How To Sleep In Your Canoe | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Skills
Imagine the possibilities Tim Carstens

Rocking the Boat with a Removable Yoke

What makes the best bed on a canoe trip? Some say a thick pad in a tent. Others swear by a hammock, but I’ve canoe camped for years, and I sleep best in my canoe. Nothing beats pulling up on shore, laying a pad and sleeping bag in the boat, and crawling in. I can level and prop the canoe on any ground—be it sloped, rocky, or muddy. If it’s buggy, I drape mosquito net over the boat, if it’s rainy, I string up a tarp.

If what I say here makes you want to try out a canoe cradle on your next trip, let me point out one problem you’ll have to deal with right off, unless you are very skinny; it’s going to be a tight fit under the thwarts. This problem is easily solved, however, if you have a quick-release method to take the thwarts out. Here are two I’ve come up with.  

I call the first the wing nut Method. Simply remove the factory nuts that come on the bolts holding the thwart to the gunwales, and replace them with wing nuts, which are readily available at hardware stores. To open up the boat for sleeping, twist the wing nuts off and tap out the thwart. If the original bolt holes through the thwart are tight, drill them slightly larger. “The downside?” you ask. In the morning when you put the wing nuts back on, you’ll have to stand on your head to see what’s going on under there. I stood on my head for years, then thought of a better way.

I call it the Wire Lock Pin Method—WLPM for short. Here’s how to make it work.

1) Remove the factory hardware on the thwart/gunwale connection.

The pieces you will need

 

2) Bolt two right angles of aluminum under the gunwale so that they snug up on either side of the thwart.

3) Drill a 5/16” hole horizontally through the angles and the thwart.

The setup without yoke on yet

4) Insert a “wire lock pin.” When you push the pin in, it will securely connect the end of the thwart to the right angles and thus to the gunwale. When you pull it out, the thwart comes loose. 

Once the thwart is connected by the wire lock pin

You may be able to buy suitable right angles, but I made my own. They are 1.5” long, and I cut them off a stalk of “1-inch aluminum angle,” sold in hardware stores in 3’ lengths. A hacksaw or a carbide saw blade cuts the aluminum like butter. Be sure to wear safety glasses when doing this. I also sanded smooth any sharp edges. As for the wire lock pins (¼” X 2-1/2”), they are typically used to hold implements to tractors. I bought mine at a farm supply store. 

The only tricky part of the installation is drilling the 5/16’ hole for the wire lock pin straight through the center of both angles and the thwart. It helps to clamp everything tight.

In these photos, the extra holes you see in the gunwale are from the original factory bolts.  

 

Burt Kornegay is a retired wilderness outfitter/guide and owner of Slickrock Expeditions, in Cullowhee, NC. 

Related items

  • Daily Photo: Old Cedar

    Daily Photo: Old Cedar

    "My old cedar/canvas never looked better," says photographer Claude Delorme. "Can't help but think of John Denver's, 'You fill up my senses, like a night in the forest,'  every time…

    Read more...

  • Daily Photo: Paddling Partner

    Daily Photo: Paddling Partner

    What he lacks in paddling skills, he makes up for with enthusiasm. Who's you favourite canoeing companion?    Want to see your photo here? Send to This email address is being…

    Read more...

  • New Issue of Paddling Magazine

    New Issue of Paddling Magazine

      This 62-page issue of Paddling Magazine brings you all the paddling content you crave—including trips, tips, techniques and gear, no matter what you paddle. Canoeists, sea kayakers, whitewater junkies…

    Read more...

  • Daily Photo: Grey Day

    Daily Photo: Grey Day

    Even a grey day becomes a great day, when spent on the water.    Want to see your photo here? Send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You…

    Read more...

  • Daily Photo: In Defense

    Daily Photo: In Defense

    "The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders." — Edward Abbey   Want to see your photo here? Send to This email address is being protected from…

    Read more...

  • Daily Photo: Ready to Paddle

    Daily Photo: Ready to Paddle

    There's a certain feeling that only a fully loaded boat and miles drawn on a map can bring.    Want to see your photo here? Send to This email address is…

    Read more...

FREE NEWSLETTER

Join 100 000+ fellow paddlers! Get the latest paddling news and special offers delivered straight to your inbox.  

CUSTOMER CARE
FAQs

CONTACT US
1 (613) 706-0677
Contacts