By Leslie Moses
Recreation’s Charlie Taber (left) assists Bill Platt in loading a kayak.
If paddling around the same pond or lake has you going in circles and wanting a change of scenery, you may want to haul your boat off to different waters from time to time. There is an abundance of beautiful places to paddle in our area, but you need to be able to get you and your boat to the put-in.
Needless to say, a lighter boat is easier to load, and it is easier to load a boat with two people. However, if you need or want to load a boat without help, the tips below tell you how.
Vehicle – The type of vehicle you are loading your boat onto may determine how easy or difficult transporting it may be. A taller vehicle like an SUV or van will make it more difficult, and you many need a small step stool to reach the rack and tie-downs. The easiest vehicle to load is a pick-up truck, but it still requires securing the craft for a successful trip.
Tip: In order to avoid scratching your vehicle, place a large towel on it where you will first load the boat.
Rack Type – The type of rack you have will also determine how you load your kayak.
J-rack – Pick up your boat from its middle in the horizontal position. Lift with your legs and not your back to avoid injuries. Place the bow (front) of your boat on the front J. Once the bow of your boat is resting on the front J, lift the stern (back) of your boat into the rear J, settling the middle of the boat to rest between the two Js. You will find there is a natural resting point for the boat. Place straps in a loop from the top of the J to the bottom of the J. I recommend a self-tightening strap.
Cradle – You can load your boat on to a cradle rack from the rear of your car. Lift the bow of your boat until it rests on the rollers that are attached to the back bar of your rack. Move to the back or your boat and lift the stern and roll your boat into place. Center the boat on your rack from front to back. Loop the straps from one bar, around the boat and back to the bar.
Tip: Consider using bow and stern lines if you will be traveling a long distance or at high speeds.
Rock the boat! You should not be able to move your boat side to side or front to back if it is secured properly. Believe it or not, the whole car will move rather than the boat if it is tied on tightly.
Finally, I’ll share a secret: I’m a little superstitious and always tie my boat on so it is facing forward. So far, it’s been good luck.
Leslie Moses is Eastman’s Chief Community Living Officer. A former member of the Junior U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team and USA Canoe/Kayak coach, she often leads the Recreation Department’s annual kayaking and camping trip and day trips
Tags: kayak, kayaking, loading a kayak, paddling