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    Winter Maintenance

    Winter Maintenance

    Brrr it’s cold outside! If snow and ice are keeping you indoors, but you’re daydreaming about long, sunny days on the river, take some time to maintain and repair your boats for the upcoming season. Here’s a quick boat maintenance checklist you can start in the garage on a snow day.

    Clean

    Check for new dents caused by storage and kick out any critters that may have taken up residence in your boats. If you didn’t clean your boat before the winter, wipe it down with a damp cloth or brave the cold long enough to hose it off. A mild dish soap mix works great for stubborn dirt.

    Remember that sit-inside kayaks can make very attractive homes for your shed’s local fauna, so consider a cockpit cover to seal your boat against unwanted guests.

    Seals Cockpit Seal
    A cockpit cover to keep creepy crawleys out of your kayak

    Test

    If you see any gouges or cracks that worry you, or you had a leak last time you used the boat, you can go ahead and perform a fill test to confirm. Set the boat up on sawhorses or cinder blocks and fill it with a couple inches of water. Wait and watch to see if water drips out anywhere. If you see a drip, don’t panic! Leaks are usually pretty easy to repair.

    Tighten

    The most common cause of leaks is loosening hardware. Just like the rest of us, boats aren’t immune to aging. Hardware loosens up, hatch covers don’t fit as tightly, and small leaks may develop. If you suspect you have a leak, first try gently tightening all the through-hull bolts. Make sure washers are snug down to the plastic. Then, check any hatch covers or gaskets for cracking rubber or loose seals. If you have a common size rubber hatch seal, measure the hatch and look for a replacement at Top Kayaker.

    Round rubber hatch cover

    A common replacement rubber hatch cover

    Repair

    If your leak is caused by an actual crack, give us a call and we can look over the damage. We offer plastic welding, fiberglass patches, and other repair services in our Farmville shop. And if your canoe is worn down at the ends, consider installing skid plates to significantly extend its lifespan.

    Another common type of damage is denting, or oil canning. This is most commonly caused by improper storage or transport, when the bottom of the boat comes in contact with a hard surface for a long period of time and the hull deforms. Don’t panic if your boat has some oil canning. Simply heat the area and consider placing weight on the inside of the boat, and the dent should pop out over time. A sunny, hot day is the ideal way to do this, but a heat gun used carefully works as well.

    Canoe with oil canning
    This canoe has a little oil canning

    Replace

    Besides the hull of the boat, kayaks and canoes have any number of component parts that can wear out and show their age. Many of these parts can be replaced very easily, although some are tricky to find.

    If you need common parts, such as carry handles, foot pegs, or various nuts and bolts, we might have some on hand for you. If the part you need is more specific, try searching Top Kayaker or reaching out to the manufacturer.

    Kiptopeke Breakwater Concrete Ships
    If your boat looks like these ones, it may be too late. Better let the seagulls win this one.

    Tune Up

    If your kayak has a pedal or motor drive, take some time to perform recommended maintenance. Here are a few great resources for common pedal drive systems:

    https://nativewatercraft.com/pages/propel-maintenance For Native Watercraft, LiquidLogic, Bonafide, and Hurricane drives

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA2tVDsNBG0 For Hobie MirageDrive GT and 180

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axvk4Fk539M For Jackson FlexDrive

    https://www.oldtowncanoe.com/blog/article/maintenance-tips-pedal-kayaks For Old Town PDL drives

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OROYxcJfDtE For Wilderness Systems and Perception drives

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsECXXADX10KO9MC6XwBUKNsPhUodJxQJ For Pelican HyDryve

    You can order parts like grease kits, props, shear pins, and fins directly from the manufacturer, from online sources like Amazon or TopKayaker, or through your dealer.

    Keep Out

    We know you’re handy and love fixing things, but many of the repairs we get in our shop are caused by owners trying to service parts that weren't meant to be user-serviceable. If you’re working with pedal drives, steering systems, skegs, or motors, please look up maintenance instructions from the manufacturer before you start working. Reading the directions is NOT cheating. Remember that if you service these parts or use non-recommended materials, you may void any applicable warranties.

    Rudders are one of the most common places for these mistakes. As a general rule, we recommend not messing with your rudder system at all except for maintenance explicitly advised by the manufacturer. Rudder repairs are complicated because each one works a different way and the systems are often difficult to access. The good news is that our expert technicians can take care of these systems for you.

    Final Notes

    Many problems with kayaks and canoes can be easily prevented with regular maintenance. If your boat is showing signs of its age, don’t fret—it’s probably got a long life still ahead of it with a little TLC. You can do most of this yourself, but if a repair is beyond your comfort level give us a call and we’ll see if we can't fix it right up for you. 

    Canoe on lake at sunset
    Don't mind us. We're just dreaming about blue skies, warm water, and lake sunsets like this one. 

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Whitewater

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Whitewater

    We may not get many white Christmases, but at least we have plenty of whitewater here in Virginia. If you’re looking for ideas for the whitewater boater in your family, we’re here to help. Here are 10 picks we love and we think your loved ones would be stoked to receive. Or hey, gift them to yourself—we won’t judge.

    Jackson Antix 2.0

    Jackson Antix 2.0 - $1190 to $1549

    If someone on your list is looking for their first whitewater kayak but doesn’t know what they want yet, we bet they’ll find it in the Antix 2.0. We think of the new Antix as the crossover SUV of whitewater kayaks – just reassuring enough to have your back on unfamiliar water, but enough edge and slice to make a tired local run look like a new playground. It surfs like a dream and locks onto waves with just a slight switch of the edge. It still has enough volume and bow rocker to carry you up and over waves and boat-stopping holes, so it’s truly an all-around boat that’s perfect for new paddlers or experienced boaters who need a one-kayak quiver.

    Jackson Zen 3

    Jackson Zen 3 - $1190 to $1549

    If the Antix still looks a little too spicy, consider its higher-volume, more stable cousin, the Zen 3. The Zen lends an impressive amount of confidence to beginners thanks to its ultra-wide beam, high bow and stern volume, and less aggressive rocker profile. Remember that whitewater kayaks are not one-size-fits-all, so if you need any sizing help, don’t hesitate to call us for assistance.

    Astral GreenJacket

    Astral GreenJacket - $300

    Raft guides and river professionals of all kinds consistently pick Astral’s GreenJacket as the most popular rescue vest on the market. Theres’s a good reason for that—actually, a bunch of good reasons. Its signature two-panel construction allows for a comfortable fit for almost any body shape. The oversized clamshell pocket can fit a full pin kit plus snacks for the day, and the quick-release belt allows trained rescuers to safely perform tows and live-bait rescues with the ability to quickly detach if necessary. Please note that the GreenJacket isn’t suited for those who aren’t trained to use a quick-release harness. For those folks, take a look at our next pick, the NRS Ninja.

    NRS Ninja PFD

    NRS Ninja - $129.95

    Arguably the lowest-profile whitewater PFD on the market, the NRS Ninja is a perennial favorite among playboaters and river runners. Its concentrated design keeps all of the foam centered in front and behind, giving plenty of arm space and a full range of motion. The large zippered pocket is super convenient for snacks, sunglasses, or lip balm. Choose from classic black, high-visibility red, or a fresh-looking teal to suit almost anyone’s style.

    Astral Throw Rope

    Astral Throw Rope - $59.95

    There’s an old adage among paddlers: “we’re all between swims.” As much as we hope that next swim is far off, we never know when we’ll need to rescue or be rescued. Help your loved one prepare for that situation with a simple throw rope. They’re easy to use with some simple training, and they can easily save a life (or, more often, a pinned boat). This particular rope is sized to fit perfectly in the GreenJacket’s rope-ready pocket, but it will also pack conveniently into a kayak for anyone not using a GreenJacket. 50 feet of Dyneema-core rope are used to craft this durable and reliable rescue tool.

    NRS Co-Pilot Knife

    NRS Co-Pilot Knife - $49.95

    If you’re going to have a throw rope, you also need a way to cut that rope if it becomes a hazard. A solid river knife is always a good idea, so consider the tried-and-true Co-Pilot. The Co-Pilot’s sheath attaches directly to most PFD’s knife tabs so it’s always easy to access when you need it. A blunt tip minimizes the risk of accidental raft or skin punctures, and serrated blades help quickly cut through rope, fabric, and fishing line.

    Immersion Research Microwave Pogies

    Immersion Research Microwave Handwarmer Pogies -$45

    Winter paddling is COLD. We bundle in dry suits, union suits, and wool. We pile on two or three pairs of socks under insulating booties. We throw fleece or neoprene liners under our helmets. But by far the hardest thing to keep warm when paddling is our hands. That’s why pogies are the first choice for toasty digits all winter long. Pogies are neoprene oven-mitt shaped things that attach to your paddle shaft. You simply slide your hands in and you have unobstructed grip on the paddle. These ones from Immersion Research are warm, cozy, and easy to use.

    Immersion Research Shittens

    Immersion Research Shittens - $45

    Okay, okay, we know we just spent the last paragraph convincing you pogies are the best, but there are some situations where they don’t work so well. They only work on double-bladed kayak paddles, so rafters, canoeists, and paddleboarders won’t find them very helpful. And pogies attach to your paddle shaft, so if you’re out of your boat and not holding your paddle, your hands just aren’t protected. Swimming = very, very cold hands. You can trust me on that because I’m basically a professional swimmer. If you know someone who swims a lot, or a paddleboarder or open canoeist, the new IR Shittens might just be the answer. They feature the same toasty neoprene as IR’s pogies, but in a palmless mitten shape that allows both warmth and grip.

    Immersion Research Rival Jacket

    Immersion Research Rival Jacket - $275

    If you know someone who’s stuck inside for the winter, but can’t wait to get after it when the spring rains come, gift them the Immersion Research Rival Jacket. Ideal for shoulder season boating, the Rival provides most of the dryness of a dedicated dry top without the heavy fabric or painful neck gasket. It uses tight-fitting neoprene at the neck and wrists to keep most water out, and features a double tunnel to mate with a spray skirt and keep water out of the kayak.

    Immersion Research 7 Figure Dry Suit

    Immersion Research 7 Figure Drysuit - $1249

    For those who just can’t wait out winter, the 7 Figure dry suit is there to make them feel like a million bucks. The sleek back entry zipper keeps bulk off your chest and away from your PFD, and the front entry zipper allows a quick answer to nature’s call. Reinforced DWR fabric and super-dry gaskets round out one of the best suits on the market. It’s tough. It’s rugged. It’s steezy. It also has a women’s counterpart, the Aphrodite, which provides an innovative clamshell zipper for both entry and relief.

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Fishing

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Fishing

    It’s that time of year again! Whether you love or hate holiday shopping, it’s trickier this year than ever to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Fortunately, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve—the fishing experts at PaddleVA! We have trouble thinking of gift ideas for the non-paddlers in our lives (I mean, come on, what are you even supposed to give those people?), so if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the kayaker on your list, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our top picks for everyone from the casual Sunday fisherman to the serious tournament angler.

     YakAttack DoubleHeader

    YakAttack DoubleHeader - $20

    The DoubleHeader is the easiest solution to limited track space on a fishing kayak. Compatible with any standard size gear track, the DoubleHeader allows you to offset paddle and rod holders and other YakAttack accessories over the side of your kayak, giving you more space available for transducer mounts, eyelets, and any other accessories you might need.

    YakAttack Omega Pro Rod Holder

    YakAttack Omega Pro - $40

    Speaking of rod holders, why not gift the most versatile rod holder on the market? YakAttack’s Omega and Omega Pro holders fit almost any rod out there, and any kayak fisher can always use another one. Fits any standard size gear track.

    Old Town Sportsman 106

    Old Town Sportsman - starting at $949.99

    If the fisherman in your life doesn’t have a kayak yet, consider the Old Town Sportsman 106 or 120 as a stable and all-around versatile platform for new and experienced anglers alike. Whether you opt for the shorter, lighter 106 or the faster 120, the Sportsman offers an impressive weight capacity and enough stability to stand without tipping over. Complete with a removable high-low seat, gear tracks for accessories, three flush-mount rod holders, and a bow hatch, the Sportsman has just about everything a new kayak fisher would need to get on the water. It’s customizable and comfortable enough that they won’t grow out of it anytime soon.

    Watersports Warehouse Anchor Trolley Kit

    Watersports Warehouse Anchor Trolley - $40

    It’s hard to fish when you’re constantly paddling to stay in the same spot. To help counter drift and spin, the Watersports Warehouse anchor trolley allows you to place an anchor at any point along the side of the boat and easily adjust position to suit current and wind conditions.

    Ketch Karbonate Board

    Ketch Board - $34.99

    For the tournament angler, a reliable and durable measuring tray is essential. A Ketch Karbonate board is the perfect accessory for catch-and-release tournament entrants.

    Huk LoPro Pursuit Hoodie

    Huk LoPro Hoodie - $55

    Breathable UPF protection in a lightweight, stain-resistant hoodie? Sign us up. The Huk LoPro hoodie is a versatile sun protection layer that your angler will actually want to wear. If you know someone who has a tricky relationship with sunscreen, gift them this comfy UPF hoodie to keep sun off their arms and neck.

    Pelican Elite Series Cooler

    Pelican Elite Series Cooler - $119 to $178

    What’s a day on the water without some cold beverages? Boring, that’s what. The Pelican Elite 20 Qt cooler is the ideal size to fit in most stern tankwells and can hold all the refreshments they’ll need for a whole day of fishing. If they’ve got a bigger crew, take a look at the 30 Qt or even the 70 Qt versions. All sizes come with a lifetime guarantee so you know you’re buying quality.

    YakAttack BlackPak

    BlackPak - $130

    If your kayak fisher has everything, they could probably use a way to organize it all. The YakAttack BlackPak elevates tackle storage by providing a customizable, riggable system. They can mount up to ten rod holders directly onto the crate, and it can accommodate camera mounts, flags, and other accessories using the built-in top rails. Three rod holders are included in the package.

    NRS Chinook PFD

    NRS Chinook PFD - $139.95

    The Chinook is the vest to beat when it comes to high-performance, high-comfort fishing PFDs. A high back stays out of the way of kayak seats, and the mesh below it provides plenty of cool air flow on hot days. Graded sizing means you’ll find the perfect fit for anglers of any stature, and they all come with large tackle box pockets and various attachment points for gear and rigging. And of course, it’s US Coast Guard certified.

    Werner Camano Bass Green

    Werner Skagit/Camano - starting at $135

    A car doesn’t move without an engine, and a kayak doesn’t go far without a reliable paddle. The Werner Skagit features the perfect blade shape for anglers in wide fishing kayaks and uses a lightweight carbon blend shaft that won’t wear the paddler out as fast as heavy aluminum shafts. If you’re looking for a more premium paddle, look at the Skagit’s sister model, the Camano, which features a full fiberglass blade for enhanced durability, performance, and weight savings.

    NRS Forecast Gloves

    NRS Forecast Gloves - $34.75

    If you get cold just thinking about your loved one paddling through the winter, keep them warm and toasty with a pair of NRS Forecast Gloves. NRS HydroSkin 2.0 Forecast Gloves deliver the warmth of 2 mm neoprene with convertible thumb and finger tips to give extra dexterity for fishing and knot tying. Tips of the thumb and first two fingers can be slipped out for tying knots, working camera controls and other fine motor operations. Hook and loop patches hold the glove tips out of the way.

    Old Town Discovery 119 Sportsman

    Discovery 119 Sportsman Solo Canoe - $1099.99

    Does the sportsman on your list fish, hunt, and camp and need a craft that can do it all? Take a look at the Old Town Discovery 119 Sportsman. It’s a compact, solo canoe that weighs in under 60 pounds. For the modest weight, it overdelivers on features, with a comfortable, adjustable seat, foot pegs, molded thwarts with track mounts for all your fishing accessories, and flush-mount rod holders for easy, versatile performance. We suggest a double-bladed paddle with this boat, because even though it provides the cargo capacity of a canoe, it maintains the sleek handling and feel of a kayak.

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Rec Kayaking

    2021 Holiday Gift Guide - Rec Kayaking

    If you have a kayaker (or aspiring kayaker) on your list, chances are they'll love a thoughtful piece of gear for time on the water. We have plenty of great gift suggestions for anyone who enjoys a quiet day on the lake or a river party with friends. 

    Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak Package

    Vapor 10 Package - $589.99

    Do you have someone on your list who wants their first kayak, but you don’t quite know where to start? Old Town has you covered here with the Vapor 10 Package. The Vapor 10 is an ideal first kayak for small to medium paddlers, including older kids and teenagers. It’s nimble, easy to paddle, and comfortable enough for hours on the water. It’s a great gift on its own, but with this package, you also get a universally sized PFD (designed for anyone over 90 lbs) and a 230 cm paddle perfectly sized for the Vapor 10. Christmas shopping? Done.

    Jackson Staxx Kayak Prism

    Jackson Staxx - $699 to $849

    Need kayaks for the whole family but puzzled on where to store them? Enter the Jackson Staxx. Like its name implies, the Staxx is meant to be, well, stacked. You can store all your family boats on top of each other in a small garage space, or stack a few boats together to save roof rack space on the way to the lake. Convenience isn’t the Staxx’s only strong point—it also offers a stable platform, plenty of space for small kids or dogs, and a comfortable adjustable seat back for more time on the water.

    Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Kayak

    Malibu Two XL - $999

    Another great solution for families with small kids, the Malibu Two XL is a classic tandem sit-on-top that can fit two adults and a toddler or one adult and an older child. It’s a convenient, flexible platform for families or couples looking to spend some quality time together. Made of sturdy, rotomolded plastic with enough weight capacity for two adults, the Malibu Two is sure to serve you well for years to come.

    AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid Kayak Paddle

    AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid - $149.95

    No matter how perfect the kayak is, it isn’t going far without a paddle. For a high-quality, durable paddle at a mid-range price, check out the AquaBound Manta Ray Hybrid. A carbon shaft offers a light swing weight, while a plastic blade keeps the price down and AquaBound’s signature PosiLock ferrule allows for a full range of blade offset angles. It’s our go-to for a lot of reasons. If you choose to gift this paddle, check out AquaBound’s sizing chart here to select the perfect length.

    Stohlquist Cadence/Glide - $119.95

    Did you know that you should replace a PFD after about 5 years? True story—the foam loses buoyancy after a while, so older PFDs often don’t float as well as they used to. If you have someone who needs a comfortable new vest, look for the Stohlquist Cadence (men’s fit) or Glide (women’s fit). These designs have a thin back to avoid interference with high kayak seats, soft foam for comfort, and plenty of pocket space for all the snacks and accessories you might need on the water.

    NRS Women's Boater's Gloves

    NRS Men's Boater's Gloves

     

    NRS Boater’s Gloves - $29.96

    Who has time for sunburns and blisters? These fingerless gloves from NRS offer grip, sun protection, and freedom from pesky blisters. Offered in men’s and women’s sizing, there’s a fit for anyone. Pretty simple gift, really.

    Huk LoPro Pursuit L/S Shirt Carolina Blue

    Huk LoPro Pursuit Long Sleeve Shirt - $40

    While we’re on the subject of sunburn, I think we can all agree we should avoid it. It’s hard to stay on top of sunscreen application, though. The Huk Pursuit shirt keeps the rays off in style. It’s a lightweight, moisture wicking fabric that’s easy to wear around town or over a swimsuit on the river. Did we mention it has our sweet logo?

    Watersports Warehouse Tie-Down Cam Straps

    Watersports Warehouse Tie-Down Cam Straps - $20

    There aren’t many parts of river days that we don’t like, but loading and unloading can certainly be a pain. Cam straps simplify the process. No knots required, no risk of overtightening a ratchet strap. These sturdy 15-foot straps come complete with a carry bag, buckle pad, and the Appomattox River Company logo.

    Astral Loyak Men's

    Astral Loyak Women's

     

    Astral Loyak - $90

    Who said water shoes couldn’t also just be great shoes? Not Astral. Astral’s Loyaks are stylish, comfy, and water-ready. On the river, they drain water and silt through built-in drain holes. The removable rubber insole doesn’t absorb water, and the super-grippy G-Rubber outsole helps us balance on slippery rocks. Out in public, no one would have any clue they’re water shoes. We wear our Loyaks around town every day.

    Rumpl Original Puffy National Park Blanket Grand Canyon

    Rumpl Original Puffy National Parks Blanket - $96.74

    What river picnic is complete without a great picnic blanket? Rumpl’s Original Puffy sheds sand and beads water. It’s made of all recycled materials and comes complete with corner loops and a cape clip for those chilly nights by the campfire. The National Parks collection whisks you off to scenic places while supporting the work of the National Park Foundation.