Buying Cheap and Fixing Up

Over the last year, the club has bought or repaired a lot of our current paddling equipment. We added twelve new members in 2012, many of whom paddle frequently or on longer trips. We expect to add about as many new members in 2013. We also continue to need equipment for both members and guests at our public programs, especially very large and very small life vests and paddles.

Due to the club’s focus this past year on recovering from Hurricane Sandy and rebuilding and repairing the boathouse, we were not able to marshall the resources to beef up our fleet as we would have liked.

Fleet Captain Ilya Bernstein said, “We rely on our members’ unpaid labor to find, fetch, and fix our boats. We are grateful for all the work they have done recently on rack space, new-to-us boats, and maintenance, and we look forward to another winter of work. We have a long list of projects!”

Here are some member accomplishments, but first, for the uninitiated, a brief explanation of what the work means. It falls into three categories.

-Keeping water out: During a capsize, water tries to enter the whole boat, and to the extent it succeeds, recovery away from land is made harder. So kayak builders have come up with various ways to keep a lot of water out. Bulkheads divide the boat into compartments, and the bulkheads themselves must be kept watertight. Hatch covers need to be kept waterproof, while still being reasonably easy to remove. Flotation (foam, or bags of air) in some parts of the boat displace water. Finally, for the water that does get in, we have pumps.

-Adapting the boat to the human body: Deck lines, carry handles, seat, and footpegs often need maintenance. The skeg (a retractable fin at the back that helps keep the boat running straight) has to be operated from the cockpit, so there is a cable or cord from the control knob, half the length of the boat, to the skeg box. Bad things tend to happen to that connection.
-Equipment not attached to the boat: Lifevests, paddles, paddle floats, and other equipment need regular inspection and repair.

Athletic Members Steve Welch and Alex Arevalo drove to six states to buy used, bargain-priced boats that they found on Craigslist. We bought six boats for about $2400.
At these prices, some of the boats need a little work -- some already done, some to be done this winter, if we have money and time. All the boats are in at least limited service as-is.

Athletic Member Luis Lopez reconditioned bilge pumps (used for emptying a boat of water), fixed five broken paddles, caulked bulkheads, and replaced small hardware and deck rigging. Total cost was an impressive $24, for a pipe cutter, since most supplies could be found around the boathouse.

Athletic Member Julie McCoy replaced a skeg cable and rod (used to raise and lower the skeg).

See the photo. She learned the hard way that she needed to order the “Cable Attachment Fixture plus Set Screw” and the “11 in. Skeg Slider Tube” instead of the “Premium Skeg Repair Kit.” Total spend was $55, a big part of our repair expenditures, but sometimes you have to have exactly the right fiddly little part.

All members are invited to work on projects this fall and winter! The list includes: buying new paddles, lifevests, and rescue equipment; adding and sealing bulkheads, adding and securing flotation; and the continuing stream of rigging repairs.