My challenge: to take Ollie (at the time, a five-month-old Border Terrier puppy) on our regular summer sea-kayaking trips on Georgian Bay. Canoeing with a dog is easy. Kayaking with a dog seemed a bit more difficult. So I dreamt up a contraption that would allow Ollie to join us on these kayaking trips. Thanks to my Dad helping in the construction!
Witness it, in situ:
My criteria in the creation of the crate:
- Traction: Kayak decks are fibreglass with a shiny gelcoat. Ollie would need a surface that would allow him some sort of gription as dog nails on gelcoat doesn’t really work.
- An edge: In wavy conditions, the kayak can pitch quite suddenly. Having something that would contain the dog would help him stay on the boat while in swells seemed important.
- Sun protection: All day kayaking without sun protection would equal fried puppy. My perfect design would offer some kind of sun protection.
- Wind sturdy: Winds on Georgian Bay can be fierce (for example we had one evening this trip of ~ 45 km / h winds or 6 on the Beaufort Scale). Any extras (such as the sun protection) would have to stand up to a whipping wind.
- Waterproof: This seems obvious.
- Protects the Kayak: Since the Kayaks aren’t mine, I figured it would be bad if it ended up scratching the kayak when installed.
So with these criteria in mind, I set to creatin’. Since the kayak crate was a success, I’ve provided an illustrated step-by-step guide if you’re interested in making one yourself.
(N.B.: you can click on any of the photos below for a larger version)
The crate has three “parts” as I see it:
- the base
- the awning mount
- the awning
Here’s how it was made:
1. Creating the base
The base is a cheap plastic kitty-litter box. We purchased it thinking we might litter-train Ollie (seeing as we live in an apartment building). That never happened.
1.1. Through the bottom, around the margin of the box (see the photo above for details), I drilled holes (bit size isn’t that important, but I used a 15/64″ bit) every 3 cm or so. This was so that any water that got into the box could empty.
Note: I did not drill holes in the corners as this is where I would be installing the awning anchors.
1.2. I then drilled four larger holes (7/8 of an inch), two pairs opposite each other, using woodworking drill bits (not sure what they’re named, but here’s a photo of ’em).
Note: These are the holes that end up with the ends of bungie cords in them, so they need to be big enough to allow that to happen. 7/8″ is a wee bit too small for hooks at the end of the bungies that I bought, but that was a good thing, because it meant that the bungies wouldn’t pop out easily.
You need to decide what sides of the box are going to end up being be the front, the back and the sides. You drill these larger holes in “sides”. In my case, we drilled the shorter ends.
1.3. Next, we glued a ensolite pad to the bottom of the kitty litter box. I cut the pad (with scissors) so that it didn’t cover the small holes in the bottom of the box. Now, with the pad installed, the holes in the bottom of the box are at the very lowest point of the box and ensures that water drains out.
1.4. The final step in the creation of the base is the installation of a foam bottom. This was our last step in the whole process of making the carrier, but I’m including it here because it’s part of the base. Because a kayak deck is curved, the foam (from kayak carrier) will help seat the carrier on the kayak. It also protects the kayak from scratches. It also means that it has a strange shape. Here’s what it looks like:
(it’s worth noting that with the bottom of the litter box up, the foam will be installed in the same orientation as above)
1.4.1. The foam forms were much too thick just to attach to the bottom of the box, so we had to cut a majority of it off. Measuring from the straight edge to the the apex of the indentation (the point of the V), we measured a distance that would leave us with 3-4 cm of foam at the apex.
1.4.2. We marked this point with a silver sharpie, and made a couple of marks the same distance down from the straight edge. Connecting those dots with the silver sharpie, we had a straight line that we could follow to cut.
1.4.3. Using a bread knife (see photo above left), we cut through the foam leaving us with the size we wanted.
1.4.4. With a hot glue gun, we glued the foam to the bottom of the box (see photo above right). You should be gluing the face of the foam that’s just been cut to the bottom of the box.
2. Installing the awning mount
2.1. With the CPVC pipe we purchased (photo above left), we measured the depth of the litter box (photo above centre) and with a small hacksaw cut (photo above right) 4 pieces, equal in length.
Note: The length should not be equal to the depth of the litter box. Make it 2 cm or so shorter. This will ensure that you don’t have pipe sticking out the top of the box when you install the pipe in the box (the next step!).
2.2. To anchor the CPVC pipe to the corners, we had purchased rubber cement. The “flexible plastic adhesive” (photo above) sucked. Firstly (and most problematically), it did not adhese. Secondly, it required quite the babying to get it ready to use. So, I’m offering this just in case you think I’m being a moron for not using contact cement.
Rather, we hot glue gunned the pieces into place, a bead on either side of the pipe (photo above right). Using a pencil as a spacer between the bottom of the box and the CPVC piping (why the piping was cut short!), the created space allows water to escape out the bottom of the pipe (Note: the pencil does not appear in the above photos because we had used contact cement first).
HANDY HINT: We marked the apex of the corner on the litter box with a sharpie. We also marked a point on the pipe with sharpie. Making sure that these two dots are lined up when you glue makes sure that the pipe stays in the apex of the corner (you can see the marks clearly in the photo below left and centre).
2.3.1. We wern’t convinced that the glue would hold the CPVC anchor in WINDY conditions, so we added 3 zip ties per piece of piping. This meant drilling 6 holes in each corner, choosing a drill bit that would allow the zip ties to fit through snugly.
2.3.2. Two ties were installed at the top of the pipe and one tie at the bottom.
2.3.3. The top two ties were criss-crossed for added strength (see the photos above left and right)
2.3.4. The extra zip was trimmed off.
At this point, the anchors were considered done. Installing the anchors took a fair bit of time, especially given the fact that we tried using the contact cement. The whole process (minus the contact cement) may take 1 hour – 1.5 hours. In the photo above, you can see the tent poles that are used in the awning installed into the anchors (pre zip ties).
3. Creating the awning
3.1. With the poles installed into the anchors (see photo above), we measured the distance between the top of the poles.
At this point, we installed 4 (of 8) rubber grommets (automotive gaskets, pictured above) on the tent poles. When completed, the awning will rest on these four grommets (so we’ll call them the bottom grommets).
3.2. We now measured and cut screen-door screening twice the length and the same width as the poles (with a little added so the holes in the screen aren’t right at the edge). The reason for double the length is so we can fold the screen over on itself (for strength).
3.3 With the screen cut, it was time to fold in in half and tape it all together. We used duct-tape to do the taping job.
3.4. Finally, with the awning screen cut and taped to the proper size, we installed tarp grommets in the four corners.
And with that, we were able to put the screen over the ends of the tent poles, where they rested on the top of the automotive gaskets. Just as a bonus, the tent poles all point out (rather than straight up and down) from the centre of the carrier (due to the angled edge of the kitty litter box), which acts as a built-in anchor for the awning.