Getting it home on a trailer (intro)

1st post, new here (this forum was recommended) and have not even bought a kayak yet. My wife and I have been out a few times, always in tandems, and want to get one of our own; plenty of water within a reasonable driving radius of the DC suburbs of MD.

Well, I’ve been watching Craigslist – why not get a used one? – and it occurs to me even if I find an ideal boat I need to get it home and I presume most CL sellers won’t deliver. So, I need to have to start with a transportation method. Somehow, rooftop possibly won’t work for us; my two cars don’t even have a roof, and the spousemobile (Acura RSX-S) seems inappropriate too especially the roof layout but I could be mistaken.

Not my only option, however. We own a 4x8 utility trailer for lumberyard purchases, a bit worn after 24 years but serviceable and probably to be replaced with another one. It seems reasonable to press it into service as a short-range kayak toter. Maybe buy (CL again?) a rooftop rack and adapt it as a trailertop rack with a little fabrication. Figuring perhaps (wild guess at this point) a 16’ boat, that’s 4’ in front of and also behind the trailer’s body, need to ensure the nose of the boat is above the rear hatch of the RSX-S (note to self, measure tongue length). If I get a rack expandable to two boats, that’s good as another couple we know expressed similar interests in kayaking.

If I have a question in all this, it’s: are there any caveats to this train of thought? As in “stay away from brand XXX as the clamps tend to break” or “feature for feature, we found that brand ZZZ model 200 is a better value and the bottom of the rack is flat so it might adapt to your trailer easier”. VERY unlikely to purchase a free-standing kayak trailer due to storage considerations. And a forum search mentioned something called a “stacker”?

You can easily build a wooden rack
(skeleton box)to accomplish your needs.Or have someone weld one for you. If you use wood, use 2" x 8" boards for the crosspieces. You can then cut profiles for the hulls into the boards and easily strap the boats down. No other rack needed. I use an old boat trailer like this.

If you go the welded route, use Yakima or Thule bars for the x-pieces so you can put cradles on them. That is the way my P/U is set up.

I use a utility trailer all the time
Here are some ideas.

Stackers etc

– Last Updated: Jan-25-13 2:58 PM EST –

Stacker is just a relatively vertical support that you lean the kayak up against, then secure the kayak to the stacker element and the horizontal cross-bar. It has the same function as saddles or J-bars - in all cases they affix to horizontal bars and the kayak affixes to them. You can put this kind of arrangement, bars plus saddles or stackers or J-bars, on a trailer or the roof of a car or over the bed of a truck. In a trailer made for kayaks, the supports are already built in so you just need straps and any padding.

Exactly how you do it is as varied as your imagination and interest in constructing things from wood vs buying someone else's system. Plastic kayaks are more abusable than composite ones, but that's just a matter of whether you add some padding. Pipe insulation can make excellent padding.

I would caution you on one thing because of where you live. At least up this way, there are some highways that limit access to vehicles with anything in tow. I'd check out your likely travel routes to make sure that you aren't cutting off any options.

Also, I would STRONGLY suggest that you go out and demo some single kayaks before you make a final decision. I have known a number of people, including my cousins and a kayak store owner in his 30's, who trashed their back loading and unloading heavy plastic tandem boats. And because of the price point, these are the boats that most people first gravitate to. If you guys demo, you might find that you both enjoy better fitting single boats and will have an easier carry.

A 24 year old 4x8 trailer can be converted to a kayak trailer without a lot of hassle or money.

Any trailer place can extend the tongue to whatever length you need. New bearings (and probably tires) can work wonders.

That is pretty much what I did. My trailer is ugly, but the retrofit only cost me about $50.

Raise the bunks
I haul my kayaks on a 5’ X 8’ flatbed utility trailer. I built wooden bunks that fit right into the pockets that would normally be used for side rails. Two things to consider is to make the bunks for hauling the boats on edge (always easier on the boats) and raise the bunks high enough so the boats won’t drag on certain types of drive ramps etc. Another benefit of raised bunks is that it puts the overhang high enough so following vehicles can’t bump the boats unless they do it with their windshield. You will have to red flag the overhang, but that isn’t much of a problem. For night time driving, you might also have to rig a red light on the overhang–depending on state law. Interstate rules require a 2’x 2’ red flag for overhang. My state requires only a one foot square flag.

My trailer has a 3500 lb capacity, so when I’m hauling boats, I reduce the tire pressure to around 24 psi to soften the ride.

Thanks for all the replies.

OK, I have a little fabrication ahead of me, no big deal. Hmm, making a wooden cradle for a boat I don’t yet have might be a challenge, however without a cross-section template. Compared to a few things I’ve read here, my solution might be different because (insert high lift warning here) I’ve been planning on mounting this on top of the trailer’s 20" high box; this means better clearance with our car and and any following, but at a price.

Instead of a wooden cradle
Maybe try straps. They conform to the hull shape. Some ideas here.

Threaded pipe flanges
Redmond, I’ve gotten a lot of trailering

ideas from your posts for years. Thanks for the help. I would caution that threaded galvanized pipe is prone to breakage due to its reduced diameter and exposure. The taller you make the wooden supports like the ones in the photos, the more susceptible they are to movement (sway) over time, too. Yours would last a long time though, as low as they are to the trailer bed. Had a close call with half a dozen boats in a double tiered stack once. I’ve gone to a fabricator since then. My design and his welding have made every aspect of trailering a breeze. My .02