Things I Wish I Had Known Sooner: A Kayaking FAQ Part 1


Take a moment to think back to when you first got into kayaking, when you were the new kid on the block. Are there “little” things that you know now that you barely need to think about but that were a source of frustration or puzzlement in the beginning? After spending a summer teaching new kayakers and fielding all sorts of questions, I got inspired to put together a short list of things I wish I had known earlier in my kayaking experience. A FAQ for new kayakers, if you will. While this list is far from comprehensive, these are some of the things I wish I had known:

How do I carry my boat on my car?

So you bought a shiny new kayak (or at least new to you) and are ready to go pick it up but aren’t sure how to get it home on your car. You can Google and You Tube this and get all sorts of useful and notwhitewater kayaks loaded on van and trailer anna levesque kayak instructor so useful results. The reality is, you bought a boat and so you really dig kayaking and are probably going to get hooked for the long run, just like the rest of us. You may as well protect your investment and make sure it doesn’t fly off the car at inopportune moments. The first step is to get some cam straps (not rachet straps). Your local paddle shop or a quick online search will get you what you need. Also, if you’re lucky, your vehicle has a factory roof rack (Tip: check the load capacity of your factory roof rack and don’t exceed it). If not, you’re going to need to buy a new or used one. Yakima and Thule are excellent companies and have sweet online gizmos to custom fit the rack to your vehicle. Roof racks are not one size fits all, so check in with one of those websites if you plan to buy used to make sure it fits your vehicle and you have all of the necessary pieces. Once you have the roof rack, you can either tie your boat on sitting flat cockpit up or cockpit down. If you plan to carry more than one boat, consider getting a stacker or J cradle/rack. A stacker, which is basically an upright bar that attaches to your roof rack, will allow you to carry more boats. Again, Yakima and Thule are great options, although there are other companies to choose from. My advice is to do your research before choosing. When using a stacker or J rack, make sure your straps run through a secure part of the stacker or J rack, through a grab loop on your boat, and through the roof rack itself.

How do I make the straps stop buzzing?

I’m going to assume that you’re using cam straps to attach you boat to the car, not a rope and knot system…that’s a whole different discussion. So you’ve gotten your kayak on the car and are headed down the highway. Very quickly, you start hearing an really loud and annoying buzz coming from the roof of your car and you are alarmed. No worries, as long as you cinched your straps tight, disaster is not imminent. However, there is no way you want to drive all the way home with that racket. The buzzing you hear is simply the wind vibrating the straps. All you need to do is unthread the straps, twisting them several times and that should bring you peace and quiet.

How do I keep from getting drenched when I load my boat on the car?

You’ve just had an awesome day on the river, you get to the takeout and change your clothes and a ready to load your gear so you can go get some post-paddle grub with your friends. You and a friend lift your boat onto your roof, or you throw it up there yourself, only to get doused with a bunch of silty river water and your clean dry clothes are now soaked. One way to avoid this is to see-saw the boat with a friend while it is upside down to get rid of much water as possible. You can also take a sponge and use that to get the water out, although this can take awhile. My personal favorite is to simply load the boats and gear in the car before I change out of my wet river clothes…then it doesn’t matter if I get what a friend refers to as an “Alabama Shower.”

Do I have to worry about my kayak disappearing from the roof of my car while I go for the post-paddle Mexican and beer?

Usually not. However, there are some place you will go where people, unfortunately, will take advantage of an unsecured boat. To keep your stuff safe, you have a few options. The easiest is to buy a thick bicycle cable lock and run it through the security bar on your kayak. This is the metal grab bar on your boat and it’s location will vary model to model. This bar is attaches with bolts with a star or hexagonal head and are more difficult to remove. Most would-be thieves won’t bother. Make sure your cable also runs through a portion of your rack that cannot be easily removed. Most roof rack systems also have ways to lock it to the roof so the whole rack can’t be removed. If you have multiple boats on your roof, you can also cable lock several boats together to make them more difficult to steal. In general, don’t leave your unsecured boats and gear unattended at the put in and take out. If you follow these guidelines, you shouldn’t have to worry about coming out of a restaurant and seeing an empty car roof.

I took a paddling class, now what?

You just finished an awesome and adventurous weekend learning to whitewater kayak with Mind Body Paddle and you’re hooked! You realize, though, that you aren’t sure what to do next and don’t know any other paddlers. Well, you have several options. You can always take another class because there is always something to learn in kayaking. You can also seek out your local paddling clubs. Often these are called canoe clubs, like Tennessee Valley Canoe Club or Carolina Canoe Club, but don’t let the name fool you – they’re full of kayakers. These clubs often have paddling trips and classes for new boaters. An internet search for your area should reveal active clubs in your area. Social media is also a good source for finding like-minded people in your area, as well.

This concludes part one of the FAQ…keep your eyes peeled for part coming soon. If you have questions that weren’t answered in this blog please drop us an email or leave us a Facebook post!

Interested in learning to kayak, boosting your skills or gaining more confidence on the water? Check out Private Instruction with Anna or email us to set up a custom class for you and your friends!