Six ways to bring a SUP or kayak aboard your boat
You need look no further than the local lake, bay or harbor to confirm the popularity of stand-up paddle boards and kayaks. In fact, on some days, human-powered craft are so numerous, they can pose a navigation challenge to traditional boaters.
But everyone has a right to enjoy the water in whichever way they desire, right? Why not do both? Maybe you want to raft up at the sandbar next weekend and break out the SUP to mingle with the crowd. Or you might cruise to a secluded bay, get out your board and enjoy some solitude. There are also some remote wilderness no-motor zones in the Florida Everglades and elsewhere that restrict entry to paddlecraft only. You can anchor outside and then paddle in. Really adventurous boaters take their paddlecraft to the Bahamas to fish the flats where bonefish and permit feed in mere inches of water.
That all sounds great, but carrying boards and ’yaks on a mothership can be a hassle. Where do you stow them? How do you secure them? If you decide to tie them to the bow or stuff them in the cockpit, eventually they’re going to get in the way. You can stack them on the swim platform, but many SUPs and kayaks are longer than the width of some boat transoms. The Bote Flood board, for instance, is 12 feet long. The Hobie Revolution 16 kayak is, well, 16 feet long. You also lose access to the swim platform when it’s packed with your toys.
It’s no longer awkward or cumbersome to bring paddlecraft aboard your boat thanks to creative ways to get into the board game. A number of systems let you easily and quickly stow and deploy SUPs and kayaks, as well as surfboards and kiteboards, from virtually any kind of boat.
Here are six easy solutions:
Most boaters won’t buy a new boat just to have dedicated stowage for boards (as described on page 90), though it’s a great feature to consider if you’re in the market. But if your current boat has a high-profile bow rail that extends aft to about midship, you can get a rack that lets you easily stow and deploy your SUPs and kayaks.
Magma Products, best known for its line of marine barbecues, offers the Removable Kayak/SUP Rack ($229.98, magmaproducts.com), which includes two arms that clamp to vertical or diagonal bow-rail stanchions ranging from 7/8 to 11/2 inches in diameter. Constructed from polished stainless steel with UV-resistant padding to protect your paddlecraft while cradled in the 1-inch-diameter arms, each rack will hold two SUPs or one kayak. Tie-down points on each arm let you secure boards and ’yaks with straps.
Magma’s exclusive quick-release knob system allows each arm to be instantly removed or rotated inward when not in use, or swung in tighter to the bow rail to fit smaller/narrower kayaks or boards.
The SurfStow Suprax ($249.99, storeyourboat.com) is another example of a system that clamps to a bow rail. Constructed from aluminum, the rack arms will hold one SUP and have EVA foam linings to protect your board. A built-in bungee cord secures the board. The universal clamp system swivels to attach to virtually any vertical or horizontal rail ranging from 7/8 to 11/4 inches in diameter. There’s also an add-on accessory arm that increases the capacity to a pair of SUPs ($99, westmarine.com).
SurfStow also offers the Yakrax ($299.99, overtons.com) rack for kayaks. It uses the same clamp system as the Suprax, but the padded aluminum arms accept the hull depth of a kayak.
The proliferation of hardtops aboard today’s boats has a benefit besides shade and shelter. Hardtops create new surfaces for attaching accessories such as racks for SUPs and kayaks, akin to roof racks on automobiles.
At Largo, Florida-based Intrepid Powerboats, for example, models such as the 400 Cuddy are often built with custom-ordered hardtop racks for SUPs and surfboards, says Joe Brenna, vice president of customer service. “Racks are installed as part of the build, as per the buyer’s specifications,” Brenna says.
It’s one thing to customize a boat to carry boards, it’s quite another to offer a model designed for SUPs and kayaks. Yet that’s what the Tiara Q44 is all about. Tiara calls it the Adventure Yacht. The Q44 is available with a hardtop toy-storage system that lets owners secure boards and kayaks on a top-mounted rack. The hardtop was designed to prevent marine accessories such as VHF antennas from interfering with board stowage. The walkaround layout of the Q44 facilitates loading and unloading paddlecraft from the rack.
Many pontoon boat owners love to take their toys with them, including SUPs and kayaks. What better way to enjoy a summer day on the water than to anchor up in a quiet cove and get in some paddle time? Or maybe you want anchor out and explore or fish a remote creek that’s too narrow or shallow for your pontoon boat.
While big pontoon models offer lots of space to carry boards, why not clear the deck and the seats with racks designed to fit the square railings of the panels that surround the interior? Enter the Toon Racker ($369.99, storeyourboard.com).
A pair of J-shaped arms fit the railings of most pontoon boats, and each rack will accommodate one kayak or two SUPs. Integral padding offers plenty of protection from scratching or chafing, and built-in bungee cords keep boards and ’yaks secure while underway.
You can also get the SurfStow Suprax ($254.99, discountramps.com), which features a pair of padded aluminum arms with specialized clamps to conform to square railings. SurfStow also offers the Yakrax kayak rack ($230.35, walmart.com) for pontoons.
The popularity of paddleboarding is skyrocketing, says Tim Wilhelm, owner of Manta Racks, which offers stowage systems for SUPs. “My business has doubled in the last year,” he points out as evidence of the trend.
Unfortunately, this rising tide has also led to an increase in incidents involving paddlecraft. While recreational boating accidents and fatalities steadily declined from 2012 to 2015, last year saw a spike in fatalities, says Capt. F. Thomas Boross, chief director of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“During July and August 2016, the United States had the highest number of fatalities in five years, most of which were attributed to paddlecraft accidents,” Boross said in a speech to auxiliary members in St. Louis, Missouri, in January.
With this in mind, the Coast Guard has expanded its Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program to include canoes, kayaks and SUPs, says Harry Jacobs, 37-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and an approved vessel examiner and immediate past national director of public affairs for the auxiliary. Jacobs currently serves with the District II Public Affairs Detachment in Southern California.
“We need to bring paddlecraft enthusiasts into the boater-education community,” Jacobs says. Examiners are now conducting VSCs for paddlecraft and issuing decals for canoes, kayaks and SUPs meeting requirements that include a sound-making device, life jacket, white navigation light, visual distress signals and more.