Solid deck bow tie down?

Hi everyone - sorry if this has been covered in some depth before.

I know a lot of people say tying down the bow and stern on a canoe when traveling is “belts and suspenders”. With our Honda Accord, we didn’t tie down either - just straps across the canoe in line with the Yakima Racks and it was fairly solid.

Our canoe is a 17ft cedar strip, made by my wife’s grandfather. It has solid wood decks bow and stern with no spot for painters ropes, tie downs, handles, etc. So the only available attachment points right now is the one yoke and the two seats.

We just bought a 2012 Outback and have yet to figure out the roof rack set up, but these are my questions:

Is there a way to attach to a solid deck without drilling any holes?

Can I just attach snugly to the seats even though they are the weaker attachment point?

Should I not even be concerned and stick with just the two tie downs?

And finally, based on the aerodynamics of driving with the canoe upside down, is the bow or stern tie down the most important in terms of a “safety net”?

I’m pretty new to this as well, but I feel you do want the added safety of the ends being tied down as well. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the canoe itself and the speed you will be driving at along with the condition of the roads.

I can suggest maybe get 2-4 C-clamps and pad the jaws as to not dig into the wood. Piece of an old bike inner tube maybe. clamp them to the canoe deck or sides and attach your ropes / straps to them.

Welcome to the site.

Make loops of either nylon straps or line around the bow and stern, about a foot or two from the ends. Take a third strap or line to form a loop connecting the first two loops so that they cannot slide off the ends. Attach your bow and stern tiedowns to the end loops. Make sure that all three loops are snug enough that they cannot allow the end loops to come off the boat. If using line, choose something that will not stretch. This method is similar to how some canoe and kayak security cables are designed.

The whole setup can be removed and left assembled by loosening just one strap enough to allow the rig to be taken off the boat. The three loops can be put on the boat before it is placed on top of the vehicle.

Both a bow and a stem tiedown can be equally important in the event of a rack failure or in an accident. Most rack manufacturers also require them for a warranty claim in the event of a rack failure that may also result in damage to your vehicle and/or boat.


Pics might help but in any case you have some options. You could add carry handles and attach lines to the handles ( is one good source). You could drill 2 holes (maybe 3/16) in the gunwales (inwales near the deck) and run a short piece of line through the holes and tie it so you have a loop and you’d have excellent anchor points. If you don’t want to modify the looks of the canoe at all you could add nylon pad eyes on the underside of the gunwales (the inwales) near the deck and you’d have anchor points.

The front of the canoe takes the majority of the aerodynamic loads so you’ll get the most benefit from front tie-downs but if you don’t use load stops you might need stern lines as well. I’ll sometimes use one line at the rear from the rear seat to an anchor point on the vehicle.

You can add some security with double-strapping especially in front. Just strap normally then go to the other side and add a strap pulling in the opposite direction.

Load stops add security. The longer the front-rear span of your bars the better.

I don’t use bow or stern lines for short drives at low speeds but for highway driving they add a lot of security.

Just my two cents. It’s an emotional topic and I expect that you’ll get a variety of opinions.

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Thanks guys! I like the three different approaches. I’ll look into what works well when I get things set up on the new car. We have the Yakima Keel Over canoe racks (is this a “load stop”?) that hold the gunwales in place. The canoe also has scuppered inwales that I never thought about using as an attachment point! I think I’ll give that a shot first for the bow.

You definitely need straps around the canoe where the crossbars are, in addition to bow and stern tiedowns. If your vehicle has raised roof rails and you carry the canoe toward one side as opposed in the middle, I recommend wrapping the straps on the outside edge around the roof rail as well as the crossbar. This will further secure the crossbar as well as the canoe. Factory roof rails are much stronger than crossbars, whether factory or addon.

I’ve been carrying it on our accord with Yakima Cross Bars, set up with the Keel Over Canoe Accessory to keep the gunwales from moving side to side or twisting. I have typically just used straps over the hull where the crossbars are and that has been fairly sturdy (we drove 5 hours in the rain at 70mph and it didn’t slide around at all).

With getting the Outback, I just want to make sure it’s still secure and I don’t want to have to worry about wind as much when driving. Until now, without the bow tie down, I’ve been concerned about any crosswind that comes and constantly looking to make sure it hasn’t twisted or turned while driving.

I think if I figured out a quick and secure system for the bow tie down, going to both sides of the hood, then I would be much less concerned. Overall though I haven’t had any issues and have never had to stop to adjust the straps yet.

The Keel Over gunwale brackets are indeed load stops. They seem like a good design, they grab the factory crossbars on my wife’s CRV tenaciously. Scuppered gunwales are perfect for attaching a loop of sturdy rope/cord for tie down points. The Outback has such a unique factory rack. It looks like it would be solid for one canoe as long as your canoe fits between the roof rails. I think you have a better than average front to rear span.