General Question

gondwanalon's avatar

What's the best (safest) way to transport a 31' canoe on top of a F150 pickup?

Asked by gondwanalon (18440points) June 29th, 2018

I’m thinking this (not drawn to scale) but don’t know the name of the vertical support mechanism that secures the front end of the canoe to the front hitch of the pickup. Do you know what that is called? Is such a thing even available to buy? Is it street legal?

The canoe is of carbon fiber construction and only weighs 85 pounds. And so 2 guys will have no problem loading it onto the top of the pickup.

Of course I could put this on a long trailer. Don’t want to go there.

Do you have any other ideas?

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40 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

They make all kinds of boat racks for pick ups ,try Amazon to see what they have,or just call around to any Marine type place and see what they have to say.

stanleybmanly's avatar

31 feet means serious overhang. I don’t have any idea about how you would rig the mounting of the canoe. My concerns would be more about such things as the routes, distances traveled, and the frequency with which you will be doing this. Visualize for example a 31 foot canoe in a crosswind on a breezy day.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Figure that an F-150 is a little under 20 feet long, so you’ll have 5–6 feet on each end sticking out. You’ll have to red-flag it. In some states a 5-foot overhand might not be legal.

Turning right may be tricky.

That said, get one of these link for each end,

rebbel's avatar

@gondwanalon Have you ever thought about a career in car design? ~

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Tow it on a 32 foot trailer.
I don’t understand your saying “no trailer”. In my state something like that would require a permit and both ends would have to have a three foot by four foot flag attached to the canoe !.

gondwanalon's avatar

I expect to get the canoe by next Spring so I have plenty of time to prepare.

@rebbel HA! Good one!

@elbanditoroso Thanks for that link. I don’t know if it is legal to put that goal post on the front of the truck though.

My buddy is going to design a mounting system that cradles the canoe securely with aluminum ribs and dense rubber padding.

FYI: For the last 2 years I’ve been hauling our 23’ canoe all over Waslington State and up into Canada all year long with my Ford F-150. I just secure the canoe with straps to the 8’ bed utility racks only. No problems even in realatively high winds. I generally cruise down the freeway doing 70 mph with no problem (won’t be doing that with a 31’ canoe)

Patty_Melt's avatar

If you carry it atop like that, you would want it bottom up, to reduce drag.
My preference would be a boat trailer, or lacking that, a small trailer with the boat on the bed, and trailer, not good for corners, but you would have the necessary tail and brake lights.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

you just need something like this
31’ is quite long, is it really that big?

gondwanalon's avatar

@Patty_Melt Good idea about transporting the big canoe bottom up. That should be doable. That’s how I transport my smaller canoes. The pickup has the plug for the trailer. Also with a trailer that long it would be a good idea to have a buddy follow behind with his flashers on. Parking would also be an issue.

@ARE_you_kidding_me The canoe is really that long. It is made for 3 paddlers to sit in a row (no pun intended). The utility racks that extend over the cab is a great idea. Thanks. I thought about adding roof racks for added spuport but your idea is better.

I’m thinking about naming the canoe “Ili Hulu” (little feather).

MrGrimm888's avatar

I have a 14.6 ft canoe. I drive a small two door Blazer though. The logistics of such overhang, made me get a trailer. I cut a big “u,” out the front of an old garbage trailer. That way, I can push the bow further forward.

I highly recommend some sort of trailer. It’ll be much easier to deal with that way too.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I hauled a 14’ canoe around using a rack like I linked for years. 31’ though, dayum.

MrGrimm888's avatar

My 14 footer weighs 100 lbs, with no gear. We can assume his weighs more. The logistics of putting it up, and taking it down, are daunting.
Imagine having to lift a 200+ lb canoe onto the roof of a truck, after a day of paddling…. No thanks. Trailer is the way to go. Mine has a long plank off the back, and is fitted with outdoor carpet. I just back up to the closest waterway, slide it off and go park. When I’m done for the day, I pull my trailer back to the water and just slide my canoe back onto the trailer. The way mine is made, it supports the entirety of my hull. That way, my plastic hull won’t warp while stored on the trailer. When I want to go out, I just hook up my trailer. All my gear fits in the trailer with my boat. It’s SO convenient that way.

Just a recommendation. Happy paddling for all:)

stanleybmanly's avatar

he says the actual weight is 85 pounds.

MrGrimm888's avatar

That seems implausible. I’ve been using, and selling kayaks, and canoes for many years.

Hawaiian/pacific canoes, are generally made of wood. That will of course make them pretty heavy. Add a likely outrigger system, and the weight should be imposing.

My canoe is a one layer plastic. Essentially, the lightest made. If we assume that his canoe is made of the same material (which I doubt,) it must be at least 200 lbs… Most salt water canoes will have a 3 layer hull. Making them heavier still. IMO, a 31 footer must be pushing 300 lbs, or more, depending on materials of construction.

Last place I sold paddle sports stuff, even a 12.5 ft kayak was about 85 lbs. I guess the canoe could be made of balsa, but I highly doubt it…

Patty_Melt's avatar

Balsa canoe, takin’ the rapids. Gnarly dude.

MrGrimm888's avatar

No. The OP allegedly paddles in the Pacific. I am certain that he isn’t using balsa. But I am unfamiliar with exactly what wood they use. I may be unaware of some ultra light, super strong wood there…

Patty_Melt's avatar

Says it is carbon fiber. Sounds like a breakfast for office temps.
I’m unfamiliar.
I still prefer the trailer solution.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If it’s carbon fiber, it could indeed be light. Expensive as hell. But possible. I guess I should have read more details.

If he can afford the carbon fiber to build such a boat, a trailer shouldn’t be an issue. Like I said, I used a twenty year old Trask trailer for mine. He could get something real nice. Throw some chains through the deck plates, to keep it locked to the trailer.

gondwanalon's avatar

@MrGrimm888 The canoe builder is Tiger Canoes in Hawaii (check it out). Total cost including shipping is $15K. Traditionally the Hawaiian outrigger canoes were made of Koa wood but nowadays they are typically made of fiberglass, carbon fiber or a combination of the two plus kevlar. It will weigh between 85 to 90 pounds (without the outrigger or ama). 3 guys will be paddling the canoe. 3 guys should be able to handle 90 pounds of canoe on an off the pickup pretty easily.

I plan on using heavy duty straps with a wratchet for securing the canoe.

I really want to avoid the trailer method of transport because of parking and traffic issues. But may try it at some point.

Thanks for your help you all!

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yeah. 15k. That’s about 14k out of my price range.

Sounds awesome.

I paid $450.00 for mine. And probably spent $60 ,on the trailer. I have done all the labor, and had discounts from a store where I sold paddle sports.

15k ! Wow . Must be a beast of a boat.

gondwanalon's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Here’s a picture of the 31’ Tiger canoe that I’m interested in. Also a couple pictures of my F150 with 2 of my smaller canoes (23’ canoe weighs 38 pounds and a 21’ canoe weighs 20 pounds). I can easily put them on and take them off the truck myself.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^WOW! It looks fast. And you apparently live in paradise. I always liked you, so I’m glad somebody’s living well.

I always dreamed of paddling the Pacific, especially the South Pacific. One day I will…

I would trailer it now, just to keep it nice…

gondwanalon's avatar

The Tiger 3 occupant (“OC3”) canoe is made with cutting edge technology for pure speed and fun. I live in Tacoma. I consider the PNW as paradise. I paddle year around in the PNW (mild winters). The last 2 years I paddled 3 long distance canoe races in Hawaii (Kona 18 miler, Pailolo Maui to Moloka’i 26 miler and Moloka’i Hoe Moloka’i to O’ahu 41 miler). I like visiting Hawaii, but I couldn’t live there. I always feel like an outsider. And always can’t wait to go home to the PNW.

I think that I mentioned that the canoe won’t even start to be made for another 6 months. The earliest that I’ll get it is spring 2019. So there’s plenty of time to plan and prepare for it’s arrival.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yeah. I’m trying to talk to a guy that builds surf boards, about constructing a outrigger for me. He says fiberglass alone will run upwards of $300. That’s a jagged pill, considering that is about half the price of the boat. I’ve been tinkering with some cheap designs, but they aren’t very hydrodynamic. I paddle inner coastal waterways a lot, and need some speed to stay away from power boats. Two bleach bottles taped together seems like it would add uneven drag…

gondwanalon's avatar

Maybe you can find someone selling a used outrigger canoe. That’s how I got strparted. I checked with a local canoe club and bought an old and large and heavy canoe. It was a tank of a canoe but very stable. I loved it. A year later I solved it to buy a better surfing canoe The is build for my size (5’ 10” and 150 lbs). I’ve also seen used outrigger canoes on Craigslist and eBay.

When I’m out paddling on the Puget Sound and lakes I usually try to ride the boat wakes. Sometimes I gets some good long rides. It’s addicting.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m on the east coast. Putting canoes in salt water is dangerous, and not recommended, even for advanced paddlers. Our marshes/puff mud, and oyster beds, make swimming a flooded boat to shore VERY risky.
As such, there aren’t a lot of outrigger canoes laying around. I thought about trying to find an old plane junk yard, and using a pontoon from a small sea plane. But I’m not in the right region for that either…

I realize that I can find lots of stuff online, but shipping is pretty expensive…

I use j-stroke technique, on the right side of my boat. Does that mean that I should be thinking about an outrigger on the left side? I do lots of fishing, so I need a side to bring up my fish un-occluded. I would like to minimize the effects on my turning radius, and speed. Any pointers?

gondwanalon's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Sorry for not responding sooner. I know the risks very well. Our 6 paddler canoe flipped at the Pailolo Challenge race (Maui to Molokai) last September (extreme conditions) we were ordered to abandon our canoe by race officials and the Coast Guard. Bummer.

It’s normal to use a j-stroke in and outrigger canoe. I’m unfamiliar with fishing in a canoe. I can’t help you with that. But I use whatever strokes that I need to use to control the canoe. Besides the j-stroke I like to use the draw stroke a lot and also a post, a pry, a poke, a crank and a few that there are no names for. I’m focused like a laser to make the canoe go where I want it to go. This is especially important when in a race or steering a canoe with other paddlers in it. Just a moment of daydreaming can send a fast moving canoe careening off course.

If anyone is still interested, another paddler and I engineered this system to transport my 31 foot canoe on top of my Ford F150 pickup.

It’s easy tp load and unload (my wife and I can easily do it). Drove around town and took ti to the Puget Sound and a near by lake to paddle with no problems. Very like for it’s size (only 85 pounds without the outrigger probably less than 120 with). I use 8 straps (2 ratchet) to secure the canoe for transport. Cops have seen me drive by and haven’t given me a ticket yet.

The Thule utility racks lower down to facilitate loading and unloading. The guy at REI advised against it because the racks don’t lower smoothly but I just use a 4” X 4” plank to take the weight off the Thule racks before I lower them and the canoe (reverse the process when raising the Thule racks and canoe.

Many may still think that getting a trailer is best way to transport this 31 foot canoe. But I really like the maneuverability of this system. Far easier to find parking and get in and out of parking areas. I’m driving from Tacoma to race in Portland tomorrow (144 miles each way). Going to try to cruise at about 60 mph. Can’t wait to hit it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

So. Would a right handed paddler be best with an outrigger on the right, or left?

gondwanalon's avatar

In outrigger canoe races, the outrigger (“ama”) is on the left virtually all the time with a very few exceptions. I’m right handed and have no problem with that. One way is as good as another as far as I’m concerned. But I would not want to keep switching back and forth from left to right.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Ok. Thanks. I fish in alligator infested waters, and salt water, so I really want to add stability to my canoe. Interestingly enough, a small fish will pull me around a bit too.

Do you think an outrigger affects the ability to turn?

gondwanalon's avatar

An outrigger won’t stop you from turning. We usually try to make left hand turns during races (outrigger on the left). The canoe is far more stable that way (less likely to flip).

If I was paddling in alligator infested waters then I would put an outrigger on the left and the right to make sure it doesn’t flip.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I thought about an outrigger on both sides, but it seems too much. I need to be able to deal with 3–6 ft waves in the harbor. Bigger boats can make 8 ft wakes. I can handle them, if I T-bone them. But I need to be able to quickly get lined up.

A bilateral outrigger would be great, but it might hinder my ability to move quickly. I am fusing with multiple designs…

gondwanalon's avatar

An outrigger on both sides will definitely slow you down more than having a single outrigger.

The design of the outrigger and how it is attached to the canoe is a complex dynamic to work out. Outrigger size, weight, distance and angle from the canoe are important factors to get just right and should be able adjust slightly to match the calm and harsh conditions.

Of course the bigger the outrigger the more stable. The longer the distance the outrigger from the canoe the more stable. Also pay attention to the amount of lift that the outrigger applies to the canoe (less lift = more stable, more lift = less stable).

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Thanks! The outrigger should be level with the hull, right?

gondwanalon's avatar

Ideally that outrigger should be adjustable to accommodate different weather conditions (windy/wavy vs calm/flat).

For calm conditions the outrigger should be positioned in a way that keeps the left and right gunnels of the canoe somewhat parallel while sitting in the water.

For windy/wavy conditions the outrigger should be positioned so that the outrigger is further away from the hull. And or you can strap weights to the outrigger to hold it down.

Of course the following is true:
if the hull is leaning slightly toward the outrigger = more stable.
If the hull is leaning away from the outrigger = unstable.
If the outrigger is further from the hull = more stable.
If the outrigger is close to the hull = less stable.

Most of my outrigger canoes use 1½” aluminum or carbon fiber pipe to connect to outrigger to the canoe. The pipes have adjustment holes utilizing “tent pole clips” that are easy to make adjustments with. But a simpler way is to use wood poles secured and adjusted with ratchet straps.

Also FYI: My one man outrigger canoe uses 50” poles (iaku). Two man 52”. Three man 67”. And our club six man canoes put the outrigger between 67” and 70” out from the canoe.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Excellent info. So. My canoe is 14.5 feet long. How long should the outrigger be? I’m about 250 lbs. Does that make any difference in outrigger size?

gondwanalon's avatar

Good questions.
My two-man outrigger canoe is 23’ long and the outrigger is 9’ long (2’ around in the middle and tapered on the ends). Weight is 5.6 lbs.

My three-man canoe is 31’ long with a 10’ long outrigger (3’ around in the middle tapered on the ends). Weight is 17.9 lbs

My two-man is pretty tippy. It is designed to be light for racing speed. We have flipped quite a few times racing and training. It’s a risk of racing.

The three-man is designed to be much more stable for safe training and for fun in high surf. It would be hard to flip the three-man.

Also bigger paddlers like yourself make the canoe less stable than lighter paddlers. The bigger paddlers in my canoe club usually put weights on their outriggers to make them more stable.

Anyway, I think that your outrigger should be at least 6’ long (7’ long would be better), weigh at least 15 lbs and the “iakus” (struts, poles) that connect the outrigger to the canoe should be attached in such a way that the outrigger is 60” to 70” from you canoe’s gunnel (measure from the center of your outrigger to the edge of the canoe’s gunnel).

Also of course you want to make sure that your outrigger is parallel to the side of your canoe.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Great info thank you!
When I am by myself, my bow sticks out of the water. I put buckets of water in the front to keep the bow in the water. Would a slightly heavier outrigger help with that? Or should I adjust the outrigger close to the back to better hold my weight do you think?

gondwanalon's avatar

I watched a video on YouTube of an interview with anHawaiian outrigger canoe designer and builder. One question was how do you come up with different designs and he said that there is a lot of guess work.

So try a few different ideas that you have. See what works for your canoe. Try to make the outrigger so that it is adjustable. Be aware that small changes can cause big effects.

If the front of the canoe is rising up then a heavier outrigger would help lower it. Try moving the outrigger forward and backward to find the most stable position.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Thank you so much. You’ve given me lots to think about. Maybe I can have one ready by the summer.

Paddle safe brother; )

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