tie bow & stern in transit?

How important is it to tie down the bow and stern while transporting a kayak on a Thule rack? I’m using saddles on the rack. Boat is 12 feet, composite. Car is 2008 BMW 328i, and tie-off points on the front and rear bumper underside are non-existent and I’m one of those nerds who doesn’t want rope touching the car paint. What to do? Any laws apply in Pennsylvania?

tie downs
How would you be with your boat touching someone else’s car paint? Like at 65 mph. No reason not to tie down the ends.

If you are worried about your paint then pad the rope with something soft, like a diaper. Then again I don’t care how f’ed up my car paint gets, it’s a tool, it gets used.

check further back under
Don’t all cars have some connection points in case they need to be towed? In my car such connection spots are located maybe six inches behind the bumper on the bottom of the car.

towels or natural sponges work well
Cloth, towels, or natural sponges work well…but a showcar isn’t the thing to use anyways…but you’ll learn that in time.


If you are confident in your straps,

– Last Updated: Feb-14-11 8:10 PM EST –

and the rest of your racks, then don't waste your time with them.
If you are not confident in your system, then you need to use them
I carry two composite sea kayaks and a kevlar tandem canoe on my truck and never use them.
I also never use them when I have the yaks on my Ford Escape.
I don't much pay atention to what the "dooms day" people here say. I go by experience.

I do use front ones when I have my ultralight racing canoes on the roof, but that is only to protect the long overhanging bows from cross winds.

jack L

Weight alone is enough to keep the boat up there. just for redundancy, pickup a bungie ad throw it over the yak…that’ll hold’er

Where is the weakest point?
And how much force does it take to break that? Almost certainly it is the connection of the rack to the roof of your vehicle. Imagine your whole rack system pulling out of your roof and flying down the highway. That happens and I know persons it has happened to. I even know someone who had their kayaks turn sideways on top of their car. Think about the possible danger to other persons. Think about the liability you incur. Be responsible. There are lots of ways to accomplish tie downs. Just do it.

I tie mine in the front to keep from
spearing someone should we collide.

Major Weakness
I believe the stern/bow tie down at the kayak is the problem no one addresses. Connecting to the stern/bow handles on the kayak is not secure in my mind. If the rack is going to fail then the handles on the kayak will fail also. I only see the stern/bow tie down helping if you forget to do something right on the main tie down. Redundency will help overall.

I made the decision(I have a good spread on the rack) to not use stern/bow tie downs on local trips(under and hour). And to use stern/bow tie downs on longer trips. I also have a local university mascot magnet that I use on the front hood for the rope to rub on. The stern does not need one.

Personal choice … strong opinions …
Depends on how confident you are in the security of the whole system. I might be more concerned with one of those after-market strap on systems that use rain gutters or door frames, vs. a solid factory installed system.

Cradles front and back vs. glide pads in the back seem more stable.

I have used a Volvo sedan, Saab sedan, and a Grand Cherokee. The Volvo and Saab had factory racks (Thule) that could be removed. They had feet that fit into groves in the roof, and bolts to lock them in place. The Jeep has factory installed system that I attach Thule bars to.

I have enough strap to wrap the boat tightly not only to the cradles and bars, but also to wrap the bars to the rails, which are factory installed.

I’m comfortable with that, at speeds up to 65 or so. It would take a lot of torque to rip the rails out of the roof. But I do keep an eye on the bow of the boat while driving to see if it’s moving around (it does not), and inspect the rails and roof for any signs of stress.

On the 2 sedans, where the distance between the bars was not too far apart, and there was a lot of boar hanging off the front and back, I was more concerned that the stress from a pot hole could cause stress fractures in the glass.

The essential question
Why would you not use bow and stern tie downs? They are simple and easy to deploy. They have no important negative consequences that I can think of. Lazy? Cheapskate? Come on. You are making a bet. What is the likelihood that my rig will fly off, ripping holes in the top of my vehicle, killing or injuring someone, trashing my boat(s) and costing me a lot of money? Well maybe you can slide by. But how will you feel if any of the above consequences happen and all you had to have done was the simple, painless procedure of just attaching bow and tie downs?

You say,

“I know persons it has happened to.”

“Think about the possible danger to other persons.”

Granted, this is a pet peeve and bug-a-boo of mine, but is there any scenario in which you would not use “persons” instead of people. To me, people would sound so much better. I’m just wondering what is gained by “persons” and if there is any context in which you would not use it.

End of rant.

for a pictorial example
for a pictorial example on how to tie down the bow on a car that seems to have no anchor points up front and where paint damage could be a possibility check this link: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/12/diy-tie-down-anchors-for-modern-cars.html

Article in Sea Kayaker
There was an account in the April or May issue of Sea Kayaker magazine from a guy who had used only belly bands for years without incident and therefore felt safe with them. Then, the force of the air took off the rack with the boat. He felt fortunate he just lost an expensive boat and no one was hurt. It was an expensive way to be educated, but not the worst.

Do you like to fly the friendly skies of kayak airline. So what if you learn by killing a few people. Heck it is just a bad day for them. It could be worse. You could scratch your Beamer. I had a Yakima tower disintegrate. I had two kayaks tied down front and back. The tie downs kept them on the car. I could have lost them on the beltway or Chesapeake bridge. I proudly display my scratches now. Do not forget the red flag tied to the end if it hangs off the back.


I use bow and stern tie downs
at all times. I also put on some Scotchgard™ Paint Protection Film by 3m to protect my paint. I don’t care what others say I like to be safe rather than sorry.

If there’s any place to attach,
forget about keeping the car looking perfect. Keeping yourself free of blame for injury or damage to others takes precedence. You can prevent direct abrasion by applying some 3M ClearGuard to the contact areas. I did this with my truck’s front end where the rope contacted various places on its way to the tow hook.

This is an advantage of trailering. Somehow I think a BMW owner ain’t gonna tow anything.

Then for your "essential answer"
shouldn’t you be even safer and put a net over the whole thing and then chain it to your undercarriage ?

Jack L

Do this of you’re really worried about it. Get a roll of duct tape from your local hardware store, tear a piece off and stick 4 or 5 inches on the boat and then stick the other end of the tape to the front bumper. Plenty strong and it wont harm the paint at all. When I haul canoes I usually dont even have straps, I just use 2 pieces of duct tape about 4 feet long. Boats are strong anyways, they’re made for smashing into rocks so flying off the roof and landing on flat pavement aint gonna hurt it any.

Bottom line
It is just iresponsible not to use bow and stern lines. I don`t care how well you think your rack is attached to your car. Hell, it only takes a minute to put them on.