Wide canoe roof rack advice


Happy new owner of an old Old Town Stillwater 12. Loving it but at 41" wide (!) I’m not sure I have room for gunwale brackets on the roof rack crossbars - only about 1" space between gunwale and crossbar clamp on each side.

I am living with just strapping the canoe directly to the crossbars, which works - it’s just that the canoe is very slippy-slidey up there until I lash it down, and I’m pretty sure at some point I’m going to lose control of it and see it crash to the ground.

Any ideas? Tips/tricks? Anyone know what brand gunwale brackets are narrowest?

Thanks for any and all help!

What kind of rack is it?

– Last Updated: May-15-16 6:07 PM EST –

Gunwale brackets are not the same for all brands. Further, with any major brand you can simply swap out your short cross bars for longer ones that will reach well beyond the edges of your boat. With longer bars, you can avoid your current situation of interference between cross-bar clamps and gunwale brackets by putting the canoe a little off-center, so the gunwale brackets go outside the cross-bar clamps on one side and inside the clamps on the other.

ubolts are round n rectangular. Useful for gunwale stops with long legs covered with hose or nutted holding a braket/plate/plywood/1x4"


Ubolts loctited down will hold 2 longer rectangular tubes…with gunwale stops. Gunwale stops are safer than strapping by a laaaaarge maaargin. Strap and stop.


Steel tubes need a thinner soak n rinse out inside( stop one end ) then deep Rusto primer with 2-3 Rusto top coats…use white.

Use aluminum if you can generate enthusiasm for the extra cost.

fat little hull !

Inside gunnels
With my 17 ft Mad River Explorer on a Honda Fit, I simply

mount Yakima brackets on the inside of the gunnels. Serves the same function as on the outside of the rails.

the first installation
a stern or bow set can be slid into but the second set should be planned as reachable from under hull ?

oh yeah!

– Last Updated: May-15-16 9:07 PM EST –

that's genius.
I don't know why I didn't think of mounting the boat off center - duh!
Thank you.

(It's a Thule with square bars, btw - I may even have enough wiggle room to get brackets on with the bars I have, just by pushing the boat over! funny how the brain gets stuck in a rut sometimes).

also genius.
This is also deceptively simple yet escaped me.

Thank you!

also thanks Datakoll -
U-bolts seem like they’d be perfect in this application.

I’d never seen the rectangular ones.

thank you all - one or several of these approaches will solve my problems!

I’ve never used gunwale brackets
and I’ve never had a problem. I use straps with cam buckles and I pull them tight - the boat doesn’t move. I also use bow lines. I have a Subaru Forester, so there is no place for decent stern line. I’m not sure that the bow line would do anything if the rack failed, but it does make it easier to see if the boat is moving on the rack (very rarely has).

Don’t use gunwale brackets either
This is in addition to the straps over the canoe and the bow line, the latter of which is tied to two points triangulated. I don’t worry about double anchor points for the bow tie downs with the kayaks, but the windage in a canoe upside down does get interesting.

I run a strap inside between at least one of the thwarts and a crossbar on my rack. Sometimes two depending on how well I bother to line things up. The rear one does double duty, I grab a red one that is long enough to secure a thwart to the rear crossbar and run out to the back to serve as a overhang marker.

I don’t see how this uses the rack for security any differently than the gunwale brackets, still relaying on the attachments above the towers. But it feels a lot more secure to know the only thing that could get loose is the skin of the canoe short of a total rack failure.

I just put one clamp/bar…fwiw
It’s a lot easier(& more versatile) to have one per bar, well situated…then tie down the other gunwale. Works for a longer bar = various boats/summer, with 2-3 boats on top at some point during the summer.


A way to make this idea even better
If one chooses to use this method, there’s a quick way to give the boat good lateral support in both directions. In addition to the regular main tie-downs, tie a line to the cross bar adjacent to the hull on the gunwale-block side. Run that line over the top of the hull, around the other side, and back again. Tie the other end to the bar, right up against the bar support (tower) or gunwale block (anything that will keep the knot from slipping toward the center of the bar). This loop will keep the boat from moving away from the gunwale block.

Whether the boat is supported by gunwale blocks on both sides, one side supplemented with a loop (as described here) or with two opposing loops (a method I often use, but it only works with a customized rack), it eliminates the need to really cinch down on the main tie-downs (though not applicable to the OP’s boat, the hull of lightweight boats will noticeably “scrunch” under the amount of tie-down pressure that’s otherwise needed to keep them from moving on the bars).