Canoe Rigging

Mad River Eclipse (tandem) Royalex canoe 16’. I’m new to canoes and want to check on how to secure float bags. The Eclipse has NO installed foam floats in bow/stern. I would like to use float bags when on the river. I see videos of people drilling holes in their canoes for lashing float bags/gear down. I prefer to not drill holes into my canoe.

Would installing d-rings along the inside of canoe be sufficient? I was thinking 4 in bow and 4 in stern, and eventually 4 in mid for gear when the time comes. I will be doing some weekend trips.

If I use the Vynabond (as suggested) to secure the d-rings will it weaken the interior hull material?



Most screw the d-rings into the gunwales
I am leery of Vynabonding them to the top vinyl layer, because that vinyl layer is not super-bonded to the ABS structural layer. I can skim the vinyl off with a low angle chisel. The bases of d-rings are small and don’t distribute loads well to the Royalex.

There’s a reason that so many ww paddlers drill the hull to lace in the float bags. It is the most secure method, and avoids screw damage to the gunwales.

Pad eyes
One common treatment for restraining air bags is to screw nylon pad eyes under the gunwales. Then lace your cord through the pad eyes. Usually, a D-ring is vinyl cemented to the floor of the canoe and the lacing extends to the d-ring to keep the bag from sliding forward or back.

You can find nylon pad eyes online if they are not locally available.

Drilling holes through the hull right below the gunwales is a lot easier and probably at least as secure as under-gunwale pad eyes.


Drilling hull versus drilling gunwales

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 4:45 PM EST –

Agree with what EZ and Boozetalkin have said. In addtition, if you compare drilling the gunwales with drilling the hull, you do far less to weaken the boat by drilling the hull.

If you drill the gunwales, each hole is a weak spot in the gunwale, so if the gunwale is stressed to the point of almost breaking (like if the boat got pinned against a boulder), drilled holes *could* be the difference between severe damage and no damage.

If you drill the hull, just below the gunwales, you do virtually nothing to weaken the boat. The hull has very little resistance to flexing at the drilled location in the first place, and nearly all of the strength there comes from the gunwales. You'll see if you do it. The holes don't matter at all.

Glued-in D-Rings on the floor (one or two for each bag) will be needed to secure a rope or strap that prevents the air bag from slipping out the open end of the lacing. Also, D-rings work great for lashing down gear, but those should be attached to the floor of the boat so that the tie downs pull on the packs directly when they try to fall out (much less rope tension is generated when the gear applies stress in-line with a tight rope than when the stress is cross-wise to a tight rope, and thus the D-ring attachments are stressed less too). Oh, the other advantage of anchoring to the floor is that no pack will be too small to securely tie it down.

My initial thought was that drilling holes in hull would be last resort. I guess not. Thanks for the insight!

rollum rollum

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 9:56 PM EST –

Sewable D-Ring

550 parachute cord orange or yellow

(buy 1/8th shock cord and bug mesh while here)

buy the correct No 8 screw drill (3) size when at Carr…ask

I wuz at HillBilly Harware in Heber Springs selling those screws for $1/per

screw one D ring top of gunnel every 8”

D's flat side butts flush with inside gunwale

Use masking tape on gunwale for ball point pen layout marks

Use a rule to ID where to drill inserting rule under gunwale checking depth then mark depth on masking tape at the 8” stretch tape each side x2 fore n aft

True Value has a nice pencil punch for marking light aluminum used with a heavy hammer for a one shot indent. I use a small narrow punch with an 11 pound engineer's hammer..pick your size

after drilling 2-3 you can drill the set then screw up the D rings

be sure to check NRS for 1-2-3 dry bags, rings patches for hull and bag with adhesive. fore or aft location depends on hull and conditions. With experience.


– Last Updated: Apr-29-15 7:25 AM EST –

buy SS washers. Washers allow easier install and adjustment

further, need to juggle the D rings sewable tab center with the use able spot in the measured with the rule.

For Wenonah Rendezvous and Solo Plus Royalex hulls D tab's center an gunwale point are compatible.

I assume this is true ? Loading and carrying the hull asks for removing the D rings on each trip twice.

My practice at SF is buying a bag of stuff eg hardware, balaclava fabric, strapping...I would need in the coming times. JoAnn doesn't have it.

Boats go up onto a van roof using an outrigger for tilting then sliding bow up there so forward gunwale D rings are obstructive.

I vote “no” to top-of-gunwale …

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 10:09 PM EST –

... installation. I've never seen anyone choose to do it that way either.

With the D-rings screwed to the tops of the gunwales, you won't be able to slide your canoe up onto your rack without giving each D-ring a sideways whack. If the boat flips and crashes across rocks, the screws could really take a beating, possibly widening the screw holes.

Normal installation is to the bottom side of the gunwale. My assumption in this case is that the advice-giver here does not actually paddle canoes.

if the boat flips

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 10:14 PM EST –

and crashes the gunwales against the rocks ?

what planet is that ?

use the top gunwale but avoid flipping the boat onto the rocks

he votes no....eeyyehahhaa...FS

Ask a whitewater paddler. (nm)

find a WW paddler

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 10:23 PM EST –

from New Zeeland

Save yourself a hassle and money

– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 10:54 PM EST –

Just drill holes for the lacing, just below the gunwales.
I've been doing it that way on boats I've outfitted since 1985. Not one hole I've drilled in a Royalex hull has ever cracked around a hole. I'd guesstimate I've done at least 15 boats, including Daggers, Mad Rivers, and Mohawks.


P.S. If you email me your address via pnet mail; I can send you multiple photos of lace kits mounted in canoes using the drilled holes method.


– Last Updated: Apr-28-15 11:56 PM EST –

In spite of the fact that I pointed out that normal practice is to install rings on the bottom side of the gunwale rather than the top (and the reasons shouldn't generate argument from anyone who actually paddles a canoe and is not simply speculating about how these things are normally done), drilling the hull is the superior method, and tremendously more simple too. D-rings speed removal and re-installation of lacing, but there are ways to speed up that process with a drilled hull too.

Anyone who suggests a method and then says that cartopping the boat will require removal of the screws is obviously giving advice based on pure speculation, as is true about the advice on needing to keep track of drilled depth on aluminum gunwales, which of course are hollow (though the OP didn't say what the gunwales were made of).

Just wow.

I’m with ya there…
that fellow sure has me scratchin’ my head.

after looking at several image searches and reading comments here and other forums, the lacing through the hull wins by far. I like the extra loop options for misc gear too, and will likely try and make my own skirt which I can attach to the same lacing on the exterior of the canoe.

Also, I do load my canoe top-down on my truck rack. The d-rings on gunwales would be a pain.

Is there a preference on the type of drill bit for drilling the hull? They have several tip designs now for different materials. Not sure if it makes a difference given the softness of Rx.

Thanks again everyone!

Good call.
I know it seems sacrilegious to drill holes in the hull but if done correctly it actually looks really nice. Much cleaner (and cheaper) than the little D rings and easier to accomplish. As GBG said, probably structurally better too. As for the big D ring patches for end retention (bags) and other general use, EZ has a lot more experience than I but I’ve had pretty good luck with Vynabond. They’re generally not subjected to that much stress. I personally think proper surface prep is the key, and all adhesives fail eventually. Good luck with the project, and remember to have fun with it. I’ve always found outfitting to be an enjoyable part of the experience!

Some responses…

– Last Updated: Apr-29-15 10:45 AM EST –


Some tangential responses are funny; others are just tangential........

Some are "twilight zone".........


Good choice.

– Last Updated: Apr-29-15 11:49 AM EST –

I'm happy with it on my canoe.

I knew I still had a link to this somewhere - just had to look a little....

Instructions for float bag cage installation...

Oh yeah....just use your standard spiral tip bit.

good idea

– Last Updated: Apr-29-15 12:32 PM EST –

drill holes in the hull. Super.

Lower wind drag !
less floatation, less water throwoff...


What when hull scrapes the riprap tearing off outside cording...reason yawl veered into the rap..leaving 7 gaping holes, a torn air bag..sending the rig to the BOTTOM...UPSIDE DOWN !

The cord holding the bag ? is always there ?



Now about the two paddle float hip snap exercise...