Building a Garage Kayak Hoist

A Nobel Venture

And no, I didn’t misspell that.

A few weeks back Pascale and her friend, Alison, decided they would each buy a kayak. They drove up to Nobel, Ontario to try out different models, thanks to the good folk at White Squall Paddling Centre. Husbands Gary and self tagged along to provide company and to look decorative while the women tried out kayaks.

After on-the water tests, Alison chose a green beauty – a Delta 12 – and Pascale chose a shiny red Delta 12.10.

I didn’t want to store the kayak in the garden over winter because:

a) My eldest would take that as encouragement to expand the garden junkyard theme with outdoor climbing walls made of scrap plywood, cast-off remnants of tattered polypro rope in garish yellow, etc.

b) We have three masked bandits who use the garden and who would be delighted to nest overwinter in a kayak. After that, we’d have to choose between scrapping the kayak or contracting Baylisascaris. Raccoons may look cute, but like all vicious conmen, that’s part of the game: hide your thuggish, psychopathic nature behind an amiable mask.

So not the garden. That left:

a) the basement, but my eldest would take that as encouragement to abandon yet more 90%-finished projects there (“don’t throw it out, I’m still working on it”), or

b) the garage.

To The Garage

The plan for the garage was to suspend the kayak from the ceiling with a system of ropes and pulleys like this.

You can buy similar systems on Amazon or elsewhere, but I was put off by a few reviews that said things like – “cheap components, the pulley broke and dropped my kayak.”

Mrs. S. would not be happy. I decided to choose my own components and build it from scratch.

I planned for two ropes so that I could adjust the level of the kayak, and enough pulleys to give me a 2:1 mechanical advantage. I would attach the pulleys to the garage ceiling with thingamabobs like this:

Problem 1 was I didn’t know what these things were called. Trying to describe it as “Meccano for Adults” in the hardware store would have been embarrassing. Turns out they’re variously called angle irons or angle beams. Go figure.

Problem 2 was to find the wooden ceiling beams (“joists”) to attach the angle thingamabobs to. The joists hide behind a layer of drywall above the garage ceiling. Normally I’d use a stud finder (not what you think, ladies). Stud finders look for changes in density, but the ceiling was so thick, and so insulated that my stud finder didn’t work. (Ladies, I hear you).

I bought a bunch of lovely, strong, bargain-priced neodymium magnets from Amazon. They stuck to the ceiling wherever an iron nail fixed drywall to a hidden joist. A line of magnets showed me where the hidden joists ran. Just stuck there, like this:

I spoke to expert friend Fred P. to ask what size of screws to use in the ceiling and he set me straight on that. Thank you, Fred!

After that, it was a matter of elbow grease.

Here is the end result, aka The Hanging Kayak of Babylon.

The Hanging Kayak of Babylon

And here are some close ups of the pulleys and the cleat:

Above: single pulley, carabiners and sling near bow of kayak. The sling is the tie-down strap that is also used to strap the kayak to the roof rack of the car.

Above: double pulley near stern of kayak. Double pulley because the rope from the bow sling also passes this point.

Above: The final pulley leading all the ropes down to the cleat.

The cleat. The buck stops here.

I’m happy to report Mrs. S. was chuffed. She looked at her hanging kayak and said, “It’s so cute.”

Well, as long as it doesn’t come tumbling down, I’ll reckon that’s a success, then. On to the next project.


For those who want detail on the components, here is what I recall.

This is what worked for me, or, at least I can say it hasn’t fallen down yet. These components may not work for you. Your kayak may be different or heavier or demand sturdier components. Please do you own due diligence on the reliability and load bearing capacities of the components. There’s no guarantee that what worked for me will work for you.

FromMakeSize &
Slotted angle
2Home DepotPaulin2-1/4×1-1/2
x 36 inches
As best I
Cleat1AmazonSeasense10″ Black Nylon
Carabiners7AmazonsprookberStainless Steel
Spring Snap
Hook Carabiner
– 304 Stainless
Steel; 2-1/4 inch
Comes in pack
of 6. Of course,
I needed 7.
Double pulley blocks2AmazonDasMarine2 Pack Double
Pulley Block in
304 Stainless
Steel; Crane
Swivel Hook
Double Pulley
Roller Loading
Single pulley blocks3AmazonDasMarine3 Pack Single
Pulley Block
in 304 Stainless
Steel Crane
Swivel Hook;
Single Pulley
Roller Loading (M32)
Don’t recall
the details.
Rope1AmazonT.W.Evans50 foot, 1/4 inch
solid nylon braid

2 Replies to “Building a Garage Kayak Hoist”

    1. Yup.

      I’m not sure where you’re located, but they’re well known in areas with houses that have a wood frame construction hidden behind something like drywall. Don’t recall seeing these where I grew up because the houses were usually not wood frame.

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