Overhead Kayak Storage

by Geoffrey Smart. Published in Bay Currents, February 2000

1. Since I can only lay my boat diagonally across the floor in my apartment, this determined where the boat was going to hang. Where it hangs is where it lands!

2. Next, I found out which way the ceiling joists ran and temporarily marked their positions with blue tape. The easiest way to do this is with a device called a stud finder that goes beep when it locates a wooden joist or wall stud.

Kayak storage

3. I bolted a couple of stainless steel loops to the deck of my boat. These double as security loops and they enabled me to get the boat up closer to the ceiling than straps would allow. If your boat is parallel to the ceiling joists, positioned the loops on the centerline of the boat and close to the bulkheads at the stiffest part of the boat. This is also where the boat should be supported on a roof rack and minimizes any sagging or hogging. If your boat is perpendicular to the joists, position the loops according to the joist spacing.

4. With the boat laying on the floor, I marked the position of the ceiling hooks directly above the stainless boat loops and the same distance apart and most importantly, centered on a ceiling joist.

5. I predrilled and screwed the 3/8" dia. hooks into the ceiling joists. The threaded part of the hook should be completely buried in the wooden joist, not just the sheetrock. A very good test is to see if the hook will support your own weight.

6. The third hook I positioned in a ceiling joist above the wall cleat and roughly in line with the boat. The wall cleat itself must be screwed into a wall stud or door or window casing.

7. To make hoisting the boat easier, I decided to use double rather than single pulleys. This gives a mechanical advantage of 4 i.e. for every foot that the boat rises, you will pull 4 feet of line. This method requires more rope but takes a lot less effort. I bought 5 double pulleys: 2 for each line and 1 above the wall cleat. The kind with a swivel eye are best. (Interestingly, my pulleys bore the warning "Not to be used for overhead loads"!) Mine were listed as 1 1/2" dia. which refers to the wheel diameter, and which allowed me to use a comfortable 5/16" line - smaller line, though strong enough, will cut into your hands. I needed two 50' lengths of line because each line will goes up and down between ceiling and floor 4 times, then across the ceiling and down to the wall cleat.

8. To thread the line, I tied a tight bowline in one end and looped it over the ceiling hook behind the pulley. I took the other end and threaded it through the bottom pulley, up through the top pulley, down through the lower one again, back up through the top pulley, and then across the ceiling, through the fifth pulley and down to the wall cleat. I hooked carabiners to the eyes of the bottom pulleys, clipped them onto the boat loops, pulled on both lines simultaneously and my boat, once earthbound, floated up to the ceiling. Aaaah, the space...

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