Bell YS Solo: Installing Bag Cages???

Looking for some suggestions on how to install bag cages on a YS solo without drilling lacing holes into the hull which is obviously the easiest.

Does the vinyl gunwale version have enough surface area on the inside edge of the gunwales to screw padeyes into it? I know you can do that with the wood gunwale version but not sure about the vinyl gunwales.

Reason I ask…

I ordered a YS solo with wood gunwales which I really wanted not only b/c of the aesthetics, but also b/c it would allow me to screw padeyes into the sides for bag cages, thus preventing the need to drill holes in side of hull.

Got the boat and have had it for a week and just noticed the wood gunwale is split. Also was pretty unimpressed with the fact that they have almost no oil on them from the factory and are going to need several coats of watco it seems. Furthermore, the dealer told me that there is a problem with wood gunwales splitting royalex in the winter since it contracts at a different rate than the plastic does.

Assuming my canoe will be covered under waranty I am considering going with vinyl instead of wood but want to make sure I can install bag cages without drilling lacing holes through the hull.


pop rivets
you should be able to pop-rivet wire guide loops to the underside of the gunnels - I’m assuming it’s vinly covered aluminum

forget what those wire guide things are called - they look like a capital “P” and you string your bag cage thru the hole in the p

you can order metal ones from most canoe shops - Mohawk Canoe always carried them if you want to go mail order.

You can find the same things at hardware stores, probably in the electrical department -

pad eyes
I’m sure the gunwales are vinyl-covered aluminum, not vinyl. If you really want to put in pad eyes, I would secure them with sheet metal screws rather than rivets to make them easier to remove if (when) you decide to get rid of them.

You are probably wise to go for aluminum gunwales if you are balking at an initial oiling of ash gunwales, because oiling wood gunwales is an ongoing requirement. Regarding “cold cracks” (cracks in the Royalex originating at a gunwale screw or rivet extending down into the hull) I guess I have just been lucky as I have stored boats in unheated environments and I have not backed out the gunwale screws before the winter and haven’t had a problem.

If you install pad eyes I would try to secure them to the underside of the inwale if possible. It is a bit more trouble, but they are less ugly there and out of the way. If screwed into the inside of the inwales they have an annoying tendency to get in the way more than you might expect.

I would reconsider drilling holes for your lacing. I resisted this initially but functionally and aesthetically I think it is the better way to go. The only downside is that it is a bit harder to thread parachute cord through the holes if you will be removing the bag cage lacing much. Some folks drill pairs of closely spaced holes in the hull and make small loops of nylon cord which hang into the inside of the hull which function the same way as padeyes. It makes threading the cage bag lacing much easier.

There is about 1/2" to work with
… on the inside lip on a vinyl gunnelled YS.

Here is a pic of bag lacing on one (boat on the right)

A word in favor of drilling the hull
From a purely functional standpoint, drilling the hull makes the most sense. Drilling the gunwales will weaken them by some amount. Whether that will ever make a difference is purely a matter of chance, and even then you will never know when you crash your undrilled gunwales against a rock if the reason they didn’t fail was the lack of holes. Still, since drilling hull does absolutely no harm and drilling the gunwales does weaken them, I chose to drill the hull.

Personally, I would never drill into
wood gunwales to install bag lacing. Every screw hole is a potential breaking point if the boat is pinned.

Obviously I can’t answer the issue on vinyl gunwales, though all vinyl gunwales I’ve seen have plenty of area for attachment.

I just prefer drilling the hull.

I have to wonder how much it matters
… when you’ve got much bigger screws every 6" or so through the outwale and into the inwale. But as guideboatboy said, we can never really know.

But next RX boat I do, I think I’ll drill the hull (for the first time). I can’t think of a good reason not to do it and a few good reasons to do it.

pop-riveting is great…and easy

Using the pop-rivets has worked well for me…


I bagged my Wildfire
I used padeyes for lacing eyelets. To minimize the number of holes in the hull, I drilled out the rivets holding the gunwales and used that hole as one of the two needed for the padeyes.


I’ve changed the bag arrangement a little, but here’s an overview of my first setup.


I imagine you’ve changed your bag
arrangement to get more lace control. Your starting setup looks a bit sparse.

I like your pad eye approach. You can get more lacing coverage with no increase in padeyes, just by adding diagonal to cross lacing.

looks nice
Looks clean.

Dare I point out that you have drilled exactly as many new holes through the hull to secure the pad eyes as you would have done if you had just laced the cord through and run it under the outwales on the outside of the hull.

Your arrangement does make it easier to thread the lacing and eliminates the visible parts of the parachute cord running under the outwales, if you object to that.

pretty much
What I was trying to avoid was a hole to hold the gunwale and two for the padeye. So my way cut down on some holes but not as many as lacing through the hull. I added two more lines running the length of the bag. It isn’t a whitewater boat, so I wasn’t concerned about making it completely bombproof.