Need help/idea on transporting canoe

-- Last Updated: Jul-15-09 6:37 PM EST --

I'm new to canoeing, having just picked up my first (an older grumman 17').
I have a ford windstar with a rack on top and thought it would be stupid simple to put a canoe up there...up there is easy, keeping it there is another ballgame entirely.

I have no clue how to secure it. I jury rigged it to get it home, but it's no way to do it for a trip down the hiway.

I have a hitch on the back to tie onto, but there is nothing up front. The canoe is a bit wider than the rack.

Thoughts, ideas?


Did some searching and perhaps I need to clarify my concern. How to TIE the boat on? Bow and stern seems to do nothing (it still slips forward and backward, side to side)
To get it home I tied the canoe's cross bar in the back to the van rack (pita to say the least) and in the front ran ropes from the canoe cross bar to around the door posts.
Foam blocks were suggested by the seller and I see the advantage, but how does one get ropes tight enough from I guess, the canoe cross bars to the van rack? Would the foam blocks 'grip' the roof well enough to avoid side to side slipping?

If the van has a cross bar rack…
All you have to do is use a double looped cam-lock buckle strap over the canoe at each cross bar.

Cinch each one down tight and the canoe will not move.

Material: total of two straps. they are three or four dollars each at any canoe/ kayak store.

Do not use the ratchet straps like they sell at Lowes. they can be tightened too tight and damage your boat.

If you are not sure how to do the over and under(double loop) come back here and I’ll describe or someone else will. Or ask the salesman to show you how.

I keep a stash of all different sizes in my boat box in the car and if you were around here I would give you a couple.



For starters, read this:

– Last Updated: Jul-15-09 7:49 PM EST –

Once you tie your boat as shown in that article, you can make improvements. First off, remember that rope can only "pull", so to keep the canoe from sliding in a particular direction, the best way to do it is with a rope that's as parallel as practical to the direction of the movement you wish to restrict, and anchored to the car in the "other" direction. For example, if you want to keep the canoe from sliding forward when you hit the brakes (the main tie-downs or "belly lines" will help a lot, but not as much as this), run a line or two from the rear bumper, up over the roof and attached to the boat at some point well forward of the back of the car. That way the rope immediately tightens if the canoe slides forward even a fraction of an inch. Vertical or nearly-vertical ropes going from the canoe to the bumper will allow the boat to slide quite far before sufficient tension builds up in the rope to bring the sliding motion to a halt, and if the nearly-vertical ropes are angled the wrong way, they will get looser before they get tighter as the boat slides (I'm continually astounded by the number of paddlers who don't understand this. Think about how this works and you won't be one of them!).

Another example: On your Windstar, the front of the canoe will overhand the front of the car by several feel. That means that the bow lines will help stop forward motion of the boat to some extent (not as well as the method already described), but they won't do a thing to keep the boat from sliding backward due to air friction at highway speed. The answer is to run a pair of ropes up from the bumper and over the hood to a point on the boat that is rearward of the hood of the car, such as a center thwart. By the same token, stern tie-downs from the rear bumper to the back end of the canoe will do the same thing, and you probably don't need both methods to stop the canoe from sliding toward the rear of the car.

To keep the canoe from sliding sideways to the right, wrap a rope from the front left corner of the roof rack, completely around the boat and back to the same point. Do the same at the rear left corner of the roof rack. A matching, mirror-image set of ropes on the other side of the car will keep the canoe from sliding to the left. Again, the main belly lines do a pretty good job of stopping side-to-side motion, but unless they are just incredibly tight, they won't stop it completely, while these four wrap-around ropes will stop it completely. Many good canoe racks have gunwale blocks which serve this same purpose - stopping sideways motion.

By the way, all notes regarding tying to the "bumper" refer to tying a rope "aimed in that general direction" to whatever anchor point you can come up with. On that note, if the car isn't a gem and you don't mind messing around with it, you can attach tie-downs, such as eye-bolts, directly to the bumper and be done with it.

Easiest of all
is to buy a good rack system to attach to your van. Yakima or Thule are the most common. Yes, they cost some money, but having a stable setup to tie to will not only be easier, but safer. The thought of my canoe flying off the car and through someone elses windshield has always been a motivator to me to spend the extra for a solid system.

As to tying down the front, there are a couple methods, but I just tied a loop around the arm that attaches the hood to the car, made it long enough to stick up through the gap between hood and fender when I need it, and tie down to that.

There is a product made to attach to bolts under your hood that will do essentially the same thing. Can’t remember the name but someone here will chime in.

Consider a trailer?
That Grumman can’t be light, and it might just be easier to get a trailer (you already have a hitch) rather than putting it on top of a mini-van. Easier on gas too.

tieing down…

– Last Updated: Jul-15-09 9:48 PM EST –

Your right Chris,
The end tiedowns are simply for directional stability.
For a aluminum Grumman I'd go with rope and do the old wind around the bar tightly before coming back up & over to tie on the other side...but my most important ties that hold the canoe fore/aft are the ones tieing both thwarts securely to each crossbar, no matter how far this is, so that you have a pull towards both frontend and backend...and the canoe doesn't move fore/aft at all. You don't have to go inside near the center at can tie these just inside the gunwales = an easy reach even if the bars hardly leave you any space from the roof.

Proper rack will help
We used to have a Windstar and I have hauled boats on it more than once. Challenges are finding tie off points under the bumpers, fitting the canoe onto the roof, providing space for the other canoe.

Tie-offs. There’s some sheet metal under the front bumper and it has various slots and holes punched in it. I was able to fit two clip links through two, non-identical, pairs of holes in the sheet metal to provide semi-convenient tie off spots. Not ideal, but it is a lot easier to find and thread the clips than trying to poke the rope through the holes. In back there are some steel frame members that hold up the back deck and bumber. I was able to fit large eye-bolts through holes in that beam, but I needed huge washers. Again, they are under the body, so not the most convenient, but way better than what you have now.

Fit to roof. If your canoe has much rocker to it, it won’t sit on the factory bars and still clear the roof above the windshield. A second problem is that the canoe is almost exactly as wide as the rack, and that makes knot tying very dificult. I lashed two-by-fours to the rack, both to give more span and raise the boat a bit. Lashing the two-bys is a pia, and I recommend against it. Commercial rack and adapters are available and it will probably make sense to buy some. If you don’t want to spend the money, maybe two-bys and u-bolts or some such arrangement.

My canoe was almost the exact width or the windstar’s rack. It made it hard to tie because the 2x4s were lashed to the rack, and then the canoe would sit right on top of the lashing, and knots for belly-lines over the canoe would also be right over the rack. so all the knots piled up between the rack and gunwales and it was difficult to tie. Solution, is to offset the canoe a bit so that the belly lines have a clear place to tie off.

Space for the other canoe. As long as you are going to add cross bars, make them wide enough to carry two boats. Otherwise, your vehicle is not much use for setting up shuttles.

With the boat centered on the rack your bow will not be in front of the front bumper, and you can tie from the bow to the two clips you hung on the underside. In back, the stern will hang out over the rear of the van. Bring your ropes up from underneath the body and tie off to a seat or thwart that is forward of the rear bumper. Hang a flag on your stern. Two belly lines from the rack go across from side to side. Get in the windstar and go paddling!


thwart lines & loose bolts
You can prevent forward/backward sliding by using lines from the canoe thwarts to the rack. For example, if the canoe has two thwarts in the wide part of the body, run a rope from the rear thwart to the front of the rack, then another from the front thwart to the rear of the rack. You’ll still need other lines to fully secure the boat (especially front and rear lines to control the boat in the event of rack failure).

For tiedown points, search the undercarriage and under the hood for sturdy bolts that can be loosened to add a tie-down loop and re-tightened.

Some thoughts and bought stuff
Thanks folks, lots of good info there!

I went out tonite and got PFDs for the kids and some new rope (Hey, $3.50 why not?) and a new paddle and a roof carry kit- 4 foam blocks, straps, S-hooks…

I hope to put the blocks on the gunwales to roof raising the boat above the rack as it is indeed as wide as the racks and it sits there very poorly. The kit has a long strap that is supposed to go over the bottom of the boat - so I figure it can attach to the forward rack to be, i suppose, the main tie. If this seems insufficient I will get a second for the rear rack, but I can always put some rope on it too.

As for fore/aft attachment…several ideas have come to mind. One is to run a line from the rack to the front of the canoe - I have a bow line there, as well as one in the back. Would seem easy to attach these to the rack cross bars. The front one could be a set length and the rear used to make tension so i’d not have to crawl over the roof or under the boat to tie the front on.

The only piece lacking then is something to prevent, well, yaw I guess best describes it. If I have two lines over the boat at the racks that should be enough I would think.


It really sounds like you need

– Last Updated: Jul-17-09 12:16 PM EST –

longer crossbars for the gunnels to sit squarely upon and to tie your belly straps/lines to. Aftermarket systems are easier than homely-made, but can get pricey. Front and rear tie-downs help with yaw, especially in crosswinds, if you attatch them as near to the corners of your minivan as you can, two on each end configured as an upside-down "V". Tight belly straps with a wide enough (wider is better) spread between crossbars should keep the boat from sliding fore/aft in most situations, but lines from your center thwart to your trailer hitch and front bumper or tow hook would provide additional security in an emergency.

I like 3/8 polyester braided rope and knots. You really only need to know four and, frankly, anybody with a boat should take the time to learn them and use them until they become second nature.

Every boat/vehicle combination presents its own unique set of challenges and I'm always amazed at how some have engineered solutions. Read as much as you can find, ask a lot of questions, and try whatever seems to work for you.

Congratulations on your purchase and choice of outdoor recreation. I hope you have as much fun with canoeing as my family and I have!

Oh, yeah. Keep an eye on craigslist in your area. Every so often, I see the sailing rigs for Grummans come up in mine, sometimes complete, sometimes bits 'n pieces.