Truck Bed Trasport

Sailor Roberts

New Member
Hello again,

Well I've been diligently repairing my old Sunfish. I hope to sail it this comming spring. Can you believe that it still has its original sail from 1965! It looks in good repair too.

My question is: has anyone successfuly transported a Sunfish in the bed of there pickup? If so, how do you rig it so that the Fish isn't damaged?

When I picked up the Sunfish from the owner's house I threw it in the back of my pickup and drove away so I know it fits but I worried about damaging the keel and other parts. From the repairs I'm having to make, it looks like the keel can be damaged by having to support the boat's weight. Maybe I should get a rug and put the boat in my truck upside down?

Thanks, SR
I haul my 1968 Sunfish in a 2002 Chevy S-10 with an extended cab. The bed is 6.5 feet. If you go through the forum, you can find plans for a PVC pipe dolly that is easily built with spare parts. I built the dolly using scrap and wheels from the dump (where I also got the boat). I built ramps using 2
8x10 planks with Rampart plates that let it sit nicely on the tailgate. I use carro staps to secure the boat to the dolly. This also makes it easy to move the boat in and out of the garage. I can individually pull the boat up the ramps until the wheels go into the gap betweeen the tailgate and the truck bed.(note that I am a somewhat chubby 53 year old and do not find this to be a physcial challenge. Be sure you have good footing and be careful with your back.) At that point, I set the boat down on the edge of the truck roof. Where there is contact with the roof,to avoid scratching I use foam blocks that I also use for my canoe. They have a groove that fits over the PVC pipe and provide clearance for the keel. Pipe insulation, or well placed rags would probably work as well. I use a ratcheting cargo strap from the front corner tie down hook, threaded over the boat at the mainsail cleat and over to the other front corner. When it ratchets down, the foam blocks compress so I know that boat is not going to bounce. I use another strap from one of the rear tie down hooks, fed around the stern of the boat. Since I have the old style rudder, I thread the strap around the shaft. When I ratchet it down, I know that the boast cannot slide back. Once it is strapped down, I slide the ramps into the bed and go sailing. I have used this setup throughout the Boston area. If I am going I will stop to check the strap tension. This has worked for many trips without a problem and has cost very little money.
I really like the idea of rolling a dolly up into the back of your truck. I'm glad I asked. That seems like the best way for a single person to transport a sunfish without a trailer.

So how far does the Fish stick above your cab, and doesn't it try to fly off?

Thanks, SR
The the bow of the boat is labout 18" higher than the roof of the truck. The aft end overhangs the end of the tailgate by about 18"-24" also. The ratcheting straps prevent it from bouncing at all or sliding back and forth under braking or acceleration. Securing the boat to the dolly is important. I use shorter ratcheting straps that pass around the PVC pipes and a strap that secures the bow handle to the PVC pipe in front.I use the excess strap to tie the mast and spars down. I also use the mainsheet to secure the mast and booms to the main cleat. The main halyard is used to secure the mast and booms to the hook that was used on the 1968 model. A good cleat would work well too but I am too cheap so far. I prefer the ratcheting type straps becuase they really let me get a good seccure tie down. Knowing that it is a 12' long, 140 pound load that is on incline, I am careful to inspect the straps and tie them off. Going from the garage to to the truck takes less than fifteen minutes to be road ready. Unloading is also quick. The S-10 is a smaller truck so there may need to be alterations made for other models. More tie downs are always better than fewer.

Dave Gentes
I have been taking my Sunfish to regattas all over New York State for four years on the back of my S-10 pickup. I first strap the boat to my Seitech dolly, then slide the whole rig onto a custom made "rack" that is strapped to my truck. Four straps keep the whole thing from moving and flying off. The boat sits on the 3" strap of the dolly and cushions it from bumps. It hangs off the back a ways, but I haven't had any problems. I can load and unload with out help. See attached pictures.



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I'm very interested in your plan. I also have an S-10 extra cab. I don't have a dolly and I'm interested in building a wood cradle that runs along the sides of the hull (see the "Guidelines for building a Sunfish cradle on a trailer" in the FYI section of the Sunfish Class homepage. Part of my reasoning for the cradle is so that I can hoist the boat and cradle from the rafters of my carport and simply drive my truck underneath. Two questions: Do you have any trouble with the boat hanging out the back so far? And, without a dolly, do you have any suggestions on how I could best slide the boat in and out of the truck (I have access to paved launch ramps where I plan to sail).
Brad, I've never had a problem with the boat sticking out so far except a few tricky parking situations. I used to put my old fish on the truck without a dolly by setting the stern on the gate and then lifting the bow with the bow handle and slid the boat into the back. The boat was facing backwards. I used two rolled up carpets to protect the hull, but a wood rack might be better. If I had to do it that way again, I would build a frame with 2x6's and put two 2-3" webbing straps accross to support the hull. Carpet everything else. Above all, protect the center of the hull and the bailer. At boat ramps, I would pull up close to the water and slide it right in. If you go with putting bunks under the hull, pad them well. As you know, the back end can bounce around on some roads and cause damage. I have had no problems with the dolly setup and I even asked Vanguard/ Seitech if that was an acceptable way to trailer. They said yes it was.

Good luck.
I just bought an S10 yesterday which I plan to ferry my laser around in. (I also have a sunfish) Matter of fact, I just asked for information on this subject at the laser forum on Friday night!!! Anyway, I am planning to build a frame using a pair of 10' 2x10s as stringers ,possibly cut the profile of the hull into them,
and screw them together with a pair of 2x6 crossers.. I will slide the boat in backwards with the 2x10s cantilevering about 3 feet off the back providing support to the prow which would be extended 6+ ' behing the gate. I will pad the tops of the rails somehow, maybe carpet. The reason for the 2x10s is because the laser is wider than the wheel wells therefore the frame must be higher.
Seeing that wild picture of the fish handing off the back of that truck has shown me that my plan will work, thanks