lashing 3 boats on top of the van

Hello- I am new to the group. I just bought three Kayaks for my family- two otters and a voyager- we are traveling up north here in Michigan (to an inland lake and then Lake Michigan Sleeping Bear Dunes Park). I would appreciate any advice on the safest and best ways to lash these three on top of our Plymouth Voyager van. We do not have a hitch or a trailer and cant afford one now.

Do you buy the lashing kits for $40 or do you get swim noodles and straps at the hardware?

How would you stack these - can two on bottom and one in the middle top like a pyramid work?

Will the wind lift make driving dangerous?

Thanks so much for your help!

:slight_smile: Janet

Janet, Janet… You should treat them with kindness and respect, friends, not LASHINGS… What did they DO to you…?

What -are ye Pirates of the Great Lakes, arrgh?

A little more seriously, I don’t think “lashing” those three atop Le Voyageur sans a wide enough roof rack system would be particularly wise, Janet. It probably CAN be done, and perhaps hold together ubtil your arrive at Lake Michigan, but I’m not so sure.

We have A Thule setup on our Mazda, and a Yakima setup on our Jeep, and both are study roof racks with 58" bars.

We’ve securely takes 3 boats -two SINKs and an SOT twice, and two SOTs and a SINK once, for fast (75+mph on I-95) and fast (on the Florida Turnpike) and moderately distant (about 100 miles overall) down the Florida Keys -but that’s with the two bottom boats securely strapped down top the rack, and the third atop and centered on the other two, secured to both the rack and onew boat.

In each case, all boats had both front & rear tie-downs.

I would suggest any such a three-boat tote be attempted with nothing but a trailer or a similar (or better -meaning even wider bars) roof rack system with one exception. OK (Ocean Kayaks) built a series of SOT kayaks that handily stack by neatly nesting hulls within topsides -the Scramblers. Those mighht -MIGHT! -be able to be securely stacked three-high, and then tied togetherm, and then tied down with a ‘temporary’ system akin to that which you’re suggesting.

But it is, indeed, a “tall order”, and I’d be VERY sure it was secure before taking off, lest the boats take off as well.

Spend the money for a good rack system -start by looking for a used one -you can get “feet” for the towers that will fit your make/model, the Voyager/Caravan/Town&Country triplets, if that’s not what’s available, and you should be able to pick a rack up for something in the neighborhood of $100-$150. You can get a couple 4-packs of cinch straps at a place like Big Lots for around $10 per package, and that’s about it.

Be secure as you secure your boats with a good, solid system.

That way, you’ll be much more likely to get them to where you want to


-Frank in Miami


They’re only ~$60. and work great for transporting 3 kayaks. 2 on bottom, 1 on top and centered. Take the earlier advice about good straps.


not pirates but sounds like fun…
Hi Frank- :slight_smile: well, I guess lashing does sound a bit harsh… how about tie-down?

Michigan is not really a windy state but we definately do not want to crash or shed our lovely new “friends” into the woods.

We may have to settle for taking two, and only two up. Tomorrow we are going to Cabelas (do you have those? they are HUGE sporting goods stores, more like cities-) and will check out straps and foam blocks and all that stuff. We are also going to get a couple of paddles- just some under $50- we are not going for super high perfomance and we are supposed to take off on monday.

Have you been to Sleeping Bear Dunes? It is fantastic, amazing and wonderful. I have been to the Keys- lovely under water but the traffic down was a bit stressful…

Hey with Global Warming Michigan is getting more and more like Florida all the time- come check us out some time…

Thanks for your reply- I appreciate it.

:slight_smile: Janet

I looked at your link- thanks
Hey thanks- I looked at your link and since we already have a factory roof rack I am not sure this would work but I did see something at the same site called "Thule The Stacker w/855- for 100.00 and it says you can put 4 Kayaks on the roof with this product. Anyone try this before?

Thanks Janet

I was going to recommend a stacker.
will make you very tall but definitely the best way to get three boats to your destination safely. I do it all the time with three 18 foot boats on a Toyota Echo!

Probably the cheapest all around versatile arrangement. they provide a point where your kayaks can lean against while you lash them (tie them) down on the rack system on your car.

Otters are about 40 lbs each aren’t they? So make sure your rack can take 100 lbs plus.

Do not leave without tiedowns front and back…very very important.