Car-topped boats & rain

Taking the boats on a long drive and it's looking like it could be a rainy one :) Should I be concerned about the boats filling up? (One will be cockpit-up on saddles, the other on its side on J-cradles.) I'd hate to have to run out and buy cockpit covers just for this trip, and I've heard of them popping off on highways anyway...

upside down
I just load mine upside-down. Don’t know about the J-cradles though, never used 'em.

speaking from recent experience…
2 boats on cradles for 8 hours of rain = HEAVY boats. Consider the added weight on your rack system and then decide.

Just tether the covers on the loop and use a key-chain 'biner to attach to rigging. keep an eye on them while you drive and check them when you check your straps at EVERY stop…don’t forget your bow/stern safety lines…

VERY successful 10 day trip to beach…with cockpit covers this time.

Water is heavy . . .
and have heard stories about warped boats and car handling problems due to water accumulation. I have Yakima j-rack and sprung for a cover that I simply secure to the rack with a nylon cord in the event it comes off the cockpit in the wind.

and the good cockpit covers have a little clip that you can attach to a deck line incase they do come loose. It would be an easy retrofit for those that don’t have them too.


Well, add that to the list of things I need to take care of before we leave for the honeymoon :slight_smile:

Thanks for the words of wisdom.


Bring your bilge pump!
And a sponge to soak up what the pump can’t.

8 pounds a gallon!!
Water is 8 pounds a gallon. If you hit heavy rain on your trip, you could take on a lot of weight with the water that gets inside the cockpit. When you try to get the boat down, the water will slosh around, and make it very hard to get the Kayak down. If it is a fiberglass boat, you will likely damage it trying!

You can pick up a cover for under $20.00, and I think it is a great investment. I keep one on my boat all the time to keep bugs and bees from nesting inside it.

As a tip… Cut a piece of cardboard to fit to the outside edge of the cockpit rim, and keep it under the cover. This keeps the water from filling up any sag in the cover. I also spray the cardboard and cockpit cover with waterproofing, just to help keep water out.

Get a plastic Snap hook, or carabiner, and tie it to the loop on the front of the cover. Then snap it into place on one of the deck bungies. I’ve never lost a cover yet, and I routinely travel 65 mph with it on the kayak, on my roof

Happy Paddling, and enjoy your trip!

Plastic and Bungie
Buy some cheap sheet plastic and cut a section larger than the cockpit. Then using one or 2 bungie straps placed in the cockpit rim secure the plastic over the cockpit.

It’s not pretty, but it should keep away those worry clouds.

Definately Avoid
Definately want to avoid filling up for reasons mentioned plus others such as momentum and stopping and the hassle of pumping before offloading. The little Bride may not be to appreciative if a grasshopper revives itself during a lake crossing and gets creepy crawly.


Necessity of Cockpit Covers
1. Rain of course

2. Bugs during transit on highway

3. All kinds of creepy crawly creatures when boat stored at home.

4. Creepy crawly things at the camp sites in pursuit of food or bait lost in the cockpit.

5. Raccoons, rats, mice, snake, mosquitos tend to find there way in the boat overnight if not covered.


cardboard is a good tip…
because even a good cover will let in some rain water. You’ll never get it tight enough to keep a some from pooling and then soaking thru. My covers were $17.00 ea. + $2.00 for cheapo 'biners. Already had some pretty pink cord. Looks funky on an orange boat.

I’ll have to try that cardboard trick.

How much rain?
How much rain are you expecting? an inch of rainfall will add just over 6 gallons of water to a 29x16 cockpit (around 50lbs, taking the 8lbs per gallon as the weight of American water); Plus the hatches, if uncovered. It will take a looooong time to fill up a kayak - unless you live in a very, very rainy area and leave the kayak collecting it - something will break well before it fills up (what was that about roof rack carrying capacity?) meanwhile, the water will be up to your sills of your vehicle…

An inch of rain is a lot of rain - more than a passing storm. OTOH, 50lbs of water sloshing around will put a bit of strain on the roofrack and straps, also.

I don’t see it as a big concern, but pumping some out before you break your back getting it off the rack sounds like a good idea :slight_smile:

Whaa …?
An inch of water evenly dispersed over an area 29x16" would be more like, I dunno, a half-gallon? MAYBE a gallon, tops.

Operative word : “dunno”

– Last Updated: Aug-01-04 2:32 AM EST –

One gallon = 231 cubic inches. A mere 16 X16 square has 256 square inches, perhaps the cockpit opeining is about 425 square inches. So one inch of water there would yeild closer to two gallons.

Having a hundred extra pounds between the saddles combined with road shock is a recipe for a broken boat or worse.

Cockpit covers.

And in Florida we get rainfall rates…
up to 3"/hour…

Yes, but …
Alright Peter_K, I’ll see your calculations of liquid volume, and raise you a more accurate measurement of surface area: using Adobe Illustrator, I determined the actual surface area of a perfect 29 x 16" ellipse (a fairly close approximation of a typical kayak cockpit rim) to be 336 square inches. Using your number of 231 cubic inches per gallon, one inch of rain equates to 1.45 gallons inside your boat.

So my original seat-of-the-pants calculation of .5 to 1 gallon was much closer to reality than SteelCoder’s estimate of 6 gallons.

At 8.3 pounds per gallon, that 1.45 gallons of water will weigh 12 pounds, not the 100 which you propose. Even SteelCoder’s erroneous estimate of 6 gallons would weigh less than 50.

Twelve pounds is probably still more water than one should carry in one’s boat, so I certainly was not taking issue with the wisdom of cockpit covers, just the math.

I use my spay skirt
just tighten up the draw string and clip it to the front and back rigging so if it does come off …

Don’t trust the safety strap
I had a cover blow off and all I had left was the safety strap.

Now I use the safety strap plus a biner on the hand loop.

Use cockpit cover
I would use a cockpit cover to keep out the water. Another tip is to get a large blow up beach ball and put in the cockpit and then put on your cover. This keeps water from pooling in the cover.