7 things you need to know about – Carrying a boat on your vehicle

1 – Plan for what you think you will need before you purchase a car or caravan. Many people buy their rig first then start adding all the “must have” toys only to find they quickly run out of space and the capacity to carry the extra weight.

2 – Most people plan to carry the boat either on top of the car or on top of a camper trailer but don’t forget that you will need storage space for an outboard motor, fuel tank, life jackets and safety gear along with extra fishing gear, crab pots etc. Think about the need for extra long draw bars or heavy duty caravan bumper bars before you buy your caravan or camper trailer.

3 – Check out the vehicle roof top capacity and type of available roof racks. For example, a 200 series Land cruiser is rated to 200kg but a Jeep is only good for 35kg. There are aftermarket systems that may increase your roof top capacity but find out what you will need first. If buying a dual cab Ute, the best place to carry your boat is on the canopy but make sure it is suitable to safely carry at least 100kg.

4 – There are a range of car topper boats on the market but the best combination will be a 3.5m to 3.85m boat with a 15 hp 2 stroke outboard motor. The boat will weigh about 75kg and allow 35kg for the outboard motor. Don’t make the mistake of getting too big a boat or motor as you will just make more work for yourself. Conversely don’t get too small a boat as it will limit when and where you can use it. A 3m boat with a 5hp motor and a top speed of 6 knots won’t do you much good if you are in a Top End river with a 6m tide flowing out at over 8 knots. Avoid inflatable boats (floating food rings for crocodiles), they are more trouble than they are worth.

5 – To get the best use out of your boat you will need, at some point, folding boat trailer that can be registered and towed on the road. Having the boat set up on a trailer and ready to go will allow you to access more areas and greatly increase your fishing pleasure, so even if you don’t have a trailer at the moment allow room on your rig to add one at a later date.

6 – Rear Loader or Side Loader – Rear boat loaders have been around for over thirty years and when set up properly work well but they have some limitations. During the loading process they can place excessive load on the rear roof rack and beware if there is any wind around as you are effectively hoisting a large sail!! Many rear loaders incorporate a full size cargo rack which can be handy but they can often weigh as much as the boat so check your roof rack capacity first as you may find that with the rear loader plus the boat you are already exceeding your load capacity.

Side loaders are proving very popular as they spread the load across the whole vehicle roof during loading and the boat cannot be effected by the wind making them much safer. Side loaders are generally much lighter the rear loaders allowing you to load a larger boat while staying within your rated load capacity.

7 – Taking a boat with you is a great way to explore this wonderful island nation of ours but lifting a 75kg boat 2.1m off the ground is not easy. The SideWinder boat loader is a great example of an easy to use, light weight electric boat loading system that will fit all vehicle types so if you do the research and take the time to set yourself up properly your car topper boat will give you years of boating pleasure.