How to Set Up a Pulley System to Lift a Kayak

Kayaking, Kayak Guides

Written by David Myers

June 5, 2020
kayaking with doggo

Photo of the week!

There are only two ways to hang up a kayak in your garage. You can either have somebody else in tow. They can help you to lift the kayak up into place. Tricky, but feasible. Alternatively, you can rig yourself up a pulley system. It isn’t that difficult to do, and it will make hoisting your kayak up to the roof a breeze. On this page, we are going to teach you how to set up a pulley system to life a kayak.

You will need

All of these parts can be sourced from your local hardware or DIY store. We are going to assume that you already have a basic toolkit ready (e.g. drill, screwdrivers, drill bits etc.). You will also need a stud finder if the studs in your roof are not visible.

You can purchase completely pulley system kits yourself, but it will probably be a little bit cheaper to purchase everything separately. None of it is particularly complicated anyway.

Determining where to place the kayak

We are going to assume that you already have a rough idea about where you want to place the kayak. However, a rough idea isn’t good enough. You need to know that there will be something to screw your screws into. This means that you need to whip out the stud finder and track down the studs.

You will need to do a bit of measuring to ensure that any holes you mark are far enough away from one another that you can easily connect up the kayak. You don’t want anything to be unbalanced!

Putting your eye hook screws into place

The first step will be to drill a pilot hole for your eye hook screws. You will want to ensure that the eye hook screws are in nice and tight. This is what will be supporting your kayak, so you really do not want it to be coming loose. There will be five eyehooks in place. Two at the front, two at the back. The last one will be a few feet back from the rear eyehooks.

Give the eye hook screws a little bit of a tug once they are in. This will allow you to check whether they are secure. Don’t overpull, though. You will likely tear the wood they are screwed into, which can may make it more unstable.

Attaching the anchor

There should be anchor near the first hook (I.e. the one that will be supporting the front of your kayak).

Attaching the pulleys

This is where things become a little bit more complicated. You will need 12-pulleys for a system. You can mix it up a little bit, and you may need to put your engineering hat on. However, 12 pulleys seems to work fine. You will need to line them up like so:

  • Anchor has no pulley
  • Hook 1 has one pulley attached to it
  • Hook 2-4 have two pulleys attached to them.
  • Hook 5 has one pulley

You should have four pulleys left over. We are going to use them in the next step.

Roping up the pulleys

You will want to rope up the pulleys as follows (starting from the 5th pulley)

  • Rope goes into pulley attached to 5th hook and back out.
  • Rope goes into the nearest pulley on the 4th hook. It then goes down to a new pulley. You will attach part of one supporting strap to this pulley.
  • Rope goes back up to the second pulley on the 4th hook. This goes across to the first pulley on the 3rd hook.
  • This will then go down to a new pulley where the second half of the strap will be attached.
  • Now, move the rope back up to the second pulley on the third hook, which now jumps to the first pulley of the 2nd hook. 
  • Repeat that process (so installing another tie down strap) until you have attached the last part of the strap to the pulley system.
  • Tie off the rope on the anchor.

Yes. It does seem confusing when you read it, but we promise you that the system is pretty self-explanatory when you are using it ‘in person’. Have a test of the system, and if you have done everything properly, you will have a decent support for your kayak!

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