I am going 300 miles to pick up a Sunfish. Should I carry it on my roof rack on my caravan or tie it to the rails on my 4 by 8 foot utility trailer? Which is easier and/or better for the boat?
I did this once on the roof of a Caravan. The only problem I had was that the wind got under the boat and kept pulling the boat up. No matter how hard we tied it down, the lines kept getting stretched. So we had to keep pulling over to tighten the lines. Our trip was about 200 miles and we probably stopped about 4 times to check and tighten the lines. Good luck.
Mark, Always, Always, Always tie down the bow and stern down with enough pressure to keep the bow from raising up. Not hard enough to bend the boat or pull the bow handle out, but deffinately very snug. Attach the bow line to your front bumper or undercarriage and pad the lines or straps to protect the paint on the vehicle. I use 1" wide ratcheting type straps when I roof top my SF on my Durango. I use 2 straps on the Bow, 1 on the stern attached to the rudder mount (1/2" bolt with ny-lock nut) and 2 from side to side. I did build a frame that I attached to the factory roof racks and padded with some foam pipe insulation Try to get the the wieght centered on your racks. The only problem with roof topping is you normally need 2 people to load or unload. I can do it by myself, but it is safer with 2 people. Like Mike says, a utility trailer will beat the heck out of a SF. Drive safe.
I carry my sunfish on the roof of my suburban, and have never had that problem. I dont tie down the bow either, I use a 1 inch locking webbing strap from yakima, for the bow and stern. then I tie a rope from one roof rail through the deck cleat, and to the other side just in case. My sunfish rides fine. I was specifically told not to tie up the bow because of all the stress it puts on the boat. Also put your sunfish so that the mast step sits on top of the front roof rack bar, because that is one of the only parts of the sunfish that goes all the way through the hull, which means that is a very strong area.
I hauled my 68 Sunfish from San Diego to Memphis on the roof of my Subaru Impreza, no problems. Used the stock roof rack and put pipe insulation around them to reduce chaffing. Three point tie in front, two point in back and used ratcheting type tie downs over the hull to the roof rack.
On my way back to California, I had it on my4x8 utility trailer. I built a 4x4 box and put the insulation on it again where the boat would be touching the box. Tied it down in similar fashion and it didn't budget for 2000 miles. I prefer trailering, but the roofrack option is ok if you have someone to help unload it and load it. Otherwise it is a bear.
One more thing to mention in all this...your tie down lines can chafe whether you use a trailer or a roofrack. I know from experience...I have roofracked lots of boats and trailered lots of boats and have seen chafe destruction. Try to use some sort of chafe protection. Bath towels or tee shirts taped around rubbing points, leather, eva foam padding - whatever you have around. Moving or wibrating lines can result in chafe through the line or......the line can chafe through your hull. Take the extra 10 minutes and look for areas where the line may rub on something and pad it.
What is the preferred method of putting the boat on and taking it off of the roof solo? I've beat my car up trying to put it on by myself. I would add the caveat that my boat probably weighs more than the mean weight of most of the boats out there. After all, it is a 1968.
So I went with the trailer method, easier to back the flat bed trailer right into the water and, with the boat on a Seitech dolly on the trailer, it just slides right off and into the water.
As one who had a roof rack fail while minivan topping, if it weren't for having the bow tied down securely, I would have had ONE WHALE of a mess, had I not tied the bow down. It kept the whole mess from ripping the rest of the roof rack off my van. For safety's sake, I would ALWAYS tie the bow and stern down and do so!!
I have both Yakima and Thule and find either to be equally qualified for the job of moving a Sunfish. Pad the tubes and you're good to go. If you can get a step ladder as tall as the top of the car, some folks move the bow handle onto the top of the ladder, then move the stern into place on or off the car/van, then reach to the top of the ladder to complete the process.
One guy I know uses a chunk of PVC pipe laid inside the roof rack vertical supports along the rain gutter along the side of his full sized van to push/slide his Sunfish up onto the top of his van. It helps he's about 6' tall. I wouldn't be able to do it; I'm only 5'7-1/2". It doesn't really roll, it just slides and the pipe at about 2-3" in diameter is big enough that it protects the van from damage. I think he practiced for a while at home with some help ...
No matter what you do, make sure everything is secure. Bungee cords are NOT secure! Think about all those you see on the highways and the streets! The break or pop loose when you go over big bumps. Tie with line and you'll be good. I put a trucker's hitch into lines I tie with and then add purchase so that I can get tie lines good and snug.
I got the BMW rack. Can't get the rear rack to go on. Have to go down to the BMW place to see if it's the right size. I think they sold me a mismatched pair of racks. If so, I'm getting my money back and getting a Thule. (I hate BMW)
I already put two fist size dings in my (mother's) car trying to get the boat off the roof by myself (boy, that was stupid).