Baby Boomers and Kayak Fishing - Part 2 E-mail
Written by Steve Osterhaus   
Saturday, 31 March 2012 09:10

 Part II:  Loading, Unloading and Transporting your Yak

Quiet lakes, lazy streams, saltwater marshes, tailing fish, porpoising dolphins and soaring eagles -- the visions that many of us feel kayak fishing is all about.  For whatever reason, kayaking and kayak fishing are activities that seem to conjure up Mother Nature’s romanticism – well, maybe it is just a drive to put food on the table.  Whatever, reality ultimately appears, knowing you have to “load up, then unload” the kayak, while mumbling “I’ll be exhausted before even getting on the water.” 

Having paddled canoes for many years before taking up kayak fishing, loading wasn’t a big problem as youth was still on my side.  But as I reached my 50’s and got into kayak fishing, handling a fishing yak became a hassle.  If I was going to continue active in the sport, a better way was needed.  No matter the type of vehicle, just getting from your storage area to the vehicle, then to the launch and finally the water will take a toll.  The good news is there are solutions.

Moving your Yak

Whether in your driveway, at a launch, on the beach, crossing sand bars or any other location where you need to haul your yak, Kayak Carts are a must.  They certainly make the task easy and avoid dropping your yak, dinging walls or cars, back aches, and other potential mishaps.  Mine are made for the Hobie Quest and slip into the rear scuppers – other styles provide a cradle to put your Yak on.  Regardless, you simply push or pull the kayak to where you want.  What could be simpler?

Kayak On Cart

 

The wheels on my cart snap on and off and simply store in the hull.  They are not heavy but when not needed, I just leave them in the car.

Loading and Unloading

First, consider a lighter kayak if yours is larger, beamy or quite heavy -- not only for loading, but paddling as well.  There are many 13’ models in the mid 50 pound range.  My Yak is 53 pounds – something I can reasonably handle.

Ready to lift


Once you have the base kayak rack system on your vehicle, you can look at one of several available loading accessories that make you life easier, saving your back, shoulders, neck, knees, etc.  Price points vary as you will see on several products available from Yakima and Thule and there are others out there as well.  The comments, apart from my unit, are based on observations at launches and outfitters as well as reviewing the respective websites.  Check with your dealer for additional information and details for your specific vehicle and needs.

This discussion will focus on my system – the “Boat Loader” by Yakima (msrp $80).  Thule has a similar product – “847 Outrigger II” (msrp $85).  For me this has proven very cost effective and adheres to my motto of “minimalism”.  The Boat Loader is comprised of an aluminum clad steel bar that fits smoothly inside the front round bar on my Yakima roof rack.  It functions on the theory of leverage and use of a fulcrum that we all learned in science class years ago.  Bottom line -- one only has to lift a portion of the kayak weight at a time.

Using the Loadiong Bar

Before beginning the loading process, it is good idea to put the straps on first making it easier to strap down. Place your kayak along side the vehicle with the bar pulled out and locked in place.  One tip -- put a carpet or rubber mat under the rear keel to keep yak from sliding.  Now, lift the front up on to the bar and holding the kayak so it does not scratch your vehicle move to the rear and lift it up and into the rear saddle.  Return to the front and place the front of the kayak into the front saddle, push in the bar and strap down.   

Swinging the back around into the rack


If you are carrying two kayaks, simply move the one just loaded into the other pair of saddles and repeat the loading process for the second yak.  To unload, just reverse the process.  Takes me about 2 minutes to load up or unload. I cannot tell you how many times people watching the process express surprise that an “old man” can easily load/unload, rig up and hit the water in a matter of minutes.  Believe me, it is that easy!

Kayak in place


Both Yakima and Thule also offer sliding rear roller systems that function similar to the Boat Loader, only loading from the rear of the vehicle.  The Yakima “Showboat” (msrp $200) looks to be pretty simple and straight forward.  Thule’s “Slipstream” system operates in a similar fashion and prices out in the $349 range.

Thule also offers their “Hullavator” gas assist lift J Rack (msrp of $589).  You lift the yak to your waist and place it into the J carriers and the gas assist helps lift the carrier to the roof rack.  The unit takes up to 40 pounds of the weight so it may even be easier than the other options.

So far, our focus has been on roof racks.  Many of you simply use the bed of your truck.  It works, but for me it does not seem as secure and is harder on the kayak hull, especially if you haul 2 yaks.  One still has to lift up the yak and push it around.  Agreed, the truck bed gets the job done, but a rack system seems more secure and protective – just a better option to me.

This article is not aiming to promote any one brand or company.  Rather, my objective is show you a relatively inexpensive solution (and other practical options) to deal with the loading/unloading roadblock faced as we get older.  Even my younger kayak fishing buddies like the idea.  So, no more excuses!

Tight Lines.

Steve Osterhaus lives in Door County, WI and Tybee Island, GA (Dec – Mar) spending 100 days a year on the water.  He is a FFF Certified Casting Instructor and member of the St. Croix Rods Pro Staff.  He paddles a fully rigged Hobie Quest and can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Website: www.peninsulafly.heliohost.org.

© 2012

 

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