What not to do! Photo CC via drstarbuck on Flickr
When you are blessed with having different seasons, there comes a time when you have to hang your paddling hat and store your boat for the winter. I know it's hard, but tuck it away and move on to some great winter sports. If your canoe or kayak sits improperly stored for 5-6 months of the year it may not perform as well as it used to. Spend a little time to figure out what storage method works best for your situation.
It is preferable to store your canoe or kayak inside, however this is not always possible if you do not have a garage, boat house or basement. Some people I know keep their kayak snuggled up to them next to their bed. Another customer brought his tandem kayak into the living room and used it as a couch for his kids to watch TV from!
Unfortunately not everybody wants to be this close to their kayak or canoe during the winter months, so if you must store it outside make sure that you don't allow snow to pile up on top of your boat and keep it away from any potential trees that may fall on it during a heavy wind storm -- I can't tell you how many canoes I have seen destroyed because of these two things!
Danuu Canoe and Kayak Covers
The biggest issue with storing a boat outside is exposure to the sun's UV rays that can degrade and discolour the material over time. Keep your boat sheltered from the elements with a cover or tarp. Keep in mind that most tarps are not that tough. I have seen many a blue tarp torn to shreds by strong winter winds.
Danuu covers are made for this sort of thing, and when you are not using the strong cordura cover for storage, you can also use it for vehicle transport. Make sure your cover or tarp is tied down securely to your boat, but leave an end open to allow for some air circulation. Moisture build up throughout the winter can cause discolouration.
Of course, warm storage is better. Cold temperatures will often cause plastics to become more brittle, however it is not the end of the world if you have to store your boat in cold storage. If you have a Royalex canoe with wood trim, loosen the screws on the gunwales before storing it for the winter. Royalex will contract at a different rate than the wood trim which can cause severe cracks in the hull.
Many people choose to hang their boats from the roof in the garage. This gets them up and out of the way and allows you to store other items beneath them. Do not hang your boat from grab loops or carry thwarts. These are not always structural handles and could break. The best way to hang your kayak or canoe is to use a strap or sling under the hull. This can then be attached to a hanger on the roof. You may want to set up a pulley system if your ceiling or rafters are high off the ground.
Harmony Watersports makes a great sling system that hangs from 1-3 kayaks. Suspend the pair of slings from hangers in the roof and clip your kayaks into the loops provided.
It is easy enough to make L shaped wooden racks that can be fixed to a wall. Use foam padding on the straight arms to cushion and protect the canoe or kayak. It is best to store canoes upside down on the gunwales and kayaks on their side. Position the racks under the bulkheads of the kayak to provide maximum support and prevent any deformation of plastics.
If you are storing your boat outside, do not store it on the ground. Use a sawhorse design replacing the top support with webbing to rest the canoe or kayak on. A simple storage method is to use 2 Universal Foam kayak blocks spaced 6-8 feet apart and lean the boat on its side against the wall.