Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

I have just begun building a Passagemaker Dingy. When done, I'd like to transport it on the top of my car (I will soon live in an apartment and cannot keep a trailer). Can you advise me regarding

1. Equipment I'll need to get,

2. How to get the boat up and down from the roof,

3. Surviving 250 mile road trips on Interstate 95.

11 replies:

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RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker


First, will you always have help loading and unloading or must you do it alone.  If you will be doing it alone, you need a system that lets you load from one end of the car.  Pretty tricky with a 90# boat.  Once up there, you need four towers and two load bars.  If the boat is upside down, you may be able to just lash it to the load bars.  Otherwise you will want some system that conforms to the shape of the boat.  The best bet is to study all the variations available from Yakim and Thule, both sold by CLC.  If you find a local bike store or equal, you may be able to get a full catalog that will help you understand how these things work.

Regarding the highway, I carry both my MC 16.5 (65# and my Shearwater 17H (48#) at the same time.  Last summer I drove a good 300 miles cross country with no trouble.  Just be sure you use bow and stern lines in addition to strapping down to the carriers.

I hope you hear from some PM owners who can help with specifics for that boat.

Good Luck,


RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

BOW and STERN lines a must.  I ended up building custom J racks for my SOF and WD12.  With a single boat you have much more flexibility, once I finished the duck I had to switch to both boats on edge. 

One thing to consider is are you going to carry the boat right side up or upside down?  Right side up, add a cover and you have a really high volume cartop carrier.  I now have cockpit covers for both boats and really like to toss all the wet gear in the boats for the drive home... and yes that even included the 13 hour (1200KM) drive home from whale watching on the St. Lawerence.

RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

Caution!!  I just replaced the skirt for my Shearwater that went missing when the cockpit cover came loose.


RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

 One issue with car-topping a PMD is the damage that is likely to occur if you try to load/unload by yourself.  It's not realistic (my opinion) to transport the boat upright on a roof.  So you need to flip it over.  Unless you're a professional weight lifter, you'll probably need to roll the boat over first, then move it to the roof racks.  Rolling it over, especially on gravel or pavement, will scratch up and dent the beautiful finish you spent so much time on.  While the boat isn't all that heavy, it IS awkward to pick up and move about. 

I've put my PMD in the back of my pickup, upside down with the bow over the cab and the stern on the tailgate.  I use foam blocks to support and protect it.  It works well, but again, the rolling takes it toll.  That's why I now use a lightweight trailer from Harbor Freight.



RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

Thank you all for your kind help

RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

I'm not sure if this would work for the passagemaker, but Thule makes a product for kayaks called the Outrigger.  It's a retracting extension to the load bars.  Pulling it out lets you rest one end of boat on the rack while you lift and position the other end.

Another option would be to attach a (padded) bar running front-to-back between the load bars.  Lift one end and rest it on the bar, then lift the other and and rotate the boat into position.

I've never put either of these into practice, but this is what I was considering if I build a Northeaster Dory, so let us know how it works.


RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

When I was a kid, my dad bought a 12 ft jon boat and cartop boat loader from sears that worked great. I go curious and googled cartop boat loader. Take a look at this:

RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

Just a follow-up on my previous post, the passagemaker has a squared bow which makes is in your favor. Especially when you have the boat flipped over and raising the stern (sometimes my 16 ft canoe gets away from me doing this). You need something to protect the bow while dragging it towards the stern clamp of the loader. What might work well is something as simple as fabricating a 2 wheel dolly from a couple of pieces of wood attached at 90 deg angle. Attach a couple of hardware store fixed dolly wheels. go bigger if you moving the boat over rough terrain. Clamp it to the bow with a c-clamp. Flip the boat over, raise the stern and now you can walk the boat all over the place. Roll the boat to the stern clamp of the loader, clamp it, and walk the bow over to the car rack and strap it down. Remove the bow dolly as you don't want that to come loose and fall on your car while barreling down I-95 at 75 mph ;-). Attach guy-lines from the hitch to each end of the stern to secure it laterally. Attach a line from the loader pole to one of your roof racks to keep the boat from sliding back. Should be easy for one person, but as others have said here, flipping the boat over is probably the hardest part of the whole operation. Of course, if you don't have a trailer hitch on your car, never mind. And by way of a disclaimer, I've never dealt with this company and have no idea as to the quality of their products. But I can say that the device looks exactly like the Sear device my dad bought many years ago. And I can say that it works very well for small boats. 

RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

I emailed the loader place and my Honda fit is too low to the ground. However, studying their website, I think I can jerry-rig something similar.  The working plan is to get a regular roof rack and a two wheel launching dolly for the boat.  I wheel the boat up to the rear of the car, attach end of a rope to the stern and a thick pad to the bow (say an outdoor couch cushion) and to the read end of the car roof. I run the rope through the front cross piece of the rack and back and (maybe with a pulley) pull the sern up so the boat flips over and then guide the  boat up.  The idea will probably need to be tweeked, but that's what I'm thinking so far.  What do you think?

RE: Car Roof Rack, Passagemaker

Not sure what you mean by "my honda fit is to low to the ground". The loader I'm referring to uses a hitch mounted post with swiveling stern clamp. As long as you have a trailer hitch, shouldn't be a problem. 

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