How to make a fiberglass boat last?

I’d like to see if I can get my kayak to last longer than myself. My kayak is already old (1998 Anas Acuta) and since I regularly use it I am worried about wearing it out. I am concerned about the integrity of the fiberglass over time, especially since it spends several hours every week strapped to my car on the highway. I use a gull wing carrier which softens the impact of bumps, but the kayak certainly still vibrates at highway speeds. I know vibration is one of the many things that can compromise fiberglasses integrity. Other than driving carefully, does anyone have methods to minimize the effect of vibration on a kayak while driving?

Slow down and take the back roads when you can. None of my kayaks are ever dragged, except very short distances on nice soft grass. I always get in and out of the boats in the water. The boat never touches the bottom. They get carried on my shoulder to dry land and when possible all the way to the trailer where they ride on soft cushiony bunks. If the carry distance is too far the boat gets a ride on my dolly. The boats are never stored outdoors and they rest on air filled cushions in my shop.

Even with all of that, there are little oweeies that occur. Fiberglass is relatively easy to fix–sometimes better than new.


Not specific to the scenario but be sure to use UV protection, that will go a long way to making your boat last


Don’t take it to Maine. At least midcoast and up.

Seriously, UV and treat it gently on the tack as above.

UV. I have two kayaks from the mid seventies in decent shape. Back in the day they hung from hooks in the hall ceiling of my apartment, garage since then.

Where is the vibration coming from? I don’t have that type of carrier but nothing vibrates. Is the kayak bouncing up and down on the rack foam, or does the rack have slop somewhere? You might be able to reach out the window and feel - is it the boat on cradle, cradle on rack, or rack on car? Might need someone else driving to do this.

Hmm… WIlderness System Shenai… Been used in Maine since 1993, Some gel coat gouges easy to fix

Yes the boat is 29 years old. We live in Maine and I do not understand Celias logic… MIdcoast and up is our paddling home.

I must have missed the part where the OPer indicated they wanted to do gel coat repairs. Which apparently kayakedic has found to be a part of maintenance as have l.

Don’t hit stuff like rocks and logs.
Keep it out of the sun.
Be careful when you tie it down, don’t use straps.

Don’t use straps? Seriously? Do you mean don’t use ratchet straps?

As for the original question, fiberglass kayaks don’t “wear out” with use. They can become damaged, but almost anything can be repaired. Others have provided good advice for care, but don’t be afraid to use your boat…that’s why you bought it. If it gets a bit banged up, learn to fix it; it’s not difficult.

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Well you don’t know how long that is. How long are you going to last? :laughing:

I use regular straps as do all but one person l know. Including highly rated coaches. I happen to use two at each piunt for long drives.

The rope versus strap thing is IMO a little silly, though l know of one such advocate. Ropes can hide a weak point that could go, strap buckles can fail if you don’t inspect your stuff. There is no difference in risk.

I have camping time with ropes. If they can fail when strapping a tent they can do so on the roof of a car.

The solution is to have two of whatever at each point so a failure of one is not fatal. This advice from a guy who did the early circumnavigation of Greenland in a kayak. I think he knows more than l do.


Maintaining straps is easy. First, make sure the straps you buy are made with polyester webbing, not Nylon (I think this is pretty much universally the case these days), as polyester is much more UV resistant. Rinse the straps to remove salt and sand after use. Allow them to dry and store them out of the sun. This prevents corrosion on the buckles and eliminates abrasive particles that wear and weaken the straps.

Ropes should also be rinsed after use, but I wonder how many people actually do that.

While driving 75 i was able to reach out window and feel it

Well I’m 21 now. I’ll probably die kayak surfing by accidentally snapping my neck on a sandbar, hopefully not for at least 30 years. :slight_smile:

Buy another one and store it.

No more CD Nomads so I got another one for 650.

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Like everything else on Earth, try to keep it out of the Sun as much as possible

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Night kayaking only or wrap it.

Hit my head hard on the bottom a couple of weeks ago. Quite the thud!!! Good thing for my full cut helmet and immediately tucking foward when the maytagging was about to happen in the soup zone. The rebound of head against the bottom actually helped rolled me quickly back to upright.

Always wear your helmet!!! Fingers crossed for good sessions and unbroken neck.



I use straps and foam blocks on top of my van and have for years. Never had a problem. There are better, and more expensive carriers, but if one is careful not to over-tighten, this form of kayak transport is perfectly fine.