Sometimes when kayakers are out on the water, they will want to leave their kayaks somewhere unattended. For example, many great kayaking locations are near trails, beaches, or other interesting places to hike around. It's always nice to be able to leave the kayak and explore a paddling destination. However, kayakers who do this should give some thought to the security of their kayaks and kayaking gear.
One of the more obvious issues with leaving kayaks unattended is theft. Kayaks are vulnerable to theft in a number of situations, such as when left on a shore, on a car-top rack, or even when stored at home. However, reliable statistics on the numbers of kayak thefts that occur in these various situations may be difficult to find. Kayak theft does occur, though, as is sometimes reported in the news, kayaking forums, or stolen kayak databases.
If you are keeping your kayak on your car rack, there are several options for locking your kayak, including locking tie-down straps, or cable locks, which are similar to bike locks. The cable locks loop around both ends of the kayak so they can not be taken off without unlocking them. The middle section can then loop through a secure part of your car rack. Locking tie-down straps simply have a locking buckle so that the strap can not be loosened when locked.
Some kayakers have used a car club across the widest part of the cockpit of the kayak. This makes it difficult for anyone to sit in the kayak, while providing a place to secure a cable.
It may be more difficult to secure leave your kayak at a beach or other landing spot, since there may be nothing to tie it to. If you have a gear in your kayak, you could try using a backpack security mesh to lock up drybags or possibly cover the cockpit of your kayak completely, so that no one can sit in it or take anything out. Another good practice is to take your paddle with you whenever you leave your kayak unattended. This makes it more difficult for a would-be thief to simply get in your kayak and paddle away.
But even with all of these security measures available, the most determined thief will be able to steal the most prudently secured kayak. In case this happens, the best information to have is the kayak's hull identification number. This is a number that can be used to positively identify the kayak in case it is recovered. Furthermore, anyone coming across the kayak (such as a potential buyer) who suspects it may be stolen can check the hull identification number with the police. This is why it is important to know the kayak's hull identification number or have it recorded and kept in a safe place. The hull identification number can usually be found engraved, stamped, or printed on the hull – look for the long string of letters and numbers.