How to Prevent Winter Storage from Becoming Springtime Shortage
Winterize Your Gear
photo by Scott Meikrantz
Where did the season go?
Summer nights under the stars and days escaping the heat on the water are behind us now. The cold call of winter is echoing over the waterways, his chilling breath biting at our necks, chasing us into our holes. We grasp to the memories of summer warmth, rejecting the changes. Sure, hold onto these in between days of autumn, but if you live in colder climes, it’s time to get your outdoor gear ready for the freeze.
Winterizing your oars and inflatable raft properly will save you money, time, and hassle come next season. Not everyone has a climate-controlled storage facility eagerly waiting to hold all their river gear through winter. And while moving your kids out of the house to make room for your oars may sound like an appealing option, it comes with drama and legal issues better avoided. Unless you still have a millennial clinger. Time to tear off the Band Aid. But that still leaves the rest of us with less than ideal space to store all our whitewater gear for the winter. So, prepping your gear becomes that much more important.
Storing Your Whitewater Gear
Keep it out of the sun. Storing your gear in the UV rays will decrease the life and age your equipment much faster. The sun is the enemy, except when it’s not, so protect your oars and inflatable raft from its unrelenting attacks. You can do this in a couple of ways.
Start by applying a UV protectant like 303. The most powerful UV screening protection on Earth, 303 protectant will keep your oars looking and feeling fresh and ready to go, and it’s easy to apply. Aside from storing them in a place out of the sun, this is the best thing you can do to extend the life of your composite oars. So, let’s run through how easy the process is.
Protect Your Oars
To winterize your oars, wipe them down with a cloth and gentle cleaner. Make sure they are completely dry after you finish. This is a good time to inspect your shafts for any damage they may have sustained during the season. And not just the shafts but the blades too. Oar blades can take a severe beating during the busy summer months. Give everything a good once over to make certain there’s no damage that will turn into a really bad day for you down the road.
After giving your oars a good scrub, coat any worn parts with some clear gloss. Spot treating your oars will help eliminate some of the wear from the season and keep you oars fresh. Let the clear gloss dry completely before applying any 303. If your oars haven’t been refinished in a few seasons, you may want to spray the entire stick with a couple of coats of the clear gloss. Don’t worry about covering the rope wrap. Just coat the entire oar, rope and all.
Now that your oar’s all cleaned up and shining like new, spray it down with 303 protectant. Let that soak the oar for 5 minutes, then simply wipe it down with a clean cloth and that’s that.
Prevent Ice and Freezing
Store your oars upright in a dry, shaded, environment with blades detached, or in a portage and storage bag. Storing Cataract® oars with the blade detached is important because it allows any water inside the shaft to drain out and prevent the shaft from freezing and cracking.
The 303 protectant will prevent UVs from causing any fading, discoloration, embrittlement or cracking, and will repel dust and water. The goal is to keep you oars from freezing. So, keep them dry and out of the elements, and with a little 303 protectant such a noble endeavor can be realized.
Apply this same treatment to winterize your inflatable raft and other river gear before putting them into hibernation. Inspect you raft for damage, and fix any problem areas before storing it for the winter. If you don’t have the space to leave your boat slightly inflated out of the sun, then folding it up for storage is your only option. Make sure it’s completely dry after cleaning and treating it before folding it up and putting it away. To prevent critters from taking up residence in your inflatable raft, further protect it by sealing it in a boat bag.
Spring doesn’t have to be a time to replace and repair, where we shell out loads of dough just to get back going on the rivers that cry out for us. Spend the time now so you can save in the spring.
Get your house in order. Winter is coming.