedals frequently. These areas can build up with salt and become hard to use.

Neoprene items, like wetsuits, gloves and booties, suffer damage over time from saltwater. Be sure to rinse well with fresh water after each use. Gear Aid Wetsuit Shampoo removes salt deposits and organic debris, rejuvenating neoprene and prolonging the life of your garments. Let your neoprene air-dry before storing in a cool, dark place. Hang wetsuits on wide-topped hangers to prevent creases and compression at the shoulders. Wetsuit Shampoo also works great on PFDs, splashwear, drywear, and other apparel items.

It is important to rinse and clean your dry wear frequently when using it in saltwater, especially breathable materials. If you put off rinsing a breathable fabric like Gore-Tex the salt builds up and limits it breathability. 

Kayak paddle ferrules, the section where the male and female ends come together, need a little more TLC as well when used in the saltwater. Be sure to rinse your paddle ferrule thoroughly after each use to avoid sticking. If the paddle starts to get a bit sticky, you may need to clean off both ends of the paddle with a small brush to remove all of the grime.

In southern latitudes, gear takes a beating from the sun’s UV rays. 303 Aerospace Protectant gives you SPF 40 sunscreen protection for boats, apparel, fishing gear, sails, etc.

Living by the sea and boating on it is great. Just be sure to take the extra time and effort of cleaning and protecting your gear to prolong its life