Bent Kayak

Does anyone have any advice about a Necky Manitou Sport kayak that bends down at the front when I strap it on top of my car. The first time I noticed it, I was about to put it into the Hudson and worried that if it kept that shape, with its bow down, the water would be rolling in. Fortunately, it straightened out when I unloaded it.

Since then, I have tried loosening the straps and moving the kayak more toward the back of the roof so the straps hit it in a different place but the bend, although somewhat less, is still there while it is on the car. I’m worried that one of these times I’ll arrive at a put-in and the yak will stay bent.

Is this a permanent unfixable thing and do I just need to get a new kayak? And if I do get a new one, I want to make sure this does not happen again. The Manitou Sport is about 5 years old and is stored on our deck about 6 months a year on Talic sea horses under a tarp. The rest of the year it is in our basement. I use Thule Glide-n-Set horizontal carriers.

Any advice would be appreciated.

On its side
Is the only way to load plastic boats if you are going to use bow and stern tie-downs: their strongest feature is the shear lines and they can take the vertical loading applied by the tie-downs. Loading them “hull down” will end up with a caved-in (hogged) hull and essentially wreck them.

Also, be reasonable with the amount of pull applied by the bow and stern lines: most of the tension should be in the straps around the hull (hopefully locked around the cockpit coaming to keep the boat from sliding fore and aft). Those bow and stern lines are really just to prevent the boat from twisting or lifting in the airstream over your vehicle.

Don’t Overtighten Bow/Stern Lines
There’s no need to crank them down - barely snug is fine. The boat should be held to the rack with the straps - the bow/stern lines are really just insurance in case the strap or rack fails. You can also try carrying the kayak deck-down - my wife’s Cape Horn 15 carries much better this way…

I had (have) a Necky Looksha Sport
that at first would pick up a bottom dent when carried in cradles. I cut a short front wall from 2" foam, and when I carry the boat, I stuff the wall in so that it braces between the front deck and hull. My WW kayaks and c-1s don’t have this problem because they already have walls, front and rear.

Commenting on the carry-on-side option, I think it is often best for carrying three or more boats, but for just one or two, I prefer hull up, cockpit down. This is usually the best aerodynamically, and you don’t pick up a load in a rainstorm.

Put it sideways on J cradles
and forget the front and rear tiedowns.



hot water
Plastic has a property of wanting to return to its original shape. The way to release it is with hot water or a heat gun. Basically, you are going to warm the plastic and allow it to soften enough where it will try to return to close to its original shape.

These bumps are usually formed not just by the too tight straps, but also by heat. If you are tied on too tight in hot weather, then you get the indents (not so much in the cold).

I had this on one plastic kayak, right under where my feet would be. I boiled a quart or so of water in a tea pot and poured it on the outside of the boat where the indent was, and it mostly recovered.

After this, I made sure that I didn’t over-tighten the straps, particularly on hot days. Ive found they really don’t need to be that tight to hold the boat.


– Last Updated: Sep-23-09 7:58 PM EST –

just got a new Tarpon 160 and the attached booklet from Wilderness says to store and transport kayak deck down/hull up. They also say do not store on it's side unless straps are used.
I haul my SOT's with deck down at about a 32-36" spread on thick pool noodles and snug down front/rear straps. Here is Sacramento, we get temps of 100 and I have never had a problem with flex/misshaped hulls this way, but never leave mounted yak in direct hot sun for any length of time.