[Home]Deck Lines

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Deck lines are lengths of cord, rope, or bungee, used to attach gear to the deck of a kayak, or as an aid for a swimmer to hold onto a floating kayak. Decklines, include non-stretchy perimeter lines, foredeck bungies (which are also referred to as a chart park and used as one end of a paddle park.
Perimeter lines typically form a triangle starting from the bow and running along both sides of the kayak to a point just in front of the cockpit, and another set from the stern to just behind the cockpit. Perimeter lines make the kayak easier to grab onto during a rescue. These lines should NOT be stretchy - braided polyester is best (it doesn't stretch when wet), and should be large enough to grab easily without abrading or cutting into wet hands, 1/4" is good, larger if possible (some commercially available deck fittings won't take anything bigger).

The lines will be easier to grab if they are elevated a little above the deck, you can get your fingers under them easier. Threading several beads onto the line works, tying a few knots in each line (double fishermans knot), or any hardware that keeps the line 3/8" off the deck helps tremendously. Even a figure 8 knot is helpful here.

Be careful that you don't leave the lines so loose that they will interfere with a roll. If the lines float out away from the boat while inverted your paddle may get hung up in them. Good deck lines are nice and tight and follow the contour of the boat closely, they should be strong enough that you won't worry about pulling hard on them during a rescue or for carrying the boat around but stay out of the way and pose no entanglement hazard.

Some kayaks now come with deck lines that have reflective ribbon woven into them. This provides a bit of extra visibility at night. These perimeter lines cost about three times what plain polyester costs.


Foredeck lines are installed in front of the cockpit. These are often made of bungee on North American kayaks, but other systems, such as traditional Greenland qajaq rigging with non-stretchy lines and sliders can hold gear just as securely, and may even retain gear better under the force of a breaking wave.

Foredeck bungees (which are also referred to as a chart park) are often installed in a zigzag pattern, or in parallel lines 4-6" apart and running perpendicular to the length of the kayak. Zigzag lines do not work well unless they are spaced closely together.

Similar lines may be installed behind the cockpit for use as a paddlefloat outrigger park, or as a paddle park.

Where decklines near the cockpit are used as one end of a paddle park, there should be a corresponding paddle park nearer the bow or stern.


See also: Paddle Park.

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Last edited April 11, 2006 5:52 pm by Michael Daly (diff)
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