3canoes, 6' of rack, 2K miles: HowTo??

I’ve got 3 canoes to move across the county on a 6 foot wide Yakima rack that is on a car that will be trailered behind the U-haul. (FYI : Shipping is too $$$$,there will be no room in the truck, and I’d kinda’ like to avoid having to sell one…)

Canoes =

16’ Duralite Souris Quantico

14’ Royalex Bell Wildfire

12’ Royalex Mohawk Probe

I was thinking of stripping the Souris of all seats and thwarts and stacking it on top of the Bell, leaving the wider Probe to mount next to it on the rack.

I’m open to suggestions to improve this method, any concerns that I may be overlooking, or any alternative arrangements on the rack.

Thanks in advance for any help!!

What kind of car?

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 3:44 PM EST –

You could do the redneck thing if you've got an SUV or whatnot, shove as much of the YS into the car and leave the rest hangin out the back. Of course you'll have to secure it somehow.

Once you figure out how to stow all these boats, you're going to want to think about security. You say movin 'across the country' so I've got to assume you'll be stopping once or twice. You really don't want to lose all your boats in one fell swoop. 100% make sure you lock your Uhaul, and do as much as you can for your boats, even if you gotta drag em inside.

Interstate and highway motels are horrid for petty thievery from vehicles, because the criminals know you're probably in a hurry, and you're probably not going to be around to follow up on anything.

Where is the popcorn?
I am curious to see some of good solutions that will show up.

Go to Lowes and buy two 10 foot long

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 4:32 PM EST –

sections of 1/2" rigid galvanized iron pipe and four pipe clamps, (the strap type with the screw head, that you use to connect black plastic PVC pipe to the connectors)
The 1/2 inch stuff fits perfect inside your Yakama bars. Figure what the width is that you need to carry the three canoes side by side and thyen cut the pipe at that length, (leave some extra).
Slide the pipes inside your Yakama bars and leave equal amounts out on both sides. Then attach a pipe clamp over the pipe on each side snugged up tight against the Yakama bars and then tighten it up.

Measure every thing first, and hopefully your canoes won't be too wide for this method.

You might be breaking the laws in some states, but I have done it on several occassions and traveled the interstates with out ever getting stopped, and the outfitter that showed me this method says he does it all the time

Jack L

You might
Want to measure the width of the car trailer. You might get away with having one boat on its side(well padded) strapped to the trailer up against the car.

You could also see about strapping one on top of the Uhaul. Just stay under the max height 13’2"??

2 cents worth …
…what kind resources do you have ? are you handy with cobbing things? how about a Lowe’s or home depot or ?? nearby? my 1st thought would be to put a upright post near the 2’ mark …stack 1 boat against that/strap it… now stack the 2nd boat on the other side of the upright, …strap down, then lean the 3rd boat, all boats on their sides , against the 2nd boat , strap that one against the 2nd boat and down under and around the crossbar. all straps should be under the crossbars so when you cinch everything down …it 's 1 big secure load. good luck.

it might be worth browsing the local Craigslist for used uprights.

2x4s to the rescue!

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 7:30 PM EST –

My advice is very similar to Jack's, but I'd recommend using 2x4 lumber instead of pipe. The advantages of 2x4 lumber are a wider contact area (and more easily padded), and very easy-to-make gunwale blocks that cost nothing. Also, there will be no portion of the rack that needs to rely on your tie-down method to keep from coming loose.

That car trailer (or towing dolly) is probably 8 feet wide, so it should be legal to extend your rack width to 8 feet for that reason alone. A U-Haul van will be 8 feet wide too, not counting the mirrors, so on two counts you have an advantage that you wouldn't have with only the car (roof racks or roof cargo are not supposed to be wider than the vehicle itself (including the mirrors) so you've got a lot of extra width to work with in this case). That's a common-sense interpretation of the law. Unfortunately, police officers are not likely to have any common sense, so there's no guarantee they will see the logic of a roof load that is less wide than the overall vehicle. But if it were me, I'd make my rack as wide as that car trailer.

The total width of three canoes might be wider than 8 feet, but it will surely be less than 8 feet if you mount the center canoe forward of center and the two outer canoes rearward of center, so that the widest part of each boat is next to a narrower part of the adjacent boat(s).

You can widen your racks with 2x4 lumber as follows. Let's say you want to make each crossbar 8 feet long. Mount an 8-foot 2x4 to the top surface of each round Yakima bar with U-bolts you can get from the hardware store. The round part of the U-bolt goes around the round Yakima bar, and the bolt ends stick up through drilled holes in the 2x4. When you tighten the U-bolts, the lumber will literally "become one with the rack". I use this method to attach 2x4 "rack wideners" on my boat rack, but the U-bolts attach to lengthwise rails (consisting of 3/4-inch pipe) that are on each side of my rack rather than to the crossbars themselves, but the principle is the same. Once the U-bolts are tight, those 2x4s will NOT budge - Nothing can make them slip or shift around.

You will probably want to shave a little off the bottom of each 2x4 right where the Yakima towers wrap around the round cross bars, so the 2x4 can be flush with the cross bar without flexing when you tighten the U-bolts.

The drilled holes in the 2x4s for the U-bolts can be made larger on the top side to let you countersink the attachment nuts (in that case, trim the U-bolt ends with a hacksaw once you know how long they must be so nothing sticks up above the wood), but it would be easier to make sure the bolts poke through at locations which won't interfere with the canoe gunwales.

One beautiful thing about the 2x4 method is that you can easily attach crude gunwale blocks at multiple locations so every boat can be prevented from shifting around without being held down by an enormous amount of tie-down tension. By using blocks of wood trimmed to the proper length, you can lock the center boat in position AND block the inward gunwales of the two outer boats using the same 4 pieces of scrap wood. Once you've done that, there's really no need to block the outer gunwales of the outer boats IF you include additional straps that pull each of those boats toward the center of the rack, but adding home-made gunwale blocks to the outer edges of each outer boat is easy enough too. You can just nail those gunwale blocks right to the 2x4s, since in this case, it's a one-purpose boat rack and the gunwale blocks do not need to be adjustable (plywood would make the best material for nailing to the 2x4s as gunwale blocks. If you use short pieces of 2x4 as gunwale blocks, you'll need to pre-drill the nail locations so the blocks don't split).

Finally, if you are so inclined, it's easy to nail carpet to the contact points on this rack, so your gunwales won't get scuffed.

Have Used jackl’s solution for couple of
years and works very well. Extended my Yak bars out to 8’4" with the 1/2" galv pipe for some long trips. Just be sure pipes extend into the bars past the bar mount for the extra support. Use foam pipe insulation or swim noodles (more colorful and easier for passersby to see :slight_smile: for padding. I also use a longer pipe into one side of the rear Yak bar that I can extend way out for a loading bar. Carries a fat Dagger Legend and two solos. Can also put some yellow tape on the pipe ends to warn passersby, and strap down each boat very well. R

Like this?

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 7:56 PM EST –


Made a pretty good run up 25 miles of logging roads.

I'd put the Probe on top in your case.

And you can still use the Yakima
gunwhale brackets if you want.

Just build up ther pipe area where the bracket is to go with duct tape to equal the diameter of the Yakima bar.

Jack L

good stuff
Thanks for the ideas. Suggested 8’ width may be a problem since the car won’t be loaded on the trailer for the entire trip,(but since that mileage is small it may not be a concern).

Cobblin’ stuff together isn’t a problem on this end. I can’t move all the stock in the garage anyway so I might as well use up what I can.

So either folks think it’s too much of a pita to remove thwarts and stack hulls or it’s actually a bad idea…

I’m leaning toward a triple stack like TommyC1 pictured but would think the shallow, light, low rocker Wildfire would make a better top boat?

Here’s the most important question:
Where are you moving? You were busy with graduate school for a while, right? So maybe this is “the big move” to start “the new job”? 2,000 miles - I hope the countryside there suits you (good rivers, and whatever else).

Removing thwarts and stacking
Your idea about removing thwarts and seats in one boat and putting it over the top of a smaller one might work okay. Obviously the boat you strip must be deep enough to fit over the other boat, but consider this too. Without thwarts, the hull is likely to be a lot more flexy, which “might” make it harder to tie down properly so that it stays put (I’ve only dealt with one canoe with the thwarts out, and its hull was not nearly as stiff as it was after the thwarts were re-installed). I think it would be worth a try though, as long as it’s not a last-minute thing, just in case it turns out to not work as planned.

Chuck the whole plan
Don’t leave buddy :frowning: I am gonna miss the hell out of you.

I will miss your backside on our bike rides:-)))

Take good care my friend.

A bit of work but I like the idea
the idea of putting a little boat inside a bigger boat is tidy.

I have carried up to four boats piled on my double-wide rack. I would not hesitate to carry three boats cross country stacked on top of each other or in various side by side configurations. But tying on two boats is SOP, and if you put a little boat inside a bigger boat, you reduce your challenge to tying on two boats. You end up twisting out 16 or 20 bolts, but how big a deal is that? If you pile boat on boat, there has to be spots where the boats are rubbing together. This is probably not that big a deal, and I’d do it. However, for 20 bolts and nuts, you get an easy tie-down and no rubbing. I’d do this extra prep work.

Just my vote.


Simple, two ways, just ropes
I’ve carried 3 boats many times, and even 5 – with no pipes, boards or gizmos. Just ropes.

Method 1 is just simple pyramid, as TC1’s photos show.

Method 2 is to place the biggest canoe in the middle of the rack and then lean the other two up against it at an angle. You maintain the angle by extra diagonal ropes, in addition to all the belly ropes and bow-stern ropes.

I carried 5 canoes from Woodstock, NY, to Tallahassee, FL, and back – a 17’ Old Town wooden OTCA, 16’MRC Explorer, 14’ Whitesell Piranha, 16+’ Lotus BJX and 15’ Lotus Caper. I used a combination of the two methods. First the pyramid; then the two lightest boats angled on top of the first layer of the pyramid, leaning against the top boat on the pyramid. LOTS of rope.

The boats never budged in 3000 miles. But I got a flat tire on I-95, which was exciting for a spell.

ahh the adventure…
I checked width and depth of the Wildfire, I spent the time to strip out all the cross-members in the Souris 16-footer, I created 3 temporary thwarts to fix on top of the Souris gunnels to solidify it during transport while keeping the interior open. One thing I neglected to take into account - stem flotation in the Souris. Crap - Wildfire don’t fit…So…I put everything back together.

Looks like it’s a pyramid stack for the move…

Well, Jarvis…
…you could just leave the Souris here, she could stay in her old spot in the barn! Where you headed? WW

Happy trails…
Is there room for all three canoes to travel like kayaks on edge? I have traveled long distances with my canoe on edge on my kayak rack when my companion’s boat was too wide for both to be side-by-side on my 60" rack. My canoe always traveled well like that.


I also found a photo of three canoes stacked in a pyramid, but with a twist. Check out how they did the rack for additional security and load distribution.


Good luck and happy trails…


has anybody mentioned…
Take pvc pipe and place pipe insulation around it. Run a line thru the pipe. Lay the two padded pipes horizontal across the top of the two boats already secured to existing rack. Tie the pvc down to the existing cross bars. You now have two “cross bars” located on top of the lower level of canoes. Tie the top boat direct to the pvc pipe. Email me if you wanna see a pic of this.