Can a cartop system be made easily and cheaply? Sure can, and it's simple, cheep,
extremely stable. No holes in your roof. No expensive rack systems. Portable.
Easy to make with common materials. Easy and quick to load and attach. And for
1. Fifty feet of 1/4 in. braided nylon rope (not twisted). About $5.00.
2. Six inches of 1/2 in. PVC pipe. Less than $1.00.
3. Four chromed swivel clips. About $1.50 each.
4. Two 1/8 in. thick x 1 in. dia. stainless rings (3/16 better). About $1.00 each.
5. Two large foam pads (not small or standard size). About $40.00.
6. Two 1 in. nylon straps with cam locks. About $8.00
Total: $62.00 (or less)
1. Drill with 5/16 in. bit.
2. Ordinary saw.
3. Matches or lighter.
4. Roll of electrician's tape
Braided rope is much more durable, ties easier, won't untwist. Swivel clips are
easy to use and swivel. Get the thickest steel rings you can; this will reduce
wear on the rope. The wider foam pads (for large yaks) give more support, allow
some shifting. Cam locks are more secure, don't slip and are easier to adjust.
All the materials, except the pads are found at Home Despot (pun intended).
I urge you to first view all the pics above before starting; it really is an easy
Find the center of the side of your yak and memorize it as you will use it often (mine is
the "E" on the Scupper Pro logo).
Place the pads on your roof, centered (for a single yak) and as close to the
front and rear windows as possible. This is the strongest part of the roof, and
also gives the best support to your yak. Make sure the center of your yak is over
the center of your roof.
Now find something on your yak, like the logo, a padeye, whatever that lines
up with say the rear edge of your front door, or the edge of one the pads,
whatever. The point is so that you will always place your yak in the same
Measure and cut your Side ropes. Start by tying your ropes to the swivel clip,
making sure to leave a small tail for safety. I suggest using either a "buntline
hitch" (same knot used to tie your tie), "anchor bend" or "anchor hitch". The
buntline is best, cause it will stay tight both with and without tension.
Attach the clip to an appropriate side eyelet (front or rear of cockpit as appropriate).
stretch the rope till it reaches about a foot past the center of the front hood or
rear trunk edge (see pics). Mark the rope.
Cutting rope: first wrap an a inch of electrician's tape around the mark, then
cut the rope with a good scissors or sharp knife. Using tape will insure a neat,
clean end. Then heat the end with a match for a second or two 'til the rope
melts (prevents unraveling). Use this method to seal all rope ends.
Continue til you have your four side mounting ropes.
Bow and Stern lines:
If your boat has carrying handles, just tie no more than a 2 in. loop in the end of the
line (simple overhand knot is perfect), then attach to your handle by passing the
handle through the loop. The loop must be 2 in. or less to be secure. Then as
before, measure your line to a foot below the center of the hood or trunk edge,
and mark, tape, cut and seal.
Hood and Trunk Attachments:
These too are easy and very effective. Just attach two lines to the steel ring,
again using the buntline hitch for security. Then measure off about 1-1/2 feet of
rope for each line for the hood. For the trunk, measure enough line to reach
from the top rear edge to the bottom rear edge of the trunk, and add about a foot
(this will be more like 2 to 2-1/2 ft. or so depending on your trunk). Both lines
should be about the same length. Mark, tape, cut and seal as before.
Then cut four 1 in. piece of PVC and drill a 5/16 in. hole through the middle
of each. Pass the line through and tie a simple overhand in the end of the line.
Open your hood or trunk and place the two PVC stubs well inside the lip (so the
lid will close), just clearing each side of the latch (do not spread any wider
than necessary to clear the latch). Then close the lid and pull the lines tight.
The steel ring should clear the edge of the hood by about 3 or 4 inches. At this
point your ropes are likely too long, so shorten them by moving the knot until you
get it right. Note: both lines must be about the same length (so the ring is
centered: this insures safety if one should ever break). You can finish by
getting rid of the excess rope using the usual method.
You're done! Now a short course on using the system:
Having used this system for both one and two yaks on a compact Nissan Sentra for
the last six months, I have come to appreciate the ease of use and it's exceptional
stability. Dig this:
1. It's easy and fast to use, portable, and takes little storage space in your
2. It's full of redundancy. Both the hood and trunk attachments use two ropes, in
case one breaks.
3. The side rope mounts not only help hold down, but prevent forward/backward or
side-to-side shifting. The side ropes alone will hold the yak securely.
4. It's fast and easy to use, takes me no more time (and sometimes less) than
friends with roof racks.
Most of you have experienced the front of the yak being blown to one side. This is
impossible with this system. The side ropes duplicate both the bow and stern lines,
as well as the nylon straps.
Bottom line: Use this system and you will soon experience the confidence of
having a system that has triple redundancy and safety and that will not shift,
Using the system:
1. Load your yak. If you're strong or your yak is small enough, just place the
pads (centered and as close to the front or rear window as possible), and put a
small throw rug over the center/side of your roof. Lift the yak (top toward you,
bow toward the front), place the edge on the roof and "roll" it onto the pads.
If you're tired, you can put the throw rug on the edge of your trunk, place the
bow on the rug, then hand over hand to the stern, lift by the handle between your
legs, and walk it up and over the rear pad until it looks like a giant erection (and
you can't push it up any farther). Then lower it onto the rear pad, keep lifting
'til it's on the front pad. Now gently slide it forward to center it.
Tip: To prevent the yak from tipping the rear pad forward, I sometimes place
the rear pad about a foot or two forward of the rear window (so the yak will clear),
then move it back after the yak is loaded. (To move a pad, just lift the yak slightly
with one hand while you move the pad with the other... easy if the yak is close
2. Apply nylon straps (all doors open):
Start from the driver's side, rear door!
Holding the buckle, throw the straps over the car. The bottom of the buckle
facing you. Now go to the passenger side, make sure there is a half twist over the yak, and another half
twist on this side. Now pull the strap until the buckle is hanging off the
roof, position the strap near the rear of the door, throw the strap in and close
the door (holding strap in position).
Note: you must use a half twist over the top of your yak, and on the sides to
prevent vibration (a very LOUD buzz) at speed.
Now pull the strap through the car (level so it won't obscure your rear view
when driving), twist the buckle over, insert the strap. Tip: If you hold
the strap over the buckle while tightening with the other hand, it won't move. Do
not overtighten (good and snug is fine, yaks are flexible and can deform). I
tighten mine 'til my yak compresses the foam just a bit.
The front strap works the same way, except...
For cars with automatic shoulder harness (like mine):
Do everything as above, except when you go around the car to put in the twists,
adjust the length so the buckle is at or just above the bottom of your side window,
then close the door to secure the strap. Place the buckle on the front window.
When you get in, make sure the passenger strap is hanging down (to clear the
moving harness holder). Turn on the ignition so the auto harness holders move
back. Then lower your window, reach out and grab the buckle, give it a half twist
and pull it in and tighten it inside the car.
Believe me this is a lot easier than you think (I know it sounds complicated).
And if you have this issue, fastening the front strap will be the last thing you
do after all the other lines are connected.
3. Place front and rear attachments, and lines:
Open your hood and trunk and place the PVC stubs far enough in to clear the
closing lid, and just clearing the latch on each side. No wider than necessary (to
insure safety). Close lid and pull tight. Now attach your clips to the side eyelets,
and the bow and stern lines to your lift handles.
Tie the rear lines first. Start with the side lines, put through ring, pull snug and
fasten with 3 half hitches. This is secure. Finish with the stern line. Note that
tightening the stern line will put a nice final tightness. Do the front last, again
start with the side lines, finish with the bow line.
Done! You can be confident your yak is totally secure and stable. You literally
have triple redundancy, and any one section will hold the yak. Please know that
snug is best and quite reliable - don't overtighten! Timewise, I can load and
fasten my yak just as fast (and occasionally faster) than my friends with roof
I am always happy to help. Feel free to call or write me with any questions.
the two yak system works pretty much the same way, except you will need four
nylon straps, two to go over one yak and two for the other (no strap goes over
Start on the driver's side, go over the driver's yak and under the
other. Then go to the passenger side and use the other two straps, this time
over the passenger yak and under the other (thus each yak is separately strapped).
Twist appropriately as before. Then tighten straps, first for one yak, then for
the other. Four side lines as before. And now
there are two bow lines and two stern lines. All attached in the same order.
Rear first, sides first, then front.
Please know that I have used this system extensively with both one or two yaks
(Scupper Pro and Scrambler) and have found it completely reliable and stable at speeds up to 65 mph. and
gusting winds. I typically travel at 65.