A friend who is storing her plastic 10 foot rec on her porch is curious about what kind of cover she should put on her boat. I know you can buy a kayak cover, but that might not make economic sense for a boat that cost under $200. Is there material she could buy at a fabric store? I’m fortunate enough to have a garage to keep my boats in (no room for my car, but the boats are safe).
Cover it with a tarp
The best ones are the silver faced ones that cost a little more than the blue ones, but with the silver side out it reflects the sun.
Austin Canoe and Kayak
has Seals cockpit covers for $21.95. If she’s going to carry her kayak on her car, open side up, the cover will keep it from filling up with rain. And it will keep the critters out—nothing like being out in the middle of a lake and spotting a big fat Palmetto bug (nice name for a cockroach) in your boat.
A tarp would work, too, but a cockpit cover with a good fit would be easier.
A cockpit cover won't stop UV damage to the plastic. A good combo would be the silver tarp and a mesh cockpit cover for bug control. It also lets the boat dry out. An oval of plastic window screen held on with a bungee works well for this.
I have regular waterproof cockpit covers, but only seem to use them when I have to carry equipment in the boat while it's on the car. Moderate rain doesn't add much mass to the boat, as the cockpit opening is rather small. If you live somewhere that gets torrential downpours, a cover while driving is probably a good idea.
best cheap and functional tarps
My preferred kayak storage tarps are the natural cotton canvas paint dropcloths you can get at places like Sherwin Williams paint stores and Home Depot. They make one that is 6’ wide and 20’ long which is perfect for covering even the longest kayak (or two shorter ones). It protects against UV but lets the moisture out. Sherwin Williams stores sometimes have half off sales for painting accessories (including the tarps) and I have bought them for as little as $6. That’s a lot of fabric for a little money.
I totally agree with the cockpit cover. I left my kayak on the back porch one weekend and forgot to put the cover on. When I went to drag it out into the yard to load it the next weekend there was a frantic scrabbling inside and two juvenile raccoons made a quick exit, snarling and hissing at me. They had left quite a mess inside, including nibbling a corner off the edge of the boat’s foam seat.
I have a Perception Swifty that has been stored on its side on a canoe rack for over 11 years, with the bottom exposed to the sun. The bottom is still just as bright yellow as the top, which is in shade, and it doesn’t seem brittle. Has anyone actually noticed UV damage, or is this a myth?
Here in Floriduh, transporting without a cockpit cover in the rainy season can mean spending time bailing or pumping out the boat before taking it off the car. And a pair of Carolina wrens built a nest in my sister-in-law’s Pungo on top of her car without the cockpit cover, in less than an hour. Cockpit cover, pretty essential down here.
can make a real mess inside, too.
Sissy, I usually use a cockpit cover
but here in SW Fl, I find a 5’ 3/8 plastic hose makes all the difference when carrying kayaks on the roof. Stick one end of the hose under the seat and let all the water siphon out. No mess and the kayaks are a LOT lighter to unload.
UV damage is real…it’ll oxidize fiberglass and make plastic brittle. I use 303 or Turtle Wax F21 car polish to restore the color and block UV.
sunbrella at your sewing shop
After a friend of mine (Dottie) made for me a custom home-made kayak cover out of some heavy-weight yellow sunbrella fabric (quality canvass) I made another one for my wife’s kayak using a lighter weight sunbrella that we bought at a fabric store for about $25. I sewed the one-piece cover with our sewing machine in a couple hours. Still works well after many years. My sewing capability isn’t even close to Dottie’s but it was sufficient for the project. Boats looks great after many years.
Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll pass them along. I enjoyed the raccoon story – of course, that’s because it happened to someone else, not me.
Mice chew through fiberglass screen
Mice can and will chew right through fiberglass screening material. I ended up having to replace all the fiberglass screens in my below grade basement windows with metal screens because the mice chewed holes and got in.
But, it may still be the best way to store a kayak if you are able to store your kayak in an area where the mice won’t have good access - like hanging in a garage or on a rack. I’m going to try it this winter and see how it goes. Great ideas in this thread.
These are cheap
but do they really protect sufficiently against UV?