Car topping and hatch/cockpit covers

I loaded up my roller skate this evening with my 16’ rotomolded Wilderness Systems Yak. It was my first ride with the Yakima Hullraisers, after traveling with foam blocks last year. While cruising at 60-65 with a 15 mph crosswind, the gusts were notably pushing me around, but not to the point I felt uncomfortable.

This is my issue…

First, common sense tells me that the air pressure blowing into the open hatches and cockpit must place a tremendous force on the boat itself. With the proper crosswind, I imagine that there could be a large buildup of air pressure within the hull, much like if you were to hold the open end of a trash bag out the window of a car and let the air blow into it. I doubt that the pressure against the hull is much of a concern, but this pressure on the bulkheads does concern me.

Obviously, a cockpit cover that will stay on will take care of part of this issue. The other part would be solved by installing the hatch covers. This IS a problem, as I have found that my hatch covers will not stay on at highway speed. The rear hatch opening is 1/2 as large as the cockpit opening. Maybe some straps installed over the covers (as some companies already do) would be a solution? I wonder where I might find the hardware for mounting straps to the hull might be found?

Any other ideas?

Here’s a link to some pics of my set-up (sorry, it’s dark out)

Solid Cockpit Cover Options
We always noticed a big noise diff and a higher risk of getting kicked around if we traveled our RM boats (also on stackers) without everything covered up. Agree, it’s not comfortable.

Re the cockpit cover, either of two solutions will leave you with covers that won’t go blowing down the highway. The first is to find a neo cockpit cover for your boat, and anchor it to the deck rigging (I did see some, yes?) with a carbiner. The second, which that you’ll have to stop and fix more but will still work, is to use a nylon cockpit cover. Again anchor it with a carbiner. We only still have the covers for our prior RM boats because of those clips. We don’t tend to use them now on the composite boats because they have deeper coamings and hold the neo covers fine, but on plastic I’d recommend staying with them.

The hatch covers are a bigger problem - we’ve never experienced hatches even on our RM boats that didn’t stay solidly on, whether die to built-in strappeing or well-sealing rubber. What size are your hatches? I am wondering if either would be the right size for you to be able to purchase emergency covers for Valley hatches, which can be obtained via the Kayak Center in RI that bought GRO’s business. There are emergency replacement hatches, in neoprene, for both the 10 inch round and the larger oblong. I suspect they’d stay on in transport if they were the right size.

Since you already have that set up…
…it is probably too late to change now, but you would have a lot less wind resistance if the yak was flat on top of cradles.



Wrap some nylon web straps
around the boat and hatch covers. I use cheaper ones for this, and good solid Yakima or NRS ones on the J-cradles, which are actually holding the boat to the cradles. The strap that crosses the cockpit will also help hold the cockpit cover on, but secure the cover to the deck lines with a caribiner or bungee attched to the cockpit cover loop on the front. If you are really concerned, wrap another cheap nylon web strap several times around the boat over the cockpit cover.

Travelng RM Boats
RM is strongest on its side, erto the recommendation for stackers due to where the boat can best take the stress. And can be most aggressively tightened down, because the straps will be pulling the boat against an edge that is less likely to soften over the course of a trip.

That’s one reason
I carry my kayaks on land shark saddles, not so much side wind problem.


I appreciate the input. I found some good hardware and custom straps at and should see the package in a few days. A single strap over the small front hatch cover and 2 straps over the large rear cover should solve the problem of the hatch covers coming off while cartopping. Between that and a decent cockpit cover, I’ll be ready for a roadtrip.

And yes, a plastic boat should always be mounted on it’s side when cartopping or in storage.

Or you could run into problems… The change in pressure commonly encountered during a long road trip from elevation change and temperature change can produce pretty strong negative or positive pressure in sealed chambers. Mostly a concern with Valley or Kajaksport covers, which seal airtight. My solution is a tiny hole drilled through the bulkheads into the cockpit. The smallest bit you have, it just needs to let air into and out of the bulkheads to equalize to ambient pressure.

I have only used my car
rack about a dozen time so far. I transport two kayaks upright and have tried with and without the cockpit covers installed. I have not noted any differance in noise or car handling in either case.

I always leave the access covers, 2 per boat, installed. Both of the hard covers have two web straps securing them in place.


other cockpit cover advantages
Another good reason for the cockpit cover while travelling is to keep the rain out of your boat. Could get pretty heavy & unstable if you find yourself in a storm. There are great cockpit covers out there that fit tight and also come with a strap & clip so you can attach it to your rigging if the cover still manages to come off.

I travel with the hatches and cockpit uncovered ; heat builds up otherwise and can be harmful. Water can be a problem as mentioned… the best solution IMHO is to have the boat upside down in the saddles.