How to mount carry strap to wood gunwale

I have a canoe that is a biscuit to carry because it doesn’t have a carry thwart. No carry thwart because the canoe is outfitted for solo and a carry thwart would be too close to the seat. I know they have temp thwarts that can be installed and removed with clamping hardware, but that’s just another object to roll around in the canoe, get in the way, and ultimately get lost, or the hardware gets lost, making it useless.

I’ve carried the boat a few times using a length of .75" strap all the way around the hull and tightened taught across the center of the canoe. I was surprised at how comfortable it was to carry the canoe on this strap. Considering this a successful test, now I’d like to mount a 2" strap inside the hull, just under the gunwale. I’ll use a side-release buckle to split the strap when the boat is in use, then clip the strap together when I need to throw the boat up on my shoulders.

Mohawk sells a carry strap just like I have in mind. In fact, that’s where the idea came from, via Mr. McCrae.

In their pictures it is shown mounted through the gunwale with a single bolt. I’m afraid to mount through wood gunwales in a similar manner. Seems to me that the wood is going to want to split when the weight of the canoe (in this case, 77 lbs) is bouncing around on the strap.

I’d appreciate suggestions on how to fasten a strap under the inside gunwale (is that an “inwale”?). BTW, what do you think will hurt worse, splitting the gunwale, or the canoe crashing on my bald head?

TIA ~~Chip

mounting method

– Last Updated: Nov-20-07 11:42 PM EST –

It's too dark to take a picture of my setup, so I'll try to explain how I did it. Or at least how I seem to recall doing it.

1. Cut a piece of aluminum (a piece of 1/8" or 1/4" stock the width of the strap; the depth should be approximately the same as the width of your inwale) and use a file to smooth all sharp edges and round the corners.
2. Drill two holes in the aluminum to allow bolts to pass through it and through the inwale.
3. Wrap the end of the strap around the aluminum, leaving the end a bit long.
4. Sew the strap to itself, trapping the aluminum in the loop.
5. Use a hot screw to melt holes through the strap, corresponding to the holes in the aluminum.
6. Decide where you want to mount the strap, then using the strap and aluminum as a drilling template, drill holes for bolts/machine screws from the bottom side of the inwale.
7. Attach the strap to the underside of the inwale with a cup washer under the bolt/machine screw head and a nylock nut and a washer on the bottom.
8. Repeat the process on the other side of the boat, attach your buckle and a means of securing the strap when it is not in use, and you are in business.

This has worked fine on my 16' Novacraft Prospector (74 lbs.), although my boat has aluminum gunwales.

You could always try to use screws with cup or regular washers to mount the contraption to the bottom side of the inwales instead of using bolts through the inwales. If the screws pull out and the boat drops on your head, you'll know it was a bad idea and you should have gone with the bolts the first time. You then re-mount the assembly using bolts and pretend that you did it that way the first time. If it does work, you can pat yourself on the back and talk about how smart you were for just using screws.

Think along the same lines
Thanks, Dave, for the recommendation. Your suggestion is along the same lines as the leading approach I considered. I thought of wrapping the strap under a piece of aluminum angle stock. I’d screw one side of the angle under the inwale, and epoxy the other side to the hull. I also thought about pop-riveting or bolting through the hull, in addition to the epoxy. But I am not comfortable with through-the-hull modifications, even though this is the Chipewan we are talking about, and I shouldn’t really care.

I also considered loosening the gunwales and sliding the strap between the hull and the inwale. I could carve out a bit of a rabbit groove at the top of the inwale, melt the strap end to increase its thickness, then tighten down the inwale so that the strap can not slide out. Or, I could slide the strap under the inwal, then carry the strap over the hull and slide it between the hull and the outwale. Then give the strap the fat-end treatment and tighten the wales. Mechanically, I like that idea because the pull would be on the whole hull gunwale assembly rather than just a half of one inwale, as it will be if I use the inwale, bolt-thru approach. However, I’m not wild about the idea of creating a gap between the hull and the gunwales. The gap will only be the thickness of the strap, but that’s more gap than is presently there. I worry about water on the back of the gunwales, but I am probably fooling myself thinking that water isn’t getting in there anyway. This also leaves the strap exposed where it passes over the edge of the hull, and over time, it would wear. Again, it’s the Chipewan, which I don’t expect will be around for another twenty years, but you never know, and I’d like to find an approach that will work on other boats that I might care about.

Thoughts and comments?


A couple of solutions
and a warning.

  1. Your experiment with a round the hull strap is essentially the idea behind a carry yoke that is available from Placid Boat Works. Theirs uses a pair of straps, conected via Fastex side-release buckles and spanned by a fabric sheet with a V cut-out for your neck. Call Charlie Wilson if interested.

  2. You might mount a wood cleat, about 4" long x 3/4x3/4 immediately beneath the inwale using a couple of 10-24 bolts. Cut a 1/8" relief slot in the cleat and pass the 2" webbing around the cleat. You need to sew the end into a loop. The stress will be spread over four 10-24’s instead of two 1’4" bolts.

    And the warning: I have broken two Fastex 2" buckles on the Mowhawk yoke in my MR Freedom Solo. Don’t tighten the web too much, or the force on the plastic will be too great.


Make it detachable - no holes drilled
Buy a good wooden yoke, such as this ash yoke:

The length of the yoke should be slightly longer than the width of your boat. Attach both ends of the yoke to the gunwales as shown here for mounting the stabilizers:

You can get SS U bolts, wingnuts, and angle aluminum from hardware stores.

no holes no risk
agree with the no holes…just use the clamp on type yoke and when paddling just clamp it onto the rails aft of your seat. Just angle (one end further aft than the other) the thwart to fit the narrower distance between the rails.