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Cartop Sailboat

by Assessor

Transporting a sailboat is a significant concern for sailors, but it’s often overlooked by landlubbers. However, cartopping provides an excellent solution for smaller boats, while trailers are suitable for medium-sized ones. The choice between cartopping and using a trailer depends on the size of both your boat and your car.

The Limitations of Cartopping

When it comes to cartopping, there are limitations regarding the size and weight of sailboats. The Laser and Sunfish are the most popular options for cartoppable sailboats. These small boats can comfortably fit on the roof of most standard cars and can be lifted by one or two people.

The Best Car-topping Sailboat

The Laser and Sunfish are both excellent choices for cartopping. These dinghies are highly sought after, offering standardized interchangeable rigs. With a length of thirteen feet nine inches and a beam of four feet, they are compact and easy to handle. The Sunfish weighs 120 lbs, while the Laser is only 10 pounds heavier.

Due to their small size and light weight, these boats can be effortlessly carried on the roof of many ordinary cars, often without requiring extensive modifications, aside from the addition of a roof rack. Cartopping generally involves hoisting the boat onto the roof and securing it with straps.

Advantages of Cartopping

Cartopping has several advantages over other boat hauling methods, such as trailers. One significant advantage is that you don’t have to worry about your boat getting dented if it collides with obstacles or other vehicles. Additionally, you don’t need to concern yourself with the towing capacity of your car. The majority of vehicles can handle a roof load capacity of at least 165 lbs, making it hassle-free to transport a 130-pound sailboat.

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In addition to the Laser and Sunfish, there are other small sailboats and kayaks of comparable size (around 14 feet) and weight that are equally easy to cartop. At this point, the Laser has become more of a design standard than a specific brand.

How to Cartop a Sailboat

To cartop a sailboat, begin by removing the mast, rigging, and other accessories, leaving only the hull. It’s recommended to store these items separately, preferably in one bag. Next, lift the hull onto the roof of your car, placing it facedown.

While it’s easier to have two people performing this task, it’s still possible to do it alone if the boat isn’t too heavy. The most energy-efficient method is to slide the boat onto the roof rather than hoisting it above your head.

Other common-sense considerations include choosing a location that allows for safe loading and unloading of your boat. Avoid crowded parking lots or precarious cliffside areas.

Can You Cartop a Boat Alone?

Yes, you can cartop a boat by yourself. This can be accomplished by lifting the boat and placing it on the roof, sliding it, or with the assistance of simple and inexpensive tools.

Cartopping Methods

Single-handed Lifting

This is the easiest method and requires no additional equipment. As long as you have a roof rack with a crossbar, you’re good to go. Start by lifting the boat, bow first, and lean it against the roof of your car to form a ramp. Ensure that the stern is anchored to prevent sliding. Then, move to the stern and slide the boat onto the roof before securing it with straps.

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The Ladder Method

The ladder method is best suited for heavier boats. It involves attaching a removable ladder to your roof rack. Utilize the ladder as an incline and slide the boat up it.

The Pipe Technique

If the bars of your roof rack are round and hollow, you can use the pipe technique. This method requires attaching two pipes to the roof rack and using them as an inclined plane to slide your boat. More advanced methods involve using ropes and a winch, allowing you to slide the boat up the pipes by turning a crank.

Securing Your Boat

When strapping your boat onto the roof rack, ensure it is centered for even weight distribution. Additionally, there are other methods to protect your boat during transportation.

  • Orient it facing forward: Align the front of the boat with the front of the car, just as it would be in the water. This takes advantage of aerodynamics, reducing drag.

  • Load it upside down: By loading the boat upside down, you prevent dents on the hull.

  • Pad the touchpoints: Place foam padding on areas where the boat comes into contact with the rack to prevent small dents caused by bumps on the road. This is particularly important if you’re not loading your boat upside down. Alternatively, consider investing in a rack with padded bars to avoid such issues.

For more information about cartopping and other sailing-related topics, visit Ratingperson – your ultimate resource for all things sailing.

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