solo canoe yoke??

Rather than a kneeling thwart on my Bell Northstar, I was able to pick up a solo canoe instead. Now the proud owner of Mad River Indy. Call this a dumb question, but having a center seat, where does one mount a center yoke for easy carry???

Thanks Steve

The seat is not in the center
quite. The removable yoke attaches forward of the seat.

Like this. There are other types.

Not a dumb question
You’ll need to use a removable thwart that you can mount a few inches forward of the leading edge of the seat. There are any number of options from traditional wooden yokes that clamp onto the gunnels to straps and other padded cloth devices.

If you don’t need to portage too far, you can put a gunnel over one shoulder, grasping the seat with the same hand (right shoulder, right hand). I’ve portages my boats that way for over a mile. If you’re wearing a pack (or a PFD), the gunnel generally sits nicely over one of the padded shoulder straps and it is quite comfortable.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

How far are you carrying the boat?

– Last Updated: Apr-28-10 10:54 PM EST –

Except on long carries, I just place the front edge of the seat across my shoulders (it's not perfectly balanced front-to-back when carried that way, but it's not difficult to manage either). As others have mentioned, a true yoke will need to be removable, and there are many kinds. There are even some that clamp to the seat, so they are very small and compact since they don't need to extend across the full width of the boat.

Congrats on snagging a cult
classic! Kayamedic’s right. My Indy balances about an inch forward of the front edge of the seat and that’s where to mount the clamp-on yoke. That Bell model looks just about ideal to me.

Thanks for all the info. I think it will be best to use it/carry it for a while before making the call on a yoke. For the most part the carry will be from the car to the water for now. I have a backcountry trip planned in Aug in Ont. and by then hope to have a plan.

Thanks for help once again.

Most areas in Ontario
you will want a good yoke. I know they are expensive but you only need to buy one once.

There has been discussion about making your own over on

If you get a rig that’s a little uncomfortable on the neck/shoulders. I once picked up some light football shoulderpads…still have them. Work great when the need is there.


Sooner or later
you will want one. Long portages with improvised padding become obnoxius, and even with lighter canoes the shoulders can get sore and tires (especially for us older guys).


On second look at the Bell yoke,
I noticed that it says max. beam is 28". Beam at rails on Indy is 29, I think. It might still work if you can elongate the slots a bit, though. I’d call them before buying it.

I agree
there is a whole lot of wasted wood beyond the slots. I have an old solo portage yoke of the same design though not fancily curved at the ends. Its served me well for 17 years and the slots come a lot closer to the ends.

Bell workarounds
I’ve got the Bell and recently tried to use it on my new to me Wenonah Vagabond. No way was it going to work as designed. Instead I brought along a cam buckle tie down to keep it in place. Worked without a problem didn’t shift at all.