I recently sent some information to a customer who'd just bought a new kayak and was looking for some advice on transportation. It got me to thinking of the things you need to think about when caring for your kayak. So this may end up as a work in progress!
Taking your new kayak home from the shop could be the most nerve wracking part of your kayaking adventure but with the right preparation, the stresses can be lessened.
Let's get the horror stories out of the way and then we can relax :)
Many people ask about bow and stern lines where the kayak is secured front and back to the vehicle- this can be a good thing to do in windy conditions or on long journeys on motorways as a back up security method. However, you must make sure that there are no trailing lines- I have a friend whose line came loose, went under the wheel and then, as the line was attached to the kayak, it broke the kayak in half and smashed the windscreen. Not good.
When tying boats down front and back, only tighten the line enough to stop boats moving in the wind. These lines can be attached to tow hooks and should be well clear of exhaust pipes!!
Always check your cross bars etc are up to the job before securing your kayak. Roof fittings can loosen and then there’s the possibility of the whole rack breaking free from the roof and carrying your beautiful kayak gracefully through the air to an unhappy ending. I have heard of a customer having this issue. Two new boats on a roof rack, all flew of the vehicle and landed safely on the motorway ahead- only to be run over by a huge lorry! Bad enough but could have been so much worse.
When strapping your kayaks be careful not to tighten too much and put adverse pressure on the deck. Cradles can help here but still take care not to over do it. Stopping a short distance after your journey begins is always a good idea just to check if things have settled/moved and to give you piece of mind that all is well 😊
Check straps before use as they can wear and snap. Replacement straps are much cheaper than a new kayak. Three metre straps are usually long enough for most kayaks and five meter for open boats. Tuck excess straps away as they will flap and drive you crazy on a long journey.
It's hard to believe but after time, you may forget that you have a 17" boat on your roof, so take care when parking and look for obstacles as you reverse - trees, sign posts,walls etc. A rag or a very nice Kajaksport Transport Flag will be a useful reminder.
Always check roof height requirements of multi storey car parks. Many a car park roof bears the scars of bygone vehicles which did not heed this warning.
If you’re on a long journey, a cockpit cover will help a bit with fuel consumption and it also keeps the rain out. Again, be sure that your cockpit cover fits well and won’t get blown off. I have a carabiner clipped to the cockpit cover and then attached to the deck lines to prevent this.
So, now the horrors are mainly out of the way. On with your journey and to a new adventure. Happy paddling!