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Can I Transport a Boat on my Car or Truck Bed?

by Assessor

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We often receive these common questions: “Can I put that boat on top of my car?” and “Will that boat fit in my truck bed?” While the answer is “probably,” it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

Let’s Examine Your Truck Bed First

The ability to haul a boat in your truck bed depends on the size of both. Most standard truck beds range from 5 to 8 feet long and have a standard 65″ inside bed width. Opening the tailgate provides a bit more length, but you also have to consider the wheel wells.

Truck Bed

The smallest boat from Ratingperson is currently the 14 UltraLite. It measures 13’10” in length and 59″ wide at the beam. Since it has a V-Hull, you can likely slide it over the wheel wells and have it fit nicely within your truck bed.

However, even with an 8-foot bed and a 2-foot tailgate, you will still fall short by about 4 feet. Depending on your provincial overhang laws, you may need to attach a red flag to the back of the boat as you travel on the road.

It’s important to ensure that your brake lights remain visible to the vehicles behind you. You might need to raise the tailgate, travel with the boat at an angle, or install additional brake and signal lights on the back of the boat.

To stay legal and protect your truck, use foam blocks and tie-downs. This will prevent the boat from moving around and potentially scratching your paint.

Properly Transporting a Car Topper

Boat Car Topper

Here are some important tips for safely transporting a boat on your car roof:

  1. Check your vehicle’s specifications to determine its maximum weight capacity for roof transportation.
  2. Consider adding a roof rack to increase the capacity. However, be cautious as third-party roof racks may not alter your legal ability to carry the load.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the overhang laws in your province. If your boat extends too far beyond the back bumper, you must display a red flag on the rear of the boat.
  4. Prioritize security by investing in foam blocks and ratcheted tie-downs.

When using foam blocks, place them at the strongest points of your car roof, such as the frame areas near the windshields and above the doors. This prevents the roof from buckling under the pressure of the tie-downs and protects your car’s paint from any scratches caused by the boat’s metal.

Car Top Kit

When securing the boat, consider its tendency to move in different directions. It may want to move backward when you accelerate, forward when you brake, and from side to side during turns. Use straps in various directions, including front to back, side to side, and possibly diagonal, to keep the boat firmly in place.

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Boat Safety Gear

In both cases, you also need to ensure you have enough space to store and transport additional items like the motor, gas tank, and oars or paddles. These are typically left in the covered boat when transported on a trailer, but now you’ll have to find room for them.

Remember to plan ahead and ask for help when needed. If you can’t find reliable assistance, get creative. You can check out homemade boat loaders for inspiration.

Yours In Boating,

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