First Scratch Fears

Two confessions: First, I tend to be a bit anal and try to take excellent care of my stuff. Secondly, I am new to paddling and just bought my first kayak.

I bought it new and it is all shiny and pretty. :slight_smile: It is a plastic boat, and truthfully not overly expensive, but I still want to take care of it and not abuse it.

How does one walk the fine line between using a kayak reasonably and getting a few rock scratches, yet not abusing it?

So far I have only had this kayak on a river but there are some creeks nearby that I would like to explore but with water levels lower, that will entail some serious scratches when going over shallow or exposed rocks?

Am I the only one with this “weirdism”?

Should have bought two
That way you could use one and look at the other one. It’s only a piece of recreational equipment, not a family heirloom !

I suppose
I could put in some witty or sarcastic remark here. I’m sure the quota will be filled shortly. And exceeded.

OP, one thing you can do is learn how to get in and get out of your kayak in 1 foot or more of water (depends how deep the boat sinks with you in it). Not only does this spare the bottom from the inevitable scratches from shoreline launches, but it also teaches you a valuable reboarding skill (it’s the finishing part of the cowboy scramble) and improves your balance and agility.

It’s fun. Try it.

Scratches are …
badges of honor. Show them proudly.

use vs. abuse
If you’re playing in rivers and creeks with rocks, you’re going to get scratches. That’s normal. You can minimize them be learning to read the water and developing the skill to place the boat where you want it. But if you’re exploring and learning – and having fun – you’re going to make a few errors and find a few rocks.

You can minimize scratches by launching and landing from the water, by walking shallows instead of grinding along, by not dragging the boat on land, and by using care during transport.

I felt the same way at first OP, and I’d mount/dismount in deeper water to avoid scratching the hull.

Nowadays I tend to hit the shore and high speed in a sliding sideways angle, then drag her half up onto the beach over shells and such…

I have Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 and it takes all the abuse I give it without issues. Worrying about the hull appearance is just wasted energy - but I think everyone has had those feelings…

It’s the same with any new “toy” pretty much…

a scratch
Isnt an indication of care.

Ryan L.

Scratches make the paddler
Unmarked boats send a message that someone has not gotten on the water, just talks about it.

Scratches are good. And a plastic boat can take a lot.

Wat’a want, people ta think yer a novice

– Last Updated: Aug-05-13 10:51 AM EST –

Go git some scratches on dat boat o' yers an' show 'em yer a real paddler!

"A shiny new boat may look purty but it only becomes beautiful after it's got de scars showin' it's been places."


Lightning Bolt
I don’t think I ever got a new plastic kayak home without finding a few scratches on it from the store or traveling.

My very first scratch was a very long lighting bolt that went down almost the entire length of my hull. It did bother me for awhile but the more you use the kayak and add hundreds of other scratches they all begin to blend together and it just looks right. It is hard to find the lightning bolt scar anymore.

If your first scratches bother you then the answer is to go out and get a bunch more.

I do lots of shallow streams and everything is rocky here – no nice sandy beaches. Learn to read the water to find the channels and avoid scratching when you can (getting stuck is best to avoid) but accept you will hear and feel some nasty rocks at times.

Basstar. There are some creative ways to fix those scratches. I have done them myself. But I guess I’m not that good at it. Everyone says my work stinks when they look at it.

So maybe others can help.

I could be incorrerct but …

– Last Updated: Aug-05-13 3:18 PM EST –

...... I thought that getting digs , scrapes and scratches is the reason people buy plastic boats , it's always been my reason .

If I expected to be paddling strickly in deep waters as opposed to mountain rivers and streams , I would go for the more expensive composite hull with it's advantages of efficiency and lighter weight . Also think I would be extra careful at the launch and on land with it (if I paid the big bucks for it) so as to keep it's skin unscaved as much as possible .

But seroiusly , half the fun of plastic boats is that you can enjoy getting them scratched up w/o need to worry about it .

Let me repeat ... "w/o need to worry about it" ... (therein screams the value of a plastic boat) .

Now , as a new paddler ... turn to page #2 .

An unscratched plastic boat is either brand new , never gets used , never sees mountain rivers and streams , or is a ball and chain to it's owner who gets worried to death about scratching it (and hence , destroys the whole idea of mountain and stream paddling) .

Do yourself a favor , pretend it's a tank , use it like a four wheeler and have fun in it w/o worrying . You won't be able stop the scratches regardless ... so if you are going to have fun and explore in it , use it like it's made to be used and delight in it's used appearance .

Are you a convert yet ?? ... let us know when you become one , OK !!

ps., ... if you aren't scratching it , you "are not" taking excellent care of it . It wants to be scratched , it's wants to go where it's made to go , it wants to be treated rough , it wants to be the shield that plows the way in front of you so you can go where you couldn't before w/o it !!

It knows it's job , let it do it and quit holding back on the reins ...

Thanks So Much Everyone…
…and every since I began my interest in paddling, this site has been a real blessing! I have learned so much on here and this thread is no exception.

To the creeks it goes!

I will of course avoid any major damage and will avoid any blatant rocky grounding, but will just grit my teeth over the first few scratches and keep on paddling.

depends on what “take care of it” means
If you mean “I really want my boat to look pretty,” then my advice is simple: get over it. Cosmetic wear is a natural result of use for any and all types of recreational equipment.

If you mean “I want my boat to remain in good functional condition,” then that’s another issue. Assuming it’s a solidly built plastic boat, running over some rocks is very unlikely to result in harm. Actually, the biggest risk to most plastic boats comes from bad transportation/storage habits (e.g. oil-canning from prolonged exposure to heat).

that’s the spirit !!!
… another suggestion is to go buy another new plastic boat , then when it comes time to go paddling look at your two boats (the older used one and the unscathed new one) … then choose which one you want to take today !!

Bet 90% of the time it will be the older one , wanna bet ??

Have fun and leave all your worries behind when you go out into the waters of the unknown … plastic is your friend !!!

Go ahead, run it up on shore, I do 60-80 paddles a year. Everyone is a shore launch. I have a 6 year old plastic Necky. So that comes out to around 400 trips x2 (launch and land) or 800 groundings. And many trips are over 12 miles so usually a landing in there for a break, so add maybe another 150 for a total of 950 groundings. Yep, lots of scratches on the bottom. No structural damage to the bottom, no leaks in the hull. That’s why I hardly ever paddle my fiberglass boat. Have to be too careful with it!

The first scratch hurts the worst !
I raced my seventeen year old tupperware kayak yesterday. It has more scratches and dings then Carter has little liver pills. The seat back is no longer nice black fabric and has a beautiful duct tape cover.

The oddest thing is it used to win me trophies when it was shiny and new with no scratches, and yesterday it was just as fast and it came home with another trophy.

Jack L

A scratched boat is a used boat
a used boat is a happy boat. Go out and make your boat happy.

The first scratch still hurts though, after that ist’s all down hill.

I’d be more than happy to drag it
across a gravel parking lot for ya; that’s what I do with my own when I’m too tired to pick it up. I’m just bein’ a nice guy willing to help ya out.

I’ve heard some here say …
… they may ocassionally drag there plastic boats across gravel and sand beaches to sort of polish off some off the fuzzies that accumulate .