Once you've committed to a kayak, promised to love and protect it, in sickness and in health, you'll want to make good on that vow by getting the hang of properly transporting and storing your boat.
It might come as a surprise, but many scratched-up kayaks aren't gouged by water or seaweed.
"Most kayaks are damaged in transport," said Russell Farrow, owner of Sweetwater Kayaks in north St. Petersburg.
When picking up a kayak from the store, come prepared. Trailers, pickup trucks or roof racks are all acceptable ways to transport a new purchase, said Alex Atteberry, co-owner of LottoBoat Club & Rentals in St. Petersburg.
Instead of a real roof rack, which is probably more advisable, my dad used a homemade contraption involving pipes and pool noodles for the top of our van.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I remember taking my dad's kayaks down to Fort De Soto in a friend's pickup truck. We got there okay, but on the way back, right after passing the most southern toll booth, the kayak flew off the truck and onto the side of the road. Thankfully there was no one behind us and after checking to make sure the kayak was not cracked, we fully secured it and went on our way.
A few straps — as well as the understanding to never slack when tying up a boat — will go a long way in avoiding such an experience.
My dad, who taught me to kayak when I was around 9 years old, swears against bungee cords and recommends "clam buckle" straps, named for the shape the latch makes.
Similarly, Atteberry suggests something with a vinyl strap and latches.
"(Bungee cords) don't hold the vessel down firmly," Atteberry said. "It moves around."
Kim Doehleman, owner of Osprey Bay Outdoors in Clearwater, said bow and stern tie down is a common mistake made when transporting kayaks on car roofs.
To secure them correctly, use rope or straps to "tie the handles of the kayak down to under the bumpers of the car," Doehleman said.
I was also taught to strap tightly a couple of times around the kayak, through the car windows to really prevent the kayak from budging.
Atteberry's best tip for kayak storage is to keep it out of direct sunlight and the elements.
"UV rays kill everything," Farrow said.
Polyethylene kayaks are most susceptible to sun damage and can become weathered and brittle if left exposed too often. Fiberglass vessels can withstand the elements longer, but not by much.
A tarp or carport can help in curtailing damage, but store kayaks "indoors if possible," Doehleman said.
Damage from other elements, such as salt corrosion, pollution and microorganisms, which can be picked up from the water, can be prevented by rinsing off gear in fresh water after each use. A couple of times a year, use a mild soap to do a deeper clean, but anything stronger can diminish the integrity of the kayak.