With proper treatment, a well cared for kayak will
last a long time. It is best to store your kayak in a dry area, sheltered
from the sun, as weathering will cause irreparable damage. Left in the
rain, sun and in extreme temperatures, both plastic and fiberglass will
show increasing signs of wear. Ultra violet light will age a polyethylene
kayak quickly, making it brittle. Fibreglass composite kayaks will also
suffer from UV damage (faded gelcoat, surface degradation). Weathering
will also cause damage to all metal, plastic and neoprene products,
so it is worth keeping the kayak out of the elements.
Salt water is another corrosive element that will
cause wear if your kayak is not properly looked after. Fittings, even
stainless steel and neoprene will slowly disintegrate if not rinsed
off before putting your kayak back into storage. Also, washing a kayak
off after each usage will ensure any sand or dirt left in moving parts
will not affect its performance next trip.
You should check the kayak often and do a small tune-up
once a year. Wax the deck and hull (simple car wax is all that is needed)
to protect from water and sun damage. Check neoprene hatch covers, straps
and buckles, cables and other moving parts for wear and replace where
necessary. Tighten all nuts and check exit holes sealed by silicone
to make sure everything is still watertight.
Check hull and deck for abrasion, chips or cracks.
Deep scratches through and into the glass laminate should be repaired.
Use your common sense--a fibreglass kayak will break if treated poorly,
but if treated well it will last for a very long time. Some of our kayaks
are still in service after 25 years.