Trailer and cover question

Thread starter #1
Hi there. Been lurking for a while - this site is an amazing resource :)

I bought a used Laser for my teenage son who took a sailing course last year and loved it. We're picking the boat up a good 500 miles away and need some advice on a trailer retrofit, and a hull cover.

I have searched the archives but can't find current answers to a couple questions I have.

I've seen a few destroyed Lasers on a hunt for a good one, and I'm trying to keep the beauty we bought in good condition by trailering it properly and by keeping a cover on it.

We have a good highway-rated utility trailer and I'd rather use it than buy something else. Plan is to add three removable gunwale supports to the trailer - then it can be used as utility trailer too. I'm going to make or have metal supports made that are similar to the Kitty Hawk design - I think it's the best I've seen. But one boat we saw with a homemade gunwale support trailer had both gunwales destroyed by the cockpit, and most of the front part of the bow lip was mashed. I assume it wasn't strapped down properly and likely vibrated and wrecked the fibreglass. But in any case it was toast...

I saw the utility trailer in past postings that was retrofitted, and am going to use some of those ideas. But I don't like the idea of trailering the boat on the deck. Seen or heard of way too many delaminated decks from upside down storage, or from transporting them upside down.

So to avoid this, I'm wondering if there's anything around that I can use that will support but also protect the gunwales when on the trailer? I need to find something to go between the metal support beam on the trailer and the fibreglass gunwale. Metal + fibreglass + vibrations from driving = a wrecked gunwale and bow lip. Things like rubber bumpers (used for speed boat trailers), water pipe insultation, etc come to mind but I can't find anything I'm really happy with or that's made for the job. Ideas, suggestions??? :confused:

Finally I'm looking for a deck cover for road travel and storage. I saw the cover from SLO Sail and Canvas on eBay but didn't find anyone who had used one in past postings. Anyone have experience with these covers? They look good on the website. Others are too expensive or cost too much to ship to Canada.

Finally, I did cobble together a document on buying a Laser by pulling together stuff from the archives and a bunch of other resources. I plan to send it to someone to look at first. Anyone interested in taking a look at it? My way of giving back! :rolleyes:

I don't sail and up until a month ago I didn't even know what a gunwale or a mast step was. So the document is really put together for someone buying a used Laser who knows only the basics about a boat and sailing.

Thanks in advance,

Welcome Russ

I have not seen or heard of boats being damaged from going deck down on the trailer (or rooftop of a car) that is properly supported and tied down. My own experiences are well over 10K miles per boat with similar mileage on the friends I have met or traveled with.

With either deck up or deck down, it's all about making sure the boat is properly supported.

For padding on the rail supports, people seem to be happy with indoor/outdoor carpeting. It seems to wear nicely and doesn't compress over time (like some water pipe insulation)

For the cover, check who carries the Rooster cover in Canada. I know a few of the folks making them in the US just have too much headache shipping to Canada, otherwise I would point you towards the covers made by another forum member, 48111


Finally, I did cobble together a document on buying a Laser by pulling together stuff from the archives and a bunch of other resources. I plan to send it to someone to look at first. Anyone interested in taking a look at it? My way of giving back! :rolleyes:

I don't sail and up until a month ago I didn't even know what a gunwale or a mast step was. So the document is really put together for someone buying a used Laser who knows only the basics about a boat and sailing.

Thanks in advance,

A very big welcome, Russ! I would love to see your document. I'm not a gearhead but have purchased a couple of good used boats, and I am an English major, so I think I would be a good choice to read and edit your document. Please send it to:

janet at laserforum dot org (after standardizing the address)

Also, I do know someone who busted their boat right below the gunwale with a homemade trailer. They think it was because the support leaned into the boat a bit/ a bad angle on the support, so this is something to watch for.

Intensity makes an inexpensive cover. I don't know if they ship to Canada. I've seen a cover purchased this year and they look thin. I'm thinking I'd like to see how they hold up before recommending one.

I have never heard of the gunwales getting damaged on the kitty hawk or trailex trailers. Those are my two suggestions, everyone in my district uses those two. Try to model yours to something similar to those.

As far as a deck and bottom cover, I have used the Intensity Sails covers. They are very inexpensive and work just like any other cover. I have no complaints and reccomend them to everyone. The only drawbacks I have had is that there is only one color. Other than that they work well and use them all the time. Going on a year now. Below is the website and you will not find a cheaper price.

$79.99 for the hull cover right now...

$125.00 for the deck cover...

Show me a cheaper price.
I have modified two trailers in this fashion and expiremented with various chaffing gear. Here are my suggestions:

1. The welder you hire will likely want to overbuild. insist on using the same size material used on the kitty hawk trailers.

2. It is very important that the horizontal surfaces holding the laser are all level. Even a slight difference will cause a destructive pressure point.

3. On the rear supports have the welder slide a section of thick rubber garden hose over the round stock before the final welds are made. The metal will get hot and may melt the hose. Since you are making yours removable I suggest you leave one side open so the hose can be replaced.

4. Pipe insulation will not hold up.

5. On the bow you are better off using two peices of hose slid over each end. If you try to split the hose so that your have a continuous piece over the center support the hose will rotate leaving bare metal to chaff your laser. To keep the hose from sliding off I put a small amount of 5200 to hold it in place. I stess a small amount of 5200 is all that is needed.

6. The thicker the hose you use the better. I once used a small half inch hose slid inside of a larger 1 inch hose. This was difficult to find and difficult to slide the small hose inside of the large hose, but it worked well once created.

7. Measure the kitty hawk trailer dimensions and copy it exactly.

8. The temptation is to wrap the whole thing in duct tape. I would not do this. If you want more insulation have a canvas shop sew thick leather around your hose.

9. Have the welder attach some tie down points while you are at it.

Good luck, After building two trailers and selling them with the boats. I bought a kitty hawk the third time. :cool:

I remove my cover for trailering. I don't see that it offers a significant amount of protection against road hazards and the flapping in the wind is hard on the cover, probably does not do the gel coat any good either.



I remove my cover for trailering. I don't see that it offers a significant amount of protection against road hazards and the flapping in the wind is hard on the cover, probably does not do the gel coat any good either.

Jimmy, those sound like great ideas. One thing, I use a bottom cover when trailering to help protect from rocks and stuff bouncing up.

Most people are like you and use the bottom cover while trailering. I suppose it does offer some protection against gravel. If I where going to do this I would buy a thick cover with the soft inside. Not sure what the material is actually called. In general I don't like these covers because they hold moisture, but if you trailer alot or on dirty roads it is probably best to use one.

Thread starter #8
A short update:
** I sent the "Buying a Laser" document on for review. It's 80% plagarized from the original, so I can't take any credit for that part. But hopefully I've been able to clean it up a bit and add some new useful stuff for non-sailors who want to buy a boat.
** I got a set of Rooster covers from the place in Edmonton - thanks for the lead. Intesity only has 1 cover right now.
** Based on what everyone said, I'm going to bring the boat home deck down on 2X4s with carpet, then have something made with gunwale support that keeps everything level (no pressure points on the gunwales) once we have a boat to work with and measure. I don't have access to a Kitty Hawk, so can't get the measurements. But once it's here we can put something together based on what everyone has said. I'll send a few photos when it's done.

Thanks so much for the advice.

You've all been a lot of help. :)
I always strap my laser to the top of the car upside-down. However, on my old boat i think i hurt the gunwale by making the strap too tight. the strap would try to squeeze the gunwales against the hull. Not good.
Covers are good, especially for road grime, snow, road salt etc. All Bad stuff, expecially on aluminum parts. After trailering to FL in the winter, I stop first at a car wash, and blast the trailer, spars, and covers with hot soapy water. That's before I unstrap anything.

Deck down on padding is fine, if you note the deck isn't flat, so the pads only go where you want the loads carried. I've found good padding for a kitty hawk or trailex is soft old line, 3/16 or 1/4", wrapped tightly around the bar enough times to cover the metal. It's more about spreading the load, than it is about softening the ride, and the soft line kind of compresses where there is a pressure point after a while.

Ratchet straps can quintuple or more the load on your pads/hull.

And, for the record, a Trailex bow fitting is awful, and will never touch one of my boats, even a beater/loaner.

I have other posts about how my trailers work, if you want to search.

Hi Russ - gotta love the Oilers! Gotta hate Peter Puck - Traitor.

Anyway, I digress....

If you are going deck down - it is worth the 20 minutes it takes profile the 2x4 to the contour of the deck. If you don't, you will put a HUGE compression load on the middle of the deck and likely collapse it. It will bounce back, but for 15 minutes, its not worth it.

Ideally, you want the back 2x4 is in line with the back of the cockpit - if that does not fit, somewhere forward of this is better. The forward 2x4 needs to be near the mast step, if not directly over it. But this is where the contoured 2x4 will pay dividends. The mast step is connected to the hull of the boat. So if you push really hard on it, you are putting a big load on that one area of the hull. You want to spread that load accross the width of the deck and Hull. I travelled with my laser on top of my car like this for many years and never had any issues. (I still have the same laser and it is still in good shape)

Also, if you are towing it this way, contrary to others here, I am a fan of NOT using a cover. My reasoning is this - is the top of your car all scratched up - no - just the front and the bottom panels where stuff gets thrown up at it (rocks, crap from other cars that don't tie things down properly ;-). So, in my opinion, if you are carrying it DECK DOWN only and BEHIND YOUR CAR on a trailer that HAS GOOD MUDFLAPS, you are better off going with out a cover. I think the little particles of dirt under the cover and the flapping (no matter how tight, it will vibrate) does more damage than the risk of a rock.

I know others will disagree with this. But there you go.

Thread starter #13
Hello again: I said 6 months ago I'd post photos of our home-made trailer - so here they are. We decided on a deck down design and stuck with the dead simple (and cheap) solution.

Some 2X8s, bolts, a few pool noodles (great solution and cheap!) and some good straps was all it took to transform our regular utility trailer into a good hauler for a Laser. Worked fine all summer and we never had a problem at all carrying it behind a Corolla.

I included a photo with the boat on the trailer, and two with it off showing the simple structure we built for the spars from the front and back.

We're going to stick with a deck down design since it's simple and worked very well all summer.

Also ended up travelling without covers since they did flap a lot and mark up the hull a bit. Also filled with water when it rained resulting in about a hundred pounds of weight as they filled up (just kidding)!! End result was no covers while traveling seems to be better.

All for now. Hope the photos came through - never done this before.



Rob B

Active Member
Great do it yourself trailer. Looks like the bow gets really close to the back of the car/truck? I use the noodles as well. To keep the water out of the covers put the deck cover on first and then the bottom cover on next, (if the boat is stored upsidedown). I always tow with covers since I had a rock punch a eraser sized hole through the bottom once. Did not realize it until I went sailing for a couple of hours and the boat got slower and slower and lower......
If you don't mind, which brand(s) are the covers -

If you want to get the covers to stop flapping, in addition to what Rob suggested about top cover on first, I'd suggest the top cover needs at least two more additional tie points, 4 more would be better if it's one of the lighter weight covers from Rooster or Intensity. If the bottom cover is flapping around, then more tie points there will help too..
Thread starter #16
Thanks for the replies.

In the picture the boat is actually about a foot farther forward than where it is when we actually drive with it - didn't see that untuil after we took the photos. So it's not close to the vehicle at all when properly positioned.

And the covers are both Rooster. Deck cover is thick waterproof and hull is thinner one that isn't really waterproof - that's all I could get at the time. So the water runs down and pools in the deck cover even if it's put on over the deck cover. Not a big deal and if we use it a lot I'll get a good hull cover too which would work better at keeping water out.

Good advice about extra straps. May be worth trying to pull the covers tighter for travel.