The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














by David "Shorty" Routh

Transporting Your PDRacer
As individual as who you are and the PDRacer you just built, how you transport her to the water can be done many different ways. Many sailors agree, the most dangerous part of sailing is driving to and from your launch point. Regardless of whether you have a boat or not, other drivers are crazy and can cause you to run off the road, or they can crash into you. Transporting a boat has extra dangers, it is of the utmost importance to transport your boat in a safe way to keep it from coming loose on the road and possibly killing you or someone else.

People cartop carry just about everything, and if done improperly, it can be VERY dangerous. A commonly acceptable weight for a single person to cartop a boat (without any apparatus) is 70 lbs. A PDRacer can be built that light with all 5.2mm luan, but the average PD is built to around 115 lbs. So for cartopping the boat, it is best to do with 2 people. You can do it solo, the techniques I know of are:

Turtle Method - you get the boat upside down and climb under it, then stand up balancing it on your head. If the wind is blowing, it is tough, but possible to do.
Prop Up Method - you prop one end of the boat up on your roof, and then lift the other end. There are even special roof rack bars that stick out to the side of your car to help you do this.

Chuck Leinweber made a bolt on bunks for his roof rack (above). They extend a bit further out to the sides so that he can also strap his mast along side of the boat.

Possibly an L shape or stopper block could be put out to the end of that bunk to help keep the mast from sliding off the side.

Strapping the boat properly
The most common method is using 4 straps:

1 - bow strap, this will keep the boat from sliding back off your car.
2 - stern strap, when you hit the brakes, there are incredible G forces that will try to slide the boat forward.
3 - belly straps, these keep the boat from sliding back and forth. Just open your doors and run the strap all the way around.

Tip: If the tie down straps vibrate or hum while driving, put a twist in them.

You can purchase special foam pads from canoe and kayak shops that fit on the gunnels to prevent scratching your roof. Another suggested method is if you have a car with tie points at the corners, you can run lines from each corner of your boat to the tie points. Some people install U-bolts or eye bolts in the steel part of their bumpers for this technique. Warning about shifting: If the boat shifts during transport, the strap might loosen and most of the cargo straps use hooks on the end, which can fall off leading to disasterous results. So you should check your boat during your trip and make sure the straps are on properly.

Cartop Dolly
A vast improvement to solo cartopping is to make a Cartop Dolly. Basically the dolly is a ladder shape with a couple of wheels at one end. You need to put some plywood triangles from the rungs to the sides to keep the dolly from twisting apart. With this dolly, you can cartop very heavy boats. The first brick I built weighed about 175 lbs and I was able to cartop very easily. For more info on using the dolly, click here.

Another option is to put the wheels on your boat, and then you can wheel it around upside down. Walk down the to the water and lift the non-wheeled end in the air, with a push you can flip it end over so it splashes down in the water right side up. Lots of fun with spectators.

When not using your boat, the PD can be stored on the cartop dolly. It is already upside down which is how you would want it for storing outside, and you can wheel it around to various parts of your yard. The dolly will also keep the boat off the ground for both ventilation and to prevent it from touching the dirt where wood rotting bacteria lives.

Or like in this photo, you can hoist the boat up to the ceiling of your garage.

Pickup Truck Bed Extension
If you have a pickup truck, you most probably can just open up the tailgate and strap it in there. For trucks that don't have the right size bed, or for transporting larger boats, you can make a bed extension / tow receiver support.

The manufacturer's label on the extension shown in the photo showed it was made by Carry On Trailer - 800-240-3121 but I was unable to find it on their website.

I am pretty sure that pickup trucks were designed for a primary purpose of carrying PDRacers. :)

Sticking out the trunk
Just like the pickup truck bed, you could stick a PDRacer in the trunk of your car or minivan / SUV and have 1/3 of it sticking out the back. A support like the pickup truck bed extension would support the weight and make it steady.

Trailer Your PD
By far the best and easiest method to transport your PD is to trailer it. Very easy to tie down, you can make bunks, stops and supports to cradle the hull and sail rig properly, and finally when you are done for the day just unhook the trailer to wheel it into your garage or around to your back yard. I built a 5' wide gate into the side of my fence just so I could wheel boats back there.

You can find utility and small boat trailers locally, or one good option is to order a bolt together trailer from HarborFreight.com I have had almost all of the different trailers from Harbor Freight, here is an essay about them. Here is another essay about other interesting trailers I have seen.

Most trailers come with bunks that run lengthwise, these don't work well with flat bottomed boats like the PD. You need to replace them with perpendicular bunks. Also it helps to cut notches in the bunks for your skids, so the bunk supports more surface area. The photo shows the winch post where the roller was replaced with a padded 2x4.

2 PD's on a trailer
Lets say you have a kid that has learned enough about sailing to captain their own boat, so you build a 2nd boat for you, so that you can race with them. There are many ways you could get them both to the lake at the same time, you could cartop one and trailer the other, or trailer them in various ways such as putting 2 on the trailer end to end, stacking one on top of the other etc.

I think the legal width limit for trailers is 8'6", so you could carry 2 of them side by side, or even carry sideways. The picture to the right is an inverted T bunk, you prop the boats up on their sides for transportation, but when you get ready to launch, you can lay them upright so they can be rigged on the trailer, then backed into the water.

Have you ever seen the bicycle trailers that carry around kids? You could make a trailer for towing your PD with your bicycle. With the extra weight you are pulling, you should make sure that you have adequate brakes incase you have to suddenly stop or are going down hill.

This photo shows an extreme example of a custom bicycle towing what looks like a 20' sailboat! A friend of mine had a motor scooter which he attached a trailer ball to, and used it for towing a sunfish.

Here is another example of extreme creativity. The davit pivots to allow the canoe to be placed on top of the truck camper.