Bow/stern tie downs

Perhaps I’m just being overly anal, but I’m wondering about the hooks on the ends of my tie-down straps.

In the event of a catastrophic roof rack failure, and the bow and stern tie-downs are what is holding my boat on the car, is there any chance that the hooks are going to pop off while everything is flopping about up there.

I’ve beein thinking about cutting the hook part off and replacing it with maybe a locking 'biner instead, at both the boat end and the two ends that hook onto my tow loops at the front and rear of the car. So – while the straps may tear loose of the boat – at least they won’t unhook and I will have done everything possible to ensure that the following vehicle isn’t wearing my boat somewhere inappropriate.

What do the rest of you think? What do you do for tie-downs while highway travelling?


Always a chance hooks will disengage.

– Last Updated: May-27-06 12:12 PM EST –

A hook as an attachment is only half an effort to properly secure your boats. Even though they must realize, many do still attach with only hooks. A bit of lazyness and not thinking about the lower level of security they are actually settling for, as I see it.

Many times I do not even use bow and stern tie downs. I double strap to the racks in stead for the more streamlined hulls, like decked canoes and kayaks. But, I also do so fully aware the risks I take. I do end line the bulkier boats, like tandem and WW canoes due to the much larger wind loads they face.



Compress the hooks into a closed
oval so that they will not disengage. You can do this with heavy duty channel locks, or a clamp. Use straps instead of ropes, as the spring buckles on straps are more reliable to stay tight instead of most knots with rope. Search and read the other posts on tie down, strap, and rope for some other good ideas.

Agree with compressing hooks
We use thule and yakima bow and stern lines faithfully as our rack is only as strong as the screws the dealership used (perrycraft heavy duty but i believe they skimp and use sheet metal screws so…)the tie downs to me are a safety MUST no matter where or how far we travel. Getting back to the issue - we felt the clamps were dangerously too far open as mentioned and although we didn’t close them up, we squeezed them closer together and make sure we hook them on the right angle so some bouncing wont pop them off.

Here we go again.
The bow lines are there to prevent a catastrophic rack failure. They counteract high speed wind lift on the hull by preventing the hull from lifting. Switching from a hook to a closed loop system is a good idea. The bow lines should be snug but not stressing the boat at rest.

What I do
is tie the hook down by doing some figure eight turns around it with the loose end. It could still come loose I suppose but not easily.

attaching closed hooks?
I hook the lines with the metal hook onto a grill plate fore - and hitch aft - if i closed my hooks fully, how are the closed hooks attached and to what? Perhaps i am missing something here (a little mechanically challenged!)- i dont think there is anything to strap to in front and the motor heat would worry me with a strap somewhere under hood, if even a spot available (a ford winstar van). Advice appreciated.


Why not epoxy the boats to the roof??

If you have a rack you trust, and use double looped cam lock buckle straps, front and rear tie downs are not necessary,



Bow lines = less stress!

– Last Updated: May-28-06 10:20 PM EST –

I use the tow hooks on my Jeep for a bow tie to carry a 21' kayak. My Yakima rack has stackers, fits on the stock side rails and I do worry about wind lift/truck wakes. I have paddled for a long time and many very seasoned friends have lost boats! I carried a Downriver kayak from KS. to MT. on a Saturn (26 in. crossbar spread) and the boat blew from the craddles, yet, not off the rack, in a 40 mph cross wind. I would never carry a canoe without a bow tie. Good luck & some days are just too bad for the interstate.

How long does it take to add the
extra insurance of tieing the both ends to the car – a few minutes – so why not do it? Also, it’s not unusual to have strong cross winds when driving out west so I always use two ropes in the front – one to each corner of the truck. Otherwise, no matter how tight I pull the straps the canoes get lose and start moving on the racks. It doesn’t make sense for a few minutes work to have to worry about losing a boat and causing an accident.

Some people
wear belts and suspenders too :slight_smile:

Well…if you paddle withsomeone…
like thebob, he might not wait for ya to untie it…

The majority of the people I paddle with have enough confidence in their paddling skills that they neither want, or need me to hang around & wait for them to put in on the river.

They certainly don’t need my assistance untying the tiedowns on their boats.

By going from thread to thread, making comments related to me, it makes me feel like you’re trying to gain my attention.

You have my attention.

Do you need my assistance?


No. but I feel free to make any comments
I want too.

1/4" line, knots

Good Lord!
Thank you, LeeG. I thought I was going crazy. In an episode of the Twilight Zone.

… Line, bowline, trucker’s hitch.

The freedom …
The freedom to say “anything you want too” doesn’t make some comments any less inane.


Amen to rope, cord & simple knots
I’m surprised how much dialogue there is on an “S” hook thread. (So, I’m adding my own inane comments.) Round rope doesn’t make annoying sounds when driving down the highway, and if you’ve got overhand loops already in the cord at strategic places, cinching down a boat and securing with a series of halfhitches takes just a few moments. Perhaps it harkens back to my charter fishing days, but I think anybody that’s going to be around water for any reason at all should know 5-6 good all purpose utility knots such as the bowline, square, utility loop, slip, angler’s and just maybe the sheetbend, (just to name a few).

s-hooks scare me
the only reason for bow/stern lines is failure of the rack,if the rack fails do you really want an s-hook holding on a kayak that’s bouncing around?

Straps are for those who can’t tie a knot. Sorry, but it’s true. They can easily damage your vehicle or worse, your boat. Go with good quality multifilament braided polypro to tie your boat (not the stiff stuff sold at hardware stores, but the good stuff found in quality throw bags). It doesn’t stretch, but it does degrade if left in the UV for long periods.

My vehicle doesn’t have any obvious loci to pass a line through, so I looped a short piece of nylon around the frame and came out behind the bumper and fitted it with a galv. metal hoop (available for $.40 at any hardware store) to allow the rope to slide through easily.