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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2017, 7:18 pm 
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I've been pretty busy so I didn't get a chance to post this until today! Last week, my wife and I took our first outing with our new canoe, a Wenonah Solo Plus Ultralight (Kevlar). Overall, it was a pleasing success despite some humorous loading / unloading, tiedown, and ground transport logistics, and despite my, and at least one dealer's, concerns about whether a canoe could simultaneously be used as either a "solo" or a "tandem", because of stability and dimensional constraints.

The loading / unloading and tiedown logistics . . .

Loading the canoe was both easy and somewhat risky.

Easy because it is a Wenonah "Ultralight Kevlar", so despite having a bow slding adjustable "tractor" seat, a stern tractor seat, a middle vertically and horizontally adjustable cane seat, and a stern foot brace all included, it weighs in at an actual 42.6 lb on a digital scale. And, the roof rack's crossbars are only about 52" above the pavement.

Somewhat risky because of the type of roof rack that Thule and Mercedes together designed and built for my Mercedes "C" class sized car. It has 4 towers with notable "tumblehome", AND the 2 aero crossbars terminate within, NOT over and beyond, the towers. This means the crossbars are both short (just 30.5" of net usable width) which limits the gunwale width of canoe that they will accommodate. Equally importantly, there is normally nothing to prevent the canoe from sliding sideways off the crossbars during loading or unloading, since the crossbars "blend" right into the towers and both the aero crossbars and the towers are very "slippery" for aero reasons!

I had in preparation (a) bought a canoe with "tumblehome" which results in a narrow 29.5" gunwale width, and (b) installed a Thule "Portage" kit. This includes 4 "blocks" that can be installed on the 2 crossbars, EITHER inboard or outboard of the canoe gunwales, so that they prevent the canoe from sliding sideways once it is in position and secured against any strong crosswind. However, you have to lift and push the canoe forward from the car's rear, or lift and push sideways from the side of the car to get the canoe INTO that "secured" position! Lifting and pushing from the rear, using a Thule "Waterfall" blanket on the trunk of the car in case of mishap, worked nicely. But my wife pointed out that if I ever lost temporary control of the canoe during loading or unloading, due to either a crosswind or the slippery surface of both the canoe's gunwales and the Thule aero crossbars, I would likely put a fairly giant gash into the car's costly paint! With my wife's help, I was very careful and no disasters occurred in any of the 4 loading and unloading events involved in the one outing. But, my wife is uneasy about me doing laoding and unloading "solo" when she is not available to accompany me on an outing. THis is an as-yet unresolved concern.

Once the canoe is on the rack and secured from sideways sliding by the Portage blocks, installing the Thule 2 crossbar tiedown "belts" with their toothed buckles was easy, tensioning "just enough" to prevent sideways movement of the bow and stern was easy, and the rubber "holsters" for the Thule tiedown belt buckles worked great to protect the canoe from the buckles! A 3rd tiedown belt secured the rear crossbar to a thwart on the canoe that conveniently runs across the gunwales JUST in front of that rear crossbar!

The big issue with the 3 tiedown belts was what to do with the many FEET of excess belt on all 3! I got these "looseends" wrapped and tied so they wouldn't flap in the wind at speed, but that took way longer than installing the 3 belts! I am planning to cut and melt the ends of all 3 belts to leave a lot less excess belt to tie up afetr belt tightening!

The bow and stern tiedowns were done for the 1st of the 2 trip segments, and despite using the Thule "ratchet ropes", this was a giant pain that both me and my wife agreed we would never do again until we needed to do an actual "highway speed" outing. This first outing, to a beach seacoast launch point just 3 miles away, involved a maximum speed of just 65 kilometers per hour, so the bow and stern lines were an unnecessary precaution, but we wanted to "try doing it". What an ordeal.

First, we had to install "underhood" loops to fasten the ratchet ropes to. These needed "twisting' to alleviate the "musical instrument string" vibration that occurs at even under 50 kph. One of them vibrated anyway. Good thing we put on 2 layers of 3M "light adhesive hold" painters' masking tape where each underhood loop wrapped around the sides of the hood! We had to tie one end of each ratchet rope to each hood loop, run each tidown rope through the front carry bar on the canoe, and then ratchet both tieropes snug but not tight enough to bend or fracture the canoe.

At the trunk, we had to use the Thule loops that have the plastic T-pipes at one end, to hold that end of the loops inside the trunk, and then we tied and ratcheted the ropes, again controlling the tension to "just enough".

Then we had to route the excess rope back up through the canoe front handle, rearward to a thwrat, where they could both be tied off to the thwart, with minimized excess (hah!) and be out of my line of vision.

These d*** bow and stern tiedown ropes took a LONG time to "get right", totally turn me off as a "solution", and just plain suck. Plus, they look like s***. There HAS to be a better way.

The subsequent unloading, loading, and unloading involved in the one outing merely strengthened out determination to never again have to use a solution this inconvenient and slow for bow and stern tiedowns.

Fortunately, since we have literally many miles of local gorgeous seacoast to explore with numerous nearby launch locations, we won't need to find a better bow and stern line solution for at least a while.

The rest of the logistics, especially gear (paddles, lifejackets, coast guard safety kit components, dry bag, rope line, throw line, etc) were easy and we decided that the easiest way to handle those is to leave everything except the paddles right in the trunk of the car for "the season". The paddles won't fit in the trunk, so we will need to remember to take them along on each outing! That's why we have a "checklist". :D


Ground transport logistics . . .

My wife insisted that taking the C-Tug Sandtrakz along was "unnecessary" since there were 2 of us and the canoe "only weighs 42.6 lb", and "we can just carry it". I tried explaining that 4.26 lb becomes maybe 55 or more lb with all the required gear and paddles inside the canoe. I also explained that because we would be arriving late at the beach because she "took a LONG while" to get ready, we would no longer be arriving before high tide, but rather significantly LATER than high tide, and the "as the crow walks" difference in "distance to the water" between high tide and low tide is, no kidding, something in the 1.5 to 2km range!! And, it's all alternating sand, mud, stones, and seaweed. She said I was overthinking it. :D

She was smug about that until we arrived at the beach, and she physically SAW the distance, and the terrain, between where we parked and where the water started. Suffice to say, it took 6 trip segments, and 5 rest stops, to get her, the canoe, and the gear inside the canoe to the water's edge. She did make the point finally that the next time we go oput, we will bring the C-Tug Sandtrakz . . . :D

Solo and tandem compatibility - dimensional and stability. . .

I had selected the Wenonah Solo Plus only after a but of a struggle and misdirection. I had done a fair bit of canoe research, including reading 3 canoeing books, and had concluded that since I would be going solo 80% of the time, but also wanted my wife to be able to come with me whenever her schedule permits (I am retired but she is pretty busy as a student training for a new career and later will be working at least part-time). So, I wanted a canoe that would function well BOTH as a solo canoe and as a tandem. I also wanted it narrow so that I could have higher performance, could use a kayak paddle (I strongly prefer that), and so the canoe would fit on the narrow roof of my car so that I could go canoeing at all!

The first dealer I worked with, and the factory he dealt with (Clipper) both basically said "no way". They said that a canoe narrow enough for my objectives and needs would be TOO narrow for sufficient stability and physical space for the bow paddler, and basically said they could not help me. Since this was coming from the largest dealership chain on Vancouver Island, and from the major local canoe manufacturer, I was starting to think that my renewed canoeing dream was about to end before it even got started.

The second dealer though agreed with my analysis of the Wenonah Solo Plus specs that I found on the website. The Solo Plus is 16-1/2 feet long. It has a maximum width of 32.75", a waterline width of 31.75", but a gunwale width of just 29". It has the weight capacity to easily handle both me and my wife, plus our modest minimal gear (daytrips only - no camping trips or longer trips). Since the bow depth is just 19", the stern depth is just 17", the centre depth is 13", having zero rocker, and having a real centre seat, I figured that with just me aboard, and especially with the kayak paddle, it would not be hard to keep on course even in a mild crosswind. And, Wenonah does aftert all market the Solo Plus specifically as a dual purpose solo/tandem canoe!

My sole concerns were degree of stability and physical legroom for my wife. I figured the sliding bow seat would help with both, and the only way to assess the acceptability of its stability was to buy it and try it, as there were no Solo Plus canoes anywhere nearby at all (Wenonah, being in Wisconsin, doesn't ship a lot of canoes to the west coast!). Since I had initially thought seriously about a sea surf kayak, where the typical widths are 20 to 24" for a "moderate recreational" one, and since I am both a bicyclist and a motorcyclist, the Solo Plus's stability, even if it turned out to be "tender", did not scare me.

The first ride . . .

The first ride really reassured me! My wife never even MENTIONED stability as a concern. She was mostly very comfortable, but complained just mildly that her legs bumped the gunwales a bit, but agreed that installing a pair of foam pads would take care of that nicely! She found paddling, either side, very easy from her "cockpit" and found the tractor seat comfortable. I was totally comfortable in the stern seat, both from a paddling and a seating perspective, plus I loved the foot brace! The dealership is going to install a foot brace for me at the CNTRE seat too, withOUT having to pierce the Kevlar hull, so I'll also have that when going solo.

Even with both of us and the modest gear aboard (maybe around 380 lb total??) , we drew very little water. This turned out to be great because it made navigating the tidal flats very easy! In fact, we drew lots of surprised looks, as people all around us were WALKING in the varying water level of that huge tidal plain. At times, we had to change course to avoid running aground on "sandbars" :D .

The view into the seawater was spectacular. We saw many, many colorful shells and sea critters, and the changing topography (mud, sand, stones, seaweed, etc) was a constant movie to watch.

The Kevlar construction is of course translucent, so I could actually watch the waterline height from inside the canoe!

There was only about a 5 knot wind that day, and so the water was hardly disturbed at all, making it easy to see the underwater views, and of course the flat water and shallow depth meant that we were ultra safe despite being "amateurs" (I was last in a canoe about 2-1/2 decades ago, and my wife had only ever been in one maybe twice in her life).

Finally, we did not put any scratches into our canoe on our first outing! And, washing out the interior and exterior in the underground parking garage at the condo, after the saltwater outing, turned out to be a very quick and easy chore.

It was about as perfect a first trip in our new canoe as I could imagine, except for those d*** bow and stern tielines! And I am definitely going to find some major improvements in the way we do those!

My longest duration of canoeing was in college almost half a century ago, when I had a job each summer, working out of tent camps placed 50 miles from the nearest town, dropped in by a bush plane on floats, with a 17 foot fiberglass canoe and 3 hp outboard for use as basic local transportation! Our 2 or 3 man crews used to run those canoes UP over beaver dams in creeks - crazy what you do when you are young and foolish! (WE were 50 miles from any civilization, with NO radio to call for help - only a weekly bush plane provision-replensihing visit! It's a miracle we survived!). It's great to be back in canoeing!

Now, I just have to figure out how to SAFELY bring along my DLSC camera with macro lens, so I can enjoy my sealife macro photography hobby when I am in the canoe and not just walking the tidal flats! :D :D

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2017, 8:55 pm 
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Pelican cases come in assortment of sizes


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PostPosted: September 3rd, 2017, 11:10 pm 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
Pelican cases come in assortment of sizes


Yes I have a Pelican case sized for my DSLR with lens mounted on it. I just need to get some confidence built that when I have the camera OUTSIDE of the Pelican case, it won't get into the water as I lean to take a shot, or get sprayed with saltwater!

I forgot to mention: My wife and I both were impressed with the easy speed and prolonged glide of the Solo Plus. Makes covering some distance easier than we expected!

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 4th, 2017, 5:47 am 
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Congrats on getting out.

Yeah, I'm a big strong boy and I've had my boat slide off the side of the rack when loading. At 90+ lbs it can be a grunt.

Install the 2 front roof-rack blocks and 1 of the back ones (on the downwind side) before loading. Slide the boat on from the back sliding against the back block as a guide until it's snug into the front blocks, then install the 4th?


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PostPosted: September 4th, 2017, 7:27 am 
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Krusty wrote:
Congrats on getting out.

Yeah, I'm a big strong boy and I've had my boat slide off the side of the rack when loading. At 90+ lbs it can be a grunt.

Install the 2 front roof-rack blocks and 1 of the back ones (on the downwind side) before loading. Slide the boat on from the back sliding against the back block as a guide until it's snug into the front blocks, then install the 4th?


Because the crossbars on my car's roof rack are so short, I am forced to have the blocks INside the gunwales versus OUTside. So at TWO points in the process of loading, because the bow and stern of the canoe both "taper". I am forced to lift the canoe by pivoting, using 1 of the 2 crossbars as the "fulcrum" each time. It is during those operations that it is possible for the canoe to slide sideways if I do not maintain close control, because the canoe is so close to the "tumblehome" ends of the towers, and because the canoe gunwales, the aero crossbars, and the towers are all pretty smooth and slippery!

Unfortunately, removing and installing 1 or more of the blocks does not make it better. It actually makes it more risky, as each block acts to prevent the canoe from sliding off the OTHER side block/tower. It's hard to explain the geometry, but being a mechanical engineer, I foresaw the potential risk even before buying the canoe and rack hardware. It's a limitation caused by the "perfect storm" narrowness of my car's roof, the geometry of the components involved, and their relative "slipperiness".

One thing that WOULD reduce the risk a lot is installing a HIGHER set of blocks. When I shopped for the blocks, I saw only the Thule ones. It turns out that eTrailer sells a set of higher "Malone Big Foot" blocks designed for use with kayaks. Those are notably higher. It is not clear though whether those could be mounted cleanly to the Thule crossbars' "upper groove" via simple captured bolts, like the Thule blocks can be. The "default" installation method of the Malone Big Foot blocks uses giant "clamps" that look truly ugly and would generate a LOT of wind noise when the canoe is not on the car,

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 5th, 2017, 1:59 pm 
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Jim,
I use the Malone Big Foot Pro mounted on my Thule rack on my 3 series BMW. Very easy attachment and infinitely adjustable The clamps are functional- wouldn't call them ugly! Most windnoise is from the racks themselves not the Feet-and if noise is a real concern, its easy enough to remove the towers and rack from your roof when not needed. I leave mine on April to November!

Bruce


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PostPosted: September 5th, 2017, 2:12 pm 
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Pook wrote:
Jim,
I use the Malone Big Foot Pro mounted on my Thule rack on my 3 series BMW. Very easy attachment and infinitely adjustable The clamps are functional- wouldn't call them ugly! Most windnoise is from the racks themselves not the Feet-and if noise is a real concern, its easy enough to remove the towers and rack from your roof when not needed. I leave mine on April to November!

Bruce


Bruce: What a lucky break for me that you actually HAVE the Malone Big Foot Pro set in use on your car, on a Thule rack!

It is not the Malone upright pieces that bother me. It is those clunky "clamp pieces" that Malone provides to fasten generically to "any" rack. I see in the Malone website photos that the malone blocks DO have extra holes in them that appear to align with the cross-sectional centre of the crossbars, where that aero groove occurs on my Thule crossbars. If so, They MIGHT accept the same Thule "bolt kit" that enabled me to mount my Thule Portage blocks via captured bolts in the crossbars versus the Thule clamps (which are just as unattractive as the Malone clamps :D ). Have you tried using the "captured bolt" method of atathcing to the Thule aero bars? It makes a super clean installation comapred to the clamps, PLUS it is much harder for someone to steal your blocks when they are bolted in via those captured bolts.

If I knew for sure that the Malone blocks could be fastened that way to the Thule aero bars, I'd probably buy the Malone blocks, because their higher height would do a betetr job of preventing the canoe from ever sliding sideways off the car during loading or unloading.

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 5:54 am 
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Holy Smokes Jim!
I always check the "rackability" of a car before buying it but I am sure I would not have followed through enough to catch all the stuff that is causing you problems.
Good luck with continuing to improve your system!

Q: Would it be possible / useful to glue rubber (inner tube?) to the bars at strategic spots to increase friction with the gunwales and make it much easier to prevent slide-off?

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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 6:21 am 
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Congratulations on getting out there!


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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 7:31 am 
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vpsoccer wrote:
Holy Smokes Jim!
I always check the "rackability" of a car before buying it but I am sure I would not have followed through enough to catch all the stuff that is causing you problems.
Good luck with continuing to improve your system!

Q: Would it be possible / useful to glue rubber (inner tube?) to the bars at strategic spots to increase friction with the gunwales and make it much easier to prevent slide-off?


Yes, I did a very thorough analysis of racking feasibility on the car before I bought the canoe - for example, that's one reason that reinforced my determination to get a narrower, although "tippier", canoe. But it's impossible given the geometry of the car to eliminate ALL issues!

I really like your idea of gluing rubber "friction strips" to the rack. Thinking just a little further outside the box, those strips could instead be glued to the CENTRAL portions (only) of the gunwales on both port and starboard gunwales! This would enable them to act as sideslip preventers during the process of getting the canoe "trapped" on the blocks, while limiting their adverse effect on the processes of sliding the canoe forward and rearward during loading and unloading (since the forward and rearward sliding tends to slide mostly the BOW portion of the canoe over the crossbars). I am poor on 3D visualization so will need to make some pencil sketches to check the geometry . . . :D

But the idea has real potential! Thank-you!

Another idea I have toyed with is a plastic or aluminum "crossbar tube" with UPTURNED ENDS that gets somehow "clamped" to the rear Thule crossbar during loading and unloading. The upturned ends would be slightly wider than the Thule rack overall so would not interfere with loading/unloading, but would prevent a catastrophic side sliding of the canoe off the rack onto the painted portions of the car.

Picture a tube maybe 34" long placed alongside the rear crossbar and held to that crossbar via some sort of clamp. The port and starboard ends of the tube would be either bent at 90 degrees to the main body of the tube, or have 90 degree angles at each end with 12" to 16" "uprights" (like a football goal post) at each end.

Constructing a metal or plastic tube with uprights, or bending a metal one out of a 58 to 66" piece of aluminum conduit, would be easy. Figuring out a simple clamping system is the tougher part. (Maybe simply weld 2 metal woodworking clamps to the tubing?). I'll be working on that idea too . . . :D

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 7:38 am 
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Ghost wrote:
Congratulations on getting out there!


Yes! My wife has been working really, really hard in her Healthcare Assistant training course (tons of homework every night and maintaining a 99.6 % grade average!)), necessitating my doing almost everything else involved in running the household, but she finally got a "midterm break" last week, and after she got caught up on other more important and time sensitive tasks (like medical appointments), she made time for us to get out there! It was GREAT, and we are looking forward to more of the same!

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 8:04 am 
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JimGnitecki wrote:
Constructing a metal or plastic tube with uprights, or bending a metal one out of a 58 to 66" piece of aluminum conduit, would be easy. Figuring out a simple clamping system is the tougher part. (Maybe simply weld 2 metal woodworking clamps to the tubing?). I'll be working on that idea too . . . :D


If it is to be permanent, then a heavy cable tie every 6-8 inches (double ties at the ends where the stress is) should do the trick. Pull tight with pliers then snip with side-cut pliers. Black would blend in nicely. (??)

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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 8:16 am 
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vpsoccer wrote:
JimGnitecki wrote:
Constructing a metal or plastic tube with uprights, or bending a metal one out of a 58 to 66" piece of aluminum conduit, would be easy. Figuring out a simple clamping system is the tougher part. (Maybe simply weld 2 metal woodworking clamps to the tubing?). I'll be working on that idea too . . . :D


If it is to be permanent, then a heavy cable tie every 6-8 inches (double ties at the ends where the stress is) should do the trick. Pull tight with pliers then snip with side-cut pliers. Black would blend in nicely. (??)


Must NOT be "permanent". Would look too ugly. And cable ties unfortunately would not be sufficient anyway, as they would keep the tube from falling off BUT would not prevent the tube from ROTATING along its axis, which would result in the "uprights" rotating downward, which would result in the canoe falling off the side of the car. The tube must be clamped somehow to the Thule crossbar to prevent this kind of rotation.

(The tube would rotate despite the cable ties because the 12 to 16" long uprights would give a sliding 42.6 lb canoe tremendous leverage that would easily overcome the friction of the cable ties.)

Jim G


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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 9:27 am 
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Gee you are up early!
That was my first quick impulse thought, since I fix loads of things with ties, but I am sure that there is some way: clamps, ties, or something else, that will work. Bolts or cotter pins are items to have in mind too. Square tubing is easier to work with in many ways, and easier to drill / clamp.

Q: Do the cross bars come off the roof pins when not in use or stay on (and on the car) full time?

Free-floating brain cells.........
It was a country classic for people to make cross bars of 2x4 to attach/clamp to their factory roof rack, with eyebolts up through the ends. Decidedly not pretty, but length variable and wood made a good surface. ;)

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PostPosted: September 6th, 2017, 9:30 am 
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You don't really need the up-rights on the ends of the proposed rear rack extension, you just need the rack sticking out a few inches to attach the cross-over strap. The strap itself will prevent lateral movement of the canoe. Load from the back, slide the boat forward until it's snug against the front stop-blocks (on the outside), then attach the cross-over straps.

Or, if you're sold on the idea of uprights at the end of the extension you could have the attachment point for the cross-over strap at the top off your uprights.

I've used the 2 X 4 thing. Worked fine, but as my architect friend used to say I'm more into function then form.


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