Public Service Announcement - Bow lines

Submitted byfrankp onFri, 10/05/2018 - 15:09

I finished re-decking my S&G with a strip deck, new skeg and some other mods.  At the same time I re-skinned one of my SOFs.  Today I loaded them both up for rechristening.  Unfortunately, tragedy struck.  I have a bow line that I've had on my car wrapped up in the grill, all summer.  It decided to snap at ~60 mph today and my boats ripped the roof rack off my car.  Nothing I can't fix with respect to the boats, and luckily no one was following too closely so the only damage is to my roof rack and my boats.  

Public service announcement part1:  Make sure you use bow lines any time you're going to be traveling anywhere near highway speeds.  

Public service announcement part 2: Make sure your bow lines are in good condition!

Here are a few pics of the damage:

At the side of the road, still attached to the roof rack.

Both boats after getting them out of the road... still attached to roof rack.

New skeg delaminated and broken.

new skeg

Bow hull panel.

bow hull panel

There is also a minor scrape along the keel at the stern, about 18 inches aft of the skeg, and both bow and stern stems have ~3 inches scraped off deck down to the wood.  I figure the wood boat has about 10 hours of work to repair everything.


The skin on frame actually survived pretty well.  Only two pieces of the frame actually broke.  These are fairly light weight cockpit "coaming" pieces that were under a fair amount of tension and one of which had broken once already just from body weight.  (I had lashed a repair piece to the break already.)  I think when I reskin I'll make these pieces a little bit larger.  If I can figure out how to edit the video of the damage, I'll add it here.  Currently it's too large...




A good reminder for all of us.  It is also a good thing to remember that you have kayaks on top when you pull into the garage.

This is a good reminder for me. I have always trusted my straps to keep things secure. Sometimes, when I have a long ways to travel I will add a second pair of straps for insurance. I never considered that the rack itself might come loose. From now on I'll be using bow and stern ropes when I'm on the highway. 

Our kayaks are held on the rack with inner tube bungies, just to stop them blowing off when parked. The bow lines, like an inverted V, to each kayak and the aft ropes to the tow hitch. By using an inverted V, it stops sideways twisting as well as holding the kayaks down. 50k ~ 100k km of travel with them there tied that way..

Keith Elliott

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 09:15

I know two other people who suffered similar accidents. The thing to remember is that even the highest quality clamp-on racks are still just clamps and can fail. I carry my boats on a welded lumber rack on my pickup, and I still keep a bow line on...if nothing else, it gives me a visual confirmation that everything is all fine up there.


Mon, 10/08/2018 - 15:18

The dummy who was in charge of putting straps over the boat was in a rush and totally forgot to do that.

Stripper took a nose dive, fortunately at low speed. A crack and a few bruises. Held up better than I would have expected. My need to slow down sometimes goes beyond paddling and its a good lesson.

I can tell you what that looks like from behind.

I was traveling through a construction zone on a local four lane highway where I saw something take off from the roof of a car an 1/8  mile ahead.  Fortunately for me I drive a pickup and have a mostly unobstructed view over the tops of the cars allowing me to see farther ahead so I immediately slowed and put on the emergency flashers hoping to slow the cars around me.  The construction zone consisted of miles of concrete barriers on both sides of the east bound lanes making it impossible for any vehicle to pull over.  Amid the brake lights and swerving cars everyone up to me made it around the large object in the road which turned out to be a roof rack with two plastic kayaks still firmly attached.  I made it past safely but I saw on the news that not everyone did.  I felt bad for the owners because I heard later the road block caused a major traffic jam which resulted in several bent fenders.  I assumed the boat owners were charged with causing the accidents. 

I often wondered what the driver did when his rack took off.  Stopping in the middle of a highway would have been suicide but driving away from your boats would have been very difficult to do too. 

Kyle T



There was a picture in the papers early this year showing a cop either discussing with the driver or writing a ticket for a driver of a car with the kayaks mounted across the car. Apparently the driver had stopped just before they came off and the cop had, I think, been coming in the other direction and saw it happen.

If you don't tie to the rack they will fall off very soon after starting to move - IF you don't attach them with ropes to their bow and stern to the vehicle. A very good reason not to fasten to the rack. A rope to the bow is very visible and noticeably not there if forgotten.


Fri, 10/12/2018 - 09:31

how tragic.  i am always using bow and stern lines and after seeing this i will always use them.  hope your repairs go well.