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Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

By Chris Evans

I'm going to talk about the tricky issue of tying boats down to a roof rack; my reason for this is because it's a bit of a bugbear of mine. The only thing I haven't seen people attach boats to racks with is blue tack or pritstick (I once saw someone tie a boat down with a USB cable).


Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

Obviously if you are lucky enough to have either a small boat or a big van then, provided it.s safe (i.e. not going to smash your windscreen if you break hard, hit you in the head when you go round corners or obstruct your view at any time), you can just load the boats and kit into the back of your vehicle. If not, a good roof rack and plenty of straps are essential; padding the roof rack to protect your precious toys is
also a very good idea. You can either support your favorite manufacturer by buying branded roof rack pads, or if you.re a cheap skate like me then you can use pipe insulation foam and good old-fashioned gaffa tape!

Tying down your precious kit

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

Make sure that what ever you tie to the roof is with in the weight of the manufacturers recommendation; otherwise if the roof rack fails you don.t have a leg to stand on. Her majesty.s police force had a field day with a mate of mine who was caught driving with four open boats, six kayaks and three rafts on the roof including kit in the car and more people than seats (true story!).

One boat

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

For one boat, be it a white water kayak, open boat or any thing flat hulled (something sea kayak or marathon shaped will need specialist racks) attaching the boat is very simple. Place the boat upside down on the rack and use two straps, one for each end of the boat. Then go over the boat with the straps, around the roof bars and back toward you, leaving the buckle six inches up from the rack, go around the bar again and through the buckle. All that.s left to do know is tighten! Over tighten and the boat dents, under tighten and the boat moves around. A good way to tell is to hold the middle of the boat (cockpit rim) and shake. Any movement, tighten the straps.

Two boats

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

If you are carrying two kayaks then you can place one the right way up on the roof bars and the other can then sit upside down on top of it and front to back. All you need to do then is tighten just the same as you would do for one boat. Two open canoes is a little trickier, if you have really wide bars you could sit them upside down, next to each other or one upside down and one on its edge. They would need to be strapped down as though they were individual boats.

More than two boats

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

More than two boats and the fun really starts. You can get four kayaks on the roof of most vehicles with out specialist roof rack attachments (same as above, with two boats next to it). With an upright attachment you can fit as many kayaks or canoes as the roof bars will let you (my legal record is nine kayaks or four canoes. Obviously not at the same time, your honor). Start off by threading the roof rack straps through the top of the uprights and placing one strap over the bonnet of the car and one over the boot. With the first boat hull toward the upright and facing the front of your car, the next boat will go cockpit toward the first boat and facing the back of your car, any more than two on one side and you just repeat the process.

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

To tighten the boats up flip the straps over the boats and with the buckle at the top of the outside boat go around the bar, back through the buckle and tighten. Same rule as above applies, too tight and the boats end up dented or a funny shape. With the left over boats, even up the other side of the roof racks. So if you have six boats that will be three one side three the other, obvious I know but I have seen four boats precariously balanced on one side, nothing on the other out of sheer laziness. The same can be done with open canoes however it may be a good idea to tie down the very front and back of the boats with the painters (rope on the front and back of the boats) if they have them.

The lucky few!

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

If you are one of the lucky few with a van or hearse-like car then to save on fuel you can just load boats and kit into your vehicle. However this causes a hazard in itself. More than once, with my Renault five, through laziness I shoved my kayak inside the car. On the way to a concrete wave I would drive round a corner, the boat would slide off the passenger headrest and straight into my temple!

Top Tips For Strapping Your Boat On The Car

The other classic is seeing people (me included in my past) strategically loading the back of the car, trying to shut the boot and ending up with either a smashed windscreen or a boat sticking out of the boot.
I guess what i'm trying to say is load your boat so it is safe and doesn.t obscure your view in any way. Most vans these days have loading rings in the back, ideal for securing any precious toy. Failing that the .Oh Jesus. handles in your car work just as well.

Now that I.ve said my piece, hopefully I won.t see you by the side of the road having just scattered the contents of your roof rack over the tarmac at speed.


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