Kayak carrier (J-cradles)

Besides the straps around the kayak and the rack do you guys use bow and stern lines? If so are they for “just in case” or are they straps and really tight?

The reason why I am asking is that I put all the lines on mine boat but saw couple of kayakers on the highway with jsut the straps around the roof racks and either no bow/stern lines or tied very loosely.

Here comes the fight !

– Last Updated: Jun-04-07 1:58 PM EST –

I don't use them, and I carry two QCC's on them with a canoe between without them also.
My J cradles are on Yakama racks, and I have carried various boats with them for a long time.


Round 2!
Always use front & rear ties on my touring yak when in cradles. I have seen what happens to a boat that went airborne after a belly tie-down failed.


J Cradles
I use J-Cradles and always have bow and stern lines. Would probably hold fine without them 99.9% of the time, but if that 1/10th of 1% happens, better have your liability insurance paid up.

Snug but not too tight
Sounds like there is a bit of history with the tie down or not debate. Anyway, I like the extra solidness of bow and stern tiedowns. It might be because I’m hauling a 17-footer on about a 30-inch spread on the Yakima bars. If I had the boat tied to the top of a van or SUV with a 48-50 inch bar spread, I’d be tempted to not use any tiedowns, or perhaps just the front as a backup. The boat sits on a pair of mako saddles. I snug them up just to the point that the Makos flex a bit and there is no more wobble. I have heard that you if you tighten a kayak too much you can cause the bulkheads to leak.

I didn’t have an issue…
2 WW kayaks in J cradles with no bow/stern tiedowns on top of a HYUNDAI SANTAFE SUV, driven at 85mph for extended periods in all manner of weather with no issues for over 2 years.

They were always so snug the who rack would have had to broken and blown away before the kayaks would have come loose.


This issue has been argued…
Some people use them and some don’t and some didn’t use them until they had a bad experience. Straps do fail. Racks do fail. A bow line will let you know if something strange happens.

If in doubt use them
With J-Cradles watch out for crosswinds.

Yes use them
As stated before, snug but not tight. It is a good safety practice to use both bow and stern lines. A kayak coming off a car at highway speeds is an unguided missile capable of serious injury to others. Racks and straps do fail on occasion and it’s best to be prepared for the worst. It takes all of about 5 minutes to hook up a bow and stern line so why not error on the safe side?


Yakima now includes them
Yakima has changed their J cradles recently to include bow and stern lines as standard items in the J cradle package. Before, they did not include them, but said they should be used if the boat was longer than something like 13 or 14’.

I religiously use bow lines with my touring kayaks. On long trips, will also use stern lines (but they end up blocking access to the rear hatch).

Fore and Aft Lines
I, persoanlly, don’t use them because my kayaks are securely strapped down to a set of Malone racks.

However, if they were to break loose, the old NC HP Trooper could possibily give me a ticket for “failing to properly secure a load”. And, that’s exactly what one NC HP Trooper told me when I asked him.

Any day on the water is a great day.


Only when I want to make certain they
stay on the car.

Bow Lines
I use bow and stern lines to make sure the rack stays on the car rather than boats staying on the rack.

I use 'em

– Last Updated: Jun-04-07 9:17 PM EST –

esp. if it's windy here, and esp. if I'll be on the highways.

I have 2 sets of j-hooks on my small car that I use year-round.

The only time I don't use bow and stern tie-downs is if I'm headed to the beach, which is 5 minutes away, and it's not windy.

They only take a few minutes to attach. Better safe than sorry.

Cam buckle web straps…
on the cross bars and one long rope with half hitches at each end of the kayak. Taught-line hitches at the front and trailer hitch (with hooks) of the car (Toyota 4Runner). The half hitches make it really fast/simple/strong to add the extra insurance of a bow/stern rope. Absolutely nothing to tie or untie. Snug but not tight. If the rope goes slack on either end, you know something shifted. The rack web straps are probably enough but 30 seconds of extra rigging might save a life.

That’s what they’re for - bow and stern lines keep everything attached to the car if the rack fails… I know two people who are now bigger believers in bow and stern lines since suffering FKS (flying kayak syndrome).

bow and stern tie downs
Never used them during the many thousands of miles I transported canoes and kayaks on top of the camper shell of a pick up.

Bought a Honda van and during a cross country trip hit extremely strong crosswinds near Mitchell South Dakota. I was going about 85 mph when a canoe came off. Slammed on the brakes as I saw the canoe coming off (front strap slid off) but by the time I came to a stop the plywood canoe was shattered. The rack was slightly bent but repairable as the canoe shattering protected the rack and van roof top. Good thing as the rack was attached to Yakima tracks screwed into the van roof. I was very lucky not to have damaged my new van or have caused damage to another car on the interstate. The homemade canoe was a total loss. Had to take it into a ditch and fill it with rocks to prevent it blowing into the path of another car.

Now I always use tie downs AND after securing the boat, always also loop the strap around the rack bracket or roof rail to prevent it sliding off.

When you’ve seen the devil and lived, it’s easy to become religious.


How did the strap come loose?
And what kind of strap was it?



Rope Ratchets
After using straps for a season, I went with rope ratchets (IE Thule “QuickDraws”). You can find them at just about any hardware store. They are 10x easier to use and much quicker than standard cargo straps. I have found that they hold my yak much tighter than the cargo straps as well. Paid $14 for a pair and they were one of the best investments I’ve made.

/my $0.02

Secondary question
Do people put cockpit covers on their kayaks when on the roof? Seems to me like you’d get a lot of drag from the cockpit, and possibly a good air pocket for take off on a windy day…

I’ve only put my kayak on the roof rack of my station wagon once & didn’t go far. Usually they are snugly in the pick up bed, with a cap over them… Stick out a little, but not much.