Securing Boat at Take-Out

-- Last Updated: Jun-02-13 5:58 PM EST --

Hello all,
I often paddle with only one other person, and we bring two cars to shuttle. Since we have to leave the boats alone, how do you all secure yours to make sure they don't disappear?


edit: we are using kayaks. thanks!

someone always stays with the boats
How are you doing the shuttle? One car at the put-in and the other at the take-out? One car should be able to handle two kayaks and if it is the one left at the take-out then both paddles can load their respective yaks and both can go back to the site of origin. This is a trick question if each vehicle is set to transport one kayak…right?

One of two methods

– Last Updated: Jun-02-13 6:42 PM EST –

We either lock the boats to some immovable object, or we hide them in the woods. There's very little risk that someone will happen to wander into the woods at a landing, and even less risk that if they do so, they will happen to be thieves who actually want your boats. For locking canoes, we run a cable under one or two thwarts plus a seat, and for kayaks, the cable goes under the seat. In either case, a thief would need the right tools on hand, as well as be willing to run the risk of getting caught in the act, since anyone can understand that the owners could return at any moment (it's not like they can just pick up a boat and throw it into a pickup bed or something - stealing it will still require time - unless they also happen to be ready with a pair of bolt cutters). For my guide-boat (which has no thwarts, and seats that can be removed even quicker and with fewer tools than those on a canoe), I have a steel plate that slides only partway though one of the gunwale slots, then padlocks to a cable so it can't "back out". If you have a kayak with a day hatch, you've got a pretty secure method for locking. Just run a cable through the day hatch and main hatch.

Yyou take both vehicles to the take out
and leave one there. You take the second vehicle with both boats to the put-in and leave that vehicle there.

You both paddle down the river. At the take out you put both boats on the vehicle and drive together back to the put-in where you transfer the boat that belongs to the vehicle that has been left there to that vehicle, and everyone is happy.

Several years ago we were doing just that and happened to bump into someone who had locked their canoe in the woods, and came back to find it gone.

That was up in Mass, but I am sure it would never happen here in NC where everyone is honest and law abiding !!!

Jack L

yeah sorry i should have clarified, as of now the cars aren’t equipped to handle two boats. we’ll have to work on that. thanks for the suggestions all!

don’t leave the paddles
Yeah, I figured the issue was that each car could handle only one kayak… but I have the solution!!! One parks at point “A” and paddles by himself toward point " B" where the other one has parked and is paddlin’ toward point A. You two meet in the middle at point “C” and paddle to point “D”. Each has keys to the other’s car and after point D each goes to the other guys car. After loading each drives to a designated spot where the cars and kayaks are exchanged. Whewww, no problem. Seriously though, don’t leave the paddles or vests unattended. Kinda hard to paddle without the requisite equipment, which means they’ll haul them away on a vehicle and you might see them making their getaway. Be certain to record the kayak serial numbers just in case.

Only need one vehicle to carry two
If one of the vehicles can carry two, you can manage it with one extra shuttle run.

Take both to take out and put both on Car A, Leave Car B at take out. Unload at put in and driver A runs down to switch vehicles while driver B stays with boats. At the end of the day, Car A which carries two is ready to load up both boats. If you plan ahead, this takes very little extra time to manage (if the shuttle is short).

I erased my comment because it
was incorrect and unfortunately got another with it.

My experience-stashing
I do this a lot,sometimes when bike shuttling alone. I canoe,but the problem is the same.

1.if the launch is on a wadable channel,stash your boat on the other side,out of sight-nobody goes there.

2.get a green or natural color boat-hard with kayaks as most are day glow colors-maybe a green camo tarp.

3.a lite cable lock is a discouragement for impulse thieves.

4.launch at sunrise.I find most bad actors sleep in.


Bike lock
I sometimes paddle alone and use a bike for the shuttle. At the takeout, I unlock the bike, lock up the boat and ride off for the car. The lock is a cable type. This would work just as well with two cars as it does with a bike and a car.


I use a long cable from Lowes and a pad lock. I lock it to a tree or something. Works great for me.

What about the vehicles?
The kayaks are one concern, but what about the vehicles being vandalized. The rule I try to live by is never let the kayaks out of my sight and never leave my vehicle where it doesn’t feel right. If that means I pass up a lot of interesting paddle spots, so be it. No paddle adventure is worth losing a boat over, or having your vehicle broken into. Of course it helps to live where there are a plethora of safe choices.

Good, common-sense advice

– Last Updated: Jun-04-13 12:01 PM EST –

I agree completely.

Many years ago I drove to an incredibly busy trailhead to go mtn biking. I finally found a parking spot but felt uneasy for some reason. I later realized it was because, among those circling trying to park, there was one car that had gone around what seemed like more times than normal.

Went for my ride and returned to find a broken window and stolen wallet, which I had stashed hidden in an unusual location. Obviously, someone had been watching me.

To add insult to injury, the P.D. was extremely insulting, implying that *I* had stolen rather than been stolen from. Eventually, someone found my stuff along a highway, minus some cash. That was before the days of rampant ID theft. Upon talking to a coworker who knew the area involved, she told me that the local army boys routinely raided trailhead lots for quick cash.

An interesting development months later was that I noticed a similar (possibly the same) car circling around in another trailhead parking lot, also a popular crowded one about an hour's drive from the other place. Its top was down and there was no bike inside or outside. I took a long time to prepare my gear to ride, all the time watching this guy circling over and over again (there were plenty of parking spaces then). Finally I went up to him and asked if he needed help. He claimed he was "meeting a buddy to go riding" but when he saw me continue to watch him, he took off. I didn't believe he had really left, so I rode off for about 5 minutes but then went back to the lot. And there he was again, circling slowly and looking at every car's contents. When he saw that I had come back, he left. This time for real. Next, I told every person who was in the lot to watch for that guy if he returned again.

In my new home state, the cops call these "vehicle prowls." They are a regular feature in the crime reports section of the newspaper.

Trust your instincts.

It is also unwise to park in areas that are out of sight of passers by. If I put in under a bridge, I bring the truck back up to the road and leave it in view of everyone on that road. Under the bridge makes it easy for them to stake it out and break in when no one is in sight.

I also lock valuables in a small gun safe that moves around from inside the truck to the bed (which has a locking cover). The gun safe has a cable lock that must be cut or the safe must be destroyed. Just extra steps that take time and the right tools to get into.

It is also a good idea to keep the details of a trip off public forums. We had several break ins at a local put in that were so consistent, I’m almost sure the culprit was lurking on the forums to know what time to go break in. We often only publish the meetup time and plan to those going on the trip to avoid this and other issues with people just showing up unannounced to paddle.

Finally, be friendly with the locals. They may or may not be your friends, but once you meet and talk, there is some chance they will leave your car alone or help look out for it. Or they might call Bubba and tell him to bring the tow truck…


Have to do this on the Wisconsin River

– Last Updated: Jun-04-13 3:51 PM EST –

I know the posters problem well. A lot of times I "am the outfitter". Meaning, we are paddling my boat(s), and my car is the only one with a rack on it. You have to leave the boat(s) at one end or the other.

I lock to a tree or something reasonably immovable. We have to do this on the Wisconsin River every summer while shuttling.

One time we came back and some red neck was sitting in my canoe. He said he had never seen a canoe with the tractor style seats before and wanted to see if they were comfortable.

When I had glass kayaks, the Current Designs boats had a U bolt going through the deck that wasn't easily accessed from below, and I would use a cable and padlock on that.

On other peoples kayaks that don't have anything like that I could usually put the cable around the seat mount.

It wasn't the most secure, but it would take a while and be pretty obvious you were a thief if you were cutting the seat out of a locked kayak.

With canoes, Most of mine are Wenonah's and have the thwarts riveted in on tandems, or have the pedestals on solo's which are pretty secure.
When I bought my Bell Northwoods with all wood trim, it had a rope loop that passed through the hull. I replaced this with a plastic covered cable with a crimped connector. I put shrink tubing over the connector and stuffed to full of silicone sealant before heat shrinking it to limit abrasion and corrosion.

If you have a poly kayak, I might suggest putting a stainless steel tug eye on the deck mounted with large rivets (with backing washers on the inside to spread the load). Yes, it could still be cut or drilled out, but for temporary security it should prove effective for the vast majority of situations.

Some 'NRA Life Member' stickers on or in the boat might help too.