Roof rack for four days

Need suggestions. Summer’s are at home in Eastern Canads, Jan - Mar will hopefully be in Florida. Honda Civic, Thule racks, two 12’ 6" kayaks. Down in December, back in March. Four days of 65 to 70 mph of highway driving in potential sunshine to freezing snow and anything in-between.

Doable or stupid crazy?

Polite suggestions welcome.


What is your question?

– Last Updated: Feb-05-16 8:53 PM EST –

We drove through the L named snow thing today enroute to Florida.

We've done this trip from Maine some 15 times round trip.

Not sure what advice you need. We have two boats on the truck and have never gone to Florida boatless. We have seen our share of storms.

You aren't the first one toting a canoe or two kayaks in the winter. I remember going to Toronto through one snowstorm several times ( it had wings) with a 18 foot 6 inch canoe in Feb.

Just make sure your story makes sense at the border. Going south to paddle does. Going north to paddle now does not.

You are asking if this will work?

– Last Updated: Feb-05-16 9:06 PM EST –

If the rack fits, it should be okay. It may not be the ideal setup, but I'd trust it.

My girlfriend has a Thule rack on a Honda Civic. I can't tell you the model year. The rack was installed by the folks at a canoe shop, as per Thule instructions, resulting in a spread between the bars that's barely enough for many kinds of boats, but for short kayaks, you could call it workable. Auxiliary tie-down points on that car are nearly nonexistent, so you'd do well to install strap-loop anchor points that are attached inside the hood, and maybe the trunk if possible too.

Oh, use some kind of boat-mounting system, like cradles, J-hooks, or stackers, so the boats don't need to be cinched down to stay put. With the bar spread being so minimal, any crosswind "levering" the boat will strain boat-to-rack connections a whole lot more than would be the case on a rack with reasonable bar spread. Besides, plastic boats tied tightly to bars that are only covered with pool noodles or the like end up dented.

More questions
Do I wrap them, leave them open? Make a cover?

What about a three nights in a motel? How do I lock them on, or take them inside?

Sorry, never done this before.


car top
You can get cable locks, bicycle cable locks are better and less expensive, loop around the seat supports and around the rack crossbars. If someone wants to steal them they will, that’s what insurance is for. Take the locks off when traveling.

Use bow and stern lines on both kayaks, all the time. Use good quality straps and check all the attachments when you stop.

Get cockpit covers, a kayak full of water from a big rain storm can destroy the car as well as the kayak.

No reason this should be an issue, have traveled thousands of miles with kayaks on the roof and trailer with no issues at all.

Bill H.

I do it year after year

– Last Updated: Feb-06-16 8:04 AM EST –

With two long sea kayaks and a canoe between them.
A thousand miles each way. At seventy miles per hour

Get cockpit covers for them to keep the rain out, or after a gully washer, just pump the boats out.

Go to wally world and pick up a plastic coated cable that they use for dog runs. Rework it so that it has a loop at each end and then use a pad lock with it to attach it to the racks, etc. at motels.

Jack L

No worries.
Good rack properly installed. Tie snug to rack and tie bow and stern to vehicle. Cockpit covers. Insurance for theft. Your good. Enjoy!

Many thanks - great help
Maybe the last question. For the front and back lines, what do you do to cover the lines where they go over the hood and trunk to protect the car’s paint from chafe?

And, I “presume” you use line (rope) and not straps front and back?


– Last Updated: Feb-06-16 1:32 PM EST –

try I81 to 75 during a west or north wind weather frontal system. Have a tune up n use synthetic Valvo 5-20. leave room for a half quart n add a fresh half quart or .25 Qt each morning. Civic have a separate trans oil supply for oil ? change that to synthetic. Add a bottle of Techron when leaving. Recently in Fla, BP and Shell are adequate in midgrade.

Probably worth 5hp.

The farther back the bow goes to the Civic's rear is best for Interstate running. Adding 1 or 2 red led lights to the rack would help visibility for trucker's.

Add a front airfoil to the rack and side plates...waxy cardboard...painted paneling....machine screw or bolt on with #10's. Another 5HP. The front is very effective

with cardboard, bring spares.

Always wanted another 10, right ?

Try drafting 18 wheelers n UPS trucks or anything larger than a Civic. An area to the rear before or after the draft wiggles the Civic will pull you along or break a head wind. Draft driving on the I is wait for a pull at your speed then go with it at your speed waiting n hopping from one pull to another which is different and not just 'driving along.'

Many larger vehicles are running at 'your speed' you have to wait 10 minutes for one or more to drive by you running at a lower than 'your intended speed'

very effective cross country driving, 'takes patience.'

even with a 460 Lincoln. Well, maybe not a 460...

use new bulbs n new battery. We see many tourists buying new batteries following the drive south.

If you choose an upgrade motel, advise the manager and install an alarm(Omega ?)with shock sensors attached to the horn, and or wrap boats with loose coils of stiff ground wire maybe 2Ga ?
then it's OK.

Padnet has several boat theft threads.

I don't know what abt the boats when you arrive in Florida. Leaving boats on roof is not in order nor stuff in a Civic. Try looking and pre-renting a storage locker for 12' boats and the other stuff.

Put a loop on the front hood bumpers

– Last Updated: Feb-06-16 11:21 AM EST –

Then let it hang out and tie off to that. No rubbing.

My boats overhang the rear enough that there is no likelihood of the line rubbing the paint. Not sure that would be so for the boat you would get.

As to the rack and temperature issues, forgetaboutit. Just recheck the ropes or straps before you take off driving after it has been sitting for a bit or if it gets wet, they stretch a little.


no north or north west winds today but there are the resources.

Having MiFi at Godforesaken, AZ….I’m searched out by 5th wheel windjammers asking abt wind forecasts up thru the Plains to Canada.

Coupla trips of that n they leave the jammer at GFS. Beats buying a new motor.

South winds up the coast on I95 with more traffic n inferior road surfaces support going the hilly route with wind potentials.

During the 70’s before banks lent money, I81/75 was traffic free. Today, we travel on secondary roads thru the mtns.

One mystery is why ask if you’re here ?

hood loops
Well first, the kayaks will overhang the rear so you don’t have a rubbing issue. On the front most of us use these:

They work well.

Yes use rope for bow and stern lines, there is a kit, someone will have a link or I’ll find it later for inexpensive ratchet blocks and rope that work very well for this, just don’t make the ropes real tight, they are just a safety if something else lets loose while you’re on the road.

Bill H.

you’re good to go
Great rack if installed properly, and good car. People may freak out about bar spread but you’re dealing with shorter boats here.

Make sure to check your rack for movement, and your straps and tie downs whenever you get the chance. If it were me I’d just add foam blocks to the rack and carry hull-up to keep the snow and water out.

“Freaking out” about bar spread.

– Last Updated: Feb-08-16 11:18 AM EST –

It's just levers and physics, not emotion. If a 14' canoe on bars with 4' spread can't be secured against pivoting in crosswinds without the help of strong gunwale brackets or something similar, the situation for a boat that's barely more than a foot shorter supported on bar spread that's barely over 2' won't be better. The ratio of boat length to bar spread is actually much greater in this situation, not less, as a generic statement about boat length might imply, so the need for some means of securing the boat against sideways movement and pivoting is at least as much in this situation as it would be for most people with longer boats and a more useful bar spread.

Of course, some people don't mind when boats shift and pivot up on the rack, secure in the knowledge that they are not actually going to come off. I see it all the time, but I don't care for it myself.


– Last Updated: Feb-08-16 6:12 PM EST –

Ca to Fla ?

solid gunwale stops for both hulls, 8 !


no yaw no slip foreward aft against widening hull width...then strap to crossbars with a double loop 4!

with 2 bow lines, 2 aft lines.

tie strap ends. wherever, with 3M 33 electrical tape. 3M tapes to itself, TIGHT.

flap flap thwack thwack

all the way to Bristol ?

I can only add…
two things to the previous advice. First, be familiar with your rack system to know how to make adjustments should they become necessary. Second, check the boats and racks every time you stop.

Far better to find a “little wiggle” and correct it than find your flying kayak in the rear view mirror!


Ground Floor Motel Rooms With Parking
Right outside my door, are where I cartop store my surfskis. I travel with 21’+ surfskis, and if I can, I’ve stored them inside the room, so with your shorter boats, I’d store them in the motel room.

Hang a pink ribbon or orange sock off the stern for visibility, and for insurance purposes. Yeah, some insurance companies won’t cover canoes in an accident w/o the caution banner affixed to the tail.

I avoid hotels with parking garages and hunt for those that have grassy areas to store my surfskis where I can see them from my hotel room. If you got to park in a parking lot away from your room, make sure the area is adequately illuminated, preferably under the lamp pole. Usually, those hotels have security.

Always keep a vigilant eye for children, because your kayak is an attractive nuisance and they will jump and play on them. They’ll even pour sand and dirt in them though the drain plug.

I understand the physics
The civic roofline is relatively long. They’re 12’ boats. I guess I’m not as concerned as long as the rack is installed properly and front and rear tie downs are used.

thats good advice
I try to park in front of the entrance and lobby and let the front desk know.

When traveling with boats or motorcycles for that matter I try to find older motels with ground floor rooms with outside doors, then I can park right in front of the room and always see the vehicles outside. Leave the curtain open a little, thieves like places where no one is watching.

Bill H.