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Transporting the Sunfish of my childhood

Hello All!

This is my first post here. I will be inheriting my grandfather's 13.9' Sunfish, which I sailed extensively as a kid, in a couple weeks. We will be picking it up in TN on our way back to Arkansas. We have a Subaru Forester with a tow hitch.

We were thinking of renting a UHAUL trailer to tow it. Unfortunately the biggest cargo trailer they have available for one-way moves is the 5' by 9' trailer. Would that work?
Anybody have any other creative solutions?
We have a roof rack. Has anyone ever transported their Sunfish on a roof rack?

The sails haven't been opened in years. We will see what condition they are in. I'll likely be posting on here again soon with some refurbishment questions..

Thank you SO much for your help and experience!
 

shorefun

Active Member
Look up the correct Thule setup for your car top and seach craigslist and marketplace to see if you can get some cheap. The stuff get expensive, but honestly through CL or garage sales I have yet to spend more then $30 on a car set of Thule.

Car topping is no problem if you have someone to help you lift it.

I bought the 4 x 8 Harbor Freight trailer locally and put the plywood down like recommended. I use some straps and some stiffer packing foam to keep the combing off the deck of the trailer. The trailer has the advantage of being mulipurpose.

I recommend a spar bag to put the sail and spars in to protect them and it is easier to tie down.
 

chris williams

Active Member
Shorefun’s advice is good. I’d get the Thule 135 cm wing bar or square bar and appropriate mounting feet for your car. That length is wider than the boat, leaving space to tie the sail and spars next to the boat. eBay is a good place to look forward the feet too. The bars would be long to ship, so finding them local would be best.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Harbor Freight advised me today that they can't get trailers.

U-Haul has large vans painted with $19-a-day rentals. 'Dunno if they're available one-way or not. :rolleyes:
 
I have a Forester myself and have hauled my 14 ft tandem kayak up there. I bought some no name bars to use with the rails and it works great. I put a couple of carabiners in the tow hooks up front (under the bumper) and one near the muffler to use for tie downs. id skip renting anything for the one way and worry about long term when you get home.

I recently bought a small trailer from Northern Hydraulics to use for my Barnett Max 12 ft. Sailboat, tandem bike and the tandem kayak. It’s just a tad bit more money than the Harbor Freight one but comes in a nice glossy black….
 
Shorefun’s advice is good. I’d get the Thule 135 cm wing bar or square bar and appropriate mounting feet for your car. That length is wider than the boat, leaving space to tie the sail and spars next to the boat. eBay is a good place to look forward the feet too. The bars would be long to ship, so finding them local would be best.
Ok guys, that Thule setup does look nice. Unfortunately no one in my area has any used stuff on marketplace or craigslist... I will need some way to get the boat to the water anyway, so maybe I should just buy it anyway. What all do I need? Does anybody have a picture of them using the thule setup to transport their boat?

Thanks so much!!
 
I have a Forester myself and have hauled my 14 ft tandem kayak up there. I bought some no name bars to use with the rails and it works great. I put a couple of carabiners in the tow hooks up front (under the bumper) and one near the muffler to use for tie downs. id skip renting anything for the one way and worry about long term when you get home.

I recently bought a small trailer from Northern Hydraulics to use for my Barnett Max 12 ft. Sailboat, tandem bike and the tandem kayak. It’s just a tad bit more money than the Harbor Freight one but comes in a nice glossy black….
What no name bars did you buy? I need the bars and feet and straps?? What should I search for? Just wanna make sure I get everything I need.
 
Here is a picture of my Subaru setup : ) Once you get it on the roof, just strap it down with two tow straps and ropes front and back. The wood rack just creates a flat plane -- my crossbars were concave, which I found out is not something you want to balance a keel on...:eek:. The little arms are only to keep it from sliding off on the load and unload. Get some Kayak foam roof rack inserts and that really helps keep it firmly seated on the roof. Sustained highway driving.... hmmm I put mine keel down, if you went keel up it might make it tight enough to be worth a short test. I go 50 easy with mine strapped down. Keep in mind that I have a mini, which is obviously slightly smaller and lighter.

Just my thoughts.

IMG_0678.jpeg
 
What no name bars did you buy? I need the bars and feet and straps?? What should I search for? Just wanna make sure I get everything I need.
I forget the brand of bars but I did buy off of Amazon, just not Thule or Yakima… my Forester already had the side rails, just no crossbars. So I use two ratching tie down straps in the middle section and then halyard line with carabiners to tie the front and rear. With a Sunfish, I’d transport it with the boat upside down. I buy $5.00 yoga ($1.00 store) mats that I keep rolled up to put under the splash guard.

Thanks so much!!
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signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
How are you going to move it around once you get it home? You might consider buying a 5x10 utility trailer (Lowes) now and strapping it to that. If you don't need it sell it on the other end.

Do a better job than we did, of course, for a long haul. Then you can also haul other things like chairs, bikes, camp gear...

IMG_0661.jpeg

If she's a free family keepsake of your childhood you can rent a 20 foot Uhaul for the boat and put your Forrester on an auto transporter behind the Uhaul for $700ish dollars.
 
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L&VW

Well-Known Member
More suggestions here:
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The boat will car top, yes, but the question is who is getting it up there and back down? And how nice is your Forester's paint and body? :)

Alan is our cartopping guru. Here is the Sailfish that he cartopped to us in 2016. (Image credit: Alan)

Alan Sailfish VW road trip.jpg

And the Sunfish that he cartopped Florida to New York. (Image credit: Alan)
Bella Dieci VW Alan.JPG

Deck down is easiest. One key is padding for roof rails, enough that lets the boat nestle in for the ride, as al lot of rails are convex and then the deck is convex as well. Pool noodles work, among other things. A universal kayak kit may work as well.

We like to tie the bow and the stern on the few boats that we have cartopped, not so much to hold the boat down but to keep the bow from hunting side to side at 60.8283 Knots Indicated Airspeed (KIAS) highway speeds. We have been using Sherpak Quikloops loops recently that are installed in the hood and hatch seams. They keep you from having to dive under the car and find tiedown points near hot engines and hot exhausts, and a lot of newer cars do not have tiedown spots underneath due to aerodynamic underbody cladding.

IMG_3983.JPG

One other consideration are Eyesight systems on newer cars, in our case the canoe did not interfere with our 2020 Outback's Eyesight.

D0EB06D2-BBDD-4A7B-8CAE-513CB831C2F7.jpeg

Last gadget is our new Reese Towpower Single Person Canoe Loader, we wrote an article about it for the Nov 2021 issue of Small Boats Magazine. I'll do some measurements but it seems like the stern of a Sunfish should fit on the 21 inch wide swivel arm. The loader is not meant for support in transit, but rather just for loading. It can be left in place during transit if desired.

5DE0F1CE-3F88-45AD-931A-0563CC9E4B1E.jpeg

Last tip, if you car has the "Hands Free" tailgate sensor, best to turn it off while cartopping. We had the canoe nicely loaded but I placed my hand too close to the sensor and the hatch opened. I was able to grab the hatch and stop it before it hit the canoe, but there's a Learning Lesson there.
 
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Fremont

Active Member
The problem with renting a Uhaul trailer is that the springs are so stiff, it'll give the boat a very rough ride. To get it home, I'd pad your roof rails and strap it down really well.
For future transportation, get a trailer designed for the light weight of the boat.
 
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