No place on yaks to attach bow/stern tie

Moving cross country. Have two Walden Naturalist kayaks inherited from other family.

I have one Thule J-rack and a Thule stacker. I pretty well understand how to secure the kayaks to the racks, I got new straps to replace the ones that came with the racks. What I’m not sure of is tying down the bow and stern since there really aren’t any anchor points and it seems like hooking in to the carry handles might be less than ideal.

Any suggestions or is it okay to tie in to the carry handles? We’re going about 3000 miles so I think better safe than sorry applies well here.

Oh and I’m leaving in a week. Not much time to alter the kayaks.




– Last Updated: May-01-14 2:17 PM EST –

You can tie down with the carry handle loops. tie the rope to the rope supporting the handles not the handle. Do not put extreme force on the padeyes that hold the carry handles. You just need enough force to keep the boat from moving around. Front and rear tiedowns supply enough restraint to keep the kayak from becoming a missle in a crash stop. You can make your own tiedown with a spring toggle that will fit through the padeye attached to the boat, but not necessary.

If I remember right those are very short, cheap rec boats. I'm not sure how good the padeyes are that hold your handles. The good news is that if the boat is 10' or less, the most important part of the tie down is the straps holding it to the rack. If there is deck rigging you can also put a line through that to help keep the boats attached in case something happens.

Check your tie down after 10 miles of highway speed and every time you stop. If you do a decent job of strapping down, the front and rear tie downs are just a back up.

You could rig a harness

– Last Updated: May-01-14 4:56 PM EST –

Carry handles are often not very strong, and though I've used them as tie-downs, I've never seen one that I would trust not to break if subjected to a strong, sudden force (maybe there are sturdy ones on boats I haven't seen).

One way to avoid that risk is to rig a harness. I've done this on occasion and it makes a very sturdy anchor point. Start with a big loop of rope that cinches tightly around the coaming. Two half hitches would be perfect knot for that. Position that knot so it faces the end where you wish to establish an attachment for tie-downs. Lay the extra rope along the hull toward that end of the boat, then wrap around and make a new loop near the end of the boat. You could make a loop using the two-half-hitches knot again. If you do that, cinch the knot tight while working the loop toward the end of the boat until everything is snug. Then you can use the free end that's leftover as your attachment point (see below), or simply attach your tie-down rope to the lengthwise section of rope that's right behind that hull-encircling loop. The other option for attaching the rope to the hull near the end of the boat would be to wrap a clove hitch around the hull itself at that point, then use the free end that sticks out from that knot as your attachment point (put a bowline on that free end, or attach it to your tie-down rope with a sheet bend).

You would do this for each end of the boat (so you need two ropes). It sounds hard, but would only take about one minute per anchor point, maybe a few minutes if doing it for the first time. Directions for all these knots can be found online.

One important thing is that you should only have your tie-downs pull AWAY from the center of the boat with this method, so for the rear anchor point, the hull-encircling loop would likely be just a short distance behind the coaming rather than out near the tip of the boat. Tying to that part of the boat for the rear point is better anyway, so that the opposing sets of tie-downs act as if they are "stretching" the boat, because that way the boat can't move in a direction that causes any of the tie-downs to loosen (which is good insurance if something else about your racking system fails). On that note, if these boats are the length Seadart says they are, "insurance" is all the front and rear tie-downs are for anyway (they aren't needed to stabilize the boat on the rack, as may be required with longer boats), and a lot people would choose to do without them (not saying whether you should or not).

Again, this sounds much harder than it really is.

You might also
secure the straps holding the boats in the J racks to more than just the J rack itself. I often don’t secure to the bottom of the J but to the roof rack crossbar. i trust the full crossbar more than i do the J rack – it’s about the weakest link. Sometimes I also secure a strap over the center of the boats to a middle crossbar that I leave on the car sometimes. My wife’s car has a factory roof rack with a slot midway down each side – so no need for the extra crossbar in the middle – but you do then have to secure to the outside edge of the roof rail if you get my drift. For 3,000 miles I would be extra careful.

If it was me…
I would tie them to the grab handles.

Jack L

I appreciate your willingness to offer ideas. So close to the move- all my energy is going to packing so I’m glad for the assistance. I’m actually hoping we’ll have room for the kayaks to go in the moving truck but wanted to make sure I knew how to properly secure them if not.

Thanks again and happy paddling!

I didn’t trust the carry loop on a skin boat I have, but this method worked well. In the picture you can see the carry loop is used to keep the bow line in place. The line is just passed through it a couple of times. The line is then looped around the hull, so the pull is on the boat hull, not the loop, which carries no load.

Well, duh.
Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve never trusted the carry handles either, and your system should work especially well since I carry my SOTS hull down.

Have you tested that?

– Last Updated: May-02-14 1:35 PM EST –

With the top of the loop being almost on the downward-sloping ramp of the stem, and the sides of the loop being wrapped around something that's wedge-shaped, I'd think that once the loop pulled tighter, the sides would naturally creep along that wedge shape (toward the end of the boat), pulling the top to the downward-sloping ramp causing even quicker slippage toward the end. Maybe there's "just enough" balance between loss of tension by loop closing and gain of tension by the top of the loop drifing end-wards that it will just sit where it is. I wouldn't count on that for every boat - it will depend on the hull shape. And yes, it's anchored on the underside, but if the loop moved toward the end at all, that connection would be stressed a lot.

Not sure how strong the coaming is on a skin boat, but if that were a plastic boat and you rigged a harness as I described, the setup would look exactly like that except the bottom of the loop would have a line going straight to the coaming, and the upper part of the loop could be cinched into it's most stable position with no fear of inducing slippage (probably angled out on to the stem slope a little bit), or positioned farther from the tip of the hull.

if the carry handles
are far enough from the ends,they will keep a noose from sliding off while most of the tension is around the end of the boat rather than on the handle.


– Last Updated: May-03-14 12:53 AM EST –

The picture was taken after 100 miles on the freeway and 50 miles on back roads, with no adjustment - it was fine. Obviously if it had slipped, I would have re-rigged it. The setup you describe above seems very good, and even boy scout in its preparedness, but for me, it's overkill. Every hull and rack combination is different and there is room for variance based on the individual situation.

Sounds good then

– Last Updated: May-03-14 8:47 AM EST –

I think you can see why it looks like that loop could be at risk of slipping and putting an end-wise pull on your top loop. Sounds like it must work fine on that boat though. Had it not looked like there was a risk of slipping, I'd not have even thought about asking, as my thinking would have been along the same lines as indicated in Harry's post below.

How are the carry handles attached?
On my ww kayaks, the handles are made for rescue and can take a tremendous load.

On my touring kayak, the handles are attached to a little bracket attached to the hull by two screws. That doesn’t inspire full confidence, but I would be willing to use such handles as attachment for end ropes, just making sure that you don’t snub them down hard. Use polyester rope if possible, so it won’t relax in the rain. Tie snug but not hard. That way the capacity of the carrying handles isn’t half wasted, but is there if you drive over a mattress or a sheep.

I see
Looking at the picture, I see what you mean. It never slipped, but I only carried the boat that way occasionally for a couple of seasons. A long trip came up and I added a second V-bar.