How tight is right?

I usually transport my boats (11’ rec kayak and 14’ rec tourer) in the back of my shortbed pickup. Have devised a bed extender by screwing a molded 2x12 onto 5/4" plywood cut to fit the bed and slide under the plastic bedliner. However, when travelling we usually take my wife’s Nissan Pathfinder w/ factory rack and I have always strapped directly to that. Initially with the rec boat I put it upside down and cranked for all it was worth. The hull deformations seemed to come out.

When I got the 14’ boat I decided to be smart and buy some of the foam kayak forms that fit over the rack - good so far. I also, having learned from past mistakes, tried not to tighten so hard but still have two problems I need help with:

  1. How tight is right? I have gradually lessened the tension but then travelling this weekend w/ strong wind gusts the bow has about 4" of motion to it. Stopped and tightened. How snug do you tighten if strappign directly to a rack?

  2. Downside discovered to carrying the boat deck up with the foam blocks - even though I was consciously trying not to overtighten, I have deformed the hull about 8" in front of seat. The boat has a shallow V going to a relatively flat middle (even flatter now) then a lot of rocker at the stern. It does not seem to want to work back out with just leaving it in the sun. Other tricks to try to help it remember its correct shape?

    I just bought a fiberglass boat and sprang for a J cradle, but figured I should at least figure out what I did wrong and how to fix it w/ the plastic boat. Plus, hope to save someone else the error of my ways.

I hope…
you are not using ratchet type straps!



Extert pressure on it
to push it back into place while letting the sun warm it. If the deformity is below the cockpit, flip the boat upside down and prop it on a board or brick at the point there the dent is.

If you are tying it down correctly, you shouldn’t have to tighten it too much to keep it from slipping from side to side. Maybe get some saddles–which will keep the boat from sliding back and forth. And use NRS, Yakima, or Thule straps–they kind that tighten by pulling on the straps, not by pressing a ratchet lever.

I have found that by using 12 ft or longer straps I can wrap the front strap around the kayak twice in a figure eight configuration with the second loop of the figure eight about 24 inches ahead of the bar and

put the rear strap on in the same fashion except with the second loop of figure eight about 2 ft. to the rear of the back bar. I pull the straps snug but don’t strain them. This way if the kayak shifts forward the front strap tightens due to the taper of the kayak and if the kayak shifts the rear the back strap tightens due to the taper of the kayak. Bow and stern lines are just barely tight. This technique has worked well for me holding the kayaks securely even when the kayak has shifted.