The basic of all questions- Transport

Okay, I am in the market for a kayak…

I have been on numerous trips, but they all have been shuttled. We drive to an outfitter and they drive us and pick us up.

My friends and I are tired of spending the money on little day trips that add up. We want to just buy our own, and save some money in the long run.

But we really have no idea how transportation works.

Once we park and get in the water, say we float 12 miles downstream. Now what? How do we get back?

Take two or more cars on your trips. Spot one at the take out then go up stream (or across the lake) and put in When you finish paddling you load up and get the other car. If only one car has a rack then you might need to chain the boat to a tree or have some one stay with the boat while the other paddles go get the car.

paddle back to the put-in

Going at it alone?
What if you don’t go with someone? Then do you have to paddle back on your own.

Thank you this is so helpful!

what I do
I usually paddle upstream rather than down. It’s kinda fun, and not too hard once you can read the river a bit. Then at end of day I can take it easy on the way back down river to my put in.

Bike Shuttle?
Saw an article where a seviceable old bike has been chained at the take out for transport back to get the main vehicle, and get a lower body workout :-). Thinking a light moped might work too. Could even add one of those simple bike kayak trailers.

Depends on the relative security of the
put in and take out.

You can leave boat at put in…drive with your bike in the car to the take out and bike back to put in too.

Then when you arrive at take out your boat does not have to be left unattended

I love
seeing how many boats we can get in and on my truck. record is 4 canoes, 3 yaks, 2 duckies. Good friend has a 4 door jeep for people hauling, another has a van. Our protocol is I haul most boats, friend hauls people, whoever drove the farthest to get there gets free shuttle. Meet at the takeout to set things up.

Rack, car options

– Last Updated: Feb-07-09 12:02 PM EST –

(Later update: The following post assumes that you and your friends will be purchasing kayaks, and along the line a racking system for transport of same.)

As above, park enough vehicles at both ends to at least transport the paddlers back to their cars at the put-in. If there is a security issue about leaving the boats/gear, try to leave whatever paddler car-pooled there with one of the drivers at the take-out to watch the gear. That way their body and boat ends up being car-topped at the same time as the others.

As to racks - if you are talking kayaks we have found that we can get four kayaks onto a car (WW, sea or both) using stackers, where the boats lay on their edges. We had the rollers and saddles for one season, then in September returned to the stackers out of necessity for a symposium, and never went back to the saddles. The stackers are just a whole lot more secure and flexible.

Canoes are tougher - you may want to court the friendship of someone with a truck or who has a trailer.

It takes two

I know everyone thinks tandem
I almost always paddle solo…which is why I came up with what I did.

I can hitchhike too in my area.

solo transport tips
I do a lot of solo trips, and usually what I do is the round-trip: paddle upstream and then float back to the put-in, that’s the easiest. But I’ve also done a number of other, non-conventional shuttles that let me do some one way trips while still going solo.

One simple thing, especially if your favorite river is out in the boonies where people tend to be friendlier, is to make friends with the locals. You can meet lots of people at rural boat ramps. Sometimes it’s other boaters, sometimes it’s local fishermen, sometimes it’s just an old man who lives in town and likes to come down to the boat ramp and talk to whoever is launching their boats. Some people treat them as nuisances (which, actually, sometimes they are). But they’re harmless nuisances, and so at some time in the past I decided to start asking them to shuttle me when they came down to chat while I was unloading for a round-trip. To my initial surprise, they nearly always say yes, and actually seem quite happy to do it. Really, it’s very little inconvenience to them, since they’re already at the put-in. You just have them follow you as you drive your car to the next take-out, and then give you a ride back to your boat.

As a slight extension to the above, sometimes when I wanted to do a one-way trip but nobody showed up to chat, I’d go to a nearby 7-11 and pay one of the clerks or somebody hanging around the store $5 or $10 to follow me to the next take-out and give me a ride back. Obvously, this works better when it’s a straight forward 10 minute drive on highways, as opposed to a complicated 30-minute maze on back roads.

There are other variations on this theme you can try. The key is just to be willing to ask, be opportunistic and be happy doing a round-trip back to the put-in if you can’t find anybody to give you a ride. It works because it’s not very incovenient for the person you are asking - it’s a small favor that’s easy to grant. But if you try this, make sure that it really is a small favor. As mentioned above, you only want to do this where it’s an easy shuttle to the next access point, usually a straight shot down a highway - don’t lead them around on a super-long drive to some remote place. Also, you should know exactly how to get to the next take-out, and exactly how many miles it is in tenths, and you should be just about ready to go when you ask - don’t make them wait 30 minutes while your unload your car and get ready to go.

There’s another way to do a solo shuttle that I’ve done which probably doesn’t apply to most people, but some may be able to use it. I used to live in downtown Memphis within walking distance of the waterfront, and I had a month off work. I also had two cars at that time, a nice sports car for regular use and a beater for my camping and canoeing. I wanted to do several segments of the Mississippi River on a spur of the moment basis, so I worked out a “leap frog” solo shuttle.

For my first trip, I drove the beater-car upstream to the first put-in above downtown, at Shelby Forest, and I floated back home to the downtown waterfront. I walked to my nearby garage and got my other car, and loaded the boat in it. For the second trip, I drove the good car to where I had left the beater-car and swapped the boat to it. Then I drove the beater up to the next put-in, floated down and drove the other car home, leaving the beater-car at the put-in for the next few days. Then I did the next segement, and so on.

After I did 5 segments like that, I got a friend to help me swing the shuttle car down to 5 segments below downtown memphis. We drove up together to where the car was, and then he followed me down to Helena and I left the beater car in that parking lot. Then over the next 2 weeks I did those five segments until the beater car ended up back where I had started, in downtown memphis.

Hope that helps somebody.

Bike shuttle
When I go 1-way in my kayak, I shuttle on my bike. I drop off and lock my bike driving upstream, then lock my kayak while I bike back to get my car. It’s great to get some leg exercise after a long paddle, makes for a full day outdoors.