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

I use a 4x8 utility trailer. Keeping up with trailer maintenance and remembering it's behind you, can be a little hassle. I can load any of my canoes on top of the car or truck, but trailer is easier. One thing I like is that I can roll the trailer in the shop and set the canoe off to the side for hanging up.IMG_20220918_112443049~2.jpg one misstep slinging a 70 pound canoe around can screw your back up. Then you'd be in a world of hurt. I like being on the water instead of being laid up with a bad back.IMG_20220916_193610.jpg
Just my 2 pennies worth.
Glenn - Years ago I purchased a rack from the Piragis catalog where each side of the rack will extend out away from your vehicle. While I can still (usually) lift my canoes overhead, the extra 3" of height on my new truck has made it difficult to do so. With the rack I have, I extend the arm fully, lift just the bow onto the rack arm and then walk around and lift the stern on to my other rack. From there I'll slide the boat onto the front rack, close the arm and tie everything down. It's worked great for me and I'm sure it would for you as well. Honestly, it's the only way I can lift my 16' Adirondack guide boat onto my truck anymore so it's definitely worth it for me. Might be just what you need.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

I decided that I had four alternatives:

But I only listed three. No way was I going to hurt my back, not use the boat, or sell it. The unstated fourth option was what most folks recommended—a trailer.

I didn't want one of the longitudinal bunk trailers that are used for motor boats and jet skis, on which you would carry a canoe right side-up, and which are very prevalent on the used market. I wanted a trailer with two horizontal crossbars, with which to carry and store a canoe upside down. New, these trailers cost anywhere from $1,800 to $4,000, maybe plus tax and shipping, and you have to put most of them together from 60+ parts. Yikes!

I could only find three acceptable used crossbar canoe/kayak trailers within a 250 mile radius of me. Thankfully, there was one only three years old, used only three times, all put together, only 60 miles away, and at a very reasonable price. It's a Trailex SUT-250-M2, and here are two of the seller's photos:

Trailex front.jpg

Trailex rear.jpg

Fate was beckoning me, I thought . . . so I bought it.

I didn't need the vertical uprights, so I removed them in order to position my Morris centrally on the crossbars.

Trailer and Wheels Atop2.jpg

I also had to buy a new portage cart to move the canoe in and out of the garage, and around boat ramp put-ins, because my 16" bicycle wheel cart (Swedish boat cart, Canadian walker) is too high and the tires always go flat in about two weeks. It took a few tries to get the right cart because the canoe's full keel interfered with most cart's horizontal cross members. I had to find one with a deep enough V cross member. Suspenz makes a couple, albeit expensive, so I bought one that works both as an end cart and central cart.

Trailer and Wheels Atop.jpg

Driving with the wheels on top of the canoe seemed like a convenient idea until I started going along bumpy roads with potholes. The wheels began to slip and slide, so that was the quick end of that experiment.

By the way, three of the four ends of the Thule racks on top of my van have retractable 20" extensions in them. This allows you to half-lift the canoe up to the front bar extension, and then to lift the other end of the canoe onto the back bar extension. However, as I stated, I could not half-lift this canoe up 7 feet because of the combination of my loss of strength and the extreme imbalance of the upside-down canoe when on its very high, pointy nose prow.

The cross-bars of the trailer have cushioned rubber tops, and I positioned the movable U-bolt tie downs so a centralized canoe cannot move left or right.

U-bolts on bar.jpg

You perhaps can see this better with the straps on.

Straps thru U bolts.jpg

I am still incompetent in backing up the trailer at put-ins. Fortunately, the trailer is so light (about 135 lbs.) that, even with the canoe on it, I can just lift the back end entirely off the ground and swing the trailer in the right direction. When I get close enough to the water . . .

Trailer backing to ramp Addis.jpg

. . . I can either lift the canoe off the crossbars by one gunwale and dangle-carry it into the water; or I can first flip the canoe right side-up on the 72" cross bars and simply push the canoe backwards on its keel right into the water without it hitting the ground at all, and then move it over away from the trailer.

Slide canoe off trailer bars.jpg

To get the canoe onto the trailer, I just attach the wheels near the end of the canoe. Of course when I'm loading from the water, I have to wade in a few feet and buckle on the cam straps.

Wheels Pond Brook.jpg

Wheels put on in water Addis.jpg

I then wheel the canoe next to the trailer and lift the un-wheeled end onto one of the crossbars.

Cannoe on first bar2.jpg

Canoe lifted on first bar.jpg

Next, I lift the wheeled end onto the other crossbar.

Canoe on second bar2.jpg

Canoe lifted on second bar with wheels on.jpg

Finally, I remove the wheels, flip the canoe upside down, center it, and strap it up. Aside from the trailer back-up maneuvering, this canoe loading and unloading process is actually easier than my 40 years of piling canoes 7' up on top of full-size conversion vans, for which I've always need a step ladder, a lot of high-altitude strap flipping, and front and rear tie down ropes—none of which is necessary with the trailer.

The old guy is successfully back in the wood-canvas saddle!

My next thread will be a review of how the Morris performed on its first three outings.
Nice trailer. I did something similar with an old boat trailer. I removed all the bunks and hardware and bolted a couple of 4 x 4 's across the frame. Once I flipped the canoe right side up, I was actually able to back the trailer into the water and launch without having to manhandle the canoe at all.
Are my eyes playing tricks, or does that keel have a brass stem band that runs the entire length?
A-ha! You slyly mentioned the canoe stuff van, and later noted you wouldn’t put a hitch on the Merc. Then failed to mention option no. 4. I expected van+trailer.

But, why did you not want a boat trailer? I suppose there will be numerous launches where you cannot back a trailer into the water, so being able to flip the canoe on wide bars is an advantage.

Happy paddlin!
Are my eyes playing tricks, or does that keel have a brass stem band that runs the entire length?

No, they end about two feet after the curve. I did put full length stem bands on my former 17' OTCA. I think it makes sense to protect the keel.

I expected van+trailer.

The 25-year old van has always had a hitch, receiver and wiring, none of which I ever used in the 19 years I've owned it. So, it was always the candidate vehicle for a trailer. The old wiring was all rotted and screwed up, however, so I did have to pay my mechanic to have new wiring installed. And I had to get a hitch ball mount and locks.

I've lived and slept in van conversions for 40 years on canoe trips all over North America, removing the central seats to free up area between the front seats and rear folding seat/bed. Just drive into a campground and walk into the back living quarters. No tent. No going outside. No worry about rain. It has shades or curtains that can block all windows.

Campgrounds and trailer parks now cost more than cheap motels used to, so I've also parked many times just for one night on the street, dirt roads, Walmart and church parking lots, trail heads, truck stops, and interstate rest areas. I don't recommend the latter two—too many noisy vehicles constantly pulling in and out.
The saga of my new-to-me Morris canoe and trailer continues in the following thread, where I report on several lake and river trips—with many pictures—and discuss the Morris' performance along with paddle and kneeling pad choices: