A couple of years ago, I watched a friend of mine carrying his wife’s boat down to the shore. A new kayaker taking a lesson from us carried the bow. Unfortunately, the worn-out rope attaching the kayak’s end toggle to the boat broke sending the bow of the $3200 fiberglass Valley Pintail to the asphalt. It hit with a crunch. He’s divorced now. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the kayak. Kayakers use end toggles (handles) for lots of things, but, arguably, the most important function is as a handle that allows the boat to spin freely if you have to swim your boat through the surf or in rough water. However you use your kayak’s handle replace the rope when it shows fraying and signs of wear. It’s a quick and painless repair you can do at home.
Cut the old rope off and use it to measure the approximate size for your new rope. I typically leave the rope slightly longer than I know I’ll need, because it’s easier to tie the knot and you can always make it shorter. When replacing ropes, I like to replace them with reflective rope, which shines brightly at night when a light shines on it.
Slide the rope through one of the holes in your end toggle’s center. Make sure the rope comes out of the corresponding side of the toggle. Tie an overhand knot in the end. You don’t need to use a fancy knot here, because in the tight space inside your toggle it’s unlikely that the knot will come undone. Once tied, cut the excess off leaving between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of rope past the knot. Use a lighter and burn the end, so that the rope doesn’t fray.
Run the rope through the hole in your kayak and get ready to make a choice. If you’re using your toggle to hang onto your kayak during a swim, there’s a chance that if you run the cord back into the toggle making a loop your finger could get caught in the loop. As the boat spins, the loop could constrict on your finger and break it or worse. If you tie your finishing knot on the kayak instead of back into the toggle, you remove this possibility. The downside for cartoppers, is it takes away an easy place to hook your bow and stern tie-downs. If you want the extra protection while swimming tie a knot against the kayak, cut, and burn (see picture).
Pull the rope tight, which will compress the knots making then less likely to slip. After a week of use, check the knots by looking into the toggle. Make sure they’re still tight.