There’s nothing like kayaking on the lake or along the bay to cool off on a hot summer day, especially if you're lucky enough to live in a city like Seattle where we're surrounded by water. Getting your kayak to and from the water can be a strenuous, sweaty endeavor, though, if you don’t have a friend around to help (especially if your kayak is a tandem).
Enter the kayak caddy—a simple, stable, wheeled carrier you can customize to your kayak’s measurements, allowing you to easily get your kayak from point A to point B without breaking a sweat. These instructions were written for a kayak with scupper holes, but we included some modifications in step two if you have a solid-bottomed kayak.
Watch our animated tutorial above or check out the written instructions below. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Measure kayak’s scuppers
For this caddy, we’ll connect different lengths of 3/4-inch PVC pipe to wheels and an axle. When completed, the caddy will fit into the kayak’s scupper holes. If your kayak doesn't have scupper holes, see step two for a modification to these plans.
Measure the distance across your kayak between the scupper holes at one end of the kayak (the caddy will support one end while you pull the other). Note this measurement—let's call it 'length A'. As you build your caddy you can check along the way to ensure the uprights remain the right distance apart and will slide easily into the scuppers.
Step 2: For solid-bottomed kayaks
If you have a solid-bottomed kayak that doesn't have scupper holes, you'll take a slightly modified approach. The vertical bars mentioned in step three (below) can be made shorter. On top of them, you'll attach two "T" connectors (making a "T" shape at the top of the uprights). Then cut four lengths of pipe and insert them into the four outlets of the tees. These four lengths will run horizontal and parallel to the keel of the kayak. Wrap those top pipes with pipe insulation and secure the kayak to the caddy using a lashing strap.
Now, back to instructions for a kayak with scupper holes!
Step 3: Cut vertical bars
Cut two pieces of PVC pipe to about 10” long, or long enough to run from the bottom of the keel up through each scupper hole by a couple of inches. You can use a hacksaw for all of the cutting in this project, but if you have a PVC pipe cutter, they work really well to create clean cuts that don't need de-burring. (You'll still need a hacksaw for cutting your metal axle, though.)
Step 4: Add horizontal connection points
Next, add one “T” connector to the end of each of the two vertical 10” PVC pipes. The base of each “T” connector should be pointed inward, directly toward the opposite “T” base, so that you can secure a horizontal pipe between the two connection points.
Step 5: Measure and cut horizontal crossbars
Now we’ll cut our horizontal crossbars to fit between the two connection points. To find the correct length, insert the 10" pipes (from step three) vertically into the scupper holes. Then, measure the horizontal distance between the outlets of the "T" connectors.
Add an inch to the measurement you just took. This extra inch allows a 1/2 " on each end to slip into the "T" connectors for a snug fit. Cut one cross bar and fit it into the "T" connectors without gluing it. Check to see if your uprights are the right distance apart by slipping the "H" you've made into the scupper holes. Adjust if needed. Once you know the crossbar is cut to the right length, cut another piece the same length to use in step eight.
This first bar will act as a resting place for the base of your kayak as you wheel it along. We’ll attach the second crossbar in step eight.
Step 6: Cut vertical risers
Next, we’ll cut some short risers, which will make sure the kayak hull sits above the wheels. You just need enough clearance for the wheels not to rub against the hull. A good rule of thumb: The risers should be about half the diameter of the tires you're using. Our tires were about 7" in diameter, so our risers were about 3".
Remember, you're not gluing anything yet, so you can cut longer pieces or shorten existing ones later in step ten before gluing. Insert each riser vertically into the “T” connectors.
Step 7: Add two more connection points
Add two more “T” connectors to the risers, but this time, rotate them each 90 degrees so that the middle of each “T” connects to the riser, and the ends are on the bottom, aligned horizontally.
Step 8: Attach second crossbar
Remember that other crossbar from step five? Now it’s time to attach it between the second set of “T” connectors, the same way we connected the first one. Remember, you're not gluing yet.
Step 9: Add axle and wheels
For the axle, we’ll put a threaded rod through the second (lower) crossbar and attach a wheel on each side with washers, hex nuts, and lock nuts.
First, insert one hex nut into the outside of each bottom “T”. It's a snug fit, but it should slip into place. You can use a block of wood and a hammer to help it along if needed. Then, thread your rod all the way through both nuts (with the crossbar in between) leaving enough space on one end to fit a wheel, washers, and a lock nut.
Slide a wheel onto the shorter end of the rod with a washer on either side. Cap the end with a lock nut. On the longer end of the rod, slide a washer, then a wheel, then another washer. Then, allowing enough room for the lock nut on the end, cut the excess rod with a hacksaw and cap the end with that second lock nut.
Step 10: Test for fit
Now it’s time to test out your caddy. None of your pieces should be glued together at this point, so this is your opportunity to make any modifications as needed. Carefully place the kayak on the caddy to ensure it fits properly, and make any adjustments as necessary. Once everything is in the right place, it’s time to pull out the glue!
Step 11: Glue pieces together
The final step is gluing the pieces together. Remove the “H” shaped portion above the axle and apply glue to the inside edge of each “T” connector (there should be eight spots, altogether). Fit the pieces back together and allow time for everything to dry. Use any glue meant for PVC pipe.
Optional: We chose to add foam insulation to the upper horizontal crossbar where the kayak rests to protect our kayak from rubbing. If you’d like to do this, just get a piece of pipe insulation, cut it to about the same length as your crossbars, wrap it over the upper crossbar, and secure it with twine or zip ties.
Once your glue has dried, pop your kayak on and take it for a spin! Now, you have a convenient caddy you can use to wheel your kayak to the beach and back.