Dealing with sand and saltwater

I took my daughter out on the ocean for the first time in our sea kayaks (had a blast by the way!). Afterwards, I had the chore of cleaning up both boats so that the saltwater would not corrode metal parts and to try to get some of the sand out of the cockpit. To be honest, MY boat had significantly MORE sand in it than hers but that is a separate story on why that happened.

Anyways, I took a garden hose, a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush to each boat. I worked on hers first since it was in better shape than mine. Then, before I used the hose on my boat, I took my “leaf blower” and attempted to get the majority of the sand out of the cockpit. That seemed to work pretty well but did not get all of the sand out of the cockpit. I also used it on the rudder assembly. I then used the high pressure water spray to try to dislodge the rest.

I thought that I had done a pretty good job of getting most of sand out but there was still quite a bit in the cockpit. I could live with that for now. However, a couple of days later I went out into the Delaware River and tried to deploy the rudder (pretty windy day) and it was VERY difficult to get the rudder to swing down into the water. The left/right control was fine but when I wanted to get out of my boat back at the boat ramp, I discovered much to my chagrin that I could NOT get the rudder back up out of the water!!

Not wanting to ruin my rudder while getting out at the put-in, I asked a guy that was out fishing in his boat if he could MANUALLY pull my rudder back up out of the water for me. (Yes I could have gotten out of the boat and done it myself, but if any of you are familiar with Darby Creek down by the Philadelphia Airport, then you know how disgustingly filthy that water is and you would then know why I was so grateful to that fisherman!!

Long story short, even with using the leaf blower and the high pressure water hose I still had quite a bit of sand accumulated in the rudder assembly that was causing my rudder to bind. Does anyone have any “tricks of the trade” for getting the sand out?? I really don’t want to have to disassemble the rudder system each and every time I go to the ocean. And also does anyone have any suggestions for getting that pesky sand out of the cockpit area??

Thanks in advance for any tips on cleaning and maintaining a boat in a saltwater environment!!


Flip The Boat Upside Down…
on saw horses, or something else, and gently hose the inside and the let the water run the sand out. Actually using a high pressure device can send the sand into skeg and rudder cable runners and jam things up.

You really don’t have to do a major scrubbing, or have to get ALL the sand out of a boat. It’ll just get in again on the next trip. What is more important, for me, is to rinse out salt from the things that can corrode. These are generally the metal screws, ratcheted backbands, etc. With this rinsing regime, I have not had problems with rusting. I do my paddling 80% in salt water. In fresh water, I don’t even bother with rinsing afterwards.


I can’t help with the rudder ?
but if the sand in the cockpit bugs you, use a shop vac or similar aparatus to clean it up after it dries out. Use the little dust brush on an extension tube to reach all the nooks and crannies near the front bulkhead.

Hope this helps.

Unless yours is a long sea kayak, 16’ or
longer, ditch the rudder. Take it off. I removed the entire rudder assembly from my 14.5’ Necky Looksha Sport. As a WW paddler, I just find I do not need the rudder to keep a responsive sea kayak in line.

I’m such a slob
I just hose my boats off and dump them out, what little sand remains who cares…there will be more tomorrow.

My Necky Jive always has a little bit of sand and seaweed in the bottom.

The first time I took it to rolling class I found a fork inside it that the previous owner had lost under the sliding seat… and that was after I had it out surfing two or three times.

I’ve heard of finding a fork in the road
…but its certainly not an item one would normally find in their boat.

Hey Jeff; lose that leafblower…I agree this may have caused your rudder problem and probably imbedded other sand particles into tiny crevises where you’ll never get 'em out.

Boats that don’t get “dirty” are boats that don’t get out much. Have fun, enjoy life, and don’t sweat the small stuff (you don’t wanna end up with OCD!)

just how did you get all that sand in it?

Getting the Sand Out
Yup, I get a little sand in the cockpit but like Canary I let it dry and shopvac it. Learned the hard way that trying to hose it out only spreads it even more. But I don’t do it after every paddle — only when it starts blooming dune flowers.

Sand out of rudder mechanism
Point your hose at the the rudder mechanism and move the rudder up and down by hand while flushing water at it.

There’s no need for anything more than a cursory rinse to remove salt and sand. I don’t even do that much and I never have any problems with my boats. I can honestly say that I have never used soap on a kayak and see no need to. If you get obsessive about it, you’ll spend more time cleaning than paddling.

Sand is much easier to remove with a vacuum after it dries, though I’ve never found the need to do this except when gluing padding into the cockpit. There’s no need to get all the sand out of a boat and a simple rinse and dump should be more than adequate.

The rudder probably needs some lubrication. A good waterproof lubricant like Boeshield T-9 will do the trick.

All my paddling is done in salt water, I occasionally hose my boat off if the salt gets a bit heavy. If I get sand in the rudder ass’y, I splash water on it while working it by hand.

I do hose off my Chotas, tow bag, sprayskirt and pfd every time I use 'em though.

running a touring co. we hose the cockpits out and use a shop vac-wet/dry, to suck the water out , shoot the ft. pegs so ya get the stuff that may jam the tracs (if possible remove sliders 1st) You can back off the rudder screw just a quarter turn ,rinse an yer good to go. Fastest cleanest way to go. But ya gotta remember that if you are where sand is —sand will be where you are.