DIY Kayak Accessories

My wife and I started kayaking in the summer of 2010. Nothing better than a new hobby to feed my need for more creative projects!

DIY KAYAK BIMINI TOP

I built my bimini top to provide shade from the sun while I kayak. My kayak is the “Caster 12.5″ made by Perception. I used 1/2″ CPVC and a stretchy fabric, not sure what kind. I was hoping to find a fabric that was water repellant, but didn’t have any luck at the local Joann’s. The arch is the perfect height to allow the full range of movement while I paddle.

The sides of the bimini top are made from two 10′ lengths of CPVC. I place the ends of the CPVC into the fishing rod holders that are mounted in the body of the kayak behind the seat. I wrapped the ends of these CPVC pipes with a short length of pipe insulation to fill the extra space around the pipes down inside the rod holders.

The front end of the 2 pipes are joined together using three 45º CPVC joints which send the pipes back at the perfect angle. At the front of the bimini top I attached an eye bolt through the middle 45º CPVPC joint. I ran a rope through the eye bolt down to each side of the kayak. This prevents the front of the bimini top from swaying back and forth too much as I paddle.

At the back of the bimini top, I attached a cross brace made from a shorter length of CPVP and 2 “T” joints. I had to dremel out the center of the “T” joints to allow the longer pipes to pass all the way through. To secure the cross brace at the “T” joints, I attached two more eye bolts. I ran a rope from these eye bolts down to the back of the kayak and pulled it tight. This lowers the top of the arch a few inches and helps to secure the ends of the pipes down inside the fishing rod holders.


DIY KAYAK RACK FOR A PICKUP TRUCK

Made from 2x4s (two rectangles, at the front and back of the truck bed), conduit (diagonal bracing), and swimming noodles (padding between the kayaks and the 2×4 frames).

DIY KAYAK FIXED RUDDER

We bought our Perception kayaks because they are the sit on top models which we prefer over the sit inside design due to our longs legs. The price was also good for us, under $600 each for brand new current year models. However, the kayaks we bought were made to be used for fishing. They are 30″ wide which makes them more stable, which we like a lot. They are only 12.5′ long, making them easier to stear, which is good when you are navigating narrow or rocky rivers. But when we are paddling across wide lakes or down wide rivers, they have a tendency to stear to the left or right. I’m sure we will get better at keeping the kayak on a straight path as we practice and get more skilled at paddling evenly, but in the mean time, I wanted to improve the tracking as much as I could. My rudder will be in a fixed position, simply extending the hull of the kayak. It won’t be the type which you steer with foot pedals.

My prototype rudder uses a “yoke end” to secure it to my kayak. I attached the yoke end using a bolt through a hole which is normally used to pass an anchor rope through it. On the top rear surface of the kayak there is a shallow groove meant to be a guide for the anchor rope. I extended the rudder through this groove to keep it straight and inline with the rest of the kayak.

I used small sheets of cardboard to piece together a template for the rudder. It was easier to work with smaller sheets and then tape them together rather than try and cut a single larger sheet of cardboard to fit.

After cutting out the rudder from a sheet of 3/8″ plywood, I found that it wasn’t strong enough without some additional bracing. An added alluminum bracket at the bottom and a piece of alluminum angle along both sides at the top made it much stronger.

Once I am satisfied with the performance of the prototype, I plan to work with a friend who is skilled at welding. Hopefully he can build some custom mounting pieces that work better than what I was able to throw together.

DIY KAYAK SAIL

Made from 3 clamps, assorted PVC pipes and joints, aluminum flat bar and channel, a shower curtain liner, and rope. The sail measures 3×6 feet and can be raised and lowered as needed. The boom is short enough to allow me to use my paddle.

DIY KAYAK MOVING RUDDER

Made from 1/2″ and 3/4″ PVC, rope, 3/8″ plywood, a yoke end, two 90º angle brackets, and aluminum flat bar. I can steer the rudder with my feet. The ropes cross over at the rudder so the right end of the pedal is connected to the left side of the rudder. This makes the steering work like a bicycle which feels natural. I push forward with my right foot to make the kayak steer left.

OUT ON THE WATER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

7 Comments

  • By Daniel, March 4, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    Great ideas! I really like the shade top, I have been thinking about making one of those for this summer. I was wondering if you had ever attempted making a tow along for your kayak. Specifically, I am wanting to take my dog with me (55lbs) on trips and there is just no way to fit him in my kayak bc of weight and balance issues. Do you have any advice, tips, or info that would be helpful in creating a durable tow behind raft type thing? Thanks.

  • By Bald Brain, March 5, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    With a dog that heavy, you’d probably want the tow behind to be as streamlined as possible to keep the drag low. How about a second kayak? I found this short 6′ kayak. It could always be used by a friend or a tow for extra camping supplies if your dog doesn’t go with you.

  • By rick, July 17, 2011 @ 1:34 am

    Really like the fixed rudder idea. I just bought a used “Big Kahuna” and noticed the same behavior of not tracking straight in wide windy lakes. Where do you get the hardware you used for the yoke end? Good website and you have some really good DIY ideas for rudders. Keep it up! Cheers. //rick//

  • By Bald Brain, July 17, 2011 @ 9:15 am

    Hi Rick, I got my yoke ends at the local Ace Hardware. They carry a wider range of unique hardware supplies compared to the big box store like Lowes and Home Depot. Unfortunately, when I search the acehardware website for “yoke” nothing is found. Go figure. I do find lots of results when I search google shopping for “yoke end”.

  • By EtaZeta, September 15, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

    Hi there! I must say the Bimini top is most impressive. I have just completed the frame work, following your design. All that is left is the fabric. My question revolves around portability. The two 10 foot pipes are too long for me to transport. Would you see any harm, or loss of flexibility if I cut that 10 feet into 2-3 pieces and joined with couplings so that I could disassemble the top?

  • By Bald Brain, September 26, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    I would think cutting the long pieces into shorter sections would be ok if you use some cotter pins to keep them together at the joints. Or if you want to get really fancy, run a long piece of bungee cord through the length of each pipe with a knot at each end. You could pull the pieces apart and fold them up, the just straighten it out and the bungee would keep them together.

  • By Tracey Lacey, August 5, 2012 @ 12:25 am

    I love your ideas and enthusiasm…Here’s an idea.How about a biminy top that converts to a sail? Maybe 2 arches and the fabric can slide down for the sail and back up for shade? Hope to try it myself one of these days.

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