Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to Add Handles to Your Canoe or Kayak

A canoe is tough to carry no matter what but they are especially bad if there's no good way to hang onto it. I have an old aluminum canoe and after watching some friends try to get it out of the water after the Fools' Flotilla I decided to add some handles at the bow and stern. I also added handles to my sit on top kayak even though that was already relatively easy to manage.

A tubular webbing kayak handle.

I made the handles out of some old one inch tubular webbing that I retired from using for rock climbing. If you don't have any of this just laying around you can get it from Amazon for about 30 cents a foot. You'll need a total of about five feet of webbing.

First cut a 26" piece of webbing. That's what I did anyway. You can also cut a longer piece of webbing, put the knot where you want it, and cut off any excess after it is tied on the boat. The handles can be longer or shorter than mine but don't make them too long though or they'll hang in the water and snag on branches.

26 inches of webbing.


Next use a lighter to melt the cut edge of the webbing so that it doesn't fray.

Then feed the webbing through a hole in your boat. Both my canoe and kayak already had holes at both the bow and the stern for this purpose.

Finally, join the two ends of the webbing together with a water knot. The water knot looks like it might be complicated but it really isn't. The water knot is used because it won't come loose (some knots won't stay tied in webbing) and gets tighter when you pull on it. In some applications like rock climbing you should leave long tails on a water knot to add a margin of safety but in this application I felt like it would be OK to leave the tails very short.

Canoe handle.

To tie a water knot you first make a loose overhand knot with one end of the webbing. Then you pass the other end of the webbing through the overhand in reverse and pull it tight. This video explains it:


Add one of these handles at each end of your canoe or kayak and it will be easier to carry from the car to the water or lift out of the lake. The handles also give you a good place to tie a rope (also known as a painter line) to the canoe. You could then use the ropes as part of a method to tie to the canoe or kayak to the car, along with some ratchet straps for the middle.