I have a 13-foot kayak and a crowded garage, and horizontal storage (using a pulley system intended for a bike) was problematic. Luckily my crowded garage has a nice tall ceiling with exposed beams,so I was able to secure my kayak vertically, minimizing its footprint and its impact on my garage's crowdedness, using a little scrap wood and some rope.
Step 1: Get a Kayak, Store It Wrong
I traded a crappy banjo for an even crappier kayak (via craigslist), and I figured I could hang it from the rafters in my crowded garage using a bike hoist I had sitting around. The only spot available to mount it placed the pulleys about the right distance apart... for a bike. I figured I’d just use a couple of loops of rope around the kayak to compensate. Not a bad idea, except that I ended up having to angle the kayak pretty dramatically to get it to share the space with my automatic garage door! This position required a ridiculous web of rope to maintain, and placed the lower end of the kayak squarely at eye-poke level. And that’s just silly.
Step 2: Use Expletives, Doodle Solutions
Realizing that I had a nice tall pointy ceiling in my crowded garage, I decided to try vertical storage. The only problem there was that I had no wall space, because of the whole “crowded” thing. Should I have just cleaned up enough so that I could reach the wall? Well, of course, but that would have taken too much precious time out of my Saturday, and that bag of Doritos wasn’t going to eat itself, now was it? So I set upon the idea of getting my plastic vessel to stay upright, right under the highest point in my crowded garage, but still off to the side far enough to allow foot traffic.
I read somewhere that vertical storage is actually a good idea structurally for most kayaks, so I figured that the concept itself was sound. So I started poking around a bit on the interwebnets to see what was out there: most DIY kayak storage systems hold one or more kayaks horizontally, some sideways, there’s at least one rack I saw that holds it vertically and is free-standing, but gobbles up a lot of floor space. But most of the vertical kayak storage I saw involved little more than a padded surface and some leaning. I wanted my solution to be stable enough that I wouldn’t worry about the kayak falling down onto any contents of my crowded garage which can sometimes include my kids and my cats, so I knew I wanted to be able to cinch the craft against the rafters.
So I started doodling on paper, then found myself doodling on the computer, and got to the point where I thought the idea was refined enough to try out:
The kayak sits vertically with all its weight on a wooden "foot," and a loop of rope runs from the foot, over a beam, around the kayak, then ties to itself. The foot will not budge because of all the weight and the rope can be pulled very tightly. I doodled a lot of ideas about how to stick the rope to itself using cleats made of PVC, but as of this writing I’ve stuck with a simple knot. I hope to return to the PVC cleat idea later on, but until then, I’m open to suggestions!
Step 3: Cut Two Boards, Drill Some Holes
None of these measurements are important or exact, and they'll all vary based on the size of your kayak, the size of your rope, and what kind of material you prefer. What's important is the placement of the holes: you want the rope hole to be close to the kayak hole so that the rope's tension and the kayak's weight are conspiring to hold it all in place really tightly, without lifting up one end of the wood piece. And you want the rope hole to line up with the bigger hole where its knot is seated. Apart from that, all materials and dimensions and shapes are utterly hackable.
I used 1/2" boards, but thicker would be fine. The rope I had on hand was a retired climbing rope (which I've had since I was sixteen): 5/8" thick and a bit stretchy. If your rope is skinnier, you'll want to shrink its hole accordingly.
The small "top" board holds the kayak in one spot, and allows the rope to pass through. I cut the kayak hole using a 1-1/2" hole saw, and drilled a 5/8" hole for the rope. This hole would of course need to be adapted for kayaks with big wide noses.
The longer "bottom" board has only one hole in it: a big one that lines up with the smaller rope hole, creating a gap where a knot in the rope can sit comfortably.
Step 4: Screw It All Together
I used galvanized wood screws placed into pilot holes. The number and placement is not too important.
Step 5: Rope It Up
I tied a knot in the rope and pulled it tight into the gap made by the hole saw, so that the wood would sit flat on the floor.
Optional: add rubber to the bottom of the wood for additional traction, and rubber or very high-density foam to the hole on top for extra kayak padding.
Step 6: Install
With the tip of the kayak placed in the hole in the wood piece, so much gravity is working for you that nothing will budge on the floor. I carefully leaned the kayak against the beam, lifted it up slightly, and nudged the foot underneath it. With my foot. I scooted it around a bit, making sure it was very close to vertical.
I tied a loop in a bight of the rope about four feet up from the foot, threw my rope over the beam, ran it around the kayak, then back over the beam and down to the loop. I have various objects stuck to the beam that keep the rope in place, but if your beam is pristine, you'll want to add something to it that will keep the rope close to the kayak without letting it slide outward: just blocks of wood or a couple of nails would be fine.
With my human foot holding down the wooden foot, I pulled it very tight around the kayak and tied a simple knot at the loop. I have grand plans of using some kind of really cool cam or cleat system, maybe using a little chunk of PVC pipe? Meanwhile, the knot is working fine.
Step 7: All Done. More Ideas...
Now my crappy kayak is stored in a secure and convenient vertical position in my crowded garage.
Ideas for refinements:
The kayak's wooden foot should really be all nice and rounded off, and painted or something. Wouldn't that look nice? And it can be almost any shape. My drawings all ended up with nice circles and ovals, but my jigsaw is mad at me so I gave it the day off.
Rubber on the bottom, like tread on a shoe, would increase the life span of the wood. But it's so secure because of all the weight holding it in place, that the traction I thought I'd need is already there.
Padding in the hole on the top board would be good, and will definitely happen should my crappy kayak someday be replaced by a less crappy kayak, but the bare wood on the thick plastic seems fine for now.
I drew a lot of pictures of PVC-pipe cleats and other methods of getting the rope to stay put, but a plain old knot is secure enough for me at the moment.
This idea could be easily adapted to a spot against a wall or in a corner: all you'd need is to engineer a way for the rope to go up high enough that it can grab the kayak and cinch it against the wall.
If your rope is scratchy or your kayak is easily abraded, a pool noodle, pipe insulation or rubber hose could be added to the section of rope that lassos the body of the kayak.
Thanks for reading, folks!