Your #1 source for kayaking and canoeing information.               FREE Newsletter!
my Profile

Advice, Suggestions and General Help New Topic Printer Friendly Version

  First Scratch Fears
  Posted by: Basstar on Aug-05-13 8:32 AM (EST)
   Category: Kayaks 

Two confessions: First, I tend to be a bit anal and try to take excellent care of my stuff. Secondly, I am new to paddling and just bought my first kayak.

I bought it new and it is all shiny and pretty. :) It is a plastic boat, and truthfully not overly expensive, but I still want to take care of it and not abuse it.

How does one walk the fine line between using a kayak reasonably and getting a few rock scratches, yet not abusing it?

So far I have only had this kayak on a river but there are some creeks nearby that I would like to explore but with water levels lower, that will entail some serious scratches when going over shallow or exposed rocks?

Am I the only one with this "weirdism"?

 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Deck Rigging Gear

Touring Sprayskirts

Paddling Accessories

Gedi Convertible Helmet

Table of Contents

Messages in this Topic


  Should have bought two
  Posted by: Cliffjrs on Aug-05-13 8:38 AM (EST)
That way you could use one and look at the other one. It's only a piece of recreational equipment, not a family heirloom !
  I suppose
  Posted by: RavenWing on Aug-05-13 8:44 AM (EST)
I could put in some witty or sarcastic remark here. I'm sure the quota will be filled shortly. And exceeded.

OP, one thing you can do is learn how to get in and get out of your kayak in 1 foot or more of water (depends how deep the boat sinks with you in it). Not only does this spare the bottom from the inevitable scratches from shoreline launches, but it also teaches you a valuable reboarding skill (it's the finishing part of the cowboy scramble) and improves your balance and agility.

It's fun. Try it.

  Scratches are ...
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on Aug-05-13 8:45 AM (EST)
badges of honor. Show them proudly.
  use vs. abuse
  Posted by: angstrom on Aug-05-13 9:03 AM (EST)
If you're playing in rivers and creeks with rocks, you're going to get scratches. That's normal. You can minimize them be learning to read the water and developing the skill to place the boat where you want it. But if you're exploring and learning -- and having fun -- you're going to make a few errors and find a few rocks.

You can minimize scratches by launching and landing from the water, by walking shallows instead of grinding along, by not dragging the boat on land, and by using care during transport.
  Posted by: bogmonkey on Aug-05-13 10:06 AM (EST)
I felt the same way at first OP, and I'd mount/dismount in deeper water to avoid scratching the hull.

Nowadays I tend to hit the shore and high speed in a sliding sideways angle, then drag her half up onto the beach over shells and such...

I have Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 and it takes all the abuse I give it without issues. Worrying about the hull appearance is just wasted energy - but I think everyone has had those feelings...

It's the same with any new "toy" pretty much...

  a scratch
  Posted by: radiomix on Aug-05-13 10:15 AM (EST)
Isnt an indication of care.

Ryan L.
  Scratches make the paddler
  Posted by: Celia on Aug-05-13 10:27 AM (EST)
Unmarked boats send a message that someone has not gotten on the water, just talks about it.

Scratches are good. And a plastic boat can take a lot.
  Wat'a want, people ta think yer a novice
  Posted by: FatElmo on Aug-05-13 10:46 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-05-13 10:51 AM EST --

Go git some scratches on dat boat o' yers an' show 'em yer a real paddler!

"A shiny new boat may look purty but it only becomes beautiful after it's got de scars showin' it's been places."


  Lightning Bolt
  Posted by: ShadyClip on Aug-05-13 11:49 AM (EST)
I don't think I ever got a new plastic kayak home without finding a few scratches on it from the store or traveling.

My very first scratch was a very long lighting bolt that went down almost the entire length of my hull. It did bother me for awhile but the more you use the kayak and add hundreds of other scratches they all begin to blend together and it just looks right. It is hard to find the lightning bolt scar anymore.

If your first scratches bother you then the answer is to go out and get a bunch more.

I do lots of shallow streams and everything is rocky here -- no nice sandy beaches. Learn to read the water to find the channels and avoid scratching when you can (getting stuck is best to avoid) but accept you will hear and feel some nasty rocks at times.
  Posted by: poleplant on Aug-05-13 12:03 PM (EST)
Basstar. There are some creative ways to fix those scratches. I have done them myself. But I guess I'm not that good at it. Everyone says my work stinks when they look at it.

So maybe others can help.
  I could be incorrerct but ....
  Posted by: pilotwingz on Aug-05-13 1:09 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Aug-05-13 3:18 PM EST --

...... I thought that getting digs , scrapes and scratches is the reason people buy plastic boats , it's always been my reason .

If I expected to be paddling strickly in deep waters as opposed to mountain rivers and streams , I would go for the more expensive composite hull with it's advantages of efficiency and lighter weight . Also think I would be extra careful at the launch and on land with it (if I paid the big bucks for it) so as to keep it's skin unscaved as much as possible .

But seroiusly , half the fun of plastic boats is that you can enjoy getting them scratched up w/o need to worry about it .

Let me repeat ... "w/o need to worry about it" ... (therein screams the value of a plastic boat) .

Now , as a new paddler ... turn to page #2 .

An unscratched plastic boat is either brand new , never gets used , never sees mountain rivers and streams , or is a ball and chain to it's owner who gets worried to death about scratching it (and hence , destroys the whole idea of mountain and stream paddling) .

Do yourself a favor , pretend it's a tank , use it like a four wheeler and have fun in it w/o worrying . You won't be able stop the scratches regardless ... so if you are going to have fun and explore in it , use it like it's made to be used and delight in it's used appearance .

Are you a convert yet ?? ... let us know when you become one , OK !!

ps., ... if you aren't scratching it , you "are not" taking excellent care of it . It wants to be scratched , it's wants to go where it's made to go , it wants to be treated rough , it wants to be the shield that plows the way in front of you so you can go where you couldn't before w/o it !!

It knows it's job , let it do it and quit holding back on the reins ...

  Thanks So Much Everyone.....
  Posted by: Basstar on Aug-05-13 2:27 PM (EST)
...and every since I began my interest in paddling, this site has been a real blessing! I have learned so much on here and this thread is no exception.

To the creeks it goes!

I will of course avoid any major damage and will avoid any blatant rocky grounding, but will just grit my teeth over the first few scratches and keep on paddling.
  that's the spirit !!!!!!
  Posted by: pilotwingz on Aug-05-13 3:13 PM (EST)
..... another suggestion is to go buy another new plastic boat , then when it comes time to go paddling look at your two boats (the older used one and the unscathed new one) ... then choose which one you want to take today !!

Bet 90% of the time it will be the older one , wanna bet ??

Have fun and leave all your worries behind when you go out into the waters of the unknown ... plastic is your friend !!!

  Posted by: radskierman on Aug-05-13 4:10 PM (EST)
Go ahead, run it up on shore, I do 60-80 paddles a year. Everyone is a shore launch. I have a 6 year old plastic Necky. So that comes out to around 400 trips x2 (launch and land) or 800 groundings. And many trips are over 12 miles so usually a landing in there for a break, so add maybe another 150 for a total of 950 groundings. Yep, lots of scratches on the bottom. No structural damage to the bottom, no leaks in the hull. That's why I hardly ever paddle my fiberglass boat. Have to be too careful with it!
  depends on what "take care of it" means
  Posted by: bignate on Aug-05-13 2:42 PM (EST)
If you mean "I really want my boat to look pretty," then my advice is simple: get over it. Cosmetic wear is a natural result of use for any and all types of recreational equipment.

If you mean "I want my boat to remain in good functional condition," then that's another issue. Assuming it's a solidly built plastic boat, running over some rocks is very unlikely to result in harm. Actually, the biggest risk to most plastic boats comes from bad transportation/storage habits (e.g. oil-canning from prolonged exposure to heat).
  The first scratch hurts the worst !
  Posted by: JackL on Aug-05-13 4:30 PM (EST)
I raced my seventeen year old tupperware kayak yesterday. It has more scratches and dings then Carter has little liver pills. The seat back is no longer nice black fabric and has a beautiful duct tape cover.
The oddest thing is it used to win me trophies when it was shiny and new with no scratches, and yesterday it was just as fast and it came home with another trophy.

Jack L
  Jack L............
  Posted by: Basstar on Aug-05-13 8:15 PM (EST) are possibly giving away hints to your age. Carter hasn't had "Little Liver" pills for years. :)
  At my age, I can even get away with
  Posted by: JackL on Aug-06-13 6:34 AM (EST)
telling 22 year old female paddlers that they are as cute as the dickens!

Jack L
  A scratched boat is a used boat
  Posted by: leob1 on Aug-05-13 5:17 PM (EST)
a used boat is a happy boat. Go out and make your boat happy.

The first scratch still hurts though, after that ist's all down hill.
  I'd be more than happy to drag it
  Posted by: tdaniel on Aug-05-13 5:58 PM (EST)
across a gravel parking lot for ya; that's what I do with my own when I'm too tired to pick it up. I'm just bein' a nice guy willing to help ya out.
  I've heard some here say .....
  Posted by: pilotwingz on Aug-05-13 6:56 PM (EST)
..... they may ocassionally drag there plastic boats across gravel and sand beaches to sort of polish off some off the fuzzies that accumulate .
  just not concrete.
  Posted by: string on Aug-05-13 9:57 PM (EST)
  Like new car ... a kayak is a 4x4 ...
  Posted by: nebeginner on Aug-05-13 10:34 PM (EST)
If you buy a shiny new 4x4, are you gonna use it off road? That doesn't mean you have to go smashing into trees and boulders. But it does mean an occasional scratch or ding.

Most kayaks are like 4x4's. Especially where you describe paddling, and what you want to do with it. I have owned more than a few sea kayaks, plastic and glass. I remember my first outing in my new Nordlow, one of the most beautiful kayaks out there. Going over submerged sea wall, timed it just a second wrong, and a wave moved my angle just a bit off, and dropped the boat down on to a rock. Just a scratch, but that sound! Thought I tore a hole on the darn thing.

I also take good care of my things, mainly to keep resale value up there. I guess there are too basic philosophies on this. One is "use it up", and the other is take care and preserve the value in case you want to trade up.

My POV is neither is wrong, unless perhaps taken to extremes. Depending on your POV, take enough care of the boat to have fun with it, and when you get a scratch or ding, don't let it spoil things for you.

Unless your goal is to keep it in show room condition, go use it.
  Avoid the avoidable
  Posted by: pikabike on Aug-06-13 12:39 AM (EST)
At the playpark where I used to go, most WW kayakers would put their boats on the shore, get in, and push themselves off the rocks or dirt into the water. SCCCCRRRRRRRAPE! I guess they thought it looked cool.

There was no need to do it that way there. I always put the kayak in an eddy and was able to skirt up without trouble, same as launching at a lake.

The kayak has scratches from paddling in rocky, shallow moving water, as expected. I just didn't add any that were easily avoidable--such as "cool" launches or dragging instead of shouldering.

Give up the idea of avoiding all scratches, because you might as well just not paddle. But you don't have to regard the boat as a disposable item, either.
  Don't run it up on the beach,
  Posted by: yakfisher on Aug-09-13 12:08 AM (EST)
don't drag it, pick it up and carry it, coat it with 303 once a year, and store it out of the sun when not in use.

I have a 11 year old Pungo 140 that has been treated this way and it still looks nearly new. Sure it has a few scratches on the bottom where I hit a crab trap, a stump, a barnicle covered log, and a few rocks and oyster shells over the years, but it is in far better shape than most plastic boats I see that are only a couple of years old.

  This is too funny
  Posted by: dc9mm on Aug-09-13 3:09 PM (EST)
Your worried about a PLASTIC kayak, LOL. I bang the heck out of mine.

Now if you said you had a nice new 3 to 4 grand fiberglass gelcoated kayak I could under stand. I hate getting scratches on my gelcoat. It was hell in my recent trip to Georgian Bay.Rock landings every were. The two plastic kayaks on the trip could just ram themselves onto the island at will. Were I had to gently try to carry my kayak to shore which wasn't always possible.
  Posted by: tkamd on Aug-09-13 3:40 PM (EST)
With your paddle, if you put it in the water, it will get wet, some of those water spots are hard to get out. As for rocks, mud and sand, don't even go there. tkamd
  Not for me.
  Posted by: magooch on Aug-10-13 11:17 AM (EST)
I probably paddle more times per year than most folks on this site and all of my boats look like brand new. I don't believe that taking good care of things is a vice. That's not to say that there aren't a few little marks if you look close enough, but none of them are on purpose.

My philosophy is that I try very hard to respect the work and care that the craftsmen who built these boats put into creating them and as long as I own them, they will not be abused. I don't care what other people think--that's just the way I am.


Follow us on:
Free Newsletter | About Us | Site Map | Advertising Info | Contact Us


©2015 Inc.