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By Alex Sydnor - Lewes, Deleware - USA


It seems pointless to me to own a boat that can be car topped and that is primarily sailed solo but cannot be transported to the launch point without help. As I was completing my Puddle Duck Racer in the fall of 2010, I began investigating a solution to this problem. I saw on the internet a variety of boat dollies and methods for getting the boat on top of the truck. I took some of the various ideas and modified them into a design that’s been quite successful and that I thought valuable to share.

I ripped some scraps left from the spars into 1.5” X 1.5” longitudinal pieces. Then I ripped cross pieces that are 1.5” X 3” and notched them so they fit snuggly. The cross pieces are cut 5” longer than the width of the boat so the spars can be nestled alongside. Pieces of 1.5” X 6” plywood are screwed to the ends of the cross pieces to keep the boat from slipping off. Low pile carpet is glued to the dolly where it touches the boat to protect its finish.

The dolly is lowered onto the boat and cargo straps secure it in place. The boat and dolly are rolled over as one unit. At this point I release the cargo straps, secure the spars with bungee cords, and re-secure the cargo straps.

Loading Boat on Dolly

As I approach the truck, I walk the dolly forward until nearly upright to rest on the longitudinal pieces that extend beyond the 10” wheels about 5”.

Dolly Upright

Pivot the dolly and lower onto the truck. I’ve secured a piece of quilted Gore-Tex to the luggage rack and the hitch to protect the car’s paint. I’ve found that lowering the boat onto the truck then crawling out from beneath the dolly allows the best body mechanics and requires no twisting that can harm my back.

Dolly Leaning

Now for the heavy lifting: this dead lift is the most strenuous part of loading the boat. If your car is lower, or the dolly is further from the vehicle, less weight will be on the lifting end.

Dead Lift

Once at waist height the boat feels quite light. The entire unit is secured to the luggage rack with another set of cargo straps. A line should be led from the back to the hitch and another from the front to the bumper for extra security.

Car Topped

At home, the dolly, boat and spars are leaned against the garage wall secured with one of the cargo straps to eye-bolts in the wall ready for the next sail.

PDR at Rest

One modification I am considering is to build a removable wheel set that is placed beneath the boat so more of the weight is distributed over the wheels. The design is fine if you launch from a ramp near paved parking. I usually launch from a beach and must haul the boat over a sandy dune, and the improved weight distribution will make the trek less taxing, especially at the end of a long day of sailing.

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