car break down with kayak on top

Yesterday enroute from NH to RI my car broke down with kayak on top. Tow truck said that they could not transport the disabled car with the kayak there so I had to take it off and sit (pathetically) with my kayak by the side of the road until my wife showed up. Fortunately, she was just half an hour away–but obviously it could have been much worse.

Anybody have any clever ideas about how to finesse this situation? Or war stories to tell?

Did not bother them in North Carolina
i was paddling the nantahala, got into my car and the starter went out. i was worried about my boat being stolen at the autoshop but they assured me that the place was secure and my boat would be fine and it was.

Unless the truck operator can give
a good reason for not towing with the kayak, send him on his merry way and call another. It helps to explain beforehand that you have a kayak on the vehicle to be towed.

Got towed with 2 kayaks on top
AAA tow - but it took a few expressive phone calls and the second guy to do it. The first one took one look at the boats and kept going. We got towed home to the back yard by driver number two, got the boats down and the car towed for the actual repair the next morning.

We gave the kid who did bring us home a bodacious tip after we saw how well he backed the tow truck and the car with boats up to deposit the whole thing in the back yard, from a narrow city alley. We were relieved and it was a good show.

My car has been towed with a kayak
I wish they had refused – I had to unexpectedly travel on business so when street cleaning day came, my car and kayak were towed. I fully expected the tow guy to try to charge me extra to get my kayak out, but he didn’t.

towed with a canoe on top
I had an accident when enroute to a paddling destination. The mini-van was badly damaged, the boat was not. The mini-van with canoe was towed to the tow yard where it was stored overnight. The next day, I arranged an outfitter to pick me up at my temporary abode at a local motel in Marshall, Arkansas. He drove me to the tow yard, we unloaded my boat and he transported me to my put-in on the Buffalo River. After taking out at Dillard’s Ferry, the nice outfitters at Dillards stored my boat for me free of charge until I could return to Arkansas for my repaired car (two weeks later). No reason not to tow with a boat on top.

Heck, a couple of times I’ve forgotten to take my boat off when I’ve gone in for car service and they’ve just put the van on the rack and lift it up, boat and all! They always seemed to get a kick out of it.

I don’t know why your tow driver had a problem, unless he was afraid of liability in case your boat got damaged.

How secure was your boat?
I’ve seen some really sketchy tie-down jobs, and maybe that’s what the tow-truck driver was reacting to. Of course, if that was the case, you would be the wrong person to ask about that (boats are only tied down poorly by those who don’t recognize that there’s a problem with their method). In any case, if it happens again, be sure to ask the driver “why”.

Toasted my Subaru
Subaru overheated on the way to a kayak trip. I got a tow (actually up on one of those lift trucks, which I appreciated for the AWD). The driver asked me if the kayak was going to stay on the car. I asked him how fast he was going to be driving:-) I told him I knew he had to ask so it would be my fault if anything went wrong, and said it would be ok. It was.

Wasn’t a problem…
when my Jeep caught on fire and burned at the roadside. Of course, my first move was to get the kayak off the roof! Once the fire was put out, I reloadesd the boat and had the mess towed to the towyard. Went back the next day with another car to fetch the boat.

Saw it the other day
Just the other day I saw a car on a flatbed with two kayaks on the car.

It is conceivable however, that if your car is a tall SUV, on top of a flatbed, that the overall height would be pretty tall - possibly taller than a standard semi-trailer.

After a dog took out my radiator, I, my
car, and the boat on my car all rode to Atlanta on a flatbed truck. The tow guy never said a word about the boat.

You mean your radiator took out a dog, right?

Dog versus radiator collisions are rarely good for the dog involved :frowning:

Or maybe the dog just came along and savaged your innocent radiator while you were parked at the put in? :slight_smile:

tied down
Kayak was tied down with four straps so was very secure (front back, in a saddle on both bars with a strap over each bar). The policy of not towing was actually mentioned by AAA on the phone (I told them they could easily identify my car by the kayak–which is one they mentioned it) so it seems their policy rather than the tower per se. But the tow truck repeated the issue despite my attempt to convince them. They said it was in fact a liability issue. As you say–probably one bad experience.


I had my previous van towed twice on a flatbed with boats on top. Never a problem, not even a question. I have AAA and when I made the call I told them there were kayaks on the roof, so they knew right up front that I wasn’t about to leave them on the side of the road.


The dog was lying in the grass next
to the road as I approached. I sensed that he might bolt, so I slowed and watched him closely. At the very last instant, when I no longer had any evasive options, he did bolt across the road, right into my path, passed under the plastic bumper, and shattered the radiator. I feel justified in saying that the dog was STUPID for not even looking, and that he took out my radiator. The dog did not belong in the road. I did.

The woman who owned the dog, and her daughter, apologised to me and virtually cursed “grandpa” for insisting on letting an inexperienced dog run free along a rural road. They even wanted me to try to get the old guy to pay for my radiator and the tow, but I decided not to try for that.