cradle for very narrow boat

Hi. Any suggestions out there for a cradle to use for a narrow surfski? I have been using my old Yakima cradles, pushed all the way together, but they are still a little bit wide and sort of suboptimal. Would building these up with foam maybe be a better way to go? I’ve seen the very nice cradles sold on the Speedstroke site, but $190 is way more than I would ever pay for something like this, unless I won the lottery. I had the Thule J-cradles, which thought were a POS- I threw them away after watching them rust on me. Maybe the Malone cradles? Would they work for a really narrow boat?



Yakima may be as good as it gets
The Mako saddles are mostly what I see on the road around here with surfskis and even narrower OC-1s. Another solution is just to haul it inverted on a padded bar–that seems to work just fine, too.

padded bar

i don’t use front or rear ties and have to drive about 40 minutes to paddle most of the time- does the padded bar option seem to work well enough for the highway?


I have cradles on my car, but I’ve hauled my ski on padded bars on my wife’s car and various friends’ trucks on shuttle runs with no problems. I haven’t spent a lot of time at freeway speed, but enough to feel reasonably confident, especially when I see a lot of other folks doing the same thing (and no broken boats alongside the road).

I have seen cradles made from a wide strap of fabric.

I carry my boat upside down - it has an almost flat deck & works fine without front & rear ties (of course, it isn’t as long as yours).

I’ve seen folks in this area with race boats of various types make their own saddles. Here’s the idea - piece of wood (treated 1x or 5/4 board) through which you insert bolts matching Yakima’s standard size. Those get screwed to the little Yakima pieces that wrap around the cross bars. On top of the wood you glue (or otherwise attach) a piece of 3" minicell cut to match your hull. Offset the minicell from the tops of the bolts so you can still get to the bolt heads. Custom fit, low cost - works great from what I can see.

no bow stern lines…
How the boat is tied onto the rack is often the least of your worries if you don’t use bow & stern tie downs. If you’re not going to use bow & stern lines you need to ask how is the rack attached to the car? I’ve heard of too many cases where the boat+rack detached from the roof of the car — quite a mess.

Risk exists, but
surfskis and OC-1s generally don’t have bow and stern toggles to attach the lines. I suppose you could come up with something, but given the number of canoes, kayaks, surfboards, etc. on roof racks around here and the rarity of problems, I tend to think the risk is pretty low.

risk determined by type of rack & auto…
I’ve seen racks with wimpy sheet metal plates that are bent to follow the contour of the doorframe. On some cars, this method works fine. On others the profile of the molding doesn’t provided much surface to grab. I had one car / rack combo that came loose in the front — no disaster as I had used bow / stern lines.

One approach on this type of rack would be to run a hefty sheet metal screw through the each of the brackets and into the car. That is what I did on the one that came loose.

Many factory racks are really little more than decoration. Many are rated at no more than 150 lbs. — while a surf ski probably wouldn’t generate that much load, a canoe (including wind generated load at highway speeds) could easily do so.

True enough

– Last Updated: May-10-04 9:11 PM EST –

I should add that the canoes I'm talking about are one and two-man outriggers, which are a lot more closely related to surfskis than open canoes.

Cradles - bad?
I’ve been told (most) commercial cradles are pretty bad for skis. More because they encourage cranking down the straps - but also do to shape/materials.

I have a Saris rack - and the craddles are all foam (unique), flexible, and very kind to more fragile ski hulls (as narrow as you want).

Other than those - something cutom out of minicell should work. Most ski people I see here just put them upside down on foam blocks or tubes - with or without rack.

I do not use bow/stern lines with the ski (always do with the sea kayak). Different stress tollerances (and no good place to tie on ski).

second the saris
I’ve got saris on my Saturn. I carry a touring kayak, racing surfski, and ICF K1 sans problems. 21’ of ski looks odd on a compact sedan but I’ve driven the Jersey Turnpike with it and I-95 from VA to Florida at speeds to 80mph without trouble. Crosswinds are a bit of a bother though with 21’ of boat and 13’ of car.

If you turn boat over you might be able

– Last Updated: May-10-04 11:15 PM EST –

to better use the name brand racks. If you have to keep the hull down, better to place the narrow keel directly on a paddled bar ( not sure of your rack spacing here but ASSuming a good degree of separation ) and simply use the name brand racks to stabilize the boat upright. Picture a narrow vs wide wedge..... the wide wedge finds a place to stop and does with alot of resistance, the narrow wedge wants to keep driving downward (strap pressure + road shock ) subjecting it's sides to high compressive loads..... not too good for the skinny ski.... even if it IS pretty stiffly built. A cool way to go would be to release and lay glass up right on hull and create perfect forms..... you can use a rubber band to hold them then :) Ask away if you really want to do this. Another thing to do is to fit some minicell to your hull precisely in the right spots, then shape the O.D. to drop onto the name brand racks as normal.

Same with a Neon! Pic
Looks odd - particularly with ski - but rides great.

More pics: saddle details on ski hull

See pictures 10-13. The part on the hull is completely soft and flexible.

since i already have a couple of sets of old Yakima TLC cradles, I think I will stick with those. Building it up with minicell seems like the way to go- the only problem is that I also carry my SK on it- hopefully I can build it up in such a way that leaves it useful for the SK when spread further apart.


Not sure if this helps…
…but when I got my wifes and my new QCC,s I was not happy with the way my old Yakama cradles held them, so I used some contct cement and added some in door/out door carpet to each face.

I made each piece about a inch larger all the way around than the cradle face, and they work like a charm.

It also made it nice for sliding the kevlar yaks into their proper position.



Yakima TLC cradles for Surfrigger
I use Yakima TLC cradles for different kayaks and Surfrigger (24’ outgrigger canoe). In the case of Surfrigger the saddles are moved together as close as possible. For a front couple of saddles I made a small closed cell foam insert to better much a hull. The insert is attached to the saddles by a plastic wrap.


Make removable pads? NM