Come tie one on with Red Rock!
Here’s how we tie a canoe to a roof rack. This is THE way you’ll want to do it as well. While creativity in canoe tying is fun, it’s much less fun if your canoe blows off your roof on the interstate at 75 mph!
Pictured below is a canoe on a Thule Rook Rack System. If you don’t have a Thule System, don’t worry – this method will work with all roof racks. This particular rack is equipped with Thule Canoe Carriers which are little plastic blocks that you slide to the gunwale of your canoe, evenly on both sides. For the round-bar Yakima systems, their canoe blocks will look a bit different but do exactly the same thing. If you don’t have the canoe carrier blocks, you can tie your canoe on just fine without them. Just throw it up on the load bars an follow the pictures below. Without the blocks means that you may get some sideways movement when those big fat trucks go flying by on the freeway. Not a huge problem, but the canoe carrier things DO make your canoe more secure.
STRAPS – There is only one kind of strap to use, period. Stay away from buying those hook-type straps, ratchet straps, and any other kind of strap that does not look like the one you see me using in the photos below. YUP – I’m hearing him right now as I type – the guy in the back who’s declaring how he’s rigged up a thing-a-ma-jig using hooks, and ratchet straps, and eyebolts and it’s worked fine for the last 5 trips to the Boundary Waters. Fine, if he’s happy with a bunch of hokey 2 X 4’s U-bolted to the factory rack on his roof, please tell him to continue. For the rest of us, we’ll be using two (2) canoe straps with a buckle on one end, no hooks, no ratchets. Ratchets are always one click too tight OR loose and while it’s unlikely that they’ll damage a Souris River Canoe, they can put a dent into your gunwales especially if you own one of those canoes with the rounded-top, hollow aluminum gunwales.
ONE MORE THING ON CANOE STRAPS – You NEED them!!! At least one over the top of the canoe (when using foam blocks), but I prefer two even with foam block sets whenever possible. I met a guy this summer at our store who had a Wenonah tied to his mini-van just by two little ropes on the bow and stern, only. On top of his van he had a hokey 2×4 assembly with what appeared to be some foam and electrician’s tape that made a bump next to the gunwales of his canoe which served as a crude set of canoe carrier blocks. He had NO straps over the top of the canoe but relied on those pieces of foam and about 500 feet of black tape wound on each 2×4 to keep the canoe centered. It was beauteous! Order Canoe Straps Here – Color may vary – doesn’t matter.
Upon noticing that he had no straps over the top of the canoe, I gently pointed out that he might consider strapping the canoe down with the most important part of tying down any canoe – two canoe straps over the top of the canoe. He quickly got his nose in a snit and proclaimed that after 10 road trips (he’s now an expert in his own mind) to the BWCA, he’s never had any problems and sees no reason to change. I pointed out that should that itty-bitty 3/16″ nylon rope at the front of his car break, he’d be trolling his canoe behind his car down the freeway after it went airborne. Worse yet, his canoe might even kill somebody else as it wraps over the windshield of a mom with her 2 kids in the car following behind him. He didn’t like when I pointed that out and; typical of a MacGuyver-wannabe, left with his nose in a bigger snit. I think he was feeling that I was trying to get rich by selling him two canoe straps. Whoa BOY! We eat tonight, Annette! I sold two canoe straps! What will we do with all our new-found wealth that came from my high-pressure canoe strap sales pitch???
Folks, for your own safety and the safety of others, DON’T BE CHEAP when it comes to buying the right straps, whether you buy them from us or somewhere else! One spring-activated-lever-cam-buckle on the end of the strap is the type of strap you want. That’s all I have for now.
This is the canoe strap you need. Notice how under the buckle there is a black nylon pad that protects your canoe. In this pic, I’ve run the end through the buckle and am pulling it tight.
This photo shows the other side of the same strap as in Photo 1. The strap MUST go over the top of the canoe, UNDER the load bar (and under the Canoe Carrier Block), and back up over the canoe.
The strap must go over the top of the canoe only and must lay parallel to itself without being crossed on top of the canoe.
If you criss-cross the strap on top of the canoe, you won’t be able to tighten it properly. At no time EVER does any canoe strap get placed under the canoe while it rests on top of your roof racks.
To tighten the strap, you must first slide the cam-buckle (metal part) up towards the chine of the canoe and depress the lever that says “press”. The strap, that you pulled through from the underside of the cam buckle, gets pulled through fairly snug with one hand, while you depress the “press” button with your other thumb.
Next, grasp the end of the strap with both hands and snug her down a bit more. Don’t try to climb up the side of your car or go into the Iron Cross. Just give it a little more tension within reason.
I like to run the excess strap straight down from the buckle and then wrap it around the load bar as barely depicted behind the wrist with the watch on it.
Wrap the excess strap around the thwart, or seat, or yoke and bring it back to tie with a half-hitch around the main, vertical portion of the straps. This acts as a fail-safe and keeps the canoe from going forward while panic-braking for moose. Do the same with the second strap on the other load bar only tie the excess backwards to prevent the wind from pushing canoe back while attempting to elude the law at high speed.
Buy a pair of Top Ties from us and install them. Your cost is $9.95 per pair. Installation is pathetically easy. (Click to see the patheticism of it all, HERE) If you are at Red Rock, we’ll run out and do it for you.
These little nylon loops give a superior canoe holding rope angle, prevent you from crawling around under your car, and won’t damage anything on your car.
Tie one end of a rope to your Top Tie on the driver’s side of the vehicle and thread through the handy-dandy grommets in the end of all Souris River Canoes. The rest of you guys will have to loop it once over the grab-handle of your Brand X canoe.
Run the other end of the rope thru the Top Tie on the passenger side of the car as is clearly depicted here. White rope, white car – what WERE we thinking?
Here’s where it gets trickier. Make a simple loop in the rope as it comes down from the canoe. This is like a magic trick so watch closely.
If your loop looks like this, please try again.
Take the underside portion of rope – the one that’s going to the Top Tie and pull it thru the loop that you are still holding with your right hand. CLICK HERE for a diagram of what the heck is going on here.
Pull the top part of the rope up and the loop down. This will tighten the knot that holds the loop in place. For giggles and practise, grasp rope on each side of loop and pull apart. Loop should vanish like a magic trick. If it does not pull out of the line, don’t quit your day job to follow the glamorous world of illusion. Try it again.
This is how the Trucker’s knot is formed. There’s one outfitter in Ely who claims he invented it, but I’m pretty sure that it’s been around for a lot longer than that particular outfitter. To make this knot, you just need to make a loop (in blue) and pull yet another loop thru the loop you just made. To complete the knot, pull up on the “From Canoe” side and down on the “Pull loop through” (red part) to complete the process. To perfect this knot, tie a cord from the top of a lamp, down to your sofa. While watching TV, tie it repeatedly until you can do it with your eyes shut. When you can tie it with your eyes closed AND with one hand behind your back, you will become elevated to “Knot Master” worthy of accolades and applause from across the lands of northern Minnesota.
Pull on loop.
Presto! A completed Trucker’s Knot that is completely removeable so you can continue sliding a rope through the grommets of your canoe.
You now take the end of the rope which has been patiently waiting in the loop of the Top Tie on the passenger’s side of the car, lift it up and run it through the beautifully crafted removeable loop in the line (that you just made).
Pull down and notice the mechanical advantage you’ve just created. Careful, no need to fold the canoe in half by pulling too tight. This does not need to be super-tight because we’re not done just yet.
The key to effectively using this knot/loop thing lies in your ability to hold the line you just pulled on, right at the point where it passes through the loop with your thumb and index finger. Once you grasp it right where the arrow is pointing, you can slack up the rest of the rope in preparation for the next move.
THE NEXT MOVE – keep holding with thumb and index finger on right hand and tie a simple half hitch with your left hand. Can’t work with your left hand? Tough, these are the only pictures I have. Pull the half hitch tight and you now can let go with your right hand. Use up the slack in the rope tying 65 decorative half hitches OR tie three more and whip out your knife.
See? A pretty succession of half hitches! You really only need about three. I got a little carried away.
But whoa there, big fella, we’re not done quite yet. You need to take a 14″ piece of rope and tie a loop in the end. Beautiful northwoods scenery in this shot.
In order to prevent the canoe from traveling from side to side in a crosswind, you need to wrap a loop of rope around the main rope going thru the grommets.
Not a lot of rocket science here. All we’re doing is binding the main rope to greatly inhibit the canoe from moving sideways. I’m sure there are other ways to skin this cat, too.
Wrap the rope around a a couple of times.
Tie it off with more half hitches.
Viola! The finished product. If you do not have Canoe Carrier Blocks, or if your roof rack load bars are spaced less than 4 feet apart, I suggest that you tie down the back of the canoe to your trailer hitch or frame. I didn’t do this on my van in the photos because I really wasn’t planning on driving anywhere. I just like to go out and tie one on for the fun of it.
Here you see the finished tie down. Two straps and the bow tied to the Top Ties on the front of the van.
One final note: I like to make all of my ties on the the passenger side of the vehicle. If you have to stop on a road side to check or adjust the straps, you won’t have your butt sticking out in the traffic where a drunk, fool, or just plain bad driver can get you more easily. Why ruin a good trip?
Who ever said mini-vans can’t look cool?