Should I install bow eyes?

We just bought our first hard-shell kayaks (Pungo Ultralight 120 and Perception 12 Tribute) after starting with inflatables a couple of years ago. When loading them on top of the car the only place to attach front and rear tie-downs are the carrying handles. One has handles attached to bungee cords, and the other is just soft rubber. I’m not confident they’d hold up to any real stress.

Is there any reason why I shouldn’t install bow eyes front and rear, on each kayak? I could also use them for attaching a security cable. I have some Sea-Dog stainless steel bow eyes.

Has anyone done this?

I used stainless U-bolts to add locking points to a couple of poly kayaks. You need a good backing plate to distribute the load if you anticipate serious pulling forces.

carry handles
You could install eyes, but the carry handles should be strong enough for box/stern lines. In most cases, the box/stern lines are for emergency purposes anyway - the straps around the hull are what do the real work.

Thanks Peter. My thought was that since the bow and stern lines are only there for emergencies (such as the rack or main straps failing in a hard stop), if they were ever needed it could be with a lot of force applied. Maybe I’m over thinking it, but if you wouldn’t use a bungee cord for the bow line, why would you attach a bow line to a bungee cord on the kayak?

Thanks Angstrom
Thanks Angstrom.

You Don’t Need Bow And Stern
Tie downs. They aren’t canoes. Well secured straps will keep them from sliding.

can hold weight of kayak
The handles have to be able to hold the weight of the kayak, plus some extra for any gear you may have in it, water, etc. Should be plenty for use as a bow line.

On the prior’s post about it not being a canoe and not needing - I once heard advice saying that you should be attached in such a way such that any one connection could break apart and you would still be fine. So bow lines are great as the extra protection should a strap (or part of your roof rack fail).

Bow an’ Stern tiedowns

– Last Updated: Jul-20-15 5:25 PM EST –

Bow an' stern tie downs be a must as a backup wit any canoo or ' yak... in case o' rack/belly-band failure. It happens, Pilgrim. Ah's seen it more than a few times.


Bow and Stern tie downs
Just to stir the pot I rarely use them unless traveling long distances at high speed such as going to downeast Maine or the Adirondacks.

Bow & stern
tie downs become more necessary as the length of the boat increases, and the distance between the rack bars decreases. What kind of car, and how far apart are the front and rear racks?

If the handle is…
…attached to the boat only by bungees it is so wrong and should be replaced.

Is the boat new? I can’t believe a manufacture would do that.

You don’t know enough to say that.
You don’t know rack spread, cradle, foam pad or bare bars or on the roof.

It’s completely irresponsible for you to advise someone not to use bow and stern tie downs when you don’t know the rest of the story.

Bungies and handle attachment
I’d suggest that the person who says the handle is attached by bungies should look more closely. The bungies probably just retract the handle against the boat, but when the handle is pulled out, it “bottoms out” against a more solid means of attachment.

If this turns out to be the case, it wouldn’t be the first time someone misunderstood what the bungies on the handle actually do.


– Last Updated: Jul-20-15 10:46 PM EST –

The handles can be used to keep a bow line in position, but if the line is actually wrapped around the hull, then the handle only guarantees placement and is not taking much of the load, e.g. the bow line on my skin boat here:

Having said that, there's nothing wrong with putting lash points on the ends of your boat if you want to. In the background of the photo above is a mahogany flat water boat with no lash points at the stems, and there's no chance I would add hardware - it's just too pretty.

I had to go look
Six different manufacturers-

Rec kayaks from the big box store the handle is tied to a molded tie point with nylon line.

Higher end kayaks- a loop of nylon line runs through the handle and under a clear. On the other side of the cleat the loop is tied to a bungee line which pulls the handle back. If the bungee broke the cleat would secure the loop of rope.

You’d Be Better Off Attaching Something
You can run a strap through coming off your rack. That would give you a higher level of redundancy with less stress on the hull.

Quite frankly for bow and stern lines to be affective you’d need two on each end.

I’ll second…
…cardelo’s method.

I use a Thule system where a loop of maybe 1/2" x 36" nylon webbing gets passed through whatever secures the handle, then gets looped back over the entire bow or stern. The bow or stern line attaches to this loop. In this way the handle mount simply locates the loop and the webbing loop does all the work.

Handles attached to bungee
"Higher end kayaks- a loop of nylon rope runs through the handle and under a cleat. On the other side of the cleat the loop is tied to a bungee line which pulls the handle back. If the bungee broke the cleat would secure the loop of rope."

Thanks Guideboatguy and Pirateover40. On closer inspection that’s exactly how they’re attached. However, I had attached the bow and stern lines in a way that made them dependent on the bungee. Now I know to tie them into the nylon rope loop instead.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions. FYI I have Yakima folding J racks attached to factory roof racks on my Dodge Durango. I think I’m going to just add the stainless bow eyes to the stern for a security cable so I can leave them locked at a campsite.

I’ll post another question related to the racks in a different thread.

Less stress?
I don’t think I understand your suggestion, so can’t see how it would apply less stress to the hull.

Per my method and kfbrady’s below using a loop of webbing, a line or strap around the whole stem will apply the same force to a larger area of the hull, resulting in less stress.

I don’t think double lines front and rear are strictly necessary every time, it depends on the setup. The setup I posted was quite sturdy in practice.