New to the site - A few newbie questions

-- Last Updated: Nov-13-12 6:08 PM EST --


I used to Sea Kayak on the East Coast (LI Sound, etc) but have been away from paddling for 5 years. Just bought a 5 year-old 16' Wenonah Aurora in good shape but in original basic condition. VERY excited to start paddling again, but going Canoe this round (Flat water with some slow river up to Class II stuff eventually). I am in Denver, so it's getting cold now. I'll be going Tandem 90% of the time.

Hoping you experts can help with a few basic questions!

I have ordered some D-rings on Nylon base pads to attach - How is it best to attach such things as lashing points (e.g. epoxy?). Or, is this 1" D-ring approach a mistake?

How is best to lash float bags so they stay put?

Is there a compound that is best to use to "condition" the hull of this Royalex boat of just lever 'er alone?

It needs the Thwarts refinished. Just use a good Marine Varnish in many light coats with 220 paper in between? Or?

I'll poke around the site for ideas/lists of the right basic gear to take on every trip (day trips for now).


A couple answers

– Last Updated: Nov-13-12 7:36 PM EST –

If you get D-rings with the strapping sewed onto a patch of vinyl, you can bond that to the inside of the hull really well using "Vinybond" (the stuff looks and smells like the solvent that's used for bonding inner-tube patches).

For building a float-bag cage, the "standard" method is to drill holes through the hull just below the gunwale, about four inches apart, and use them to lace a crossing network of cord over the top of the bag. You can install screw-in eyelets under the gunwale to do the same thing, but to some extent that weakens the gunwales against lateral stress (like what happens when running sideways against a rock or tree), while drilling the hull has virtually no negative effect on strength. In addition, you need one or two straps over the bag running from the tip of the hull and down to the floor at the "fat end" of each bag, to keep the bag from sliding out from under the cage of cords. I just use a fat rope instead of a strap. You'll need a well-anchored D-ring (or two if you use two straps) mounted on the floor. A hole drilled sideways through the tip of the hull or perhaps a vertical hole through the deck plate can anchor the other end of this strap or straps (or ropes). If you look at the photos linked below, that little bit of white rope that's visible on the outside of the hull at the very tip of the bow and stern is the anchor point for the strap (rope) that runs the length of each float bag.
(Click on "actions" > "all sizes" > "original size" for a larger image)

Threading skinny cord through holes along the edges of the hull is no big deal if the cage will always be in place, but if you plan to remove it now and then you'll get pretty sick of the job, and it may even prevent you from making the switch to caged or uncaged, just because it's no fun. Here's a trick I use to cut lacing/unlacing time to a tiny fraction of what it otherwise would be:

Thwarts can be varnished or oiled. Chances are the boat came from the factory with an oil finish or a "barely even there" coating of varnish. Some people like to varnish the end grain of each thwart, and periodically oil the the surfaces that are always accessible. The pluses and minuses of oil versus varnish can be talked about if you are interested. Everyone has their favorite method, which usually partially depends on a few factors such as where the boat is used and whether it is stored inside or outside.

Not sure why need D Rings
Why do you need D Rings?

He’ll be doing whitewater eventually.
My guess is that he wants to tie his gear into the boat. He needs at least two D-rings or SOME kind of anchor points on the floor at the fat end of each float bag anyway. Might as well add a few more to tie down packs. I have two sets of four D-rings on the floor of two of my boats, and I can’t tell you how handy that is to keep stuff in place. Tied-down packs add quite a lot of flotation if the boat is swamped too.

Great Help
Thank you for the images and ideas. All makes great sense.

Also look here:
Go to Mohawk’s website,

… and click on “Outfitting Your Canoe”. Once there, you can check out “Gluing Vinyl Pads to Royalex” and “Lacing for Flotation Bags”.

Just a thought -
If your goal is to paddle up to class 2 white water consider whether float bags and tie in points other than the seat frames and thwarts are really necessary. It is one thing if you are using a boat exclusively for day trips in substantial white water - but it can be a PIA and not necessary to be dealing with float bags and tied in gear for casual paddling and multi day trips in flatwater and mild whitewater. Consider the posssible advantages of keeping things simple. Everyone has his/her own way to do this, which is fine, - but be aware there are experienced safety conscious people out there who do not use float bags and heavily tied in gear for the type of paddling you describe. Simple is often better in life and in canoeing.

open boat outfitting

– Last Updated: Nov-14-12 1:25 PM EST –

There are lots of ways to outfit canoes for whitewater and everyone has their own preferences.

I think having at least a couple of anchor points (one for each paddler) on the hull bottom to secure gear is an excellent idea for any boat used in significant current. You will at least have a couple of water bottles and perhaps a dry bag or two and you would prefer to not have them loose in the boat in case of an upset.

Some folks will tie or secure gear to seat frames or thwarts which isn't a great idea for a couple of reasons. One, the cords present an entanglement hazard. Second, if you ever have to invert the boat to carry out a boat over boat rescue this junk hangs beneath the gunwales of the inverted canoe and gets in the way.

I have had good results with vinyl adhesive (aka "Vynabond") if used properly but it may work loose after a few years. If so, vinyl patches can usually be resecured with vinyl adhesive. Some whitewater boaters who absolutely don't want their D rings blowing out during some remote run will use epoxy (West System G Flex preferred for Royalex), but it is more expensive and makes it difficult to remove the patch without damaging the canoe if you ever want to.

I would first carefully mark the position of your patches and trace an outline with pencil or a marker. Lightly sand the hull surface with 100-150 grit sandpaper and clean it with acetone or MEK if you have any, or alcohol if you don't. Clean the patch bottom as well and apply an even coat of vinyl adhesive to both patch and hull. You need to let the adhesive "degas" before approximating the patch to the hull which usually takes 15 min or so. You can speed it up by carefully warming the patch and hull with a heat gun or hair drier. Be careful to align the patch as you won't be able to move it after it makes contact. For best results go over the patch with a small, hand-held roller.

I prefer running flotation bag lacing through holes drilled just below the gunwales as it is clean and least expensive and doesn't weaken the gunwales. As Eric said, it does take some time to remove and re-lace the cordage if you want to do so frequently.

If you don't want to do this you can buy lacing kits with nylon "inchworms" to secure to the gunwales with either pop rivets or stainless steel sheet metal screws. Cheaper is to buy some nylon "P clips" of the type used to secure coaxial cable to a wall. Radio Shack has them. You can rivet or screw these to the underside of your inwales or to the hull side just below the inwales. I like 3 mm nylon accessory cord for lacing in flotation bags.

You need some type of "keeper strap" or cord to keep the bag pushed up in the stem of the canoe otherwise water will float it back toward the center. Just about anything will work but I like either 3/4" or 1" wide flat webbing of either nylon or polypropylene secured using nylon "Fastex" triglides, ladder locks, or side release buckles made by Nexus and others.

There are a couple of other modifications you might consider making for whitewater use. I would glue in two pairs of kneeling pads so that you can get down on your knees quickly and easily when you want or need to. Some people prefer to use loose, removable kneeling pads or mats. I find that the large kneeling mats are heavy, and loose knee pads are one more thing to carry to and from the river, to forget, or to float away in case of an upset. Loose pads also are usually not where you want them to be if you need to get down on your knees quickly.

You can buy fancy, contoured pads or just make your own out of 3/4-1" thick minicell foam. Harbor Freight also sells some thin sheets of inexpensive foam which can be glued together in a couple of layers to make pads. Use a good quality flammable contact cement like DAP Weldwood to glue them in. Since foam is somewhat porous you need to use 2 or 3 coats on the foam.

You might also want to add grab loops to the bow and stern stems of your boat since Wenonahs usually lack them. They are handy for securing painters or securing your boat for cartopping. You can tie a painter on to a carry thwart near the stem but it is better to have it lower and closer to the water. You can use a length of 5/16-3/8" thick braided nylon rope or 1" wide tubular nylon webbing for grab loops. Just drill a pair of holes through the hull on either side about 1 1/2" back from the stem and high enough so that your loop doesn't drag in the water. Run a length of rope or webbing through the holes with a knot on either end inside the boat.

You can also run a short length of 3 mm accessory cord through each pair of holes and tie it to itself inside the hull so that it forms a loop under the deck plate of the canoe. These loops are convenient anchor points for you flotation bag keeper straps. Just run the end of the strap around the loop and secure it to itself with a nylon triglide.

Ring on the grab loop
When you install the grab loops as described by pblanc, and they are an excellent idea, add a 1" stainless steel ring on the loop. You will be able to tie your painter to this ring. You can clip your flag to it when car-topping, if it hangs over the stern of your vehicle. I’ve forgotten to put them on the last couple boats I outfitted, and I always regret it. This is a very small and not totally necessary tweak, but the rings are really useful. I find them especially handy when I am putting multiple boats on the vehicle and I can route tie down lines through the rings. On the water, if you are pulling the boat to one side, the ring slides along the grab loop so you can evenly pull. Minor, minor, minor, but nice.


join RMCC
Rocky Mountain Canoe Club - many group trips during the year (first 2013 trip would be in March on the S Platte)- solves the shuttle problem nicely.

CII out here is likely a bit different than CII back east, or no one would ask if you really need D-rings for lashing. Of the likely hundred or so people I’ve paddled with here, all but a small handfull have thier boats outfitted with floatation - typically, if you don’t and you pin your boat, that becomes your problem - the floatation bags help a lot to reduce the possibility of pinning, and will allow a loose boat to float much higher and drier, making recovery by you or someone else a whole lot easier. Rigging the boat well at the start, you won’t be held back later if you want to do harder stuff - lots of the trips here are mostly CI/CII but with maybe III added in.

All of the “how to” suggestions above are apt - take em and run.

you will likely start doing overnight/3 day trips, and having several “sets” of D-ring tie downs is a big help for lashing in gear - you typically need more for the gear than for just a center float bag. Most people on camping trips use thier gear (in dry bags) as floatation - maybe with a floatation bag over that if there is room.

consider how you are going to set up your bag cages. If you will be solo paddling, from the bow seat/boat reversed, you’d want a bow bag as well as center bag - for tandem, you’d what two shorter end bags and a center bag.

p.s. - some of the lakes have rangers patrolling and checking for required safety eq and other stuff. You are required to have your name and phone # written on the inside of the boat; over 16’, you are required to have a type IV throwable cushion; need to carry a whistle - stuff like that.

Most states don’t require throw rings,
… for canoes or kayaks longer than 16 feet, but a quick search did not clarify for me if this is the case for Colorado. The normal exemption for paddle craft only makes sense, since the law is intended for a “man overboard” situation and hauling that person back into the boat. If you fall out of your canoe or kayak, the boat has likely tipped over too so even IF you were paddling tandem and not solo, there’s no one left to throw the ring to you.

Easy to swamp a canoe in cl 1 & 2…
…especially if you are trying new things.

Flotation is cheap insurance against a catastrophic pin. Even just a couple of end bags can also make emptying water out of the boat a lot easier.

If you take a timid approach to paddling and never “stretch your wings”, float bags may be a completely unnecessary bother.

^^^pblanc’s post^^^
Works for me.

Another source for outfitting tips…

Wow - Impressed
Thank you ALL sooo much for the thoughtful and thorough responses. Very nice to have such great information.

I most definitely need to find some wide sawhorses and padding to get to work on this thing! It’s perfect, do a little boat work, spin around to other side of the garage, wrench on the motorcycle…repeat.

Drilling holes will be an odd feeling but I will do enough research and look for pics so I do it right (a huge thing with me - I want to do thing right from the start).

Thanks again!

Guess I’m out of step.

– Last Updated: Nov-15-12 6:32 AM EST –

We all paddle lengthy trips and day trips in tripping canoes in all sorts of conditions up to an occasional four (by eastern standards) and none of us uses any flotation and we tie our gear in only if we are going to be running threes and fours and even then we just tie into the thwarts and seats and slotted inwales. This includes trips in northern canada above the arctic circle. I guess its just a different tripping style.

Edit - thinking about this a little more, I do see and agree that when learning to paddle in mild white water the use of floatation has a place and so for the OP I agree that it is perfectly reasonable to feel the need for flotation.