Car Topping Inflatable Boats

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“Car Topping Sea Eagle FastTracks, Explorers, PaddleSki’s, Yacht Tenders, & Sport Runabouts.”

It’s important to have the correct straps to tie down your kayak. NRS sells kayak straps of various lengths. I buy one inch wide 15′ NRS Tie-Down Straps and replace them  as they get dirty NRS is not the only supplier of cam-lock tie down straps.  The most important point is that you don’t attach straps to the kayak.  The torque of the cam-lock can damage the kayak appendage to which you’re attaching the strap. Instead, you will be compressing the kayak against the roof rack not tying it to the roof rack. Yakima or Thule rack systems are excellent racks but any properly anchored factory rack will do the job. You will see pictures of both a Yakima aftermarket rack and an inexpensive Honda CRV rack below.

First take the long strap and throw it over the top of your Sea Eagle kayak from one side of the vehicle to the other. Proceed to the other side and take the strap end that you threw over and run it under the rack bar next to the kayak and then up and over the kayak to the opposite side once again. Run it under the bar on the other side and through the cam lock on the end of the strap and pull tightly until you see the boat hull compressing against the rack bar. The strap crosses over the kayak twice but never crosses under the kayak  Now move to the other rack bar and repeat. When you’re done you can safely drive up to 60 mph with your FastTrack securely affixed to the top of your vehicle.

In the pics below you see my Sea Eagle PaddleSki mounted to my Yakima rack. One picture shows the cam lock with excess strap wrapped around the bar to prevent it from flapping in the wind. A second pic shows the strap up and over the kayak and then under the passenger side bar and then back over the top and under the bar and up through the cam lock.

Compression of a Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack against bar is noticeable in yet another picture (notice that strap never passes under kayak) and another  picture clarifies the final step of strap on left under bar and into cam lock I’m holding and then pulled very tight. Aftermarket Yakima rack pictured.

Pictured below you’ll see I’m pulling down on the front cam-strap after the strap has passed through the cam lock thereby compressing the Sea Eagle 465 FastTrack tightly against my CRV factory roof rack The final step is to wrap the loose end around the bar to keep it neat and to prevent flapping

Larger boats are possible with wide-bar Yak or Thule racks. Sea Eagle 8.10 Yacht Tender/RV Special shown below.Rear strap will be installed after oars are removed and stored inside the vehicle. Always remove any items that can be blown lose!

* Please notice that this blog entry reads “Car Topping Sea Eagle FastTracks, Explorers, PaddleSkies, Yacht Tenders, & Sport Runabouts.”   These are all high pressure supported fabric Sea Eagles. The low pressure Sea Eagle 330/370 Sport Runabouts and the SE8/SE9/124 MotorMount boats are stretchable low pressure vinyl boats and car-topping options are much more limited. Unlike the rigid supported fabric reinforced PVC Sea Eagle FastTracks, Explorers, PaddleSki’s, Yacht Tenders, & Sport Runabouts you should only car-top the low pressure Sea Eagle 330/370 Sport Runabouts and the SE8/SE9/124 MotorMount boats short distances at very low speed and only when fully inflated. The narrow nylon cam-strap bands will noticeably compress the stretchable vinyl 370 (and the SE9) fabric against the luggage rack bars so be very careful not to over tighten. Tighten until it’s difficult to slide your fingers between the strap and the boat fabric and then keep you speed down to 30-40 mph maximum and check load frequently.

Take a look below.

Strap end on left goes under bar and through cam lock as shown above and is then pulled tight compressing boat hull against rack bars as shown below.

 

Final step in compressing a 15′ Sea Eagle 465 FastTrack onto a Honda CRV factory rack

Comments on Car Topping Inflatable Boats

  1. Dean Jackson

    Hi Tim

    Everything is great with the 9E fishermans style.

    I strap the boat to the top of my roof rack on my van and release a lot of air to not put too much pressure on everything. However that results in the usual deep concave stuff after pulling straps tight. Any issues here with that kind of thing ?

    In any way could the hull and other membrane materials become compromised with continued pressure from the straps ? They are about 2″ wide pro grade.

    Or, is it best to maintain higher / almost full air inside ?

    Also, what about the boat staying on top of rack in very hot sun ? Any problems here ?

    All the best and thanks again

    Dean Jackson
    509-925-7311
    Ellensburg, WA

    1. Thanks for your question! Remember to always compress your fully inflated boat against the luggage rack and never tie you boat to the rack. A vinyl boats biggest enemy is the sun’s UV rays so limit strong exposure to the sun.

  2. Larry Salsman

    Hello, I have been reading a lot on your sight. I can not get the pictures to come through showing how to strap the the kayak to the top of you car. I purchased a 370 Pro from you this morning. Just wanted to let you know how helpful you were. Thanks so much.
    Larry Salsman
    573 348 5570

    1. Hi Larry…thanks for the feedback and the testimonial. I will edit the “Car Topping Inflatable Boats” blog entry today to read “Car Topping Sea Eagle FastTracks, Explorers, PaddleSkies, Yacht Tenders, & Sport Runabouts.” Larry these are all high pressure supported fabric Sea Eagles. The low pressure Sea Eagle 330/370 Sport Runabouts and the SE8/SE9/124 MotorMount boats are stretchable low pressure boats and car-topping options are much more limited. You should only car-top these boats,including yours,at very low speed and only when fully inflated. The narrow nylon cam-strap bands will compress the stretchable vinyl 370 (and the SE9) fabric dramatically against the luggage rack so be very careful not to over tighten. Tighten until it’s difficult to slide your fingers between the strap and the boat fabric and then keep you speed down to 30-40 mph.
      Captain Tim

  3. Sandra Wood

    Tim, can we add the Razorlite to the high pressure list of boats to top rack inflated or is that not a good idea?

    1. Sandra…the Sea Eagle RazorLite kayak is not a good good candidate for quick and easy car-topping. The rigidity of the Sea Eagle RazorLite kayak won’t compress around the roof-top rails and the Sea Eagle RazorLite kayak outer skin is too thin to scrape across roof rack rails. Perhaps wrapping the roof-Rack rails with pipe insulation will both protect the outer skin and allow some compression. Let me know how that works if you try this solution.

  4. Tim, I’m still perplexed. The rule is pretty clear that all boats need to be tied down front and back but the picture of the 385 FT shows no tie downs? It would seem that carrying the FT upside down like that will create an inverted airfoil which may negate the need. I’ll try this configuration for a short run today but am edging toward not carrying inflated for high speed runs. (70 mph). What I need is an electric pump but when questioned about cheaper pumps, Sea Eagle responded with “we don’t recommend any pumps other than those we sell”.

    1. Thomas. ..There is no need to tie doyen nose and tail…In fact. ..It may cause damage to carry handles.When you car-top a fully inflated Sea Eagle FastTrack, Explorer, or PaddleSki you compress the inflated kayak against the roof rack. The 2″-3″compression of the kayak chambers prevents the kayak from sliding or turning negating the need for bow/stern tie-downs. This is not the case with hard kayaks which will need nose and tail lines.

  5. Bryan Spellman

    I am wondering what the Intex excursion 5 is categorized as pressure wise (high or low ) Anyone know? I want to / have car topped this but am weary about harming the material. Thanks.

  6. Dave Sauter

    Tim – Any ideas on carrying 2 sea eagle 300s? They are obviously too wide to lay flat side by side. I’ve got a 2007 Honda CR-V. Thanks.

    1. Hi Dave…Thanks for your qustions and thanks for visiting Inflatable Boats 4 Less, our online Mom and Pop boat store.

      Stack them on top of each othe, preferably inverted, and compress them tightly against the roof rack bars until you see the straps compress the 300 tubes. No nose or tail tie-downs necessary.

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