canoe transport

I had some troubles this summer when transporting my canoe on a rooftop foam block kit. This was during very strong crosswinds (35+ mph) and it twice made the canoe come off the blocks. I was wondering if this was because the foam block kit wasn’t a good one or because my securing technique. I followed all the articles and never had problems except two times in bad winds. I’ve never had issue when transporting on a rack, just the foam blocks. I want to go back to not having a car, which means foam blocks on a rental car or a friend’s car, but concerned I won’t be able to safely transport on foam blocks. Are strong winds an issue on foam block kits ?

Strong winds and very bumpy roads
… are not good with foam blocks. If you’re going to use foam blocks just make sure you check things more often.

Easy fix

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 12:35 PM EST –

You should be using FOUR small foam blocks that clip on the gunwales. It would be almost impossible to blow off the blocks once tied down.

You should NOT use 2 blocks that span but do not clip on the gunwales.

I found

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 1:05 PM EST –

Ive had this happen once in a strong cross wind. I didnt know what happened at the time. A different time I noticed the canoe shifting slightly in a strong cross wind so I stopped and found that my ratchet straps had loosened up just slightly and that was enough to let it move around. I re-tightened the straps and was fine for the rest of the 4 hour trip.
I was using the 4 foam blocks.

Also if you're using rope as a tie down some nylon ropes will stretch. Use a non-nylon rope.

Other thoughts: you could cut the groove deeper on the front set of blocks so that there is less distance for it to pivot on.

You should be using 3 straps. If youre only using 2 add a center strap. Using a round rope will be much quieter than a flat webbing/ratchet

You could move the canoe back on the car so its centered closer to the rear, thus reducing the lever length for the wind to push on so it should be more stable.

Strong winds can compress the foam
blocks or flex the roof by down forces on the boat, which can, in turn, result in temporary loosening of the straps.

I don’t have a solution.

How are the the bow/stern tied down?
One unknotted rope thru a thwart can allow the boat to slide around, a prudently placed knot limits that.

I also do one thing that I haven’t seen anyone else do, but it’s great for peace of mind. I run a regular strap (tightly) around at least one of the rack crossbars and a thwart of the canoe - it seems that at least one thwart ends up on top of a cross bar usually. That is after the rest of the tie downs are done.

In high enough winds I could lose the skin off the canoe because it is a very light layup. But it is unlikely that the whole superstructure would go flying down the road.

strap around thwart
I actually do the same thing when transporting on a rack, I tie in a couple thwarts to the roof rack as a back-up measure in case the top straps were to fail.

reply to mcimes
In reply to MCIMES…

That was the same problem I had with the four block kit. I was wondering if having the gunwales sunk deeper in the foam blocks would actually reduce the ability of the canoe to pivot off the foam block (like you suggested). I will also try your suggestion of a 3rd strap. I was only using 2.

I had the canoe strapped down TIGHT. But I live in a place that gets very strong winds. It sounds like from the suggestions I should be able to make it work.

If he HAD cross bars to tie that rope to
… he wouldn’t be having as much trouble as he is. Foam blocks = no cross bars.

Use more tie-downs, if possible

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 3:55 PM EST –

If you can find a way to attach more tie-downs, that will help. For example If you normally tie a pair of tie-downs to each end, supplement those with another pair tied to the first thwart away from each end. Ropes tied in that way, closer to the center of the boat, will be much more effective at supplying lateral force to resist the tendency of the boat to twist or slide sideways. Among all these various ropes, make sure there's a pair at the front and back which OPPOSE each other, so that whether the boat "attempts" to slide forward OR backward that one pair of ropes opposes that action. Lots of people arrange their end tie-downs so that both sets resist movement of the boat in one direction, while neither set opposes boat movement in the other direction (don't do it that way).

The advice already provided about positioning the boat behind center (with respect to the roof, not the entire car) is very good. A canoe who's center point is about three feet behind the center of its contact area (with roof or roof rack) will be MUCH less prone to getting turned cockeyed by cross winds. On the other hand, centering the canoe relative to the length of the whole car (rather than just the support area) puts greater length ahead of the supports than behind them, and that's a horrendous situation in cross winds (yet lots of people do it that way).

Of course, the big problem with all this advice is that most cars don't have convenient anchor points for tie-downs. On most cars, simply finding good places to tie ropes will be the hardest thing of all.

If no rack…

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 7:09 PM EST –

The foam blocks I was thinking of are the kind that slip over a crossbar on a factory roof rack. I was not envisioning the kind that just sit on the roof of a car without any crossbars (which are not what I think of as a rack since we always go third party).

I have another idea then. Still take advantage of the thwarts, only use both of them. Run ropes or straps thru the thwarts and fully around into the inside of the car, tie off there. Place knots or similarly useful stops at appropriate points to stop the canoe from sliding sideways from the original orientation.

No guarantee that the whole assembly can't slide, but it will take more effort for it to do so.

Aother Idea

– Last Updated: Sep-26-12 7:51 PM EST –

Here's another idea, and this one is guaranteed to help enormously.

Someone mentioned using straps threaded through the car itself to hold the boat down. Go ahead and do that and then take it one step further with two more straps. Route one strap so that it loops around the canoe and back under it, returning to the original side, and loop that part of the strap around a door pillar. Do the same with the other strap, looped around the door pillar on the other side. Take up the slack in these two straps so they oppose each other tightly, and the result will be that the part of the canoe wrapped by them will not be able to move side to side at all.

If your end tie-downs (and/or near-end tie-downs, as described above) have effective "angles of pull", they will at least minimize side-to-side motion of each end, limiting how much the canoe can pivot around the point of the two door-pillar straps, and as described above, your opposing set of front and rear tie-downs will completely eliminate forward-backward movement. The boat will be pretty solid if you can do all this.

This will be quite a jury-rigged-looking setup, but without a proper roof rack, you'd best do what you've gotta do to keep the boat secure.

yeah, strap around canoe and …
… through open doors , ratchet buckle inside vehical, draw tight .

I’ve been doing this for a few years now as a backup, only I go around a thwart or seat also . This is independent of bar straps and tie downs .

I figure if one of the other straps / tie downs fail , or if the roof rack loosens for some reason (Q-Tower) … this extra independent strap might be the disaster saver . I feel better about it all anyway since I’ve been doing it , only takes an extra couple minutes do .