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Today marks the first day of summer, and we are kicking it off in typical Caliber Collision fashion: Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life®. As you head out for summer vacations, road trips and excursions, our Caliber teammates are here to provide the tips, tricks and tutorials you need for a successful summer spree.

This week, we kick off the “How-To” series with a lesson for lake-lovers—how to properly secure a kayak or canoe to the roof of your car. Whether it’s your first time wading the waters, or you are an expert rapid-rider, properly tying down your boat can be the difference-maker between a fun day in the sun, and an coastal catastrophe.

Prep Your Auto

Before you set sail on summer vacation, it is important to gather the right equipment to prepare your car for the journey ahead. Commuting with a kayak isn’t difficult, but it does require some forethought and a few essentials.

• Crossbars and Racks: Most cars have bars running from the front of the vehicle to the back, and typical crossbars are secured to these panels in order to provide a solid base. On top of the crossbars, specific racks can be secured in order to hold your kayak in place. While there are a variety of crossbars and rack combinations out there for purchase, the right set can simplify the process of securing your kayak and save you time—getting you on the road and on your way to summer fun.

• Tie-Down Straps: Tie-down straps are thick belts with buckles designed to hold heavy cargo in place. There are two types of buckles—cam buckles and ratchets—that can be used depending on the weight of your cargo. For a kayak, we recommend straps that are at least 12 feet long in order to secure your boat in place, and selecting the appropriate buckle based on its size and weight.

• Bow and Stern Tie-Downs: These lines are specifically made to secure the bow (front) and stern (back) of the boat to the crossbars and rack. While durable, standard rope also works, tie-downs are worth the investment for recurrent current-chasers as they make securing your kayak easier than ever.

Lift and Load
• Position one person at each end of the kayak and lift it using the grab handles. Position the boat parallel to your car, with the bow facing the front.

• Once the kayak is in position, grab it by the hull and lift it over your head. Slowly move towards the rack until it is directly above the rack, then set it down. You may need to maneuver it slightly to fit the exact style of your roof rack.

Safely Secure

• Now that you have the boat in place, it’s time to secure it down for safe travels. With the kayak centered between the crossbars, take a cam strap and place the buckle on the side of the kayak above one of the crossbars. Toss the end of the strap to the other side of the boat.

• On the other side of your car, find the tossed strap and loop it underneath the crossbar and then send it back over to the other side once again.

• Walk back to the starting side, grab the strap and loop it under the crossbar, then secure it into the buckle and clamp it down. Make sure the strap is snug and inside the space where the crossbar meets the vehicle.

• Repeat steps 1-3 on the other crossbar, and then tie off any loose slack.

• While not required, it is recommended that you also tie down the bow and stern of your kayak with lines. Loop the line with the clasp around a sturdy object on the kayak such as the handle. Attach the other end to a secure point on your car, such as a tow hook. Tighten the line, tie off the loose end and repeat on the other end of the boat.

• Now that your boat is secure, it’s time to hit the road, and the rapids.

Wherever your summer adventures take you, Caliber is here to keep your sailing smooth. As you head out on the road, remember that whatever storms come your way, Caliber is here and ready to fulfill our purpose—Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.®