Tying down the Kayak
With any of these systems, additional tie down is required for safe boat transport. Bow lines should always be used. If the rack fails or a tie-down line breaks, the bow and stern line will help prevent catastrophic loss of boats, or worse. Rack failure happens more than you would think. It's usually because of human error, but a loaded rack will likely come off the vehicle in an accident.
The age old question; Should I use ropes or straps? The answer is easy. If you like to tie knots, use ropes. If you don't know how to or are uncomfortable tying knots, then straps are the way to go. Don't use Bungie to attach anything to your roof, especially a kayak. Never!
If you use rope, use good quality rope. We have been using New England Rope Sta-Set for many years and think it is perfect for this use. Sta-Set is low stretch, easy to tie knots in, and it holds knots well. A trucker's hitch is the knot to use. Stop in the Center and we will be happy teach you this most useful knot.
The Trucker's Hitch is easy to learn, easy to tie, easy to untie, and holds well. The best part is that you can adjust the amount of tension on the kayaks. The correct amount of tension will vary depending on the roof system you use. If you use good quality cradles, as on a Thule Roof Rack System, you need firm, but not high tension. If your kayak is resting on foam blocks tied to your vehicle, then you need a good deal of tension.
In only seven easy steps you can tie a Truckers Hitch and will never lose your mattress (or kayak) driving down Route 95.
Step 1: Make a Loop
Step 2: Bring a bight through the Loop (1)
Step 3: Tighten the loop and bring the working end down.
Step 4: Bring the working end around the bumper or other mounting point.
Step 5: Bring the working end through the Loop (2)
Step 6: Tighten to the amount of tension you want by pulling the line.
Step 7: Bring a bight through the new Loop (3)
Finished, but we always like to hitch off all knots for extra protection.
The trucker's hitch is great, and it's not subject to the possibility of buckle failure. Even so, it seems that the majority of people would rather use straps. Good quality straps will last many years and are easy to use. In fact, we have never heard of a lost kayak because of a strap buckle failing. Make sure your straps have good Buckle Bumpers to protect the kayak. It's amazing how quickly you can damage a kayak on the roof of a vehicle. The price of good straps with Buckle Bumpers is inexpensive compared to everything else you purchase for your kayak.
Lock it all down
Your kayak is surely worth a lot of money, but a Thule rack system is expensive, too. You can buy sets of locks with the Single Key Systems. They are packed in 2, 4, 6, 8 or ten cylinder packages. We have heard of a few people who lost their kayaks to theft. In one case, the owners stopped to pick up a sandwich and was only in the Deli five minutes. An unlocked rack is very easy to steal.
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Expert Center
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