Pimp your canoe — trick your kayak
Modern canoes and kayaks are more than just small boats. They can be used to perform a huge range of activities. This is facilitated by an almost infinite number of different types of accessories and additional parts that can be added, either at the time of purchase, or retrofitted to your craft later.
Perhaps you’ve decided you want to try your hand at Kayak fishing? You can outfit your kayak with navigational equipment, rod holders, fish finders and more. Planning a touring expedition around Tasmania? You’re going to want a bilge pump and a paddle float.
Some accessories and parts are designed to either make paddling less strenuous, while others are suited towards helping you off the water; transporting your boat from your home to your launch point, and making sure it’s secure at all times.
We’ve pulled together a basic guide to some of the parts and accessories that you can use to make your paddling adventure even more enjoyable.
Optional parts and accessories include:
Anchors. In some scenarios, it may be necessary to drop a line and anchor up, ensuring that your boat doesn’t continue to be taken with the tide. Some types of kayak and canoe fishing require you to anchor in one place so that you can ensure that you are consistently dropping your fishing line over the same spot with each cast.
Backrests. Not all canoes and kayaks come with a back rest installed. You might like to have one fitted to help cope with hours of paddling. Some back rests are adjustable allowing you to account for different paddlers.
Bilge Pump. There are two main types of bilge pumps that kayakers and canoers utlilise on their adventures: manual and electronic pumps. Manual pumps are simple yet sturdy. They are operated using a handle that allows you to quickly draw water into the device’s container and then pump it over the side (much more effective than the traditional bucket). An electronic pump does all the work for you. Once activated, it will continue to clear your boat’s hull of any water that has built up, ensuring that you aren’t carrying any extra weight around. Pumps can be either deck mounted, or handheld. Deck mounted pumps have the added benefit that you will never lose them if you capsize, but sometimes won’t quite clear your hull of all of the water that has built up. Hand held pumps are great because they enable you to get right in there and clear every last drop.
Carrying Handles. Not all kayaks and canoes off the shop floor come with carry handles installed. If you plan to be lifting or carrying your kayak to your launch point on foot, carry handles will save you a lot of hassle, and could help save your back. Handles usually feature at the bow and stern, allowing two people to easily support the boat between them.
Kayak Covers. If you want to keep your boat in good condition, it’s best to keep it out of the elements when you’re not using it.
Hatches. Store your gear safely in the hull beneath a hatch. Hatches are designed to be water tight (to a degree) so that you can be sure that even a rogue wave doesn’t get your gear all wet. It’s a good idea to also keep your gear in a dry bag. That way even if you capsize your craft, you don’t have to worry about your valuables.
Sails. Yep, you can turn your kayak or canoe into a small sail boat if you want to. Some paddlers like to have the option of hoisting the mainsail when the conditions are favourable and letting the wind do the work (and they work a lot better than your average umbrella).
Stabilisers. Paddling on the high seas can sometimes be hard work, especially if the conditions are getting a bit out of control. A stabiliser or outrigger, acts as an additional keel that balances your boat even when the waves get choppy. Particularly useful if you plan to be covering a lot of distance while kayak or canoe touring.
Paddle Float. A useful device for anyone who is paddling long distances and wearing a lot of gear, which can make it hard to get back into their boat. A paddle float is slipped over one blade of your paddle and then inflated using a mouth piece. The other end is then slipped under the elastic webbing on your boat, and the inflated end with the paddle float sits on top of the water. This gives you a stable bar sitting out from the boat at ninety degrees, which enables you to leverage yourself out of the water and into your seat using it as support.
Rod Holders. Carrying your fishing rods in your kayak without the proper storage options is risky business. A rod holder not only keeps your fishing rod secure and out of your way while you are paddling, but can be used for trawling enabling you to target a whole new range of fish species.
Roof Racks. Designed to evenly distribute weight across your vehicles roof, roof racks are the perfect solution for taking your boat to your launch point doing away with the need for a trailer.
Spray Skirts. Whether you are paddling on the open ocean, or going wildly down river rapids, a spray skirt is an essential item for any serious paddler. A spray skirt creates a waterproof membrane around the paddler keeping water out of the cockpit. Experienced kayakers use a spray skirt to allow them to perform rolls (eskimo rolls) turning the right way up without water getting inside their boat.
Tie Downs. Securing your boat to your roof rack can be a hassle, but not so with tie downs. Easily adjusted, tie downs distribute pressure evenly over the body of your craft so that it doesn’t get damaged when you pull them tight.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but add a few of these items to your canoe or kayak, and you will find your adventures take on a whole new level of awesomeness.