Kayak trailer earns an A- its first summer

Loading and unloading our kayaks is much easier and faster with our kayak trailer, purchased in May. Not that my family and I weren’t speedy before—we could load two kayaks on the cartop carrier in about 15 minutes, but now we can load all four kayaks onto the trailer in about the same amount of time. The trailer requires less lifting, climbing and stretching—and provides convenient storage for the kayaks in our garage

The trailer didn’t come with instructions. Believe me, I asked! Therefore, we did a little experimenting early in the season, first using the same straps as for our cartop carrier and then moving to rachet straps. The rachet straps were the way to go—and I feel quite accomplished that I can loosen and tighten them on my own, a totally new skill I learned this year.

The rachet straps did a good job of keeping the kayaks secure, for every trip but one, and I’m not sure it was their fault. My husband, Greg, enjoys driving fast. For those of you who have driven with us, stop laughing! You know I’d rather say, he drives aggressively, tailgates and is not slowed down by a trailer hitched to the back of our vehicle, despite rough roads or road construction.

“It’s light,” he says. “It’s like it’s not even there.”

Yet, it is there! And what seems like a smooth interstate is not necessarily so. Hitting small bumps on the road at 70-75 miles an hour causes the whole trailer to jump. I’ve seen air between the kayaks and the trailer on occasion and asked Greg to slow down.

“They’re fine,” he assures me.

Until one day they weren’t fine. We were on the interstate about 20 minutes into our trip toward Milwaukee. I was reading my book (it calms my nerves and keeps my mind off Greg’s driving), when Greg looks into the rearview mirror and gasps.

“The kayaks are coming off!” he exclaims, and my heart about jumps out of my chest.

He slows down, flipping on the hazard lights, and we get off the interstate at the next exit. I had driven two hours each direction with the kayak trailer the day before and had no issues, although I averaged 55 miles an hour on highways and rural roads.

Once pulled over, we took a closer look, and the straps were tight, but every bump in the road we’d hit caused the kayaks to bounce back inch after inch until they dropped from the rack to the trailer frame. It’s a good thing we’d pulled over when we did.

We repositioned the kayaks and retightened the straps. Ready to go, we were too nervous to return to the interstate—despite Siri’s relentless attempts to turn us in that direction—and chose to travel the backroads instead.

The next time we traveled long distance with the kayaks, we hooked bungee cords from the tips of the kayaks to the hitch, giving us peace of mind that the kayaks wouldn’t bounce back anymore. And since we’re avoiding the interstate, Greg is no longer traveling at 70-75 mph with the kayak trailer.

Sometimes it takes a close call to make you change your ways.

After our first season, I think I’ve got the kayak trailer figured out—at least hooking it up and driving forwards with it.

When we first got the trailer, Greg gave me a quick lesson on how to hook it up; however, he hooked it up every time on his own while I packed the coolers and water bags. It wasn’t until he was travelling for 10 days in September when I was faced with hooking it up by myself. I thought it would be hard and take me a while—I’m proud to say it only took about 10 minutes—and the brake lights and signals all worked my first try.

Now backing up… that’s another story! It’s admittedly difficult for me. It took me at least a half dozen tries to back the trailer up the driveway—and I’ve got a flattened black-eyed Susan patch to show for it. Next spring, I plan to find an empty parking lot and practice, practice, practice!

Summer 2019 was a great kayaking season and we got a lot of use out of our new kayak trailer. The best part about owning a kayak trailer is the ability to haul four kayaks and share our good times with more friends.

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