The key to properly tying of a canoe to a rack is to use proper canoe straps. Sure, you can use ropes and, at your canoe’s peril, cheap rachet straps, but there is a much better way to do it. Rachet straps are alway one click too tight or loose. I have see my fair share of Wenonah canoes with their oval gunwale with 4 evenly spaced dents in them from being secured to Yakima and other round load bars with rachet straps. Rachet straps are mad to secure a motorcycle to a trailer or something to that effect. They are not really made for tying down a canoe no matter how hard someone wants to argue about it.
The better strap is the canoe strap. It has one, spring-loaded buckle on on end. The buckle has a cam-type gripper that snugs down the strap and once tightened, does not want to let go of the strap with the little grippers holding it in place. It basically uses its own kinetic energy to secure itself – it binds in placed until you push the release built into the cam which pulls away the grippers and releases the strap. Canoe straps are very easy to operate and the technique you will see in the video is the same for any canoe on any type of load bar. A rack with an 8 foot spread between load bars like the box of our truck in the video, would not need to be tied in the bow and stern – assuming you have decent racks on the vehicle. Regardless of spread between load bars, the two straps are THE most important part of tying any canoe to any vehicle. They are more important than tying the bow and stern. Irconically, many people skip those two straps and simply tie the bow and stern and then proceed down the freeway at 80 mph. If they make it to their destination, with their tie-job, they then conclude that it was just fine. Well, it’s fine until it’s not fine. Then somebody may get hurt. My advice: Canoe straps – two of them – even when using foam blocks and strapping through the vehicle.
As you may notice, both sides of the same strap remain parallel over the top of the canoe. They must never criss-cross or they will bind and fail to tighten properly. Also, I take the tail end of the strap and just secure it to my rack, but you can also tie off a half hitch or two around the buckle side of the strap as well. You can also take the tail, if long enough, and secure it to the thwarts or yoke of the canoe to act as your fail-safe in the event that anything should go blooey for some strange reason. Finally, whenever you make a stop, before you go again, eyeball your straps and flick them with your finger to see if they are tight.