14.5 touring boat on a VW GTI (Golf)

Can it be done? I am looking at purchasing a Perception Expression 14.5 as my first “real” touring boat. I have to order it online, since I cannot find it anywhere in my area. So, I am wondering if anyone has experience trying to haul one of these atop a compact hatchback - 2011 VW GTI. It get better :slight_smile: I don’t have bars, but use a SeatoSummit soft rack (http://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Solution-Gear-Traveller/dp/B0057NYG8C) - it worked great for a 12’ rec boat, that was only about 5lbs lighter than the perception. I drive fairly slowly with it and use solid anchors, including anchoring the boat directly to the car.

I just want to find out if I’m setting myself up for disaster here, or am I just being a tad paranoid and the boat would travel OK up there. Also, any experience with hauling a boat like this (probably weighs slightly under 55lbs) solo would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Should work okay

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 10:26 PM EST –

Of course a "real" rack is the way to go, but this should be fine, especially if you go the extra mile and use more than the bare minimum of tie downs. With additional tie-downs, position them to be both individually effective and also so that they compliment each other. Many people carry canoes this way, and since the effect of wind, especially cross winds, is many times stronger on canoes than kayaks, this should be much safer with a kayak than a canoe. Also, many people carry kayaks on two foam blocks in a manner that can't help but be much less stable than what you propose. I'm sure you'll be fine.

You asked this question at the right time though, since someone just asked how to improve their no-rack method for carrying a canoe. Among the advice they got, you can apply all the same principles to tying down your kayak, though it will take a bit more ingenuity if you wish to establish tie-down points on the boat that are inboard of the ends (that's easy with canoes because of the thwarts, but if you are good with rope, you can create a secure harness for this purpose at any location on the hull of your kayak, and if not, I can explain a method I've used myself).

FWIW, looks to be OK…
…but, I’ve zero experience with the “rack system” you’re using. I’ve got a Thule on my 2012 Golf,(poor man’s GTI), with foam cradles and used it with up to two boats at a time,(FG Tempest 165 & Dagger Alchemy, Alchemy with poly Zephyr, Zephyr & poly Avocet). Thule has a relatively narrow footprint between bars suggested of only 28". I stretched it out to 30" and used bow lines. No trouble over the windy Altimont Pass at flow of traffic speeds. If you want stern lines to, you can tie a web loop around each of the steel cargo net loops at the rear inside of the hatchback, flop them out, close the hatch and tie to them. I found some fairly stout screws for web loop mounting points under the hood for my bow lines. YMMV, I only use the stern lines for really long drives & don’t even use the bow lines for short trips with speeds 55 & lower in good weather.

I’ve since built a rack extention that lets the boats bulkheads rest on bars with the foam saddles & now only use bow lines for longer trips or windy cond. while stern lines will prolly be used even less. In theory I could fit three boats now :).

All the best, t.george

P.S. now is the time when the “safty police” will chime in with a plethora of horror stories and chastisements.

thanks folks!
Much appreciated. It sounds like it should work. What I had been doing when transporting my rec boat was tie it to the foam racks (surprisingly sturdy things) AND use an additional tie strap to loop through the plastic parts inside the cockpit and under the roof (closing doors over it). Driving up to 60 mph it bobbed a bit but never budged at all as far as I could tell.

The other concern I have is of how much it’s going to protrude front and back given the length of the boat and the fact that the car is really short. And… will I kill myself hoisting it around on my own? I would hate to have to become social now :slight_smile:

To avoid damage
to the roof of your GTI, you should probably keep your kayak as near the roof seam as possible,(this is where the strength is).

An afterthought, t.george

long boat, short car
I’ve seen an 18’ sea kayak on a Smart Car, so your situation is hardly extreme. I’ve found the greatest hazard with long overhangs of boat vs car is that you as the driver are apt to hit things fore and aft with the boat. This is another incentive to ALWAYS use bow and stern lines tied to the bumpers or sub-bumper structures. Not only is it insurance against having the boat windmill off the car (damaging itself and anyone around you in traffic) but the visual of the lines reminds you where the end points are AND gives you a constant monitoring of the boat’s position on the car.

Fastening bow and stern lines takes only seconds, especially when using self-ratcheting ropes. I don’t know why so many people avoid using them. I always do, no matter what my travel distance and speed will be.

bow and stern lines
That makes a lot of sense, thanks. The problem is that I could not find ANY place to attach a hook to, either in front or in the back! It’s weird, but all this car seems to have is the soft plastic bumpers. I hope I never need to get towed… Any other owners can tell me if I’m missing something?

GTI has both front and back anchors
There are small removable panels in the front and back bumper and the car comes with one anchor bolt. I got a second from my dealer. I use a small flat head screw driver to pop the panels off. They are on the passenger side of the car. Rear above and to the side of one exhaust pipe. Front above and to the side of the fog lamp.

So that’s what those things are for! :slight_smile: I swear I’m not as technically inept as this makes me look :slight_smile:

it’s called an owners manual. “always use bow and stern lines”…as predicted…

As predicted? Hardly.
What you predicted was “a plethora of horror stories and chastisements.”

Now, now…
let’s all play nice!

Thanks for all the advice. Funny, I’m usually the nerd who always reads the manual, don’t know how I missed that. Don’t believe me? The first thing I did when I became even marginally interested in paddling was buy the ACA Kayaking book and read it!

Yes, I was in the chess club too, WHAT!?!

Options exist for ““hooking”” in
Where ever there is a door, latch, hatch, trunk, hood


long boat/short car - extreme!
I have a 21’ hawaiian outrigger canoe. It weighs 22 lbs at best. My car is a 13’ honda fit. The canoe has no bow or stern tie down hardware - and I wouldn’t secure it that way anyway because I can easily snap the fragile boat. I have Yakima Mako saddles that keep it fairly secure, but I worry about transporting at speed. Any suggestions for effective tie down on this crazy configuration (reminds me of Fred Flintstone and his giant rack of ribs!)

Rack Extensions

– Last Updated: Oct-11-12 3:25 PM EST –

There's a guy in my town who transports a long, fragile racing canoe on a small, four-door sedan using an extended rack system. Basically, attachment points on the roof carry a special rack which supports two lengthwise bars, one on each side. That pair of lengthwise bars carries the actual crossbars which in turn carry the boat. Thus, the rack is a two-stage contraption - a rack which supports a rack. The front crossbar is about 4 or 5 feet in front of the windshield and the rear crossbar is about as far back as the car's rear bumper, or maybe a little farther. Total spread between the crossbars is around 8 or 10 feet. I think there are two pairs of diagonal struts which stiffen the lengthwise bars against side-to-side flexing.

Wind pressure against a long boat puts much greater stress on your rack-to-roof connections than what happens with a short boat, so those connections must be very secure. Using this super-long rack system does not change stress applied to the roof (assuming that the boat is securely fastened to the rack regardless of what amount of bar spread you have), but what it DOES do is reduce the stress on the boat itself, since stress occurring at the boat-to-rack connection points is much less when there's a lot of spread between the crossbars.

If it were me, I'd build one of these extended racks. It could be built right onto an existing rack. However, the one I've seen carrying the racing canoe is obviously commercially made, but I can't tell if it's Thule, Yakima, or something else. I'm sure a search would turn up something.

what a joke
Have you seen how comprehensive auto owners manuals are lately?

well done, gbg
I think it’s Cardelo who carries a ski on his mini, with an extender.

You did a great job of explaining the true benefits of the extension. Well done.

Kayaks on Smart Cars
I found this picture on my Facebook page. Visual proof for what the person said in the post above.


extended rack
I made quick extended rack system for carrying my 17-ft Folbot Cooper (both flexible anf fragile) by using an aluminum ladder with foam block saddles attached to my Yakima rack. There is about a six foot spread between the saddles. I have had no problems at highway speeds.

extended rack
I made quick extended rack system for carrying my 17-ft Folbot Cooper (both flexible anf fragile) by using an aluminum ladder with foam block saddles attached to my Yakima rack. There is about a six foot spread between the saddles. I have had no problems at highway speeds.