Outfitting with wood gunwales

Ness has solutions for her Prospector. I’ve been contemplating bags for the MRE I got last week, but I don’t particularly like the idea of drilling and screwing into the wood gunwales. How do folks lace the bags in wood trimmed boats? Holes through the royalex?


Lacing bags in a WW canoe
Holes through the Royalex is the standard method. A more elegant solution is to double screw pad eyes on the underside of the inwale w/ SS screws.

Pad Eyes
I assume that this is a double screw pad eye, similar to what you recommend:


Would you recommend spacing them out at 12 inches?

I put these in wood gunnels recently

(scroll down to Air Bag Tie-Down Kits)

I didn’t really like drilling into the wood either, but I sucked it up since it’s not a royalex boat.

Personally, I think if you pre-drill the holes, screws don’t really affect the strength much at all. At least that’s the the thinking I choose to live with.

They have really clever products…
but the cheapest and lightest solution is to drill the hull under the gunwales. Crude, but effective.

Not exactly
The Jamestown padeyes illustrate the genre, but are way too big to use on the underside of wooden rails.

Neocorp has some plastic ones that go on w/ # 8 screws. Just predrill and do not place pad eyes too near existing rail screws or thwart machine screws.

If Neocorp doesn’t have a friendly amount Placid boats has a bunch they no longer need, as they changed their deck mount protocol.

Have done this on two boats
MRE with vinyl gunnals and Hemlock Eagle with wood.

Using nylon “inchworm” or “strap-eyes” as they are called. Used self tappers in the vinyl (aluminum backed) and SS with pilot holes in the wood.

Spacing is debatable but I’m in process of doing my MR Guide on roughly 6" centers for float bags.

Mounted to the underside of the inwales, I angle them as much as possible without having them intrude beyond flush with the inside vertical surface. This angle allows easier threading of cordage and offsets the screws with the wood grain.

I also use a lanyard threaded along the gunnal with just enough slack to use as a “clip” point. For lacing of float bags I intend to thread behind the strap-eye and above the lanyard, criss-crossing and terminating to a d-ring below the front/rear thwart.

My thought is this will allow quick install/removal of the lacing and still hold the float bags securely.



Whoa Nelly!
No surgery needed, but you will need a sewing machine.

Start with a 3" piece of flat webbing. Not the thick stuff - the weight used for pack straps etc. Sear both ends. Fold one end back, but do not align it with the other end. Rather, sew it in position (bar tacking or multiple passes of lockstitch) an inch short of the other end. Melt a hole in the single thickness of web and before the nylon cools smoosh it flat.

Back out a gunwale screw, pry the inwale away from the RX, insert the web loop, and tighten the screw.

Over time the vinyl will distort slightly which will in effect recess the webbing. You will have to re-tighten the screw several times. Did it this way on my old MR Explorer.with my old RX Explorer.



I like your approach. For the Chipewan, I made a carry strap instead of a thwart. I looped it inside the inwale, over the edge and down inside the outwale. It works, but I don’t really like the bump where the strap passes over the edge of the canoe, and it is not hard to imagine the strap wearing out in that spot if the boat is slid onto racks 1000 times. But here is a question for you?

Will the gunwales require special care because the strap creates a bit of space between the boat and the wood? Will you need to remove the wales to oil the surface that faces the boat?

Drilling has a lot going for it. My Encore’s bags are laced through holes in the hull. I didn’t do it so I didn’t have to wrestle with the morality of drilling a hull. But performance wise, the lacing has done well, I don’t notice the holes, and the holes don’t seem to affect the hull. Holes weigh less than all other alternatives! Installation of most retention systems starts with drilling a hole. Installing a hole, well… Now that has me wondering if I’d need to do anything to smooth or seal the hole through the hull. Anybody?


Drill a friggin hole!
For crying out loud! I think everyone should be required, upon purchase, to drill a hole in their boat. Somewhere. Anywhere! And then get over it.

It’s a tool! use it! Modify it! Make it yours! For float bags, you drill holes every 4" along each side below the gunwale and lace some 1/8 inch lawnmower starting cord through. One extra hole 1" away at the end to feed the cord back through and tie it off. Takes about 15 minutes. I did mine with a cordless drill at the put-in while I was waiting for all the perfectionists to neatly fold their underwear after changing into wetsuits.

Sorry. Sometimes I have to vent. And that last part may not be true. I never even saw their underwear. -Hal :slight_smile:

On my MRE

– Last Updated: Mar-19-08 2:12 PM EST –

I just kept oiling the wood with Watco (it was what MR sold at the time).

A thought: If the RX was warmed first - gently, with a heat gun or hair dryer, when the inwale and outwale are pulled together with the screw I suspect that the vinyl will deform to allow the webbing to recess nicely. Of course, I no longer have the boat so I cannot test this hypothesis.

And Fluke, from my experience this crew is NOT shy with the drill & bits.


Or, leave it out in the sun on a hot day, or warm bothj th ewood and RX at teh same time with the heat gun.

Just don’t drill holes in the bottom
like the guy who wanted a drain hole in his seat. He got one, plus a scupper he didn’t want.

another idea from Bell that I like…

– Last Updated: Mar-19-08 12:53 PM EST –

I haven't tried yet, ..and may have been mentioned already, but you might want to look at Bell's Daisy Chain patch..which can obviously be cut & redistributed anywhere... *Having not checked Northwater's site, they might have similar...


My experience…
Dagger Impulse

Mohawk Odyssey

Mohawk Probe 12

Mohawk Probe 12 II

Mad River Outrage

Mad River Outrage X

These are Royalex boats I have owned that had holes drilled into the hulls, under the gunwales, for lace kits. I never/ever had a problem with any of them; not once.

I have a problem with drilling holes in wood gunwales for any reason.I don’t see that it’s necesary, or

preferable to drilling holes in the hull.

Then again, it’s your boat, not mine.


Drill the Royalex
That’s the way you do it.

Can’t wait to use that new drill
You see the abbreviation lol, but are they really laughing? Right now, my wife is upstairs yelling “what, what, what’s so funny?” No, I guess it ain’t that funny. But I busted a gut. Thanks for the posts, guys.


Drill, drill
Like the first scratch on the walnut stock of a $1,000 upland shotgun…bound to happen sooner than later. Get it over with!