How to Transport Two Canoes on the Roof of a Car

How to Transport Two Canoes on the Roof of a Car
Whether you and your family are visiting local waters for a day of canoeing, or you and a friend belong to a paddling club and want to spend an afternoon on the water, you can safely transport multiple canoes on the roof of your car with a foam block, 13-foot nylon straps or cables and rope. The process is moderately easy, but it does require some lifting. If you can lift your canoe over your head, you can complete this task.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Measuring tape
  • Foam blocks
  • 4 1-inch wide, 13-foot nylon straps or cables (one for each canoe)
  • Rope
Step 1
Measure the length and width of your car’s rooftop using a tape measure. Purchase an appropriately sized foam board and lay it across the roof of your car, which you can obtain from a local hardware store.
Step 2
Hoist the first canoe onto the roof of your car and gently place it on top of the foam board. Place the canoe face down so it lies flat. If you are using a canoe carrier, which is recommended for added support, lock the canoe inside the saddles or J-cradles. Instructions may vary, so follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Step 3
Lift the second canoe onto the roof of your car and gently place it on the foam board. Place the canoe face down, if the width of your car’s roof allows, next to the first. Or, lean the second canoe against the first, seating it sideways on the roof of your car. Opt for the side-by-side method first.
Step 4
Loop the first strap across the first canoe and through both front windows to secure it and prevent sideways and back-and-forth movement. Pass the first strap over to the other side of your car’s roof. Snug the strap by hand. It is not necessary to jerk the strap violently. Finish with a moderate tug to eliminate any slack along the strap. Repeat for the next canoe using the second strap. Space the straps as far apart as your car’s roof will allow. Some downward compression against the foam board is to be expected, but your canoe should not warp or crack after being strapped down.
Step 5
Rope the front of the two canoes to the roof of your car. Loop a rope around the front grab handle of the canoe and tie the tag end under the front bumper of your car. Repeat for the back grab handle, this time tying it to the back bumper.
Step 6
Push gently on the bow of each canoe to check for movement. Some minor movement is normal. Tug the straps to check for slack. If there is no slack, the two canoes are secure and ready for transport. Tighten the straps, if slack is detected.

Tips & Warnings

You can also opt for a canoe carrier instead of a foam block. Refer to the owner's manual for loading instructions. In most cases, you hoist and tie down your canoes as directed above.
Many canoe and kayak carriers are interchangeable, meaning you can use them for both types of boats.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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