Welcome to Southwest Florida. We are here in sunny downtown Matlacha. I'm Mel the guide, a kayak tour guide for Gulf Coast kayak.
We move a lot of kayaks around and I am oftentimes asked, "How can I move my kayak from place to place?" Now here in Southwest Florida, we have our share of seniors - I think I am one of them? I'm 68 years old and am finding it harder every day to throw these things around. Sure when I was younger there was no problem. Bend down, grab the yak and just lift it up in the air and give it a toss up on the roof of the car. Then if I had two kayaks, just pick up the other one and toss it up on the other kayak. Put on a piece of rope and off we went down the road to the launch site. Once there, jump out of the car untie the rope and grab the kayak like I was doing a bench press, and flip it to the ground.
Well that was then. As we get older we are supposed to get smarter. So what happens? Well, some of us just say, "I'm getting too old for this crap." Then we let old age grab us and we sit in the house on the computer or in front of the TV. Guys wake up! Don't miss out on the many years of kayaking you have left. The great outdoors are still great.
So how do we get the kayak from point A to point B? We ask a friend if we can use his kayak next time he goes kayaking and tell him you will meet him there, and have him bring his kayak? The problem with that is it only works once.
Only kidding. We can always make a kayak rack for the top of the car, with rollers. That way we only have to pick up one end of the kayak, rest it on the back of the car and slide it up.
You could try a piece of PVC pipe on the last bar of you roof rack and make it a roller.
Now that we are talking about roof racks, let's see what's out there and how much money are we talking about. You have to know what kind of rack is on your car now, so you can get parts for it from the manufacturer. If not, you can by cross bars from different companies that will fit your car. A neat little item you may think of is the 854 water slide mat. It's a mat you can use to protect the vehicle. Hooks on to the back rail of your car rack and you lean the kayak on it and just slide the kayak up on to the roof carrier. It's made by Thule and sells for about $40, and you can use it for a kayak or a canoe.
Do you have a SUV or tall car and are finding it hard to reach up and hold the kayak so high?
Over your head? Take a look at the Yakima boat loader. It's a rail that slides in to a Yakima cross bar, with a extendable arm. Then when you need a hand, it slides out the rail, and you can lean one end of the kayak up on it, and pick up the other end and slide it on to the rack. Sells for about $80.
Another one like the boat loader is the Thule outrigger. And it has a piece on the end of the bar that stops the kayak from sliding off the rail as you load it. Sells for a little more about $85.
Malone makes a neat combo called the seawing stinger combo. The combo has the Malone seawing saddles, and the lift assists. The assist stores under the rack then when you are ready to load the yak, it slides out and you place one end of the kayak on it and pick up the other end and lift and slide the kayak in to the saddle. It doesn't come cheep, but it works for about $220 bucks.
I have a Nissan pickup,with a cap on it. On the truck cab I have the Malone j rack that folds down when you have to go in to mall or low parking garage. I use the Malone Telos load assist. The Telos temporarily attaches to the auto loader. The Telos is a self locking ratcheting system that provides a safe upward and downward travel. It has suction cups on the rail so you don't bang up the side of the truck. You slide down the rack to about waist high and load one end of the kayak on to the arm. Then lift the other end of the kayak up on the other arm. Then lift one side, then the other side, then the other side up and so on until you have to ratchet the kayak up to the top of the rack. Then give a push on the kayak and its loaded. Do the same thing in reverse to take it down. One other thing nice about this rig is you can then use it on the other side to load the second kayak.
And then if you have unlimited money, go for the gold. The 897xt Hull Aviator by Thule. This lift system has gas-assist struts that lifts 90 percent of the boats weight. It sells for around $590.
OK, you are starting to see there are a lot to choose from, both in style and price. You have to think, "how much is my back worth?"
Then maybe you can't lift up on to a roof rack? Well don't give up,There is still hope.
How a bout a trailer.
Don't have much room? Try a MicroSport trailer, also by Malone. Some have a tongue that you can retract and it makes the trailer fit in less than 11 square feet of space.
OK, still don't have that much room ... how about a trailer that folds up with a carrying handle into a cart? That's the Malone RackandRoll 66 trailer. Wheels and tongue remove in seconds and the frame stores up rite or hangs on the garage wall.
You can also get trailers that carry bikes, gear and kayaks.
So where can you find this stuff? Most good kayak shops carry some of it. I know our good friends out at Florida Paddlesports has most in stock, and if Jory doesn't have it in, he can get it for you right quick. He's at 3015 S.W. Pine Island Road, #108, Cape Coral. Call 239-214-8300 and tell him Mel the Guide sent you in and he will take good care of you.
We all are not getting any younger, and the golden years seem to have been taken over by the rusting years. But we are not giving up yet.
That said, I hope this makes it a little easier for you, I know it has for me. Thanks for paddling with Mel the Guide.For guided tours Call 941-661-8229