Buying a Used Kayak

Here’s some handy hints on buying a used kayak

So, you saw the ‘yak for you on the net and your hearts racing ‘cos you’re now sooo close to getting into the sport! You’ve arranged to go and view a used kayak. You’ve got the wad in your wallet and your going to set off a hundred mile or so across the country to look at it with the hope it’s right for you and strike a deal?

Before you set off you’ll need straps to fasten it down and secure it for the journey home as well as roof bars to strap it onto but if you’re getting into the sport these would be an obvious first purchase You’d be surprised at how many of us don’t think of it lol. Buy roof bars and straps and then go looking for kayaks is the best option then you’ll be ready to go and grab it at the drop of a hat!

A few new comers buy the cheap, inflatable straps as they’re overly keen to get into it all. Do yourself a favour, slow down, buy wisely and get decent bars fitted for the long term rather than waste time and money! Research the car fittings and get the roof sorted prior to doing anything else otherwise you may be disappointed or have an accident!

Viewing a used kayak is the essential part of a deal. Take you’re time and don’t be afraid to man handle the ‘yak, if it’s put to one side move it out and turn it over. Look for deep scratches on the keel (back) and hull (underneath). Scratches to a kayak are perfectly normal and shouldn’t make any difference to it’s performance or value but deep scratches can be the first stage of a leak. They’re quite easily repaired though so don’t be too put off by them. Most kayaks are moulded to 4mm deep or thicker so a scratch of 1-2mm is not a worry. If there’s bvery little scratches on the hull, especially the bow then the ‘yak is new and hasn’t been used much. If there’s heavy or a lot of scratches on it then it’s been well used but don’t let it worry you. Kayaks are made to be scratched! Some people are over protective in my opinion but I used to surf them prior to fishing from them so am a tad biased lol.

Check the scupper holes for joint misplacement as some moulds have had issues over the years and kayaks were put out there with ‘dodgy’ joints. One from memory was the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. Some scupper holes can have scarily thin walls where the mould hasn’t spread the plastic properly or has a defect. Light is a great source of detecting this.

Ask if it’s been ‘water tested’, this means filling the ‘yak with water to see if it has any leaks. Most sellers will be honest and say no, most likely ‘cos they never knew to do it. If you do buy the ‘yak, this is the first job to do once you get it home on your shiny new bars 😉

Most ‘yaks will have small leaks from eyelets and hatches and that’s normal. It is best to lift them off and seal them with waterproof sealant like HA6 or Silica but this is a tad overboard as the likelihood of you tipping and sinking from an eyelet leak is very remote but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Sit on the ‘yak and try it out. Pick the paddle up if it’s included and do a few strokes with it with arms stretched. If your tall with long arms you might find it too small for you, the paddle might be too small and other little things like if there’s custom fitted rod holders around the cockpit they might need moving forward or back to suit you and if they do then your going to need to fill holes in…

Lift the hatches, look for water/damp and stains around the inside. If there’s a transducer fitted check it and try to move it. Don’t worry if it comes off that’s quite normal it just means you need to refit it and it saves a wasted trip out panicking that it’s not working. Check the cable terminals for rust and damage and check the terminals of the transducer aren’t green or rusted, if there’s grease or vaseline/oil on it you’ll know it’s been cared for.

Ask for a rod, broom or whatever and put it inside the rod holders and rock it to check the fittings for abuse/looseness. This is often overlooked and ask if it’s been tipped, dropped or damaged. An honest person will tell you straight. I once dropped my Hobie off the roof smashing the rudder off. I replaced it and fixed it and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a kayak and is made to do this stuff.

Check all the fittings for rusted bolts/screws as they should be stainless steel. If the owner has fitted custom hatches etc. and not used stainless or poor grade stainless bolts or screws they’ll be stuck in and removing them is a nightmare job you’ll not want as a noob!

From a selling perspective, check the person out your selling too prior to letting them come to your home. Sadly there are some scumbags out there who will suss your home out then come back to steal your beloved ride. If dealing cash on collection don’t just take the wad off them and put it down. Check it’s not a not full of paper (seriously it has happened) and count the money out checking the notes are real and not foreign.

I recently sold my Hobie Outback (boohoo :'( ) to a lovely Scottish lad who paid me £1300 in cash but in Scottish notes and I’m in England. I was concerned and so was he so we both went round to my local post office and I put it straight into my bank account with the help of the lovely assistant and we shook hands on it 🙂 Don’t be afraid to question the cash. If dealing online you know to be very cautious. Cash is always best and most of us are genuine people just wanting to buy a kayak or sell one to move onto a newer one etc.

What I haven’t mentioned is when i bought my Hobie Outback. I travelled down to Swansea from the North East (a bloody hike) and camped overnight with the wife. What I did though was NONE OF THE ABOVE! I totally trusted the guy selling it and just gave it a quick once over and bought it then left. I got home and when I did all of the above I found the fins were bent back over (it had grounded numerous times), the fish finder didn’t work, wasn’t looked after and other little bits n bobs I really should’ve looked at and at least haggled a bit but hey ho I’m a nice person and karma is a real bitch!

Take your time and trust no-one! I hope this helps sellers as well buyers