S-hooks vs Clips for Bow/Stern Tie Downs

Hello All,

Kind of debating on switching my s-hooks for carabiner clips on my bow & stern tie downs. This is mostly from paranoia that the s-hooks might “bounce” off from a speed bump, pot hole, etc. - Could this really happen?



I closed the ‘s’ in a vice
and then use 'biners to attach to the car and straps on the boats.

If something were to loosen, I hope to see the slack in the bow or stern lines, and stop and fix it before something happens. I would hate to compound the original problem by having the hook drop off and dent the hood, or have the rope wrap a rotating item and break the boat, or worse.

Yes, it will happen
I lost on S-hook off the front tow hook on my car when hitting a prodigious pothole at moderate speed. Luckily I was on surface streets so could pull over immediately and secure it. The S-hook was waving around bouncing off the hood - very annoying. I ditched the S-hooks and went to carabiners as you suggest.

If your vehicle has an attachment point that you can go around like a bumper support or a tie down hook/loop then tie a loop in the end of the tie down and pass it through/around the stanchion and pass the pulley through the loop. Pull taught to secure. Car lasso’d. No chance of bounce off.

FWIW the biner works just fine.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


Learn to tie knots
Just learn to tie a few simple knots.

No need for hooks, or clips or carabiners or pulleys or ratchets.

Just a length of rope.

"This is mostly from paranoia that the s-hooks might “bounce” off from a speed bump, pot hole, etc. - Could this really happen? "

Yes, it could happen. It did happen to me!

No real harm done as far as wrapping over some rotating component and breaking the boat/car. I was able to stop and fix the problem quickly enough.

But a biner is such an easy solution. It’s a no-brainer.

I replaced my s-hooks
with carabiners for that same fear.

But I get used climbing carabiners cheap at the local store ‘yearly swap meet’.

I also add a series of half-hitcvhes to use up the remaining rope.

When on the warter, my painter has carabiners at both ends, one clipped to my grab-handle, the other to wrap around a tree and clip to keep the boat where I put it.

trucker’s hitch has always worked for me.

Something about having metal hooks or clips near my composites is like figners on a chalkboard.

What are you using that comes with an s hook at the end? Not a bungee I hope.

I had a customer say that everyone uses rubber bungee straps; she’s sees them all the time on the side of the road. I replied, “Yeah, and before they all ended up on the side of the road, they were holding things to cars that are no longer being held to those cars”.

There ARE good bungies, but…

– Last Updated: Sep-28-12 8:46 PM EST –

... I don't know where to get them. When I was a kid, my dad always strapped boats to the top of a car with bungies, but not the kind anyone is likely to have seen before. His roof racks were home-built with sturdy anchor points welded to the support brackets and to the bar ends, and the bungie hooks would attach to one anchor point or the other. Except for being plain white, these bungies looked like the multi-strand, fabric-coated, bright-colored bungies you can buy in any hardware store (not the black solid rubber ones). Each was cut to three feet long from a much longer piece, with the ends formed into a bite which was tightly lashed with wire to make a loop. The remainder of the needed length was made up with rope. These cords were an inch thick, and it took about 90 pounds of force to stretch a three-foot length out to an additional 8 inches, which when the rope length was adjusted correctly, was the amount of stretch needed to engage the hook on the rack. I used them for several years after my dad stopped carrying boats on the roof of his cars so often, and for a really sturdy boat (like my aluminum Jon boat or my brother's Grumman canoe) they were fine. In all those years, no boat ever budged a bit in transport, and I can't say the same about the more "refined" racking and strapping methods I use now (unless I use my home-built gunwale blocks). Of course, my other boats "deserve" a tie-down method that's secure without so much tension, and since the bungies are now 50 years old, I don't even use them on the aluminum boats, though they still "feel" like they would work.

S-hooks are unsafe
The whole purpose of bow and stern tiedowns, should the main belly straps fail, is to keep the boat near your vehicle during the emergency stop, rather than tumbling through surrounding traffic and endangering others.

If a pothole or a bump is enough to dislodge an S-hook, what do you suppose will happen in the event of an actual flyoff? That boat will be all over the road … literally. Better to use a carabiner, snap-link, or a good knot of some sort.

In fact, even rain or high humidity can make ropes go slack enough to pop an S-hook loose.