Front/Rear Tie-Downs - Curious

I’ve been following for several years now and have seen lots of debate re: using front/rear tie-downs.

I use front/rear tie-downs all the time and plan to do so in the future. The only exception is if I’m only going a short distance on slow, low traffic roads.

My rationale is that using front/rear tie-downs adds about 5 minutes to my “prep” time each trip. This time “cost” and the cost of the tie-downs themselves (nominal) are the only costs I incur. For these “costs”, I add a some extra protection in the event of a strap or rack failure which, I acknowledge, is unlikely (although there have been reports of both types of failure on this forum in the past).

My question is, other than the “costs” I’ve mentioned above, which I personally consider nominal, why do some of you not use front/rear tie-downs? The potential of injuring other people or their property, damage to your property, the cost of a ticket, potential increase in insurance costs, etc., seem to far outweigh any inconvenience of using front/rear tie-downs. Am I missing something?

This has been beaten to death, just recently.

Oh you
have just beat the proverbial hornets nest with a baseball bat!! Chaos is about to ensue, forgive him for he knows not what he has done.

I’ll bite

– Last Updated: Aug-14-07 12:04 PM EST –

Folks that don't use them tend to only consider the obvious risks to themselves (i.e., "my boat gets damaged.") They are generally oblivious to the risks they are forcing random strangers to endure (i.e. the folks in other vehicles who might be killed by flying boats.)

That's borne out by the posts every time this comes up. The no tie down crowd has myopic, self-absorbed tendencies. Much like litterbugs, and drunk drivers.

Yes, I know . . .
that I beat the hornet’s nest with a baseball bat. But maybe, just maybe, one person may reconsider the “costs” vs “benefits” of using front/rear tie-downs and maybe he may be the guy in front of me on the interstate one day when his straps or rack fails. Seriously, though, it seems so obvious to me the potential benefit of tie-downs, that it’s hard to believe everyone doesn’t take that extra precaution (oops, not only did I beat the hornet’s nest with a baseball bat, I ripped it open with my bare hands to see what’s inside!).

Ya know . . .
Puddlefish . . . I think you nailed it!

Gotta ask
Obviously Tomel found a kindred spirit to help bash anyone who disagrees - heck of a good reason for a thread…

But I am curious about one thing - where does Puddlefish run the tie-downs for the kayaks on the front and back of their school bus? And how long is that rope from the boat to the tie-down point?

Ask Pamlico_14 about this.
And be sure to use flip flops for padding.

Has anyone ever lost a boat?
I always use bow and stern tiedowns as well as my normal athwartship straps. Its the right thing to do with my 18 - 20 foot kayaks.


This is a very busy area for kayaking and there are more kayaks on roofs than bicycles. It is almost ineveitable that one will take I-95 to any of the many paddling spots. I drive I-95 everyday to work through kayaker alley. I’ve seen all types of ways folks have tied down their boats, but I have never seen a dead kayak at the side of the highway or heard a report of an accident due to a flyaway kayak.

I recommend using bow and stern lines along with two cross straps at the rack. However it seems that even a bad tie down job is usually still good enough. This is a good thing because there are a lot of stupid, irersponsible people out there, and kayak paddlers are no exception.

Surski TV, a video series from South Africa, did a test mostly for fun. They put a 21 ft surfski on a roof rack without any tiedowns. They made it pretyy fast before the boat flew off. Here is the video on YouTube.

Speaking of stupid and irresponsible - I see more stupid people in stupid little plastic kayaks paddling in busy well marked channels. You do not need to be there. Cross channels quickly and then stay out of them. If you insist on paddling in a channel, then you should at least paddle at the same speed as the rest of the traffic. I am in the boat business and I am hearing more and more complaints about kayaks in channels.

…safe than sorry. I’ve never been in so much of a rush that I didn’t have a couple extra minutes for bow/stern tie downs.

here’s the deal
You can try endlessly to change just one person’s opinion, believing realistically or not that you may save a life. You still may not change any minds.

Or you can do your best to warn people and let them find out for themselves.

I use tie downs and I agree the roads would be a safer place if we all did. But there are a myriad of issues related to both road and water safety that eclipse this one.

I lost a boat once
Not prouod about it but I did lose a Necky Thasis off my car once. I did not have bow and stern tie downs but I don’t go anywhere now without them.

The whole story with all the details and pictures can be found here:


Has anyone had tie downs save a rack failure? Or has anyone had tie downs fail?

I once saw a pickup cap come off a truck right in front of me on the e-way. No wind, no high speeds.

I suspect that in between the two crowds are lots of people who don’t check their straps or rack, and don’t put a lot of thought into how they fasten their boat to the car.

I was in a friend’s vehicle that had a heavy duty belly strap fail carrying a canoe. That caused some wind shear onthe boat which then caused the rack to fail. The bow and stern tie-downs saved the day, enabling the car to slow from highway speed to safely get on the shoulder. We figure the boat would have been airborne had the bow and stern tie downs not been in place. The straps were visually inspected too, prior to that particular use and there were no adverse signs of wear.

There are only two types of people
in teh world…


Jim :wink:

you mean there isn’t?
I gotta stop reading these forums.

if having tie downs or not having tie downs would matter in a lawsuit. I don’t know the answer, but there are so many lawsuits out there it is frightening. I mean, yeah, some people deserve compensation, but it is an animal unto itself any more. Would not having tied your boat down hurt you?~one thing I wonder.

do you know why the belly strap failed?


probably doesn’t matter
A sharp lawyer will twist it anyway he needs to regardless of if you have them or not.