While I've always been a big fan of the tramps Hobie make for the Adventure and Tandem Island yaks, I've never really managed to get the tramp mesh taught enough to do any serious hiking. No matter how hard I pulled the webbing tags to tension it (and I'd use pliers to get the best grip possible), it always turns out that the mesh will start to sag after its been on the water for some time, especially if a heavy load (like, say, a person) is stored on top for any length of time. I believe part of the problem is that as the webbing gets wet, it starts to slip through the buckles under load.
As such, even when a lightweight like myself tries to hike on the tramp, ones backside makes contact with the water most of the time, which is not only a little uncomfortable, it also slows the boat down and messes with tracking. This has never been a big problem for me to be honest (and its not something you hear people complain about) but recently I've put a lot of thought into using the tramp as a makeshift mattress and determined I needed to find a way to make the tramp a lot more taught. After thinking it through I came up with a simple system that is not only highly effective, it's also inexpensive and really quite simple to install (no drill required). Heres how:
Would you believe I hiked out on this tramp for 45 minutes before taking this photo? Well, I did! Look mum... no sag!
My idea was to create more tension on the tramp by adding a couple of downhaul lines at each side of the tail-end of the tramp. I achieved this by attaching 3mm thick length of non-stretch cord to each end of the support rod of the tramp. I started by attaching a long length to the outer end of the rod (approx 3 metres) via uni-knot, just on the outer side of the outer-most buckle. I then pull that back and wrap it around the rear aka, and then run the line up to the front aka and around the RAM ball stem I have mounted there (going around the front aka bar would work to) and then back to a figure 9 cleat. As you pull the line tight the tramp pulls taught and you then just cleat the line in where you see fit.
I then attached a shorter length of the same 3mm cord to the opposite end of the rod on the outer side of the inner-most buckle. Instead of creating tension by going around the rear aka and back up to the front, it works better on this side to pull the downhaul line back to a padeye (I used a stainless steel one screwed into the gunwale at the rear storage well) and then back to a figure 9 cleat. The tension is created in much the same way, and is just as quick and easy to set up.
Once both these downhaul lines are secure, you then clip all the buckles in and pull their webbing tags as tightly as possible. For best results, follow this up by releasing the downhaul lines from the cleats and pull them even tighter. Then go back and pull each webbing tab in a bit more if possible to. Once done you'll find that your tramp is now a lot tighter than it use to be, and you'll appreciate the improvement. After running a few quick 'dry run' experiements this set up definitely makes for a more supportive sleeping mattress that should keep me clear of the water. As I discovered recently, it also makes hiking out on the tramp a heck of a lot more effective, and a little less drenchy!