Canoeing is a way to sit still and pay attention.

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Canoe Trips

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Campsites

Bois Brule River

Flambeau River

Kickapoo and Mecan Rivers

Menonomee River

Sylvania Wilderness

Wisconsin's Flowages

Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers


Boats & Gear

Boundary Waters Gear List

Bell Wildfire (Royalex)

Blackhawk Ariel

Mad River Independence (sold)

Wenonah Prism (sold)
-cane seat installation
-thwart replacement

Custom portage pads

Seat-mounted portage yoke

Outside canoe shelter

Inside canoe storage



Seat-Mounted Portage Yoke

Tandem canoes are easily set up for portaging, since they usually come with a center thwart, and often with a portage yoke already installed. Solo canoes present a bit of a challenge, since the front edge of a cane or web seat is normally placed 3-4 inches behind the center of the boat. A center thwart would prevent a person from kneeling in the boat and would make sitting inconvenient at best. So what's a paddler to do?

There are quite a few removable portage yokes, but I haven't found one for sale that's easy to use, reliable, and floats. A friend made a very nice one but it stayed with the boat when I sold it, and anyway it required drilling holes in the hull for the mounting brackets. I didn't want to do that to either my Blackhawk Ariel or my brand-new Hemlock Peregrine. The solution was to adapt a design someone else had made for his Bell Magic.

I had an unused thwart my friend had made, a red oak 1x2, and a few hand tools. Here's what happened.

First, the parts (laid out prior to giving them a coat of Watco teak oil).
The square blocks are spacers and the short, oblong blocks are clamping pieces. The little knobs have 7/16-inch hexagonal recesses that fit 1/4-inch bolts which engage the T-nuts in the clamping pieces. The short, narrow pieces are cleats that fit between the seat rails to prevent the yoke from shifting.


Here's what it looks like from the bottom, assembled.


This top view shows the clamps turned sideways, which enables the arms to be placed on top of the seat frame so the narrow cleats fit between the rails.


And here's what it looks like installed. The whole thing weighs 4 pounds.


Looking under the seat you can see the clamp and the narrow cleat. The metal bar under the front rail is a reinforcement; the last thing I need out in the boonies is a broken seat rail.


Here's a detail shot of how the cleat engages the seat frame.


And just for fun, a close-up of the knob with its bolt installed.


There was a problem with the dimensions of the yoke as shown above. The pads were too far forward, which would have made the boat ridiculously unbalanced (stern-heavy). So I shortened the arms and, for good measure, added some holes so I can adjust the balance while in the field.


And here's what the final product looks like installed:

There's one problem with this. There should be four screws holding the yoke to the rails. It works with only two, but not where they are in the picture. I used it this way and found that the screws bent due to the torque applied at the pads. Moving the screws to the other holes (toward the back) fixed it.



Comments and suggestions welcome. Feel free to e-mail me.
Last updated July 25, 2020
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