I was looking for a way to stabilize my 18 ft Tempest 180 in cross winds, on cross bars that are fixed at 30 inches spread between the two bars. In addition to an inverted V tie down at bow and stern, I was looking for a way to fix the boat more securely on the bars. Figured I’d start with Malone Js as so many people like them.
Here’s the fit concerns though.
The bow fits snug in the front J. The front deck of the T180 is relatively high to give enough thigh room for big guys/gals.
The stern has about 3 inches of play in the base of the rear J as the rear deck is relatively low. Even when strapped down, the stern can easily shift back and fourth the 3 inches, which is a lot more than that at the end of the kayak.
The Js them selves flex quite a bit. I think the boat will wag quite a bit out at the ends in cross winds. Wouldn’t be a problem so much if the Js were further apart than 30 inches.
Since the cockpit is 34 inches long, the straps have to go over the combing. Maybe not a big deal since the strap pressure is mostly on the side of the kayak with the Js. Somehow, when I have the kayak flat on noodles it’s easy to make the straps flare out a little to go around the deck rather than on the combing. But with the Js, the straps are pretty twisted if I try to go around rather than over the combing…
I could test them out on the highway, but am inclined to just return them as like-new now, just based on initial observations in the garage. Thought I’d see if you think I haven’t given them a fair chance before I do that though.
(Kind of kicking myself now in hind sight for not starting with the Thule Set To Go Saddles which I was pretty sure would work well for stabilization of the boat on the racks. Started with the Js though because if they worked well for stabilization, they’d be easier to load.)
new v. older malones I don’t like the new Malone J cradles as much–they are 1/3 larger probably to better hold rec boats. This makes them less suitable for a narrow sea kayak. The inter-bar specs for many racks are quite narrow. My Acura TL Yakima rack says 24", but I run it at 34" to span the cockpit and provide greater stability. If you can do it, make your inter-bar distance 36" and that’ll help some.
inclined to return them without testing? I’ve put a Chatham 18 in my old Malones, front rack snug, aft deck with LOTS of room. Doesn’t matter when snugged down. It aint the rack, it’s the spread that’s the problem.
Asking too much of the Malones? With a x-bar spread of only 30" you may be overtaxing the ability of the system to keep the 18’ boat stable. You may have to use a “V” of rope both bow and stern to get highway safety.
Gray Foamies I hate to suggest that after all this, you go buy a gray foam kayak block, but that may be exactly what you need.
Fitted between your boat and the tall, back support of the Malone J-Cradle, such a foam block may take up that extra 3" gap that’s troubling you, while providing uniform support under the hull. You’ll probably have to lop off one end to allow the boat to rest in the cradle, and maybe shave off the bottom to adjust the thickness; a table saw or utility knife will allow you to get a good fit.
Like others here, I really prefer running the tiedown straps for and aft of the coaming, under the lip, to prevent longitudinal shifting. If your cradles are indeed 30" apart, and the cockpit 34" long, that’s only about 2-3" deflection on each strap to catch that lip. If at all possible, I’d try and do that.
30" Hi, When you say 30" is that per instructions or the max distance you can set the bars on your Solara? If it is per instructions, you should be able to put the bars a bit further apart so as to not have to loop around the coming. Just make sure that you are level and parallel, and check to make sure that the gutterless mounts are well seated/tightened. I asked this question on a previous thread, and that’s the gist of the advice I got. I don’t use bow/stern lines around town but do in the highway, but only one line, not a v as the main job is control fore/aft shifting if you have to stop suddenly or are hit from behind. John
I decided to go with saddles so the 30 inches is ok. See the link at the top of this thread for a post about the saddles. I agree I could extend the rear bar back a couple inches. But I'd be trading off the stability of the rack on the car. It's an extension kit set up. No clamps on the rear towers. Clamps are on the front towers and half way down the extension bar. So the there's a strong cantilever effect holding the rear towers down. Another couple inches could matter. And totally at my own risk. Yakima is very exact with the numbers and warns sternly to use exactly those numbers.
I have a small spread on my Subaru… …Sport and I have the Malone Xv racks, too. The Merlin fits great, as does the Tarpon. For my surfski, I added a Thule Goalpost to the bumper hitch and another Malone rack there with padding to take up the extra room between rack and hull. No problems with a summer’s worth of cartopping. The Malone racks will loosen, so keep an eye on the bolts and tighten them as needed. They are SUPER when it gets windy and you have to load your boat independently.