I am trying to hang my aluminum canoe in my garage. I previously purchased this canoe hoist, which was a piece of junk.

So I decided to build my own pulley system following the same layout as the above product using pulleys and rope with working weight limits > 1200lbs.

PROBLEM : I cannot find a way to brake the rope once I have had it hoisted. I need to get it as close to the ceiling as possible and when I try to go that last 5 inches, I simply can't brake the rope long enough for me to tie it off.

QUESTION : Where can I get a brake on my pulley (like the amazon product) or is there some other clever way to brake the rope on my pulley system?

EDIT I should clarify that I have a place to tie it off on the garage wall. When I hoist the canoe, I must do it from a ladder because the canoe itself gets in the way of the rope on the pulley. So I need a way to brake the rope while standing on the ladder and the brake needs to be near the pulley. I have a hook that I tie it off on the ceiling too, but in the process of trying to tie it off the canoe slips a couple of inches, putting it in the way of my garage door.

  • Are you trying to do this with a single rope pull that gravity balances the canoe to level? Have you considered a two rope system (one for the back and one for the front)? With two ropes you have much more control. Apr 6, 2016 at 3:30

4 Answers 4


If the canoe is getting in the way, can you not put a second pulley wheel with the cord over it off to the side so you can pull the cord from the ground? Then you can just use a standard cleat.

  • 1
    This is more or less my suggestion. The awkward angular tug-of-war can be avoided with a strategically placed idler pulley on the wall to align the rope with the cleat automatically.
    – isherwood
    Apr 6, 2016 at 1:55

Use a jam cleat or a cam cleat mounted to to the wall.

Or you could use the horn cleat that came with the prior system. You wrap the rope around the cleat in a figure 8 pattern, and then tie it off.

Alternatively (and this works specifically for canoes), you can put loop of nylon webbing on the ceiling with wire around the top to spread it open, and a small bit of pcord at the bottom. You would pull the canoe to the ceiling, then slip the loop of webbing over each end of the canoe, and lower the canoe an inch or so onto the webbing; no tying required. This does require a certain shape of canoe, however.


Sorry to combine many parts of the other answers, but none so far have all the components to fully satisfy your question.

First, you definitely need a pulley near the ceiling to remove yourself from the ladder permanently.

If you can mount a pulley on your wall perpendicular to the direction of the canoe hoist, you could use this unit.

If you need to be offset from perpendicular, you could use this pulley, mounted with this strap, to give you more freedom to run the rope at an angle to the wall.

You'll want to locate either of these pulleys on the wall, near the ceiling, above where you want your rope to secure.

Then, you can run the rope through one of these cam cleats, that you will need to fabricate a mount for. One idea is you could use a steel faceplate to cover an old-construction single-gang electrical box. Drill the faceplate to mount the cam cleat and your problem is nearly history.

OTOH, if that is all too much trouble, you could just replace your current belay point with a figure-8 cleat, like they use to tie up boats to docks. These can, with a little practice, be used to belay your canoe without slippage, as there is no tying to be done. You can see what I mean in this video.


Yes, as mentioned in the comments you should definitely be using an additional pulley for a directional change.

As for a "brake", go to the outdoors/mountaineering store and ask for a small lightweight "ascender", these will basically allow the rope to pass through in a single direction but grab instantly if the rope moves the other direction with any load on it. The drawback is that it needs to be easily accessible you you can release it when needed.

Honestly I think you should be able to rig this system so you never have to use a ladder.

  • What's the best ascender-type device for safety? I have a similar setup to original question, but I want a fool proof brake system so kids aren't quickly crushed (slowly is okay I guess).
    – TonyH
    Feb 3, 2020 at 22:34

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