As you may notice from the number of posts we make from locations near lakes, streams, and the ocean – we love the water. We've both enjoy a variety of water-related activities including sailing, kayaking, fishing, and general exploring.
Unfortunately, towing an Airstream precludes towing a boat trailer, so getting ourselves, our trailer, and a boat to our destination requires car-topping the boat.
We therefore set about choosing the biggest, most versatile boat that we could reasonably car-top while towing the Airstream. Hobie has a new 2-person sail/kayak called the Tandem Island (OK, I think it's really called the "Hobie Mirage Adventure Island Tandem" but seriously, that's WAY too many words for one little boat.) The Tandem Island (or "TI" as we will now refer to it), is an 18 foot sit-on-top kayak. For power, it has conventional paddles (which we never use), a really awesome pedal system called the "Mirage Drive" (which can easily propel the boat at a sustained 4-5 MPH with two people pedaling at a nice comfortable pace), and an 18-foot mast with a 90 square foot sail (that's the super-fun part). To stabilize the boat while under sail, there are also two outriggers (called "amas" and metal booms called "akas" that connect the amas to the main hull. The result is basically a small trimaran with pedal power for when the wind dies.
Car-topping the boat was a bit of a challenge. We put three Yakima cross-bars on top of our F150 truck – one on the cab and two on the built-in rack on the SnugTop XTR camper shell. First, we tried using standard kayak saddles and rollers to load and manage this heavier-than-normal kayak.
Yakima's "Hully Roller" system may work great on light boats, but on ours it wouldn't hold the weight. The rollers lost their grip on the bar, rolled backward, and proceeded to dent the hull of the boat. (We pretty much fixed that with a blow-drier and a little pressure and patience, but that's another story). We ended up getting the Hobie cradles that are a custom fit for the bottom of the boat (originally intended to be mounted on a trailer) and mounted them to the front two cross-bars. The back cross-bar has a pad, and is only used during the loading process. We put the nose of the boat onto the pads on the rear cross-bar, then slide it forward until it drops onto the two cradles. Then we attach the amas and akas after the fact, strap the whole thing down, and add bow and stern tiedowns (very important if you don't want your boat ending up in someone's back seat after a panic stop or an accident.)
With the boat on top and the trailer on back, we cannot tell any difference in the towing, handling, or gas mileage. The boat stays secure and is relatively easy to load and unload. We're very happy with the whole operation.
(posted by Kevin)