Unusual kayak-towing solution.

I thought I should share this as an example of outside-the-box boat transportation. Links to photos at the end.

We’re still getting used to our 21.5’ Perception Caretta, including how to transport it. Rooftop hauling seemed out of the question, in no small part because we’re changing cars around and will soon own three NONE of which has a hard roof.

We’re OK with towing but really didn’t want to store an extra trailer dedicated to just the kayak. We had a 1988 NuWay utility kit trailer, long in the tooth but adequate for lumber-yard runs. I had made a pipe-n-board rack for it and transported the kayak locally but it didn’t feel secure and we knew the trailer was worn out. So, we ordered an Aluma 548, an all-aluminum (except axle and hubs) 4x8 utility trailer – we were really pleased with it in bulk-mulch and Home Depot trips within a few miles. Now we can take it further because I not only got a hitch on the car we’re keeping but got it ($$$) wired for lights to make it legal.

But I needed to fit the kayak to it. I thought about fabricating something, but then I saw an advertisement (hey, I actually noticed one) here at Paddling.net for a truck-top “Paddler’s Rack” from “U.S. Rack” and figured I could adapt it. I contacted them via e-mail asking which version might best be a starting point, but Chris there (I think he’s the CEO) offered to come up with something custom.

What followed was a couple of weeks of emails, diagrams and photos; Chris apparently made this his pet project. What eventually arrived is a rack modified to sit on the trailer’s perimeter instead of a truck, and with gussets to allow the rack’s uprights to sit further apart, front to back, than the trailer’s vertical strengthening ribs – so the crossbars are now about seven feet apart for more stability. All the steel (not the aluminum parts) is powdercoated and the hardware is stainless steel, a nice touch. It all bolted together and fit the trailer as well as if the trailer had been in his shop the entire time.

So I finally got the car, trailer and boat in the same place on Sunday – alas, too late in the day to get to the water. All seems well enough except for a few details, like the trailer sitting nose-down a bit due to the small car, I need a hitch-ball extended up perhaps two inches. Plus, the boat sits high enough that my 5’2" wife is maxxed out on lifting the kayak into place and she now wants me to fit a Hullivator, if that will help. Also, while the Aluma is much quieter than the trailer it replaced, being in an open car with the rig right behind your ear, every noise is exaggerated, to the point of being alarming. In particular, the tongue jack with its maneuvering wheel is rather rattly and perhaps in can simply secured better with a bungee cord; also, I’ll apply some Dynamat to the underside of the aluminum fenders. Not only will I breathe easier with less racket, but my neighbors might appreciate it as I come and go.

Admittedly, this is not the ideal kayak-towing rig. Especially true is while the trailer, rack and boat together probably approach closer to 500LB than the Aluma’s 325LB net weight, it’s rated for a 1500LB load and the ride as-is is, ahem, “lively”. I suspect that a couple of hundred pounds of ballast in the trailer would help and be easier on the boat as well. That said, this should work for us, making one trailer serve all purposes (I don’t see how I could carry 2 cubic yards of mulch on a kayak trailer, but maybe that’s a project for another day). I thought I’d mention all this as an example of pursuing options other than the obvious ones to get one’s boat to and from the water. As they say – YMMV!





well done
Sounds like you didn’t skimp. The limiting factor on the trailer load might be that car (very nice BTW).

When there’s a will there’s a way!

That is one BIGGGG kayak!
That’s gotta be the biggest kayak I’ve ever seen (and we had 12 Boreal Esperantos in our rental fleet)!

Makes me think of the big moose on YouTube:


I always name my kayaks - may I suggest Bulwinkle for yours :slight_smile:

" The limiting factor on the trailer load might be that car (very nice BTW)."

Yeah but when we started towing we used a 1986 VW GTI with all of 102HP. Anyway, shortly our fleet will be the Honda, my Sunbeam Tiger and a new Porsche Boxster – which should I tow with?

Thanks for the kind words.

Big Boat
I wanted to name it Prinz Eugen but my wife said no.

Still working on a name, she likes The Love Boat.

21-1/2 feet is indeed large and complicates storage and transport, and rather a lot of boat for beginners’ first boat. At least we’re unlikely to outgrow it.

all i got out of that
Was three cars without hard roofs? Really…?

If I owned a Sunbeam Tiger, I don’t know if I’d have time to kayak.

With a bow to Jeff Foxworthy; you might be a paddler if your kayak is larger than your car.

anything but the Sunbeam
If that car is burdened with towing anything, it should be a proper brit boat. :wink:

that is so awesome
If I had those three cars right now I probably wouldn’t paddle until winter.

I heard that!
“If I had those three cars right now I probably wouldn’t paddle until winter.”

There’s a warning hidden in there. Three roadsters, a sheaf of antique road bikes and the kayak, all vying for our limited recreational time. Glad I resisted the temptation to pick up a daysailer!

Can you soften the suspension?

– Last Updated: Jun-24-14 10:31 AM EST –

Does the suspension have leaf springs? With the typical leaf springs of small trailers, you can remove the bottom leaf to provide a much softer ride. It might even be reasonable to remove two leaves (depending on how many leaves are already there).

For easier loading, I'd suggest a carpet-covered sliding surface on each cross bar, just to the side of where the boat is carried. If the two of you stand on each side of the boat when lifting, you can get the front end over the rear bar with your hands being at waist level by just tilting the boat, and with no overhead lifting by either of you (THIS is thinking "outside the box" for a lot of people too, because often when I show people this carrying method for getting a boat in or out of the water, and how it eliminates the need for dragging or for one person getting their feet wet, they are amazed. Loading onto your trailer would be one of those situations where a boat is handled much more conveniently with both carriers positioned on each side of the center than the usual method of being positioned at opposite ends). At this point you can set the other end down on the ground (on a pad if need be), then you can pick up the back end and slide the boat onto the rack. Then, your wife can help you transfer the boat onto its saddles while standing in the trailer, or both of you can stand there. You could also do it alone, by prying down on the back end, then to the side, so that the front end goes over its saddle. Then just lift the back end and transfer it to its saddle. You'll have to reverse the position of the boat carriers, so they face left instead of right, or keep them in the same orientation but on the opposite side of the rack, but that's no biggie.

I wish… sorta
"Does the suspension have leaf springs? With the typical leaf springs of small trailers, you can remove the bottom leaf to provide a much softer ride. It might even be reasonable to remove two leaves (depending on how many leaves are already there)."

The trailer has one of those rubber-in-torsion suspensions, and I don’t think those are adjustable. Seems like neat technology. Oh, well.