Skip to content
header image

Canoeing 101

Menu

Displaying: All / All

Maintaining Your Recreational Canoe

One of the blessings of opting for a polyethylene canoe is that there is very little required or even recommended maintenance involved. You should get years of life out of your canoe with a minimum of precautions. 

If at all possible store your canoe hull up/gunwales down (upside down) slightly elevated off the ground and under cover. Sunlight/UV can have some negative impact on your hull but those effects are felt only over very long term exposure, so there's no urgency involved but for the long range health of your boat it's good to put it in the shade. 

Simply draping a cover over the hull is not a good idea. Having a waterproof cover in direct contact with the hull will create and trap condensation and moisture and can lead to fading or discoloration of the hull color. It's far better to suspend the cover above the hull, allowing air flow between the hull and cover to dissipate moisture. 

There's no harm in treating your canoe to a wipe down with a UV protectant such as 303. We recommend 303 over other better known brands as it is water-based rather than silicon-based and will not leave a silicon trail on the surface of the water. Such a treatment will also keep your hull color rich and vibrant. 

There's no virtue in waxing your polyethylene hull. For one, the wax will not stick to it and one of the performance benefits of a wax coat is that it leaves a smoother surface, ie: less resistance to forward motion. On polyethylene hulls, wax won't smooth out the hull nor stick so don't waste your time and money on this. 

Be careful if you're considering sanding a portion of a polyethylene hull as the sandpaper grit will abrade the hull. Polyethylene is a relatively soft material and it can be scored or marked fairly easily though it's very difficult to break or fracture. In most cases it's better to live with scratches and shallow gouges, think of them as mementos and memories of past trips. 

The gunwales on a Journey are stiff and strong enough to allow you store the boat on sawhorses or something similar. On the Adventures with integral molded gunwales, you should check to make sure the gunwales are not deflecting at the point where they are supported. You may find it necessary to insert some wider boards on top of the supports to spread the weight and reduce the distortion. In most cases, that distortion will work itself out over time and use but if the boat is left for a long time in such a position, that distortion could become well established and less likely to work out on its' own. 

Also on the Adventures, you should just leave the seat backs in a loose position without any tension on any bungee cords. Leaving the bungees slack means that they will retain their spring. If the seatbacks are stored with bungees under tension, they will eventually stretch to that length and lose the ability to rebound. 

Periodically it's a good idea to go around your boat and tighten up any hardware. It's recommended that you use hand tools to do this and just tighten until snug. The stainless steel seat bolts used on the Journeys is very strong but it is possible to over tighten it and make it brittle. 

It's always best to paddle a clean hull, not only in the sense of efficiency but also in protecting the environment and making sure there are no parasitic hitch-hikers on your hull getting the chance to colonize a new body of water. A wipe down with a solution of diluted dish washing detergent followed by a fresh water rinse will usually do the trick. 

It's also good to rinse the canoe with fresh water after salt water use. Salt water per se will not have any harmful effects on your hull but the salt left behind when the water evaporates is abrasive and can scratch the finish of your hull when ground between hull and foot. 

The wood seat frames and yokes featured in the Journeys may need minor touch-ups over time but they too are largely maintenance-free, particularly if stored out of the weather and unexposed to rain or moisture. Should you see the wood frame graying in an area that indicates that the surface barrier coat of varnish has been breached and water is getting under the varnish. You will need to sand that area until the discolored surface is removed and then recoat with an exterior spar or polyurethane varnish. 

Adventure and Journey replacement parts are readily available from Mad River Canoe via your local authorized dealer. It's helpful to know your boat model when ordering parts. If you are replacing seats or yokes in a Journey style canoe, keep the originals until the replacements arrive. Replacement parts are not shipped pre-cut. You will nee the originals to use as templates to cut new parts to fit.