Painter Lines In Bow & Stern of Canoe

I recently purchased a Mad River Adventurer 14 Canoe.

My question is where and how can I attach permanent “Painter Lines” to the bow and stern of this canoe.

These lines are usually 25 feet long and necessary safety lines to secure canoe to shore, or tow the canoe in a emergency situation. Painters are usually tied through holes or cleats installed by the manufacturer in the bow and stern of the canoe.

The Adventure 14 Canoe does not have any holes or cleats in the bow and stern. The canoe does have nylon web hand grips atop bow and stern.

These nylon hand grips are screwed into the top deck of the bow and stern are would not be strong enough to hold the weight of this canoe in an emergency situation where the canoe was drifting from shore or because swamped with water and had to be towed to shore.

Anyone have any suggestions ?



– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 4:30 PM EST –

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You are over-rating the need for ropes
and under-rating the strength of those hand loops.

I’ve paddled whitewater for 35 years, and while I have dutifully put painters on my boats, because people who acted like they knew what they were talking about said I “should.” But I’ve never had a serious use for such a painter.

You could fill that boat with lead shot, and I could tie a standard clothesline onto one of the handles, and tow it all over the ocean.

Go paddle and quit worrying about it.

Maybe someone with the same canoe will offer a solution from their experience. You are correct nylon hand grips would not be strong enough. Check out Tug eyes, not a hard fix. It looks like the decks are assessable from the underside, if so you could fashion some sort of cleat or I-bolt buy drilling though the deck and use fender washers on the inside.

If you really need the painters, why not

– Last Updated: Jun-29-11 9:54 PM EST –

add a short thwart near the bow and one near the stern. then you could tie the painter to them

I have done it on four of our canoes. Not for the painter, but for a place to mount a GPS for the bow paddler.
It is a fairly simple procedure with a short piece of aluminum tubing. If you flatten the ends of the tubing in a vice, and then gently bend them with an angle to fit your canoe gunnels, all you have to do is bolt or rivet them to the gunnels.
Even though our canoes have one as a handle, I added the second one right behind the first for the GPS mount

Jack L

Get a rope and tie a knot in one end. Drill a hole in the nose of the boat the same size as the rope. Put rope in hole. Go paddle.

Or, tie a rope to a carabiner bid enough to fit over the handle. clip it on. Seriously, I have been paddling for 25 years and have never been in a situation where the painter line was put under more than minimal stress. My Whitewater boat has painters done the first way I described and my class1 and flatwater boats get the second treatment.

I believe cliff jacobson has a description of his method in one of his books. basically drill a hole through both sides of the bow and epoxy a plastic tube in there. run the rope though the tube.

Do what g2d said
- tie nylon clothes line to the bow handle and that’s it. When boat is filled with water, you can’t tow it anyway. Mostly this rope is a safety measure so that canoe won’t drift away while you’re sleeping or wandering around the shores. I almost lost mine a few times in coming tide and offshore wind.

Comments and Advice

– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 10:53 PM EST –

I find painters to be handy and I use them quite often, particularly for launching and landing at tricky spots like high, steep banks or logjams. It's great to be able to easily step out sideways but then set the boat free and pull it to the same place end-first to drag it up the bank or through a gap in a logjam (in tricky situations, you probably can't keep your hands on the boat at all during the re-positioning), and to reverse the process when launching. They are also super handy for walking the boat through shallow spots, especially if the boat needs to take a different path than your feet. By all means, put 'em on your boat if you want 'em.

I think those web-strap carry handles will be strong enough 99.9 percent of the time. You won't be lifting a boat-load of water when the thing is swamped, only making it glide through the water. If you want to make them stronger, install a big fender washer on the back side of the hull, an appropriately sized washer over the webbing, and perhaps even use a slightly larger bolt. Those handles will never break if you do that. If you like projects, install tug-eyes or home-built equivalents.

If you are concerned about handling your swamped boat, install air bags. Nothing else you can do will make whitewater rescues and recoveries easier. I haven't gotten into serious whitewater so far and I use smaller bags than any of the "real" whitewater paddlers, but with those bags the boat floats upside-down with nothing except the gunwales touching the water, and when right-side up and swamped or supported on its side, the lowest part of the boat will still clear rocks that are only 6 inches or so below the surface. It makes most swamping situations a non-issue.

Good Answer
That says it all. Do what he said.

Good Advise
Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my thread. Each response made sense. Being a new canoeist, I may be over the safety net. I read about the importance of “painter” lines in beginners canoe book. I am still thinking like a power boater with dock lines. I just havn’t made the transition to canoeist but I am working on it. I don’t like the idea of drilling holes in the canoe. I think I will use the pre-existing web handles and reinforce their fasters with SS fender washer backing, SS bolts/nuts & flat washers. I also may double the web handles for added strength. This should provide me with the luxury of well mounted carrying handles and the safety of having a place to secure a line to the bow and stern should I need it. jp

"I don’t like the idea of drilling holes in the canoe."

Luckily, you don’t have to. OTH, high-end brands like Souris River have exactly this - 1/4" holes in the bow, about 2" from the bow and 2" below the gunwale, with carrying loop tied through. Souris at least has grommets in those holes, cheaper canoes have just holes without grommets.

When paddling WW or moving water…
painters can be very useful, especially during hull retreival and recovery. I’m not sure why you need 25 ft. long lines. Usually 12 to 14 ft. will do and will not add so much to tangle and extra weight. Nylon is not good for a painter. It does not float and is prone to stretching. Polypro is very strong, floats, and will hold up longer. HTH


Adventure 14
The Adventure is definitely NOT a whitewater boat. It would be good for scraping down a river, but you’re probably not planning on running CIII whitewater with it. If you were, then sure you would need to be serious about heavy duty painters fastened through the hull at bow and stern.

For what you are likely using it for, then the nylon handles will be plenty strong enough to tie off to. Nylon webbing is pretty strong. What you will want to double check is that the handles are ‘through bolted’ to the decks. That just means they are using a screw with a nut and washers rather than just being screwed into the plastic and hoping it holds.

Note that normally the deck is a weak point on a canoe, often a fairly lightweight plastic riveted to the gunwalres. However, since the Adventure looks to be a single piece molded hull, the deck will be just as strong a point to fasten to as drilling through the bow or stern would be.

If you did want to drill through the bow and stern then it wouldn’t be a big deal. You would want to go 2-3" down from the deck and 2-3" in from the stem. Remember that the whole canoe is open on top anyway. A 1/2" - 3/4" hole for the painter to run through isn’t going to change how much water could come in.


"No your other left!

Here You Go

– Last Updated: Jun-30-11 11:56 AM EST –

Like Eric (Guideboatguy), I use painter line all the time. Lining through spots, tyeing off the boat, difficult put in's and take outs, etc. Here's what I got a few years ago. Since I have more than one boat, I like this because it is convenient to move from one boat to another. Also should be easy to use on those handles. I bought from Bass Pro Shops. BTW, if you read the poor "Review," the guy is "Reviewing" the stupid PICTURE in the catalog. He gives the actual rope a 4/5! Hope that helps! WW

Picture of Mine on my Boat
Here’s a picture of mine “Daisy chained” on my boat. Doesn’t get in the way like that. Here you go:

added loop
My canoe had a flimsy deck plate, so I added a grab loop. I also added bungees to the deck plate to hold the painters.

My experience
My experience from my whitewater days is that I and others used painter lines scores of time for rescues – either towing lost boats or pulling them off pins. Also used the painters for lowering or pulling boats up canyon walls or river embankments, and even pulling the boats along railroad tracks and other portage trails.

But I don’t think you will be doing these kinds of whitewater things in a MRC Adventurer.

Very long painters aid whitewater and wilderness paddlers to line or track canoes down or up rapids while walking on shore. You don’t need painters that long for flatwater canoeing.

I usually use a bow painter as long as the boat and a stern painter a couple feet shorter, but there’s no magic in those lengths. They just seem to work for me for most FW and mild WW purposes.

If MRC installed those web loops on the ends I would assume they are there to lift the canoe and have been engineered to withstand that level of force. That would be sufficient for FW painter use. I would just put a loose bowline loop through the web handles and store the painters somehow in the bow and stern. (I just usually leave the painters loose on the bottom of the canoe, but lots of other paddlers use some sort of bungee or Velcro fastening system.) That way you can just grab the webbing or grab the painter.

Drilling holes in the stems is also a common and traditional way of attaching a painter. However, if you have flotation tanks in the bow and stern, you don’t want to drill open holes through them. In that case, after you drill, you should insert Tugeyes or glue DIY plastic tubes in the drill holes.