What is cockpit cowling?

-- Last Updated: Mar-19-16 8:51 AM EST --

The loading instructions for my rooftop carrier state:

"Ensure straps do not go over cockpit cowling or other non-load bearing boat details before cinching straps."

To the left of that instruction is a drawing of a kayak held to the carrier with straps over the cockpit and cockpit coaming.

Definition of cowling includes a cover, but it makes no sense to not place the straps over a covered cockpit. Or does it?

As always, thanks for the education.

cockpit cowling
has origins in anatomy.

Who made your rooftop carrier?
Sometimes translations from instructions originally in other languages make no sense.

Here is a thread referring to hatch coaming where the word cowling is used.

at any rate I am confused as the coaming is usually pretty strong.

On long trips
I put a strap over the cockpit cover and around the boat. I’ve lost a cockpit cover that tore off at highway speeds. Straps go in front and to the rear of the cockpit.

If cowling is the same thing as coaming, then the drawing contradicts the instructions as the straps are clearly over the coaming in the drawing. The boat in the drawing appears to have a large cockpit.

That’s why I couldn’t figure out what cowling was.

Not sure
what the folks thought they were writing, but the general rule is to put straps near/over the bulkheads on either side of the cockpit as this is the strongest part of the hull. Usually, the bars of a rack, and thus the tie down points, are pretty close to this anyway.

If a cover is used, it seems prudent to hold it down with another strap/bungee.


Good tip
Thanks, Andy and Rick, for the cover tie-down tip. Bungee cords I have in abundance.

One caveat
If a strap is over a cockpit coaming but is able to slide to a point not over the coaming, the strap could loosen, which would be bad.

But I agree with above - straps should be on either side of the cockpit, hopefully in the vicinity of bulkheads.


– Last Updated: Mar-19-16 2:46 PM EST –





the parts are somewhat related.

commercial cockpit covers have a strap sewn to the front top surface with a clasp hook on the free end snaps onto a kayak’s shock cord deck lines.

a yak or canoe layup may have a reinforced floor where paddlers weight presses or bulkheads, thwarts.

Lines over hull concurrent with bottom supports for transport should be under and around the preceding...bulkheads firstly.

The movement in transport held in check by hull shape forward the aft line, abaft the forward line.

few inches off can damage or deform the layup maybe not enough to alter performance but enough to ruin your day.

Seals cockpit cover
with adjustable shock cord, grab loop and front clip.

Pool practice tomorrow so I may bring the boat outdoors and see how it loads. It has a standard keyhole cockpit and I’m pretty sure the straps will fall fore and aft of the cockpit. Eddyline’s lipped coaming should be beneficial: no strap can move over it.

No sense in bringing the kayak home as all I see is frozen water and it’s supposed to snow most of next week.

Lake Michigan is open, but I know better.

Reasons to avoid going over coaming
Once the car starts traveling at highway speeds, you want to have the boat strapped or roped so that if it does start to shift back or forward there is something that will limit that drift. Loose straps or knots that you swore were cinched up well happen at times.

If the coaming is higher than the strap on the deck, it’ll limit how far the boat can move. If the strap is over an elevated coaming and the boat slips back, you now have a good two inches of scary play in the strap.

As mentioned above, for a boat with bulkheads there is also the issue of getting over the bulkheads so you are at a point of more hull strength. So you can really cinch down.

But for a plastic boat, that coaming is often elevated and would help to stop the boat from leaving your roof.

Depending on the manufacturer there may be strength concerns about whether the pressure would hurt the welding. But the traveling safety factor seems a lot more important.

Best laid plans…
Was just getting to leave for the pool this morning when a call came in about a family emergency. No loading practice until the next pool session.

My cockpit is 31.5" long and the Hullavator cradles are around 36" apart, so the straps will be on the hull, not the coaming. Stern bulkhead is not far behind the seat; quite certain the bow strap will not come anywhere near that bulkhead but don’t think that will be an issue.

What came as a major surprise was how easy it is to attach and detach those Hullavator cradles from the rack. Kfbrady was on point when he mentioned that in the thread about load assist systems.

sitting in a bar one rainy day…
…next to the local kayak shop. A friend was debating the cost vs benefit of buying Hullivators.

I told her it only hurt once when you buy them. She bought them and never looked back.