‘Yak Hacks: 3 Quick Mods To Improve Your Sea Kayak

1. Cover Your Coaming Edge

Ever had a friend tension a piece of cloth with their hands while you sliced it with scissors? Then you know that stretching fabric over sharp edges is an excellent way to cause running cuts (or “progressive failure” if you’re a materials geek). Run your finger along the outside of your sea kayak’s cockpit rim, paying particular attention to the top and bottom corners of the lip. Unless it’s been factory equipped with trim, there are your sharp edges. And your stretchy neoprene sprayskirt deck? There’s your tensioned fabric, sawing itself against those edges every time you pull the skirt on or off.

After having one expensive sprayskirt commit hari-kari like this, I picked up some plastic edge trim from my local paddling shop, cut it to length and stuck it on with Krazy Glue. Result: vastly extended skirt life. (No paddling shop nearby? Automotive edge trim will also work.)

If your hatch closures are of the neoprene inner cap/hard outer cover kind, you may want to add trim to the hatch coamings as well. It’ll be cheaper than a replacement set of the kayak maker’s custom-made, one-size-fits-one neoprene caps.

2. Add Cockpit Anchor Points

I stole this idea from our canoeing cousins. With no decks to keep cargo in place, outfitting boat interiors with lash tabs is standard operating procedure among the single-blade set.

After measuring for thigh clearance, glue in a couple of pairs of tie-down points just forward of your seat. (I went with this kind.)

Now you’re set to secure a daybag or a water bag. Unlike loose cargo in the cockpit, this baggage shouldn’t drop to hammer your skirt deck open in a capsize, hang you up in a wet exit or drift away while you’re doing a re-entry. (For safety, test this with a wet exit in controlled conditions as a buddy spots you.)

If you tie in a fully submersible drybag like the Watershed Ocoee, you’ll have the functional equivalent of a day hatch, without stealing space from your bow or stern compartment.

Low down and amidships is also an excellent place for a heavy item like a water bag. And if you fit it with a drinking tube, you won’t be limited to a measly one-litre bottle as you paddle through hot summer days.

3. Sheath Your Rudder Cables

They make survival saws out of braided wire. That should tell you something about your kayak’s rudder cables. Want to stop them from going all Bear Grylls on your skin, wetsuit or drysuit as you work the foot pedals back and forth? Cover the cables in plastic aquarium tubing where they run in front of your seat.

a sea kayak's rudder cable, covered in protective plastic tubing

On many kayaks, the rudder cable ends are held permanently in place with crimped-on fittings, so you can’t thread them through the hose. Rather than cutting and replacing the cable, slice the hose open along its length, slip it over the cable and secure it with duct tape. The results won’t be pretty, but if pix of your cockpit interior are a major feature of your trip albums, you may want to rethink your photo-taking habits.

Keep some spare hose on hand for the next time you’re replacing frayed rudder cables. Then you can slip it on unsliced for a clean, tidy look.

As a bonus, if, like me, you have North Water’s interior cockpit bags mounted on your cables, the hose will save wear and tear on the attachment flaps.

PS: I have no connection with North Water or Watershed beyond being a long-term, satisfied user of many of their products.

4 thoughts on “‘Yak Hacks: 3 Quick Mods To Improve Your Sea Kayak

  1. Great mods, Philip. Two thoughts: 1. Dry bag in the tween legs shot has too many loose straps for my tastes. I anchor smooth sided dry bags there, and have never had a hangup. 2. Shielding rudder cables is something I should do. In lieu of aquarium tubing, you might want to check out split loom in the electrical section of a decent marine store. Thinner than aquarium tubing, but durable, and already split.


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