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Sea Kayaking Discussion

Recommendations for extra padding for car J-cradle...
Andrew Abernathy
I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for how to add padding to J-cradles.

Specifically, I have the Yakima JayLow cradles, which have some firm rubber padding. This has been fine for transporting a roto-molded kayak and a thermo-formed kayak, but it managed to put spider cracks in my kevlar/fiberglass hybrid boat in two contact points. I didn't catch the damage immediately and I don't know if it's because I cranked down the straps too hard, or if I dropped the boat into the cradle too hard and didn't realize it. Either way, since then I've been too nervous to use those cradles with that boat.

I've not noticed any product that seems tailored for this. I'm thinking maybe some carefully-positioned thick self-adhesive felt pads from a hardware store, but I wonder about the durability of the adhesive; I don't want these working free while positioning a boat on the cradles, or blowing off some time when I'm driving without a boat on the cradles. I'm hoping someone else has added padding to these or similar cradles and knows what works well.
Ian Slutz
I haven't had this specific problem as I just have a plastic boat. But I do have a thought having paid attention to how boats sit in J Cradles. A lot of times it is hard to align the pads of the J-Cradles to the way the boat lies. There are often adjusters but I find they aren't reliable. Therefore, instead of the weight getting distributed along the bottom of the cradle the actual contact is a much more narrow point. That would put more stress on your boat whether you dropped it into position or tightened it too much.

I might suggest going to Friendly Foam Shop or similar business and getting some relatively stiff foam blocks that could distribute the contact more. I imagine an inch or two of padding would make a major difference.
Andrew Abernathy
My post was from over a year ago, but it suddenly appeared in my email this morning, followed by a couple of people responding directly. :) I suspect there's been some recent work on these forums which resulted in emails being sent out with old posts. Thanks to those who have replied.

In any case, I did eventually add padding to my JayLow cradles, which seems to have worked well, so here's an update on just what I did. I glued on 1/2" closed-cell foam for some nice thick padding. This was very grippy and the first time I used it, I started worrying that sliding the boat around to adjust its position was over time going to end up ripping off the foam, or at least chunks of it. So then I added a layer of felt surface protector to allow the boat to slide around fine. (I actually only got around to adding the felt to the back cradle. So far everything seems ok.)

It's worked pretty well for me, though with everything going on I haven't gotten out much in the past year, so it hasn't gotten a ton of use. But I'm pretty comfortable that my boat is protected, and it doesn't seem like the foam is about to rip off or anything.


Some specifics, should anyone care:

* I used 1/2" grey closed-cell foam from the Friendly Foam Shop in north Seattle.

* I cut it into strips to cover the pertinent surfaces, and glued it with Liquid Nails Fuze-It multi-surface adhesive (recommended by a local hardware store when I explained my purpose); clamping the pieces down overnight to set (which was a bit awkward due to the angle of the surfaces). That adhesive is white and quite visible around the edges of the foam; not a huge deal but it does look messy. I wish I'd had a clear adhesive.

* The felt protector was cut and pieced together from some relatively large self-adhesive surface protector pads I got at a hardware store. I wondered if the adhesive would hold, but so far it hasn't given any hint of budging. It's tan and I would have preferred gray or black but I think it looks fine.

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