Loading/unloading kayak at home

I have a friend who is contemplating purchasing a kayak, her first. She’s heard about a rope & pulley system affixed to a garage ceiling to help w/loading/unloading a potential boat on her car. She plans to paddle with friends, so feels she has the launch site load/unload covered with assist from others. Any input/experience/thoughts? Thanks

Tall garage/short car?The system is
easy if you have the room. It takes a long garage to get a door and a kayak on the ceiling.

Loading/unloading kayak at home
Thanks for the quick reply! Yes, the garage ceiling is quite high, not sure of exact measurement, but oversized comparatively, and 2 car. She has one car, a Volvo sedan, so not long or high in itself. Seems to me there would be room. Also, she’s looking at a 12 - 13’ poly boat. When you say “system” are you referring to do-it-yourself or something she could purchase? Not sure she’s that handy!

kayak hoist
I use one made for the job. It is listed as a bike and kayak hoist (has hooks and straps to do either. Something like this one:


If you make your own, don’t forget to use multiple pulleys to help with the weight.

I made a 4x4 platform with rails down…

…two sides so I could take the boat out of the garage,

rest it on the rails, get up on the platform, and

load the boat on the roof of my truck.

The platform sits up the same height as the truck’s


I use one like that
for both bikes and a kayak. I got mine for a lot less than 49.99, shop around. It works very well fo the bike. OK for the kayak. The safety feature that prevents the boat/bike from falling if you let go of the rope requires that to lower the boat/bike the rope be at a specific angle, it’s not hard but I find with the boat it’s more difficult than the bike. It may be just me. Also I find that it is better with the boat to have the pulleys farther apart than for the bike.

The best part is the feature that prevents it from dropping when you don’t want it to. Something to consider if she wants to go the DIY route.

You friend would may also need help setting it up.

Good Luck

the issue with the garage is the door
A lot of people forget the door has to go up and down inside the garage without hitting the boat. It has to fit at the side of the door or you need a very long garage… in California most garages are not big enough to pull this off. Honestly kayaks are not that difficult to put on a Volvo. You just lift one end up, slide it on the rack and then the other end, so you are lifting less than 1/2 the weight of the kayak. Much easier to learn the trick and store it on a side rack or in the yard … than hoisting it over your head every time you use it. Also if she has kids - grandkids around — be careful there is always that kid who has to fiddle with things like tiedowns. If the boat is too heavy to lift don’t buy it.

kayak condo
Given where the beams were in my garage lifting a kayak over my car wouldn’t work. But I have a two car garage and built a shelf at car height at the back of my garage that is about two feet deep and 10 feet wide and hangs over the left hand car bay. I then put some all-weather carpet down on the shelf. The kayak travels on the car in the right hand bay and I just pick up the back and walk down the right side of that car sliding the kayak onto the shelf. Going in reverse pulls the kayak onto the car. I then rigged up some pullies over the shelf so that I could have one kayak on the shelf and two more hanging that I could swap in as needed. Hence the kayak condo.

I have one I got at Northern hardware.
Put a couple of straps around the boat, about 1/3 from each end , hook ‘em up , and hoist away. Keep the boat on its’ side if possible or deck down to prevent deforming the plastic.

Loading/unloading kayak at home
Thanks to all for your ideas. I’ve passed them along and we’ll see what develops. I’m excitied to see a new convert join the ranks!

I just use a couple of tiedown straps running though eyescrews in the ceiling. To load, drive car in, loosen one buckle at a time, and boat is lowered onto car. To unload, drive car in, fasten straps, and tighten one at a time to lift boat.

Door and boat may work fine
Here is how my garage shapes up; Ceiling is 8’ high and it’s a deep garage. The garage door goes above the rear of the kayaks hanging from the ceiling when it opens. My boats hang on two strap/hooks each - the rear strap fits about half way between the rear hatch and the day hatch on the Explorer. The stern of the 17.5’ boat is about 3’ from the 7’ high door when it’s closed. With the door up, the top of the door is 18" from the rear boat hanger. The door is a multi-panel on rollers, with a Craftsman electric opener.


The Handy Hooker Hoist System
The Handy Hooker Hoist system, by DRD Corporation, would definitely work for you. We got two of these to hoist our Arctic Tern 14s up into a 16 foot geodesic dome ceiling. I discovered I could work on the boats, while they are suspended low - giving me table room for my tools and activities. It was even possible to hoist them up while connected to one end and do an end pour. These are very versatile, very simple, safe and strong (did I say economical?). . . and I liked them so much I did a review on this site.