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Maintainingthe Cottage Canoe


6 simple ways to protect your summer love by Scott MacGregor


H


ad Neil Young been singing about canoes, his famous lyric might have gone, “it’s better to burn out


than to rot away.” The best way to keep your canoe in good shape is to paddle it regularly. Andre LeBlanc, owner of North Bay Canoe and Kayak, says that about half of the 40 boats that come into his shop for repair each year are damaged from neglect rather than from wear and tear. And, says Leblanc, the damage from normal use is usually less expensive to repair than damage from years of neglect. “A little T.L.C. goes a long way.”


1. Apply sunscreen


Just as we slather on sunscreen to protect our- selves from UV rays, we need to protect the canoe. Fibreglass-covered wood canoes should be protected with a high-quality marine-grade varnish with UV inhibitors. Inevitable scrapes and dings to painted canoes should be touched up regularly. Scratches in varnish can be scuffed with steel wool and recoated. You can prolong the beauty and life of most canoe materials by applying a UV protector such an automotive paste wax.


2. Maintain wood gunwales Brian Shields specializes in installing and restoring wood gunwales on whitewater play- boats and tripping canoes. He says the princi- ples of wood gunwale maintenance are the same for any canoe. Severely weathered or abused wood will require 60-grit sandpaper first, fol- lowed by 100 and then 220 for a silky finish. A random orbit sander is the ultimate tool for this job. If the wood has been covered with varnish or urethane, sanding off the old finish will be slow going. Avoid using linseed oil—exposed to sun and water, it turns the wood black in just a few weeks. Instead use a marine-grade spar var- nish or, better yet for ease of maintenance, any exterior oil finish such as Varathane's Natural Oil Finish. It is effortless to apply, can be reap- plied without sanding and should last for an entire season.


14 www.canoeroots.ca


photo by Paul German


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