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Transporting our pedal boat is not something my wife and I thought about before buying one.
In fact, we actually looked for people selling used pedal boats who would deliver them to our house so we could avoid picking them up. We just figured that the pieces would fall into place and we’d figure it out.
While we did figure it out, it wasn’t easy.
The best way to transport a boat is on a flatbed trailer that is built specifically for a pedal boat to allow for easy loading and launching. If a trailer is not an option, a pedal boat can be transported in the back of a truck or on a roof rack.
Since our car doesn’t have a trailer hitch and isn’t a truck, we were left with sticking it on top and strapping it down. People who wondered whether or not you can transport a pedal boat on top of a car were left wondering no longer when they passed us on the road.
I’m sure, however, they were still wondering about the advisability of strapping a pedal boat to the top and your car. Will it ruin your car? Is it safe?
In general, a pedal boat can be transported on top of a car. As long as there is a rack and anchor points to tie the boat down it will be safe for short-distance travel. It does, however, make loading, unloading, and launching the boat significantly more difficult.
Our pedal boat weighs in right around 100 lbs so my wife and I are able to get it on top of our little SUV without too many issues. Luckily, we usually have some other family or friends around that we can recruit to help.
While we found the method that works best for us, you’ll have to figure out the best way to transport your pedal boat if you want to explore more than your garage.
The 3 Best Ways To Transport a Pedal Boat
1. In The Bed Of A Truck
If you have access to a truck without a shell on it, you have a ready-made pedal boat transport system.
With an average width of 64″, your pedal boat isn’t going to sit flat on the floor of the bed. (For reference, a new F-150 measures 50.6″ between the wheel wells. Depending on your bed size, your boat will likely have to be leaned up on one side of the bed.
In general, your boat should be fine not sitting flat. However, if you’re going to be traveling long distances or over rough roads, I have seen people put a sheet of plywood under their pedal boat for support.
Loading and unloading a pedal boat from a truck bed is fairly straightforward. While backing down a boat ramp and putting the boat straight into the water is an option, launching it off the beach is far easier (and safer).
2. On A Trailer
If you have a small flatbed trailer that may be the easiest option for transporting your pedal boat. It makes it much easier for loading and unloading. In fact, if you’re unable to lift a pedal boat you can launch it straight into the water by backing down the launch ramp. However, I would only advise going that route if you have someone in the boat that can pilot it over to the beach or a dock.
A 4×6′ or 4×8′ trailer is the most common size that will easily transport a pedal boat and the market is full of used options in the $5-600 range.
This is, in my opinion, the easiest way to transport a pedal boat and the route that we’ll be going if I ever get around to putting a hitch on our RAV4.
3. On Top Of Your Car
While it is definitely possible to transport your pedal boat on top of your car, there are several things that you should consider if you want to do it safely.
Consider Your Roof Rack Capacity
You’ll want to check the capacity of your roof rack to make sure it will support your pedal boat. Non-electric pedal boats typically weigh between 100 and 130 lbs which is beyond the capacity of most factory roof racks/rails.
Roof rack capacities are given as the total weight they can handle while the vehicle is moving. While the racks may be capable of handling significantly more static weight when the vehicle is parked, the total capacity takes into account stopping force, crosswinds, etc.
For example, the roof rack capacity on our Toyota RAV4 is 102 lbs. As we are right on the edge with our 100lb pedal boat, we choose not to take it on freeways or drive much faster than 45mph.
How To Load/Unload A Pedal Boat From A Car Roof
I would probably pay to see a video of the first couple of times that my wife and I loaded our boat onto our car. While pedal boats aren’t particularly heavy, they are big and awkward for two people to hoist over their heads.
My wife and I usually just park in the parking lot and resign ourselves to carrying our boat a short distance after it’s unloaded. It’s really not that bad for two people to carry a pedal boat a short distance.
If you aren’t capable of getting a pedal boat into the air (and don’t have help) you might need to find a different way to transport your boat.
I have seen people rig up a pulley system in their garage which allows them easy load/unload their boat when they’re at home. It won’t help you out at the lake though.
Overall, transporting a pedal boat on a car is possible but should only be considered if there are no other options available.
3 Final Tips For Transporting Your Pedal Boat
Now that you know how you’re going to get your pedal boat to and from the water, there are a few more things that you should let bounce around in your head for complete pedal boat safety.
1. Transport Your Boat Without A Cover
No matter how good your pedal boat cover is, don’t transport your boat with the cover in place. The purpose of a cover is to keep rain and UV rays off of your boat. It won’t be anything to keep your boat safe while you’re transporting it and you run the risk of it flying off.
2. Be Careful With Fragile Parts While Loading/Unloading And Launching
I was talking to a friend who rents out pedal boats for day use and he mentioned that he has replaced the rudder on one of his boats 3 times in the past years!
While replacement parts for pedal boats aren’t particularly hard to find, it does cramp your style to have your boat out of action, especially if it happens when you first get to the lake and are unloading your boat.
3. Make Sure Your Boat Is Secure
If your pedal boat isn’t secure you’re risking far more than damage to your boat and possibly your car/trailer. If your unsecured load injures someone or destroys other property, you may be liable.
I think every dad in the world has, at one time, plucked a rope or tie-down that is securing a load and said, “yep, that’s not going anywhere.” It’s like a rite of passage.
When transporting your pedal boat, though, make sure it’s true. You are liable for anything that goes wrong while you’re transporting your boat. So if you need some more anchors, find more anchors. It’s much better to be safe than to be sorry when you’re pedal boat passes you on the highway.
Let’s face it, transporting a pedal boat isn’t rocket science. Find a method that works for you and just make it safe every time.
What happens with your pedal boat once you get to the lake is far more important and more fun. See you out there!