If I knew then what I know now. Have you ever muttered that to yourself?
By checking out fellow kayakers modifications and asking questions, I’ve made a few of modifications that newbie kayakers might find useful. If you’re looking for a quick leg up into the world of kayak mods then look no further as below are some of the more basic ones. A word of warning though: kayaks, gear and mods are all things where you can ask 4 kayakers and get 5 opinions.
Interested in protecting your keel line from when you inevitably land your kayak onto sandy and shelly beaches. Give the fiberglass along your keel line a quick wipe down first. Stick a metre of 50mm PSP Marine Tape Safety Tread on. 5m of tape is about $20 from Whitworths (#85746). The tape comes in white or black. $20 is a cheap way to save you kayak’s wear and tear and you can make it even cheaper if you divide the roll up amongst your mates.
On starting out in the club, I learned that tow ropes and tow points were essential safety items. The tow point is easily solved on the Mirage 580 with its 2 seat mounting bolts on each side of the cockpit. I sacrificed a 12 inch section of my 1 inch kayak tie down strap and there was still plenty left for tying my kayak down. Fold the off-cut in half. Sew in a 25mm D-Loop, $15 from Whitworths (#31440). The D-loop makes it very easy to clip on the tow rope whereas it can be awkward to clip the tow rope onto the loop of tape. Pierce 2 holes with a red hot nail (using a pair of pliers and the gas hob in the kitchen is ideal or the gas bbq). Undo the seat mounts and do them back up with the tow point secured (females hands, being smaller, are better equipped for this job). Repeat if you want two tow points.
Tow rope bungee and netting
If you need a tow rope then you need it now. Imagine if your fellow paddler is getting awfully close to the rocks – time is of the essence. It might be too late if you need to fumble around looking for your tow rope in your hatch. Some people store it in their PFD. Mine is on the rear deck, under bungee and netting.
4 x black midget nylon fairleads from Whitworths (#35550) take 6mm bungee cord. Buy the stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts while you’re at the shop. I used dome nuts to minimize the possibility of stowed gear getting caught on the bolts but you could equally cut the bolts off and sand them back after mounting them.
You’ll need to bolt the fairleads to your deck. Yes sir, you’ll need to drill through your fiberglass. I put masking tape on the deck to mark out where I wanted the holes to go first. Remember, measure twice, cut once.
I tied the overlapped ends of the bungee with whipping twine and covered it in self amalgamating tape from Whitworths (#85450).
Club rules state the tow rope must be at least 15m. Mine is 15m x 6mm rope from a camping store with a float threaded on and stainless buckles at each end. The entire thing is bundled into a mesh bag where it can dry out easily. I tried the ultra thin 2mm sash cord but I found it too thin for both tangles and it can cut into your hands when the cord is under tension if you’re not careful.
Essential Grade 3 equipment. Contact Bruce and Lynne McNaughton who provided exemplary service to me. I think I had the paddle cover within 48 hours of my email. Contact Bruce on firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $70. They come in your choice of colour so long as it is black.
Hatch cover tie ons.
VCP hatches (Valley Canoe Products) are really costly to replace and if they go missing on a trip then it a complete hassle to keep water out of your kayak’s compartments. My hatches are simply tied on with cord around the hatch and then onto the decklines. I’ve inserted mini sister clips into the lines so I can detach the hatch covers as needed. The clips are $3 from Whitworths (#77826).
My sail is from Michael Richards, Kite Magic at Coogee, Ph 02 9315 7001 / 0411 357 894. Cost was about $600 all in. Sail was $430, the 2 cam cleats $100 and add $30 for other fixings and $40 to add a couple of fiberglass sheets to strengthen the deck under the mast step.
Floatation for your sunglasses and hat
A floating strap for your sunnies is a must. I think most people have lost a pair of sunnies or more. Chums work.
I connected a key ring float through a buttonhole that was sewn into the back of the hat. I can remove it when the mood takes me. $4 from Whitworths (#48082). I haven’t lost my hat yet!
Your kayak probably already has a name you just haven’t done your kayak the honour of naming it and cracking out the champers. I ordered my name online from www.boatnames.com.au and used the 2” lettering option. The website has heaps of choices of fonts and styles and it comes pre-spaced on an application strip ready to apply. Cost is $70 including P+H.
Published Edition 77-78, January – March 2010