Are Bow And Stern Lines Necessary? (The Answer May Surprise You)

When transporting kayaks, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. One of the most important is securing the kayaks to your vehicle.

Many people use bow and stern lines to do this, but is it really necessary?

This blog post will explore the pros and cons of using bow and stern lines when transporting kayaks.

Are Bow And Stern Lines Necessary?

Whenever you transport a kayak on the roof of your car, you should use bow and stern lines to secure the kayak. That goes for canoes and other boats as well. Bow and stern lines provide an extra level of security for the kayak when you are traveling down the road. If another strap fails, the bow and stern lines can help to keep the kayak in place or prevent the kayak from falling off and hitting another vehicle.

What Are Bow And Stern Lines, And What Do They Do?

Bow and stern lines are exactly what they sound like, ropes, straps, etc., that are used to tie down the bow and stern of a kayak.

The lines are attached to the front and back of the kayak and then to attachment points on the front and back of the vehicle.

Bow and stern lines are intended to help keep the kayak in place and prevent it from sliding around or falling off during transport.

It’s cheap insurance and an extra layer of security to prevent the kayak from becoming a projectile, damaging your kayak and potentially other vehicles.

You can use simple 1/8 or 1/4 inch nylon rope; honestly, that’s a pretty good option. It’s cheap and easy to use.

There are some bow and stern line “systems” out there, but they usually involve a ratchet strap, and it’s pretty easy to overtighten them.

How Do You Use Bow And Stern Lines To Transport Kayaks?

So, now that we know what bow and stern lines are let’s look at how to use them.

When using bow and stern lines, it’s essential to ensure they are correctly secured.

The last thing you want is for your kayak to come loose and fall off the roof of your car as you are speeding down the road.

Here are a few tips for using bow and stern lines:

  • First, ensure that the lines are made from a durable, high-strength material. Something as simple as 1/8 or 1/4 inch nylon rope works.
  • Attach the lines to the front and back of the kayak. You can use the grab loops or carry handle and run the tie-down line through it.
  • Then, secure the line to attachment points on the front and back of the vehicle.
  • If your vehicle doesn’t have solid attachment points on the front and back of your car, you can use hood loops. Hood loops can be used under your hood and/or in your trunk, giving you a secure spot to tie the bow and stern lines to your car.
  • Ensure the bow and stern lines are tight but not too tight. You don’t want to damage the kayak.
  • Inspect the lines before each use to ensure they are in good condition and will not break during transport.

What Are The Risks Of Not Using Bow And Stern Lines?

What can happen if you don’t use bow and stern lines?

The most significant risk is that your kayak could come loose and fall off the roof of your car.

If this happens, it could cause severe damage to your kayak, your car, and/or other vehicles on the road.

It’s always best to use bow and stern lines when transporting kayaks. They provide an extra level of protection and can help to prevent severe damage.

I have never heard anyone say, “I wish I hadn’t used bow and stern lines,” but I have heard many people say, “I wish I had used bow and stern lines.”

Who Should Use Bow And Stern Lines?

If you are transporting kayaks, canoes, or any other type of boat on the roof of your vehicle, you should use bow and stern lines, especially if you are traveling on highways or freeways at high speeds.

They are a cheap and easy way to help prevent serious damage to your kayak and/or car.

I highly recommend using bow and stern lines. It only takes a few extra minutes, and they could save you a lot of money in repairs and replacements down the road.

Why Don’t People Use Bow And Stern Lines?

Many people say that they have never had a problem and don’t see the point in using bow and stern tie downs.

People don’t realize the potential risks of not using them. Or they don’t think it’s worth the few extra minutes to tie down the front and back of the kayak.

Some people might not have attachment points on the front or back of their vehicle, which is quite common with modern cars. In that case, you can use hood (or anchor) loops as a simple solution.

If you are transporting kayaks, canoes, or any other type of boat on the roof of your vehicle, I highly recommend using bow and stern lines.

The risk/reward favors using bow and stern tie downs, with very little time and effort to use them and potentially prevent a much bigger issue.

When Should You Use Bow And Stern Lines?

The best time to use bow and stern lines is anytime you are transporting kayaks, canoes, or other boats on the roof of your vehicle.

If you are traveling at high speeds on highways or freeways, it’s crucial to use them.

They can help prevent serious damage to your kayak and/or car if it falls off the roof.

When you come across a semi-truck or encounter a gust of wind, this causes side-to-side stress on your roof rack and straps and can cause them to fail. Bow and stern tie downs come in handy when your kayak straps fail.

What Is The Best Way To Transport A Kayak On The Roof Of Your Car?

There are a few things to consider when transporting a kayak on the roof of a car.

First, you’ll need to choose the best method for securing the kayak.

J-cradles like Yakima Jaylows are an excellent option, as they provide secure support while allowing easy access to the kayak.

You’ll also need to ensure that the straps used to secure the kayak are in good condition and tightened properly.

RELATED===> Transporting a kayak without a roof rack

Finally, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings when driving, as wind and other traffic can make transporting a kayak on the roof of a car more challenging.

You can safely and securely transport your kayak with careful planning and attention to detail.

Even when using a solid J-cradle roof rack, it’s vital to use bow and stern tie downs.

Conclusion

Using bow and stern lines is a cheap, easy way to help prevent serious damage to your kayak, car, or other vehicles on the road.

It only takes a few extra minutes to tie down the front and back of the kayak. We highly recommend using them anytime you transport kayaks or other boats on the roof of your vehicle.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.