Laser roof rack? Trailer? Seitech dolly?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Sunray, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    Hello,

    As I am about to take the plunge (both literally and figuratively) and purchase my first Standard Laser, I need to find an appropriate way to transport the thing.

    *What are my options re: a roof rack--any specifically designed for the Laser? I have a new Honda Element (with a nice ding in the hood, thanks to Hurricane Katrina) if that helps.....

    I heard that some folks drag a trailer behind them. That, for some reason, would not be my first choice, but I should know what is available....

    *Any suggestions as to a safe well-built trailer?

    In my internet research the name Seitech dolly appears quite often. It appears to be nothing more than an odd collection of PVC pipes strung together to move a sailboat around....fair enough....but I suppose I'll have to lug the thing inside the car on every race day?

    * some insight into this dolly would be helpful..

    Thanks for reading/responding,

    Ray
    Miami Beach
     
  2. rtdanforth

    rtdanforth New Member

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    You are much better off transporting the boat with a roof rack - - it makes travelling much easier, and it protects the boat from bumps, road grime, swerving vehicles, etc. You should also buy a dolly, which you can carry along with the boat on top of your car.

    I am not aware of any factory-made racks that will fit the Laser. I constructed one myself out of lumber, to fit on top of the rails and cross pieces that came on top of my car. I suspect the Element has a similar set up and could similarly accomodate a home-made rack.

    Bob

     
  3. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Search here on roof racks and trailers, we've discussed it a lot in the past.

    The Seitech dolly is aluminum, with plastic connectors. The PVC dollies you see/read here are home builts.. See the For Sale section, Rodrigo M is selling an alternative to the Seitech, built in Brazil that is at least $100 less then the Seitech and just as good IMHO.

    At least half, if not more, of the people transport the boat with the dolly on top of the boat when the boat is transported deck down (either on racks or trailer)
     
  4. computeroman2

    computeroman2 Member

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    In terms of boat longevity, car-topping is worse for the boat especially long distances, but it's easier. A trailer is better but only with top and bottom covers. As long as you don't plan on leaving the boat on roof racks for more than a few hours at a time, it should be fine. Just don't plan on driving to the orange bowl midwinters in fla. from ME with a boat on top of your car-BAD IDEA.

    As for the dolly, It is a must. You can either buy one from seitech (around 500$$, kind of expensive for what it is) or you can make your own, but either way you NEED a dolly to get the boat from the water to your car unless you plan on de-rigging on a dock, flipping the boat over, submersing your car, and tying it on.

    Maby that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.
     
  5. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Why, oh why, is it a bad idea to cartop your Laser?

    Merrily
     
  6. computeroman2

    computeroman2 Member

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    It's a bad idea to cartop a laser for extended periods of time because leaving the hull supported on it's deck (which it wasn't designed for-it was meant to be sailed, deck up, in the water) with only 2 points supporting it puts alot of stress on those 2 points, and leaving/driving it on a car for days at a time puts unnecessary stress on the hull, greatly reducing its life.

    Does that answer your question Merrily?
     
  7. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, not exactly. I don't remember any caveats with the paperwork (rigging guide) that came with the boat. There's a lot of posts about cartopping a Laser here, and there's a couple of Dr. Laser articles on cartopping. No one else talks about it being bad for the boat that I recall. I've cartopped my Laser from Ohio to South Carolina and back, and plan to go to Florida with it that way this winter. I have a trailer, but we will be pulling a large powerboat behind the truck. If I don't cartop, no Laser. How about it? What's the consensus on cartopping a Laser?

    Merrily
     
  8. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    OK so I am a bit new to this sailboat maintenance and care thing. I didn't start running my own repair shop until the early eighties and I didn't begin working in the small sail boat building business until 1969....which was my 12th year as a racing sailor....

    So forgive me if I speak out of total ignorance...

    Small boat trailers don't have the wonderful shock absorbers your typical auto has. As a result, small boats carried on tiny trailers tend to bounce up and fown violently at the crossing of the smallest imperfection in the pavement. Generally, 8" wheels and a light trailer are the worst possible thing to have under your tiny boat.

    Having said that, the lightweight trailers by Trailex and Kitty hawk have a marvelous support system which helps a lot. BUT>>>the hull still leaps up and down a lot and between the gunwales where the hull is unsupported and it does use its weight to attempt to escape from the bottom of the cockpit. I think a few thousand miles of trailering on a gunwale support style lightweight trailer is probably harmless enough to escape detection. I have a Trailex and have traveled from Texas to Sarasota with no worries anbout boat wear. Note: I did change to 12 inch wheels a long time ago.

    As for cartopping?? If the boat is well supported and even more important WELL TIED DOWN, there is virtually zero stress on the boat. The boat just sits there. The best roofrack ride has to be on a a long van. The shorter the distance is between the cross supports, the more leverage the boat has against the roofracks and against the deck. I have seen roof rack pipes with TOO MUCH padding where the boat was tied super tight and the deck was fractured between the cockpit walls and the gunwale.
    What is proper support?
    Make certain the load is distributed well enough such that you would be willing to place your boat in the water, place your cross supports on top of the boat and then step repeatedly on and off of those cross supports.

    On the car, you should not wince at the concept of yanking up and dpown on either end of the boat.
    A stabilizer line from the bow fitting to the front of the vehicle is nice for preventing cyclic rocking but remember the bow fitting is only held inwith a couple little screws. Yanking vertically on it is not real bright.

    On biggger trailers, make certain the boat is well supported and then tied secruely enough such that the boat cannot jump up and down. If you can lift the boat even a half inch free from the trailer, the boat will pound back down from bumps.
    I maintain, the best way to carry a Laser is on the roof of a Suburban or passenger van. When I took my five boat trailer to regattas, my boat usually rode on the roof of the van...

    Also, I have never fely it was necessary to unload my boat from the top of my vehiclle if there are only a couple weeks between regattas...Unless there is Wednesday night racing to do...So...I think the roof of my vehicle is about the softest safest place my Laser could rest between my occasional attempts to destroy it by beating it to death in waves.

    But remember...I don't know all that much.
     
  9. LarsenCanvas

    LarsenCanvas New Member

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    So where do you think you should place those roof rack support on the deck of the laser? I suppose they should be on the strongest part of the deck, which is where? Also since most roof racks are straight and the the deck of the laser is curved doesn't this mean the roof rack causes some uneven stress on the deck (more stress in the middle the around the rail). Does this cause any problem, where a curved cross member would be better?
     
  10. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Not to gang up on you Computeroman2, but I agree with Gouvernail about transporting on the deck. I and many of my compadres have multiple trips all over the US and Canada, East to West, North to South and not once have we had issues with deck delam or stress cracks on the bottom. There was that time when the hull was destroyed in a roll-over, but that's another story :)

    LarsenCanvas - Yes, a crossbar that matched the contour of the deck would be better for spreading the load, but again, as mentioned previously as long as you don't Hulk out when putting on the tie down straps (avoid the trucker mentality when using ratchet straps) you will be fine. The deck is going to be strongest wherever it is tied into the hull - thats the stern area, ends of cockpit, daggerboard trunk, mast step and bow area.. Also any place out on the rails...

    If you travel with the dolly on top, a nice way to avoid pulling out the bow eye is not use it at all and instead tie into the line securing the dolly to the bow or to the dolly handle...
     
  11. TheBoathouse

    TheBoathouse New Member

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    Ian, I don't know how else to say it but you are woefully misinformed. Cartopping a Laser is far superior to trailering one right side up (I am speaking from experience of at least 10,000 miles +). On the same vane trailering one deck down supported by crossbars is also superior then trailering right side up even on a Kitty Hawk or Trailex. The deck of a Laser is far stronger then a hull do to many factors including thicker core material, more stringers and just the fact it is a nearly flat surface. To Sunray's original question purchase a Thule Rack system that specifically fits the Element's factory racks (go to your nearest outdoor sporting goods retailer) as well as a a set of 48" wide rack pads. Line the forward rack up as close as possible to the area from the mast step area to the front of the cockpit and the rear rack should be line up exactly at the rear of the cockpit. Also purchase a nice set of 2 straps from the same shop and place them directly over the Thule rack crossbars. While driving keep the straps pretty tight but not "trucker tight" as mentioned before. Also run a line from the bow eye of your Laser to the front underside of your car but only hand tight as this will act as what I call a "suicide line" if the roof racks decide to rip off your car (not likely). Hope this helps. Scott
     
  12. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    Thanks for the interesting views on this subject, folks. As a result of your input I am going to go with a roof-rack. I understand that there is no perfect solution to supporting the boat.

    I was talking to a local resident here in Miami Beach (he is an 80-something inventor from England) and I had talked to him about my up-coming laser involvement. Turns out he actually sailed some of the original boats in the early 70's.....interesting character....

    Anyway, he has said that he has this design in mind to allow one person to easily put a 130 lb. laser on the roof of a vehicle!.....I am interested to see what he has in mind, and we are getting together this week to knock around a few ideas. Will let you all know what results from all of this....

    You all make reasonable points about the stress on a small boat. Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada we always had a sea snark on top of our cars. It was styrofoam, so not much could be done to it.....well....I DO remember a hail-storm in the middle of summer, coming back from Lake Winnipeg....

    thanks for your info, and I will look back in the chats of previous months to find out more....

    Ray
     
  13. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    Oh, and about the dolly, I will probably end up making one. I don't know if I could make a simple one that I could easily take apart and put together with ease...PVC DOES make the most sense...no glue...just 'jam-fit' the pieces together....depends how bulky the thing is, I suppose......

    Ray
     
  14. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    Just got back and saw another post from the boathouse. Thanks, yes...a roof-mounted system DOES make sense. As the Laser is the ONLY thing I'll ever have on the roof of my vehicle, I will definately want one that fits the Laser like a glove. I will research the THULE system. I have specs on all the Honda Element roof-rack options....I'm sure I can get someone to match me up correctly.

    Thanks for the informative replies......

    Ray
     
  15. TheBoathouse

    TheBoathouse New Member

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    Ray, are you purchasing a brand new boat from your local dealer? If you do before 12/31 you actually will get your choice of a free dolly, hull/deck covers or Magic Marine Gear all worth approximately $400. If it was my choice I would go with the Seitech Dolly as it will last a lot longer then the other two choices and certainly a lot longer then a PVC dolly.....
     
  16. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    I saw that deal in some website while surfing....I was actually going to get a used one (if for no other reason that a decent-quality boat should last for years--if maintained well--I read that most winners of the worlds and others are on 80's boats!!!) After a year or 2 on it, I may treat myself to a spanking new one.

    Ray
     
  17. sailor327

    sailor327 New Member

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    a dolly is a must have and it is alot easier to tow it on a trailer deck up with top and bottom covers and having your spars on the boat under the covers than lugging it on and off the top of the car. plus i think we should start a photo gallery where we post sweet trailer set ups.
     
  18. fishingmickey

    fishingmickey Member

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    Gee Whiz....
    I just have to put in my two cents worth... Long distance traveling, a roof rack is the way to go. I utilize water noodles, The type used for floating in a pool, those that are 4' long by about 6" in diameter are great for padding and I like to support my Laser at the mast step and as close to the rear edge of the cockpit as I can get. I split the water noodles down the middle and duct tape them to the roof rack.
    I drive a F250 pick-up with a crew cab I use the "headache rack" and a bolt on "H" frame bracket in the two rear holes of the pick-up bed with a center bar tying it into the headache rack. One thing I wanted to make sure of was that the rack was completed supported from the bed of the pick-up truck... Due to the fact the cab and the bed of the truck move indepently of each other
    I've loaded my Laser up on it by myself, provided there is a grassy area to rest the transom on as I load it. It takes some thought as how to do it but the boat is only 130lbs and not that difficult to move around.
    Last thoughts are, is to tie it firmly but gently down and you wont have any problems transporting it across the country... Make sure your tie downs don't vibrate at highway speeds, if they do... Get out the roll of duck tape and figured out how to dampen the vibrations of the straps or you'll get to your destination with rub marks from them in your gelcoat. Putting twists into tie down straps will also work to eliminate vibrations. Using rope in my opinion and you'll will generally not have vibration.
    Best regards,
    Fishingmickey
    150087/181157
     
  19. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Nifty thing about the Thule roof racks and for that matter about the one inch tube roofracks as well... They tend to bend with the deck pressure. Since the laser is slightly curved and the gunwale is the strongest support area...The pipes bend and the weight ends up being gently distributed virtually across the entire support. Also, the gunwale provides a guage point.Whenn it touches..you probably have the pressure about right...

    nbote...It is damn hard to type wiht a nine month old kitty in you lap...
     
  20. odinsvitskjaldr

    odinsvitskjaldr Member

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    Fishingmickey has it down pat, but he's very tall. At 5'6", I'd never consider roof racking onto anything, except maybe a Mini-cooper...lol
    Consider your height and strength and if you will need/have assistance loading/unloading.
    If you want to be safe and be able to load/unload alone, go for a trailer. I never have a problem loading/unloading from my trailex. I transport it deck-down supported by carpet-covered bunkers set about 4-5" outside the length of the cockpit, and strap my seitech dolly upside down on top of the bottom of the hull. I have a 6" pvc tube with screw-cap ends strapped to the trailer that sits under the deck when the boat is loaded to keep my rolled sail in (rolled onto a 2"x9.5' pvc pipe), and my spars bungee-strapped down along the centerline of the trailer under the boat. I use ratcheting buckle straps to tie down the boat and dolly independently; boat first then dolly. If I load/unload onto anything but grass, I usually lay a thick towel or my pfd under the bow-end before unloading in case it slips and bumps down onto the ground; our club parking lot is unpaved caliche (sp?). This set up works great and even garnered positive comments from club members; I overheard some of the guys saying about my set-up while I was unloading at the last club-race, "That guy's got a nice system."
    And Mike, how are your local series races going? We are having our second fall series this weekend at SSC.
     

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