Deck Line

I am installing deckline (perimter line?) on my kayak. I’m using Bluewater/Harmony 4 mm reflective line. I’m running the cord through plastic, recessed fittings on the deck. Any ideas/best practices on how to get the line snug? I have a little play in the deckline at this point and I’m wondering if I should try to tighten up more or if saltwater/sun/etc will shrink the cord.

not too tight!
don’t try and get it too tight. remember it’s a ‘safety’ grab line and you must be able to grab and hang on to it w/o too much futzing around.

I had to get the Wildy boyz in the factory to use some slack on the Tempest lines as they too were trying to get 'em snug. No reason!


Should be fine
It should be fine. Just get it as snug as you can by hand. You could always go back and take a little more line off later if nessisary. My experience is that the line gets stretched out over time, not tighter.

If your fittings are screwed on as opposed to molded-in, you can remove a fitting, tie the last knot, and screw the fitting back in. But as steve said, there’s no reason to have them twanging tight.

Speaking of Tempest lines…
I unthreaded the perimeter lines from several of the fittings on my T-165. It’s nice having lots of places to hold the bungies but it seemed to me to be really hard to grab a perimeter line that is held down about 4" apart in places. Maybe it looks a tad less ship-shape now but seems more practical. I’ve been meaning to ask for comments on whether this was a good idea.

My Looksha IV didn’t have perimeter lines and when I installed them I threaded them through beads to make them easier to grab. I used a trucker’s hitch so the tension could be adjusted easier and because I wasn’t sure of the way they would finally be configured and didn’t want too little line. Not the nicest looking but works. The beads are really nice to have and so far haven’t scratched the deck significantly.

sounds good to me
no reason to have a short/tight stretch of line that is a hand grabber. On my Express I don’t have a bow perimeter line and have been using a doubled length of 1/4" painter between the bow u-bolt and recessed cleats right in front of the cockpit. It’s actually a lot more useful than snug perimeter lines.

Simple Test
If you can’t grab the lines with gloves on and get enough slack to slide a paddle blade in under them, they are probably too tight… I had to slightly stretch my deck lines once after I found that even practicing in a pond they were fighting back.


when you re-tie the lines use a single overhand knot, instead of the double fisherman’s bend. this give you an extra 2", enough to get your hand under the lines between the narrow (4") stations.

what you did is G2G, as well.


I agree.
It’s completely pointless to tie down the perimeter line as such short intervals and it really kills the functionality. I always skip the middle fitting on three row foredeck bungees.

Raise 'em up and keep 'em tight
Flush deck lines are a pain to grab when you need to especially with gloves on.

Slack deck lines are a pain in two ways:

  1. Stuff gets tangled in them.
  2. You still can’t grab them worth a damn.

    After discovering how difficult flush deck lines are to grab with gloved hands and how desperately important rapid, easy access can be in rescue situations, I’ve taken to raising the lines off the deck and keeping them tight. It makes it VASTLY easier to grab them and you don’t get tangled in loose lines. The tight lines give you much better control over the boat you’re grabbing than slack lines do.

    It’s very easy and inexpensive to raise your deck lines using wooden beads from a craft store (a $2.99 bag of 19mm beads does two boats). You just need to drill the holes in the beads to match your deck line size (make them fit snug). You can see examples of this in my Deck Rigging album (and others) on Webshots at:

    Trust me when I tell you that there is NO comparisoin between having raised deck lines and flush lines, slack or not.

This became dramatically clear…

…once I took my rescue practice to rough waters. When I started working with winter paddling attire, the raised taught lines were much more controllable.

Your web site has been an invaluable reference for matters such as these and I thank you.


wiffle golf balls
work quite nicely to raise the lines also.They don’t look as nice Brian’s painted wooden beads, but they last forever.

Sung Lines
These are all great recommendations. Thanks for the feedback.

I will add the wooden balls. One challenge I am having, however, is getting them snug. Right now they have too much slack but I can’t figure out how best to snug them up. I tie a knot at the fixture, but once I tighten I’ve created too much slack. I like flatpick’s idea of screwing the fixture out, tying the knot and then re-screwing so it remains tight. Just don’t know if that will cause leaks. I had a painter line (done nicely by Nimbus) on there and liked the fact I could use it to secure the boat to shore, but the snug perimeter line seems like a better solution, especially after looking at bnystrom’s deck rigging. Any ideas on how to store a deck line - with quick access - to be used for tying down on shore?

Various Knots as Altern. to Beads
I tied heaving line knots on to my deck bungies, using the same line as I use on my perimeter deck lines. These nicely raise the bungies, as with a wooden bead, making them easier to grab. You can vary how much the line is raised by using larger or smaller line for the knot. They have lasted several years on a couple different boats without coming undone. I used a heaving line knot and just passed the deck bungie through the knot along side the standing part of the line. Essentially, wrapping both the standing part of the line and the bungie with the turns of the knot. Note, you can vary the length of the “handle” formed by the knot be adding additional turns.

Heaving line knot can be seen at:

A couple other benefits: Knots can be applied/modified without undoing the decklines (as required with wooden beads). They will not wear the gel coat, as a harder item might. They look kind of cool, when the knot and perimeter deck lines match. Neither Polyester or Polyester/Polypro knots done in this way have shown any sign of loosening.

Other knots could be used also, but I found this knot created the nicest handle, while laying reasonably flat on the deck.

Two sizes?
Bnystrom, it seems you have two wooden ball sizes on your deck, the smaller on the perimeter and larger towards the midline.

My beads had larger holes
I looped the line through the bead, around the outside and back through. That way they won’t ever slide.

But then, I’m lazy. Maybe some day I’ll put beads on the Tempest.

No paint on my beads! :wink:
Not that I have any objection to painting them, I just don’t bother. Salt water preserves them pretty well.

Yes, 19mm and 25mm…

– Last Updated: Jan-19-05 4:58 PM EST –

...aka 3/4" and 1". The markings on the bags are usually metric. I generally use the larger balls only on the paddle bungees.

I use the unscrew/knot/rescrew method…
…to get the lines tight. Especially when you first install them, there’s going to be some slack that develops as the knots pull tight in use, so getting them tight initially helps keep them from getting floppy in a hurry.

Whatever works
The important thing is to make the lines easy to grab. Exactly how it’s done really doesn’t matter.