OC1 Care – Tips and Tricks to Prolonging the Life of your Canoe

Outrigger canoe care

So you just bought a canoe, want a canoe, or have a canoe. Regardless of whether you belong in one of those three categories, knowing how to properly care for your outrigger is vital if you want to prolong the life of your craft. Read on and pick up some tips on how I care and have cared for my canoes over the years!

Outrigger Canoe Care at Home:

I’ve never stored my canoe anywhere else but at home. Having moved many times I’ve had to store my canoes in garages, the side of the house, and even an outdoor rack. I’ve learned many things over those moves, and I hope you can pick up on some things that I’ve done to care for my canoes!

  • Keep your canoe in a secure, covered area such as a garage, the side of your house, under an awning, or even in your hallway or living room!
  • Use padding on whatever you’re placing your canoe on. Pad literally everything that your canoe touches! Foam pads, a layer of pipe insulation tape, or even pillows, towels, and boardshorts work very well!

  • When putting your canoe down, be sure to keep your head on a swivel to check for edges, poles, shelves, etc. Most damage is caused to your canoe when you’re on land..
  • Even if you’re paddling the next day, or in the next 48 hours, I don’t recommend leaving canoe on top of your car. Over time, the sun will fade you canoe’s paint and it can also cause premature wear and tear. I used to do this and it made my white canoe yellow! Never again… Never again..
  • Covers are your best friend, even if you store inside. They help prevent scratching, sun damage, and if yours is padded, pressure dings and dents.
  • If you don’t have a cover, tarps, blankets, and towels make great alternatives.


Traveling to New Orleans? Not a good idea if you have canoes on top of your car!

I’ve had some good memories and some bad ones while traveling with my canoes. I’ve come across wind storms, loose straps, and close calls…

  • I can’t stress it enough.. Strap your canoe down securely. Not pressure ding tight, but you don’t want any significant movement. How can you tell if you’ve gone too far with your tightening? Well, a general rule I have is that if you can’t move your canoe/sup/craft at all, after you cinch it down, and I mean AT ALL, then it’s too tight. You want your straps tightened but loosened enough to where you can make micro-adjustments to the positioning of your craft.
  • As a double checking measure, before you drive off with your canoe, tap the nose or tail to make sure that it doesn’t move.
  • Make sure to tie down any slack.. This is your last line of defense if anything were to happen to your strap buckle! Knots are your best friend.
  •  If you notice any loose slack flying loose, fix it!
  • Make sure that you strap inside your rack mounts rather than on the tip of your rack pole that is only a few inches long. If your canoe were to somehow wiggle or slip, it would go right off the edge of your rack.
  • If you notice any movement or change of canoe position on the roof, be sure to check it as soon as you can.
  • Cover it! Covers are integral in protecting your canoes from highway debris.

Pre Paddle

  • Again, make sure your canoe is strapped down securely when in transit.
  • If your launch/rigging site is rocky with gravel, pebbles, etc, consider making saddles (canoe holders) or putting something beneath your canoe.
  • Do a check on your rudder cables, make sure your iako pins and screws are tight and locked in, check your plugs, and make sure anything you’re carrying with you is secured or tied down.
  • Check for any loose screws or damage to hull, cables, etc.
  • Of course, assess conditions to make sure that you and/or the canoe can handle them

Post Paddle

  • Rinse, rinse, rinse.
  • Take your seat off… I’ve heard many stories of people losing their seats on the highway.. Also, the velcro attached to your seat is more likely to come off due to excessive moisture from it not drying.
  • Cover, cover, cover!
  • Make sure you don’t leave anything behind.. What would you do without an ama?
  •  Strap everything down… then check the straps
  •  Check your straps again


  • Every so often, check your rudder cables for rust, loss of tension, or wear and tear. You may want to apply WD40, tighten your cables, or even replace them.
  • Clean your canoe! Every month or two, I whip out the magic eraser to clean off paddle scuffs and other marks that have popped up on my canoe. Afterwards, I’ll apply some boat wax just to clean my canoe and make her shine!