When I first heard the weight of the TI, I had some concerns about being able to handle it. I just pictured it in my mind...
I wondered if it was possible to car-top this mammoth!
Hobie did some development work on car-topping the Pro Angler, which weighs about 5 lb. less than the TI. Adapting their technique, I loaded and unloaded this boat several times and found that it definitely is manageable. The more I did it, the easier it became.
The TI turned out to be too heavy for my kayak saddles -- the rear saddles created a sag in the hull (happily this was a Hobie test boat -- the best kind to learn on). So I replaced them with a set of TI cradles (graciously loaned by Hobie) and my friend Josh helped me adapt them to the Thule bars.
There are 2 sets of cart scuppers and they were both very handy. The forward set is perfect for wheeling the boat in and out of the water. Essentially all you have to do is pull. The rear scuppers can be used also, but they really come in handy for loading. Not only do they take some of the weight whole lifting, but they keep the boat from flipping on its side when partially loaded.
Here are three ways to get the boat up on a rack.1. Basic lift:
the boat is wheeled up overlapping the rear bar (works great on my truck). Then the bow is lifted onto the rear bar. Finally, the stern is lifted and the boat is shoved onto the rack.
With both carts under the boat, the front cart supporting the weight, the back cart (a wide wheel base cart) pinned in. the boat is wheeled up behind the truck and overlapping the rear bar about 18 inches. I place a carpet scrap under the stern of the boat to use as a skid pad to prevent abrasions later.
The first part of the lift is easy -- the boat pivots on the forward cart. The second part of the lift is about 50 lb.; the rear cart takes the back half of the load as the front cart drops away. The final part of the lift the stern rests on the carpet and the rear wheels come off the ground ...
...BUT the cart's wide wheel base keeps the boat balanced upright (like sidekicks) while the bow is nudged onto the bar. Then simply go to the rear, lift the stern and shove. The further you shove, the less weigh you have to lift! Looks like this:
The difficulty here is lifting the bow overhead, not the stern. It depends on the height of the lift and the slope of your driveway. Here's a variation you can use if you find this to be too heavy. 2. Hoist method:
Rigging an "A" frame with a hook and double purchase pulley system, your maximum lift is about 30 lb -- very easily manageable. The bow is lifted hooking an "S" hook to the bow padeye. When the rear bar is cleared, cleat off your lift line, lift the back of the boat and push forward. Your "A" frame will pivot forward until the bow rests on the bar. You can then unhook the boat from the frame and push it forward. Using the "A" frame takes an extra minute or two but takes all the strain out of the front lift.
Here's what it looks like -- don't laugh, it works! 3. "T" bar method:
This is a variation on the basic lift but easier and can be used on virtually any vehicle. It requires a receiver hitch and T bar. Here are some examples:
I simply took my $40 bed extender and reversed the ends -- voila!:
For this application you would normally mount the TI cradle on the T bar and mount the front cradle somewhere on your car rack. Both Thule and Yakima bars have plenty of strength to accommodate the load. In this case, since the cradles were already mounted on Thule bars, the "T" bar was used as a "cheater" bar -- set up a little lower -- the bow was lifted on the bar, then pushed onto the rear cradle. This way the bow didn't have to be lifted over the full height of the lumber rack -- a huge difference. Here's a pictorial sequence: Launching and retrieving:
I launched at a ramp, through loose sand and from a firm shore. Getting to the water was never a problem. Retrieving, without Trax wheels I needed some help on sand. The ramp was never a problem though, nor was the firm sand at the lake. On the steeper ramp I could walk up at an angle if necessary but it was no big deal.
The amas tended to droop a little bit, but no more than the AI. I keep a loop of light line to cinch them up in the back -- it lifts them and takes some of the pressure off the crossbars.
As with the AI, I just roll into the water and roll out when done -- no lifting til I get to the truck.
After I got the procedure down, loading this beast on a vehicle was no big deal. IMO, having cradles is a must though for proper support for the hull. There is nothing wrong with trailering either, especially if you already have one. But trailering is certainly not a given with this boat!