Why I don't tailgate vehicles with boats on the roof (sit-on-tops aerial launch video capture)

Graphic testimony to the necessity of bow and stern lines. This could have been horrific.
(note: don’t try to watch this clip in “full screen” – when I tried that on second viewing it froze my Mac and required a re-boot.)


Tailgating’s never a good idea anyway, but yeah…I put extra distance between rooftopped things and myself, or pass them altogether.

The vehicles near the boats in that video included many large, unwieldy rigs, too. The semi trucks and the RVer could’ve jackknifed if they panicked and swerved too sharply.

This incident might have actually saved a couple of lives. If the would be paddlers are as incompetent on the water as they were in tying down their boats…

Thanks, I was wondering where my boat went. I was sure I had put it on the roof…

Notice they were also passing everyone. Wonder if any damage was done to the vehicle with the dash cam as they pulled over too.

People often drive oblivious to what is flying or hanging off their cars. Recall the idiots out West some years ago whose “toad” (the car they were towing behind their massive motorhome) had a flat and was dragging the metal wheel onto the pavement for miles and miles, throwing off sparks that caused thousands of acres of wildfires. They were eventually sued by the government for expenses incurred in putting out the fires and the losses sustained. Reportedly multiple other motorists tried to signal them about the dragging car and they completely ignored them.

Couple of years ago I stopped a driver who was starting to back out of a parking space at a local park when I spotted that she had left her dog leashed to the bumper! She had several kids with her, including a baby, and apparently in the chaos of loading the quarreling brats she completely forgot the dog! .

And I have spotted many people with mattresses and other large flat items elevated like para-sails above their vehicle roofs, tied on with binder twine or (horror of horrors) bungee cord…

The video captures of people having the air-conditioning units and even roofs stripped off the tops of their motorhomes and truck boxes by the notorious 11’ 8" overpass (and they just keep on driving) demonstrate the level of motorist obliviousness. Note how many seem to think that driving slowly will somehow mitigate the height differential:


Back when I was still working (as an OTR trucker), I moved to the left lane of the freeway to pass a pickup who had a couch in his bed. It was against the tailgate and leaned up on to the rooftop - with no tie downs at all. Just as I got my truck into the left lane, the couch raised up and flew over backward onto the freeway, sliding effortlessly onto the right shoulder. The pickup kept going! Later in the day when I came back past the site, the couch was still sitting on the shoulder . . .

Likely more dangerous to follow a truck with ladders. There are usually more ladders on the road.

Ladders make me very cautious.

Willowleaf, the moron you refer to set a good part of Idaho on fire, in the early 1990s. I remember a coworker shaking his head in shock at such obliviousness.

Another even lower bridge exists in Westwood, MA. Check out the videos of it, too. In addition to being low, underneath there is a curve in the road also.


I was in Ft. Collins CO several years ago and watched a car slam on it’s breaks in an intersection, the canoe on the roof was launched slightly upward and sailed maybe a good 150 ft through the intersection then slid down the highway for quite a way on the other side. Nobody got hit. It did stop traffic for a while because every one nearby was a bit rattled or checking their pants.

I am less suspect of ladders because:

A. they are generally lighter weight than kayaks and canoes and less prone to wind load, being skeletal structures


B. they are easier to attach to any kind of rack or vehicle, even by the most clueless moron. The cheaper the kayak (or SUP), the less likely it is to have anything to which a person of little imagination can obviously and securely attach competent restraints.

I do strenuously avoid pickup trucks with unsecured sheets and bundles of 8’ and longer material (as well as boats) propped against the cab roof and tailgate. Those are legion on the roads

I have actually seen people driving down my city’s streets with a full sized mattress or box spring on a car roof with no visible form of attachment other than the driver and a passenger reaching up out of the open windows to hold onto the thing.

I am super paranoid about losing stuff off the vehicle.
I always keep a small duffel bag in my car with literally dozens of stout cam buckle straps up to 15’ long, dacron braided lines for bow and stern restraint and long cable locks. Besides boats I often haul furniture and building materials on the roof rack (though I recently retrieved my little 5’ by 8’ utility trailer from my brother who had it out of town for nearly a year). Even designed and stitched up a pair of heavy nylon canvas “end cap” bags that are sized to slip over the ends of a bundle of pipe or wooden studs, with strong attachment loops so that I can secure such loads against sliding off a rack during a potential impact. Those heavy reinforced canvas tote bags that L. L. Bean sells can also be used for this too, running rope or straps through the handle loops and securing them around the roof rack (this is for backup protection only – I used cam straps and ratchets for primary securing). A scrap of yoga mat cut to fit the bottom of the bag cushions it against abrasion during travel.

Before I had the trailer, I constructed a wooden stud platform for the roof rack that provided a “cradle” with fore and aft stops and braces against the rack so I could carry 4 x 8 sheets of stuff like drywall and plywood on the roof without worrying about it flexing, shifting or sliding off.

I have been sketching out a PVC pipe frame I may construct to provide longitudinal support for my folding kayaks when I carry them on the roof rack on highway trips (when I don’t feel like breaking them down). I deformed the aluminum frame longerons on my Feathercraft a few years ago by transporting it 500 miles on the roof rack at interstate speeds – the spacing between the Thule crossbars is too short on my Mazda wagon to safely support a 15’ folder safely. Was a lot of work to straighten that frame out and not something I want to have to do again.

Yet ladders are always on the road here in Florida, but never any kayaks.

And there are many who argue that with a good rack you don’t need to tie down bow and stern. This video may very well register with newbies, but those whom have been lucky enough to escape havoc for years without using them will still justify their method.

@willowleaf said:

The video captures of people having the air-conditioning units and even roofs stripped off the tops of their motorhomes and truck boxes by the notorious 11’ 8" overpass (and they just keep on driving) demonstrate the level of motorist obliviousness. Note how many seem to think that driving slowly will somehow mitigate the height differential:


I was laughing too hard to watch the whole thing…

i know what you mean. I am not the sort who usually revels in the woe of others but it’s hard not to laugh at the chronic absurdity of so many drivers ignoring flashing overheight signals and warning signs.

If those videos tickled your funnybone, you might want to check you tube collections of “crazy Russian drivers” and “crazy Russian whitewater boaters”. The latter are particularly cringeworthy — the Russkis seem to favor thise rigid frame tandem tube inflatables (which my WW guide buddy calls “double dildos”) and their class 5 and 6 descents in them seem to be fueled by suicidal bravado and cheap vodka. They gleefully film their bloodied faces and dislocated joints in the aftermath.

This video—there are dozens like it—should put an end to the debate about bow and stern lines. There should not be any debate about this. It’s a disservice to new paddlers who ask if they’re necessary. The reply should just be, “Yes, always. Any kayak, place, distance, or speed.”

One problem is that cheapo kayaks tend not to have anything on the bow and stern to which to attach any line. I solve that with my skin on frame boats by snugging webbing loops around the ends to tie off, but the lack of obvious attachment points no doubt contributes to the lack of bow and stern lines amongst tge hoi polloi.

I just drove from the coast of Maine to upstate NY yesterday and saw scores of vehicles in all 4 states hauling canoes and kayaks. I would estimate that maybe one in 20 had at least bow OR stern lines and one in 30 had them all around. Definitely more the exception than the rule. It was mostly higher end canoes and composite sea kayaks that were safely tethered.

Wildernessweb, you must be talking about JackL of course.

Today I saw someone hauling 3 kayaks piled inside a power boat on a trailer.