Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Greetings Kayakers!

This blog is my new platform to publish information of interests to all kayakers. While the www.TopKayaker.net website (the TopKayaker online magazine) will remain a vast reservoir of information, you can look here to see new information. I will be referring to many of the TopKayaker articles, so consider it your "freshman text book".

What has peaked my interest greatly is the restoration of classic kayaks and this will be a primary focus here (as well as parts ID service for more modern kayaks). Fiberglass, composite and plastic kayak hulls are nearly indestructible. These hulls will nearly last forever. The "soft parts" and other fittings will not. Your great grandchildren will inherit that old kayak in your garage. Lord knows, what they will use for a seat, hatch cover or rudder, maybe their cows will be drinking water from the hull. In any case, these old kayaks will be passed down, sold at yard sales and distributed to those who want to paddle them. These classic kayaks can be restored to full working condition, to be used safely for their original intended purpose. These kayaks were good enough for us a decade or two ago, they will be again with some TLC and a little elbow grease.

Yes, there are some kayaks that are lost cause and should be recycled or repurposed, never to paddle again. The reason for such could be many and varied. This topic will addressed at a later date. For the most part, if you have a viable hull, most of the original parts, a budget, some time and effort, as well as some ability to work with your hands, restoring an old kayak could be as much fun as paddling it.

Much of what you will initially see here on this blog will be information on kayak repair, maintenance, and access to parts. In the past decade or so my work at www.TopKayaker.com (the TopKayaker online store) has allowed me to help all kinds of kayakers, customize and improve their kayaks, repair kayaks, obtain hard to find kayak parts and to restore older kayaks back into full working order. So I will be pointing your attention to the TopKayaker Shop often. I like to say that "We have every thing but the hull".

I will not be encouraging people to "Mickey Mouse" or jury rig their kayaks back onto the water. While their might be a little McGyvering and some garage engineering, I will be advising repairs that take into account safety and practical needs within the realm of kayaking. Kayaking as a discipline has many levels in terms of the equipment used and the skills needed, not only to have fun but also to be safe. By percentage most paddlers simply want to float around on a pond, small lake or slow river, their goals and needs are simple, their exposure to risk is minimal. Other paddlers are more serious, even pro level, with more complex goals and greater exposure to risk. While paddling skills cannot be taught completely in a blog, I can address the equipment restoration based on the type of kayak and the intended use of the kayak by the kayak's designer and manufacture. In other words I will not be advising on how to strap a lawn chair into kayak, nor how to convert a white water kayak into a sea kayak, or vise versa. I will also drag my heels on the application of any motor, no matter how small, or designed in the boat from the beginning. I will apply my 38+ years of experience as a paddler, in the paddle sports business, and my common sense, to all that is published here. My goal is to help you restore your kayak back to safe operating condition.

I hope to address some other issues of interest to kayakers here as well, such as destinations, kayak news, reviews of equipment and the history of modern sport kayaking in the USA.

I look forward to our journey together, Tom Holtey - tom@topkayaker.net