Adventures With Lloyd

on CanoeCanadaEast.Com

Do it Yourself


How to

Make Tie down ropes


To tie down a canoe using ropes is about the cheapest solution, but surprisingly the most effective and the safest. Anything that is mechanical with moving parts will eventually fail, so no matter how good a nice set of ratchet straps are they will inevitably need replacing in time. Usually this comes to your attention at the worst possible time, like two hundred miles from home after a trip, when the ratchet strap bends, breaks, or lets go in some fashion. Or worse it fails when you are driving on the highway. Not to say ratchet straps won't last a long time if you take care of them, its just that metal fatigue is not something that the average guy knows how to detect. Ropes on the other hand will cost about seven dollars and it is easy to see if they are starting to fray and need replacing. There are no mechanical parts to fail and they do not deteriorate with rain water and bug strikes like metal does. A good rope should be fairly thick with a working load in the hundreds of pounds and should be a poly braided rope. Just stay away from that yellow stuff all together, I wouldn't tie up a clothesline with it. Rock climbers rope is awesome if you can get a piece, but the rope sold by the foot at the hardware store will do the same thing. Look out for so called good deals on one hundred foot coils of rope for the ten to twenty dollar range. Some of this has the flexibility of steel cable and will kink and twist, making it unsuitable for good knots to be tied. Good rope is soft, flexible, and knots can be tied and untied with ease, even very tight knots. Before you buy it , take a few feet off of the roll at the hardware store and tie a few knots and untie them to see if you like it. Don't tie a hangman's noose or anything like that because it has a tendency to spook your fellow shoppers. Once you have decided on a rope the next thing to do is to learn a few good knots.

You don't need to be a boy scout to tie a canoe onto a car, you only need two or three knots. While all the boy scouts were out learning to make knots, I was out chasing girls and if I can tie a canoe to a car, anyone can learn. If you don't know knots, tie lots.



This knot is good for making loops in the ends of tie down ropes. For looping onto door clips, and tying your lines onto your roof rack. Other uses of this knot include securing a rope to your canoe to prevent it floating away at the dock or when stopping for dinner.

The bowline is one of those knots that gets stronger under tension and then is easy to untie when the tension is released


This is the main knot to hold your canoe on, this knot will be tied at the waterline of your canoe when strapped to the top of your automobile. The loop allows you to cinch the rope tight allowing considerable pressure.

Once tight, a series of half hitches are used to hold everything tight. This can also be used to secure the front and back of the canoe to the automobile as well. Not as much tension is required on the front and back however as they only have to keep the canoe from moving forward and backwards. Once you have learned a few simple knots, securing your canoe for travel is easy. There are a few differences for the many systems available, but the fundamentals all stay the same. All of your knots must work with one another to make the canoe and the automobile one solid object. When you grab the gunwale of the canoe that is tied to your car and try to move it by shaking, the car will actually rock on its suspension. When this happens you have done it right.

It doesn't matter if you are using foam blocks and door clips, foam blocks without door clip, or are tying to a roof rack. The tie down procedure is the same with very slight variations. With door clips you will have a long line tied to the passenger side clip, this will have a loop tied along its length at the waterline of the canoe, with a bit extra left over to secure with. The drivers side clip will have a loop tied onto it. Without clips, a long line is used with a loop at the end. This hangs out the closed drivers side door about a foot.

The rest of the line is passed under the roof out the passenger side over the canoe where another loop is tied at the water line leaving extra to secure with. With a roof rack the rope is tied onto the rack using a bowline loop or a similar knot, passed over the canoe, where again a loop is tied at the waterline. At this point the extra rope that comes over the canoe is taken in hand and goes through the loop tied to the door clip, on the end of the rope coming under the roof, or goes under the bar on the roof rack. The end then goes up to the loop at the waterline, and passes through so you can pull down and cinch the rope tight. You just want it to be snug, you could damage a more fragile canoe with the cinching process.

Taking up the tension in one hand pass the end of the rope under the line coming down from the waterline loop. The end does not go under the line you are holding. Slowly pull up the slack being careful not to let go of the tension. If you do let go you will have to backtrack and cinch everything tight again.

With the line pulled firm, the half hitch knot is formed.  NOTE: The configuration of the rope looks like a number "4"

When you have pulled the end tight, and have your first half hitch continue pulling in a downward motion to keep a constant amount of tension applied. At this point just buy placing one finger on the knot you should be able to hold it in place. This knot is the most effective for the task as the force of the canoe pushing up it keeps the knot tight. NOTE: To help apply more tension you can grab the knot with your free hand and slide it down a bit more to achieve the perfect position. Once in place the next half hitch will secure the one above it tightly.

You will have to tie a couple of these knots in sequence for them to be effective each subsequent knot keeping the one above it tight. For every extra knot you tie the tension load is lessened, and the risk of slippage is reduced. The knot is so good however that often only one or two half hitches are required to secure the canoe.

After you have a couple of knots tied into the rope, the last half hitch should be reversed. This will all but guarantee the knot from slipping as long as the tension is constant. The more the canoe pushes up the tighter the knot will become. This is a very good thing, as the wind that will try to lift the canoe will actually be tightening the knot even more.

Once you have the canoe fastened to the car, there may be some extra rope left to flap in the wind. You can secure this by adding extra half hitch knots or by tying it to the yoke or a seat.

Tying the front and back of the canoe uses the same knot. From the front of the canoe or the seat attach a rope. Go under the car to find a tow hook. If the car does not have a tow hook you can fasten a of rope loop permanently to part of the frame, or a bumper bracket as long as it is a structural part of the car.

Some people open the hood to find spots to tie loops to and then let the loops hang out the sides of the closed hood. In any case do not tie loops that will interfere with the moving parts of your car. Once you have a suitable tie spot for a loop tie the front down first. Pull down on the canoe slightly, rope through the loop, cinch tight and tie a few half hitches, reverse the last one and repeat the process on the back.

The beauty of the half hitch is that it is so easy to untie. Just grab your bottom knots and slide them up the rope to loosen and begin untying. It is so simple that it looks like it cannot work but it is just that easy.

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