Kayak help; advice and equipment.

Ok, I’ve got a few questions and I’ve decided to condense it into one post:

First off I have an Old town Otter single person kayak so you know what I am talking about here.

How to seal up scratches. My kayak has been over rocks and it looks nibbled on. Is there a clear sealant I can put over the scratches to protect it?..

If this question has been answered, a link would be fine.

I would like some better straps to hold my kayak onto top of my car ( PT cruiser with a basic rack).

Something easy to tighten, recommend something?.

I’d like to take my kayak on calm ocean waters in ME and I would like to get a bilge pump for safety. Someone told me not to get the ones with plastic parts as the sun will warp them. Well they ALL seems to be made of plastic so I’m very confused. Please recommend one.

I have trouble damaging my car while loading my kayak. My car actually has numerious scratches from loading my kayak.

I’m not exactly a large person* and it’s been easiest for me to load the kayak from the front of the car. Suggestions?.

  • I am 5’6" and 125 lbs.

    Sadly this issue has lead to me going boating much less then I’d like.

    I’m been thinking of putting a blanket on my car when I load and unload the kayak.

    Long sleeve rash guard shirt, anyone know the best place to get a bargain on this?. Just a basic long sleeve rashguard is fine.

Bilge pump - get any made for a kayak. They6 are made to handle salt water. Plastics are generally fine around salt water, but metals have trouble. But they should have used something like stainless steel for metal parts, so shouldn’t be a problem.

Loading - consider getting the adapters made to help loading kayaks. Something like Yakima Hullyrollers for the back cross bar and a pair of Mako or Landshark saddles for the front. Thule also would have products that work. You might need adapter clips that let you use these with the factory roof rack.

shopping and protection
I have bought rashguards from Sierra Trading Post and from Campmor, both online, as gifts, for around $20. I don’t own one, I wear the same polypro and polyester shirts I wear biking and hiking, for paddling. Sometimes I find a deal at Sportsmans Guide.

Some folks lay a piece of carpet to protect their car when loading. I use a cheap roll-up camp mattress from Wal Mart to protect kayaks when I set them down before storing - it might work to protect your vehicle also.

Some ideas …
Are you loading onto a rack? You can go to target or walmart and get a good quality camping ground pad for about $12. Place it so it will go over the part that is getting scratched and it will fold down over the rear of the PT cruiser too. If you get the slick on on side / corrugated on the other side models the boats slide over them really well. A good source for reasonably priced quality straps for tie downs, rash guards, and most other stuff you need for paddling can be found at NRS (National River Supply) they have good online catalog and plenty of good stuff for paddlers. http://www.nrsweb.com/

Yes not sure if I made it clear enough. I have a basic rack on top of my car. It’s the kind where’s there’s two large bars.

The problem hasn’t been the kayak sitting on top of the car since once it’s loaded it’s sits on those two bars, it’s been the process of me loading it.

Thanks, I’ll check out the NRS.

Yup, then you want to use the ground pad
Put the ground pad where you are resting the boat or where it is banging on the car.

One secret is that a slightly longer boat is much easier to load than a short boat for short person, because you can rest the stern on the ground and lift the bow then lift the stern … that way you only lift about 50% of the weight at one time … so for your next boat look for a longer lighter boat and you will have much more fun paddling … or look for a very short boat that will fit inside your car if you are into river paddling or surfing.

In the ocean…with an Otter…
Please pick a very calm day, stay close to shore, don’t go alone,stay away from beaches where the waves break really close to shore, (yeah ma I know).

Invest in a spray skirt and some float bags for the bow and stern to displace water and keep you afloat just as important as a pump, get’em at NRS.

An Otter is a recreational kayak, not a sea kayak, not designed for oceans.

If you fill it with water it may sink, you may lose your kayak and you will go for a swim. Wear your pfd.

Know your and your crafts limits and have a blast, I’ve surfed 2-3 ft waves on the sandy beaches on the south shore of Superior in rec kayaks; but not without flotation and a wet suit.

Protecting kayaks
Your boat is plastic, so it should be able to soak up HUGE amounts of abuse and still be OK – it’s made from the same type of plastic that whitewater kayaks are in a lot of cases. Don’t worry about it unless you put a really deep gouge in it – then you may need to find a plastic welder (But with an Otter, it may be cheaper to replace the boat).

There isn’t much that will stick to the material your boat is made of for any length of time, so I don’t think you’ll find anything that will a) work or b) not compromise the plastic by reacting with it.

Best advice is don’t sweat it, and go paddling. Those scratches are badges of honor!

On the bilge pump
Whoever told you not to get plastc is full of what makes the grass grow green!

Get a good plastic one and you won’t have to worry about any metal parts rusting up, and yes stainless does rust.

Also don’t let a salesman talk you into the one with the small 1" discharge.

Get the one with the large discharge. A Harmony or equal. - It discharges on both the push and the pull.



Walmart has cheap ones. Got both a short and a long sleeved for $10 apiece.

loading kayak on car
Is there a reason for loading kayak from front of car? A common approach is to load from the back and put something like a towel or a bath floor mat over the back part of the car roof. This way you just lift the front of the kayak onto the mat on your car, move your hands tow the rear of the kayak and lift and push it up onto the car. I then have to remember to remove the mat on the car as I’ve driven off a few times with it up there :).

Towels, rugs, pads & mats in the wind:
I see a lot of suggestions for people to place pads, mats, rugs etc. on the back of their vehicles to prevent scratching the finish when loading boats from the back.

Question, how do you keep these things in place when there’s a bit of a breeze? Anytime I tried something like that, the item got blown out of place. I gave up on the concept. Do you secure it in place some way? This is a serious question.

I’m thinking that some of that thin, flexible magnetic sign material stuck to the part of the vehicle roof that needs the protection might work better than the other items that can get blow out of place at the most inopportune times.

thule mat- water slide
Thule makes a product called the Water-slide. It is a mat with Velcro loops on one end. The loops attach to your rear bar to prevent it from blowing away. One side of the mat is sticky rubber (car down side) while the other is soft to easily slide your boat on.

wind and mat
it’s only occasionally a problem for me, but in those cases I often just put something heavy (like a water bag/bottle) on the edge of the mat leaving room still for sliding the kayak up the mat. Using a heavier mat rather than a towel helps for mild wind.

Enjoy the scratches like a merit badge. If it’s windy i wet the towl and it stays in place. I have had the kayak and canoe at one time or another fall off and hit the hood the doors the back hatch of my Ford Explorer. I find it best to have 2 people loading.

Longer boat easier
You can try a Roller Loader, wheels that hang off the rack and you put the bow of the boat into to roll it up from the rear. (along with the protective mats etc) But a longer boat is actually easier to load than a very short wide one like the Otter.

If you are paddling in Maine, you may be best upping your skills and starting to look around for something longer used.

As to the scratches - it’s a boat in Maine. It’ll get scratches. Forget about them, just treat it with a UV protectant a few times a year when it’s sunny enough. Though there’s been no need to worry about that this spring…