Kayaks and roof racks

Every so often people ask me about roof racks, and attaching canoes/kayaks, so here is my current advice.

If you’re serious about kayaking, you need to have a good quality roof rack. Please DO NOT buy the cheapest Halford one (or similar). I’ve used Thule roof racks for many years; they are very good quality, though they are not very cheap.

Useful links:

Thule do a few styles of bars. We use ‘WingBar’ bars; these are supposed to be aerodynamic, to reduce noise and help fuel consumption, but I’m not sure that has very much effect. They have a slot along the upper side for attaching things to, this makes it very easy to change the bars from carrying kayaks to bicycles. The cheaper bars need to have the attachments bolted on instead.

You buy the bars and a fitting kit (the ‘feet’) separately. That’s because all the cars need different ways of attaching. If you have an estate car it is likely that you will have longitudinal rails along the edge of the roof above the doors, this makes it very easy and secure to attach the bars, but you’ll still need to buy basic ‘feet’ for these rails.

The various websites (Thule, Halfords, and other specialist roof rack shops) all have a page allowing you to specify your car make & model, and it will tell you which feet and bars you should use.
We recommend getting bars slightly wider than they recommend, but not too much wider. This means you should be able to get four boats stacked up on the roof. Don’t get the bars too wide, because you will then hit your head on the bars when you get in or out of the car!

Attaching the boats. I recommend using an upright attached to the roof bar, so that you can carry the kayaks on their edges. Some people don’t bother with this, and instead carry the boats flat, and can carry two pairs nestled cockpit to cockpit. I think that this is slightly more hassle when loading and unloading.

Thule sell a folding, U-shaped upright: https://www.thule.com/en-gb/winter-and-water-sports-carriers/kayak-roof-racks/thule-kayak-support-_-520100
Slightly cheaper from here: https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php/car-specific-accessories/thule_kayak_carrier_for_2_kayaks_no_tu520_1/Qx%40w%2C6M42VAwp3%40Rb%7B~cC4ure5HvA
We normally have ours located three-quarters along the bar, so we can load one boat on one side, and three boats on the other. We can even fit an open canoe on the wider side.
You can get cheaper bolt-on uprights too.

Note though, that if you have an expensive (carbon/kevlar) racing kayak, or a nice sea kayak, then you will want to use proper V-bars or similar to support the boat on the roof.

It is worth putting some padding on the roof bars; this makes the boats much more secure once they’re tightened onto the bars. Thule have a rubber strip which fits along their slotted bars; alternatively, but less elegantly, you can simply tie pipe lagging to the bars. If you’re flashy you can by branded Palm padding…

We have multiple sets of straps, of different lengths. A ‘short’ pair of 3.5m straps works to hold the single boat on one side, and a ‘long’ pair of 5.5m straps for the three boats on the other side. It really helps to make sure that the straps are different colours, so that you don’t get them mixed up every time you pick them up. Palm sell coloured straps, but some other makes only come in black.
The shop in Thornbury sell them: https://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/products/palm-cam-straps#foo&gid=1&pid=4
These straps have simple ‘ratchet cams’, which are entirely sufficient. We throw the blue rubber end protectors away; they are intended to help prevent scratching your car, but they get in the way a bit when using the ratchets.
Some people use straps with lorry style ratchets; I think these are a bit more hassle.

Locks. In practice, we are lucky that very few thieves seem to bother stealing kayaks. However, we do have the roof rack with locks, so that the rack is locked to the car. Thule allow you to buy a matched set of locks so that you have a single key for all of them (and for the bicycle racks too, see a bit further down). We also have a long cable-lock so that we can lock the boats to the car, but we only use that when we feel that we’re parked in a particularly vulnerable location: https://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/products/rackguard-lockwire

Bicycles

Thule also sell various bicycle racks which attach to the roof bars. We use these ‘ProRide’ carriers. Again, these are not cheap, but they make it very easy to load bikes onto the roof. https://www.thule.com/en-gb/bike-rack/roof-bike-racks/thule-proride-_-598001
We don’t even need to take the kayak U-upright off when we use these; we just fold it down. And you can get the locks for these bicycle racks to use the same keys as the rest of the bars.
But bicycles are most definitely targetted by thieves; if we ever have to leave any bikes on the car roof, we always add extra big locks (D-locks and big fat chains); we don’t rely just on the basic Thule locks.

Mixing kayaks and bicycles

We sometimes leave one bike carrier on the roof on the ‘single kayak’ side of the upright; this means we can carry one, two, or three kayaks on the other side, plus a bike.
With some effort you can carry two kayaks in the middle of the car, and then add the second bike carrier on the outside to add a second bike too.
And, if you have friends who have the same racks, you can fit four bike carriers onto one roof rack to carry four bikes (but no kayaks at the same time, though).

Beg, borrow, etc

Finally, please feel free to chat with us about this. We can show you how easy it is to install the bars. And if you ask nicely, and have the same slotted roof bars, we can lend you some of our stuff…

Conor

Harbour Revised Tier 3 Lockdown Procedures

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Tue 1st December.

Events in Bristol Harbour

48/20 Harbour Revised Tier 3 Lockdown Procedures 

From Wednesday 2 December 2020 the Harbour will continue with the changes outlined in the Notice To Mariners 47/20 below.. 

This is to comply with the Government guidelines for Covid-19 Tier 3 rules approved by Parliament. 

Marine Officers will remain on duty from 9am until 5pm, 7 days a week carrying out dock patrols and will be on call to respond to emergencies only.  

These officers will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries that previously were purchased at the Harbour Office and can be purchased from them using card payment only.   

Emergency telephone service

An emergency telephone service: 0117 903 1484 option 2, will continue to be available during operational hours.

Public slipway

The public slipway will be open from 9am to 4:30pm, for all craft that have secured annual navigational licences.  It is stressed that the operation of these vessels will be carried out in line with government guidelines. 

Short Term Navigation Licences

No new Short-Term Navigation Licence’s will be issued during the lockdown period. Therefore if a licence has not already been purchased the craft will not be permitted to use the Harbour. 

Group activities

All commercial and group based activities will not be permitted during this period.  

Harbour Office opening hours

The Harbour Office will remain closed, however are still contactable by telephone on 0117 9031484 between 10am until 3pm.

Tide/locking operations

Tidal/locking operations will continue, and all bookings must be made at least 48hrs in advance and must be confirmed by Harbour staff.  To make a booking, call and leave a message with the Watch House on 0117 927 3633. 

Future updates

These operations are under constant assessment and should Government Guidelines or the safe operation of the Harbour be compromised then the Harbour Authority reserve the right to amend them at short notice.

Should Bristol be downgraded at any stage the Harbour Authority will review these changes. 

The government has also announced arrangements that will be in place over the Christmas period from 23 December to 27 December, which at this stage will not impact on the conditions of this notice.

Harbour revised lockdown procedures

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Thu 5th November.

47 – 20 HARBOUR REVISED LOCKDOWN PROCEDURES

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that from Thursday 5th November 2020 to Wednesday 2nd December 2020 the Harbour will implement a number of changes so that the service can comply with the Government guidelines with regards the Covid-19 lockdown which were approved yesterday by Parliament.

Marine Officers will remain on duty from 09:00hrs until 17:00hrs, 7 days a week carrying out dock patrols and will be on call to respond to emergencies only. These officers will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries that previously were purchased at the Harbour Office and can be purchased from them using card payment only.   An emergency telephone service (0117 9031484) will continue to be available during operational hours, using option 2.

The public slipway will be open from 09:00hrs – 16:30hrs for all craft that have secured annual navigational licences. It is stressed that the operation of these vessels will be carried out in line with government guidelines. No new Short-Term Navigation Licence’s will be issued during the lockdown period, and therefore if a licence has not already been purchased craft will not be permitted to use the Harbour.

All commercial and group based activities will not be permitted during this period.  

The Harbour Office will be closed until Wednesday 2nd December 2020.  Should you wish to contact the office by telephone, please call 0117 9031484 between 10:00hrs until 15:00hrs.

Tidal/locking operations will continue, and all bookings must be made at least 48hrs in advance and must be confirmed by Harbour staff.  If you wish to make a booking, please call and leave a message with the Watch House on 0117 9273633.

These operations are under constant assessment and should Government Guidelines or the safe operation of the Harbour be compromised then the Harbour Authority reserve the right to amend these procedures at short notice.

Apologies for the impact or inconvenience this may cause, but it is necessary to implement these changes with immediate effect to ensure we are complying with the guidance for the new national restrictions.   

Club awards 2020

The recent AGM announced the following awards:

  • Polo ‘most valuable’ player: Phil Charman
  • Fish of the Year: Ruby (Lynne & Nick’s dog) for 5 swims on the Wye on the Glasbury weekend
  • Phil Longrigg Trophy: Mark Gillett

The following awards were ‘furloughed’ (not awarded this year_ due to lack of paddling because of the Covid-19 situation: Most improved white-water paddler; Best marathon paddler; Polo most improved player; River God

New committee for 2020-2021

At the AGM held on 23rd Oct 2020, a new committee was voted in.

  • Chairman: Tom Brockett
  • Secretary: Ezra Watts
  • Treasurer: Fran Bamber
  • Other members: Alex Petsch, Ellie Payne, Lisa Gunton, Conor O’Neill, Matt Baird, Tanya Cownie, Nick Wainwright

Many thanks to the outgoing committee members.

Harbour phase 4 reopening Covid-19 Oct 2020

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Tue 20th October.

46-20 HARBOUR TO MOVE TO PHASE 4 ON THE 26th October 2020

Notice is hereby given that a move to Phase 4 will take place on Monday 26th October 2020

The Harbour Authority has introduced safety precautions and is working within social distancing guidelines to protect both colleagues and our customers and we would appreciate that visitors follow all signs and instructions. 

The move to Phase 4 will permit the currently prohibited use of the Harbour by Powered Craft launching from Baltic Wharf Slipway only

Baltic Wharf Changing, toilet and shower, facilities will remain closed.

The decision to move to Phase 4 will be constantly reviewed as Lockdown conditions change. All activities will remain at the discretion of the Harbour Master and his staff.

Phase information:

Phase 2:  All manually propelled craft (SUP, Kayaks/Canoes, Dinghies, Rowing boats) will be able to navigate the Harbour.  The only slipway open will be the one located by the Harbour Office.  Navigation licenses will be issued from the Harbour Office only and must be obtained before launching. Payment should be made by card, and if you wish to apply for an Annual License please email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk.

Phase 3:  All permanent leisure berth holders will be able to use the Harbour for navigation.

Phase 4:  Harbour reopens fully.

The above only applies to leisure use and all current recognized commercial operators should contact the Harbour Office to discuss their commencement of operations upon the water.

A deteriorating situation will result in restrictions being reinstated.

Membership applications during Covid-19

[Updated August 2021] As you’re obviously aware, the CoronaVirus / Covid-19 situation has completely disrupted things for everybody this year, including our canoe club.

Unfortunately, for most of the summer 2020 and into 2021, we were not able to accept any new membership applications at all. As of August 2021, the good news is that we are more-or-less back to normal. Please see our normal Membership page.

Apologies for any issues during 2020/2021 (we were as frustrated as everyone else) – on behalf of Bristol Canoe Club committee.

Harbour phase 3 reopening Covid-19 July 2020

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Wed 24th June.

39/20 HARBOUR PHASE 3 REOPENING 06.07.20

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that from Monday 6th July 2020, Bristol Harbour Authority will begin Phase 3 of reopening the Harbour for leisure use. The Harbour Office will remain open 10.00 – 15.00 for navigation licenses, should you need to contact the office please email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk.

The Harbour Authority has introduced safety precautions and is working within social distancing guidelines to protect both colleagues and our customers and we would appreciate that visitors follow all signs and instructions.

Phase 2: All manually propelled craft (SUP, Kayaks/Canoes, Dinghies, Rowing boats) will be able to navigate the Harbour. The only slipway open will be the one located by the Harbour Office. Navigation licenses will be issued from the Harbour Office only and must be obtained before launching. Payment should be made by card, and if you wish to apply for an Annual License please email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk.

Phase 3: All permanent leisure berth holders will be able to use the Harbour for navigation.

Phase 4: Harbour reopens fully.

Harbour users will be advised of movement through phases 4 by way of promulgation of Local Notices to Mariners. Enquiries regarding specific dates of phases should not be made to the Harbour Office.

Advancement through to phase 4 will be subject to continued Government relaxation of restrictions and improvement in the local and national situation regarding Covid-19.

The above only applies to leisure use and all current recognized commercial operators should contact the Harbour Office to discuss their commencement of operations upon the water.

A deteriorating situation will result in restrictions being reinstated.

Harbour phase 2 reopening Covid-19 June 2020

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Thu 18th June.

38/20 HARBOUR PHASE 2 REOPENING 29.06.20

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that from Monday 29 June, Bristol Harbour Authority will begin Phase 2 of reopening the Harbour for leisure use. The Harbour Office will be open 10.00 – 15.00 for navigation licenses, should you need to contact the office please email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk.

The Harbour Authority has introduced safety precautions and is working within social distancing guidelines to protect both colleagues and our customers and we would appreciate that visitors follow all signs and instructions.

Phase 2: All manually propelled craft (SUP, Kayaks/Canoes, Dinghies, Rowing boats) will be able to navigate the Harbour. The only slipway open will the one located by the Harbour Office. Navigation licenses will be issued from the Harbour Office only and must be obtained before launching. Payment should be made by card, and if you wish to apply for an Annual License please email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk.

Phase 3: All permanent leisure berth holders will be able to use the Harbour for navigation.

Phase 4: Harbour reopens fully.

Harbour users will be advised of movement through phases 3 – 4 by way of promulgation of Local Notices to Mariners. Enquiries regarding specific dates of phases should not be made to the Harbour Office.

Advancement through phases 3 and 4 will be subject to continued Government relaxation of restrictions and improvement in the local and national situation regarding Covid-19.

The above only applies to leisure use and all current recognized commercial operators should contact the Harbour Office to discuss their commencement of operations upon the water.

A deteriorating situation will result in restrictions being reinstated.

Harbour Phased reopening Covid-19 June 2020

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Wed 3rd June.

BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL – CITY DOCKS

LOCAL NOTICE TO MARINERS NO 37

37/20 HARBOUR PHASED REOPENING COVID-19 June 20

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that from Monday 8 June, Bristol Harbour Authority will begin a phased reopening of the Harbour for leisure use. Harbour Authority working hours will continue to be 09:00 – 17:00.

We want everyone to be able to use and enjoy our Harbour in a safe and responsible way. At this time we must also consider the need for social distancing for our staff, and Harbour users, meaning some services and support had to change. As restrictions are eased we are working on a phased return to usual service which keeps everyone safe. Thank you for your patience as we adapt.

Phase 1: From Monday 8th June 2020 members from recognized clubs using manually propelled craft and sailing dinghies only will be able to navigate the Harbour.

These clubs have been notified by the Harbour Office. Clubs will need to follow their own guidelines and safety measures regarding COVID-19, and should refrain from activities not currently sanctioned by their relevant association. The clubs permitted to use the Harbour in Phase 1 may go afloat outside of Harbour Authority working hours providing the relevant Code of Practices are adhered to.

Phase 2: All manually propelled craft (SUP, Kayaks/Canoes, Dinghies, Rowing boats) will be able to navigate the Harbour and slipway will open. Navigation licenses will be issued from the Harbour Office only and payment should be made by card.

Phase 3: All permanent leisure berth holders will be able to use the Harbour for navigation.

Phase 4: Harbour reopens fully

Harbour users will be advised of movement through phases 1 – 4 by way of promulgation of Local Notices to Mariners. Enquiries regarding specific dates of phases should not be made to the Harbour Office.

Advancement through phases 2, 3, and 4 will be subject to continued Government relaxation of restrictions and improvement in the local and national situation regarding Covid-19.

The above only applies to leisure use and all current recognized commercial operators should contact the Harbour Office to discuss their commencement of operations upon the water.

A deteriorating situation will result in restrictions being reinstated.