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Car-Topping the Hobie Tandem Island (Step-by-Step)

We posted several months ago about how we car-top our Hobie Tandem Island while towing our Airstream, and we've had a huge amount of traffic on that post as well as a number of questions from readers. As a follow-up, here is an illustrated step-by-step guide to what we do. This works great for us, but we make no guarantee that it is safe or effective for you. You have to figure that part out.

This method has worked for us for numerous trips, thousands of miles, and a bunch of load-unload cycles. As you can see – it is also not very difficult to perform with one person.

Step one – starting with the akas, amas, and mast removed, and with the beach wheels in the aft scupper holes, put the boat directly behind the truck and lift the bow onto the tailgate:


Next, climb onto the tailgate and lift the bow onto the (padded) roof rack. Be sure to use one of those protective pads to protect the camper shell, and we also use pads on the rear crossbar to protect the boat.


Next, lift the stern of the boat and push the boat forward onto the rack – aligning with the cradles. As mentioned before, these are the Hobie factory cradles made for trailer use – we attached them to Yakima bars using standard Yakima grips. Cradles are on the front two bars, the rear bar is just used for loading and unloading.



Next, put the amas onto the side cradles. We use only the rear aka on each side and click the aka into the crossbar for support.  



Here is the Thule mat we use to protect the camper shell during loading (mentioned above). Also, remember to take the plugs out of the amas during transport. Otherwise, if you change elevation, the air pressure change can crush the amas or inflate them. 


Next, we slide the mast between the port side ama and the main hull – being sure to put the sail bag opening in the back – if in front it can inflate going down the road.


We use a pair of Yakima tie-down strips to secure the whole thing.  We loop them around the bar…


We position the boat so the side handles line up with the cross bar – then we thread the straps through the handles as well – for extra resistance to sliding forward/backward.


We also loop the straps (twice) around the sailbag each time they pass. That keeps the sailbag secure and the whole thing is still tied with just two straps.


Be sure to use a bow/stern tiedown for safety. We use the Yakima bow/stern tiedown kit. Keep the tiedowns just snug – not overtight, as that can put too much stress on the hull. These offer protection from the boat departing the vehicle in a sudden stop or accident.


Here's how the whole thing looks hooked up. Note that the boat is almost exactly bumper-to-bumper on our F150 pickup. It seems to have no effect on towing the trailer. Fuel mileage is identical as far as we can tell.


(posted by Kevin)