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I Can't Lift My Morris Canoe! . . . or can I?

Glenn MacGrady

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So, I bought this beautiful Rollin Thurlow reproduction of a B.N. Morris 15' canoe.

15' Morris.jpg

I wrote all about the canoe in this thread:


But it was time to stop writing and put the canoe on my car or van and go canoeing in the thing. But, ancient and weakened creature that I am, plus a bad back for years, I COULDN'T LIFT IT.

Oh, I did it once after a long struggle with a traditional knee-and-jerk overhead lift . . . no thanks to the detachable portage thwart, which partially detached from its slot when the canoe was over my head. The detachable thwart is a great and essential idea for placing a centralized solo seat, but not confidence inspiring as a solid hand-hold for classic portage lifts. I stuffed some minicell into the wobbly slots to tighten up the thwart, but I still couldn't lift the canoe properly and safely.

So, I tried the half lift with one end of the canoe balanced on the lawn. That didn't work because of the highly up-swept ends of the canoe, which made upside-down balancing too precarious as I tried to walk under the half-lifted canoe to the portage thwart.

I did succeed once by first putting one end of the canoe on some lawn chairs and then rotating the canoe upside-down. I was then able to creep under the elevated end to the portage thwart at great risk to my back. This gave me the idea to buy two collapsible saw horses to carry in my sedan to enable this weird lift. But that didn't work because the horses were not wide enough to rotate the canoe upside-down, plus the whole idea was clumsy and kludgy and dangerous.

FAILURE!

I decided that I had four alternatives:

1. Continue to struggle and risk my back with a conventional lift onto my sedan. I don't doubt that I could have easily lifted this canoe up until my late 60's, but I'm now 77 and getting older and weaker. No thanks. And there is zero chance I will ever be able to lift the canoe onto my actual canoe vehicle, my magic bus full size van.

2. Don't paddle the dang thing. Just like I don't paddle a whole passel of other canoes and kayaks I have. Put it in its custom Bag Lady cover and keep it in the garage, unused, until I die. Fiddlesticks, that would really be a waste of money and of my dreams.

3. Sell it. I can probably get a little more than I paid. That's rational and recovers money. But totally gives up on my dream of again paddling a wood-canvas canoe.

Time for some serious decision-making.
 
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That's too bad Glenn, I had an OT Yankee with no center thwart and upswept stems and it was not easy to move. Like you said those detachable yokes don't inspire confidence, and I think they change the geometry which makes it awkward. I was never able to comfortably load or carry that boat without worrying about my back.

The trailer is probably a good option. Good luck.
 
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You could trade the sedan for a pickup truck and get a cheap bed extender which goes in the trailer hitch. Very easy to get the canoe off of the cart and into the bed of the truck. I have transported various size canoes and sea kayaks (up to 18.5') this way. Just remember a red flag on back.
 
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I like Halpc’s idea, but if a trailer is easier on the pocketbook, I would suggest the trailer made by The Dock Doctors. We have one and I am a 70 year old lightweight that handles the trailer easily.
 
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For Adirondack carries, I prefer to use a Knupac portage backpack system for canoes up to 32' long. :giggle:
nICCJUf.jpg
 
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I just googled loading a heavy canoe and found some creative ideas in images. There was a hitch mounted upright and the top the frame swiveled so you approach the vehicle sideways lift the one end up and then swivel the other end over to the front of the car/truck. Another was two 2x4 that are temporarily attached to the roof rack, the 2x4’s have small sections of wood fastened to each rail in a series of steps. Lift one side up to a step then the other and so forth till the rack is reached and then just slid the boat onto the rack. Just reverse the process to bring the boat down again.
Jim
 
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I'm sure you've seen those electric skate boards the hoodlums are using these days. Maybe you can strap a couple of them to the bottom of the canoe and "drive" it to the put-in. It would make quite a site to see that going down the road.

Otherwise I think a trailer sounds like a good, although boring, idea.

Alan
 
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I just googled loading a heavy canoe and found some creative ideas in images. There was a hitch mounted upright and the top the frame swiveled so you approach the vehicle sideways lift the one end up and then swivel the other end over to the front of the car/truck.
Jim
Reese Towpower Canoe Loader

This is what I use to get my wood/canvas on and off the roof rack. Works like a charm. For now I'm still able to knee-jerk the canoe on my shoulders for the trip from the water's edge to the car.
 
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Speaking of trailers, I built this box and canoe carrier trailer on an old boat trailer. Having the long tongue from the boat trailer minimized the canoe overhang in the stern. This was a load of shop things and canoe/Guideboat on the move to Maine.
44786AD6-5BBF-4B6F-BA99-A91EC3E0009F.jpeg
She might be a bit overloaded, that Tacoma doesn’t seem to want to carry much for a pickup.
Jim
 

Glenn MacGrady

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For Adirondack carries, I prefer to use a Knupac portage backpack system for canoes up to 32' long. :giggle:
nICCJUf.jpg

Don't know whether to laugh or cry, YP. However, we need a birth certificate from you as of the date of the photo, plus video of HOW you got that Leviathan onto your Knupaced shoulders. If I could get my canoe onto my shoulders, I could carry it a ways.

Reese Towpower Canoe Loader

Thanks for this idea but, sadly, my Covid-hibernated back can't safely and consistently do even the half-lift step required for the Reese hitch mount loader.

Reese Towpower.jpg

I do have Thule outrigger bar extensions for this half-lift loading purpose on the ends my van's 78" racks, which are similar to this Reese idea. I even bought a rug to put under the mahogany nose of the canoe on the ubiquitous concrete and gravel boat ramps for a half-lift pivot. But the high prow ends of the canoe make even a half-lift too much of a balancing act, risking a canoe drop onto that concrete or gravel.

My sedan would have a much lower roof for a half-lift, but I'm not going to put a trailer hitch on a Mercedes and my wife wouldn't allow me to trade the family car for a . . . gasp! . . . pickup truck.

I appreciate all the ideas so far and I have not given up on my dreams. Note that my OP lists only three of my "four alternatives."
 
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Glenn, another option is to join a local chapter of the WCHA. One of the great benefits of outings with a local chapter is that there is always a lot of help to load and unload wood canvas canoes when putting in and taking out. We always help each other. At home I am lucky to have as neighbors, three husky college age boys that are always willing to load and unload my WC canoes. My wife regularly rewards (bribes) them with pies, cakes and cookies.
One of our members invented a "canoe loader-unloader" that attaches to his roof rack on a Lexus SUV. He and his wife carry the canoe to the frame of the loader which rests at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Then they each lift an end up until the legs of the loader slide out to a vertical position to support it. Then they slide the canoe onto the roof rack and tie it down. Now, disassemble the lifter and tie it to the rack and away they go. Fred is 82. Fred wrote an article on his lifter for the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association newsletter several years ago. I will look for the article. Kathy Klos took a video of Fred demonstrating it at the Gifford-Pinchot Mini Assembly several years ago and posted it on Youtube.
Good luck.
Mark Z.
 
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If the canoe loading problem brings you to despair Glenn, I will gladly drive to your place, toss that sucker on the roof of my truck (probably one handed), drive it back to Northern Ontario, then paddle it non-stop on the Marshall lake loop, all the while kneeling. I will record the journey and make a youtube video so you can still be close to your canoe. The only caveat is that you pay the gas for my trip to pick up the canoe. I'm sure you have been party to better deals, but not very often.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Thanks all for your ideas on how to move my canoe and money.

I have made my final decision.

The die is cast. The Rubicon has been crossed. The breach has been jumped into. The plunge and bull's horns have been taken. The move has been made. The bullet has been bitten. The opportunity has been seized. The pill has been taken. Fate has been determined.

More in this thread in a day or two.

Thumbnail.jpg
 

Glenn MacGrady

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One of our members invented a "canoe loader-unloader" that attaches to his roof rack on a Lexus SUV. . . . Kathy Klos took a video of Fred demonstrating it at the Gifford-Pinchot Mini Assembly several years ago and posted it on Youtube.

Mark, this looks like it. Very ingenious, but beyond my DIY abilities.


Kathy Klos seems to be the leading Morris canoe expert. She literally wrote the book on Morris canoes, and has YouTube videos on identifying a Morris.
 
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