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Old 12-06-2013, 10:10   #1
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Towing a Small Boat with a Small Car

Decided to take up sailing this summer. Since I am learning, thought I'd start with a boat that I could tow. The problem is, I own small cars and have no interest in driving a gas guzzler. I saw a picture on the net of a Potter 15 being towed by a Mini Cooper. So I figured I could tow the same boat with my sportscar, a Honda S2000. I can find no reference to that car towing a boat tho. It has more HP than a Mini and probably better brakes. Seems like it should work out fine. Also, in the 60's, my dad towed his 10' all teak Melody all over Northern California with a 1953 MG TD. Can't imagine much of a weight diff from a fiberglass Potter, and that car had 75hp and crappy British drum brakes.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:17   #2
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

All vehicle manufacturers provide information on how much weight their vehicles can tow. That's if they are rated for towing anything. Some cars, typically smaller and sportier cars are not rated for towing any amount of weight.

I looked up the Mini with a Google search and it can tow, but I don't have a number for you. You will need to look up the specified tow rating for your model year and type of transmission. Automatics tend to be able to tow a little more weight. (They put less maximum torque on the drive train, and with a boat behind you the momentum to overcome puts an even greater torque on the drive train.)

I wouldn't consider towing until you know what the manufacturers towing ratings are. It might be too much for the brakes or drive train, or be completely unsafe for other reasons.
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:36   #3
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

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All vehicle manufacturers provide information on how much weight their vehicles can tow. That's if they are rated for towing anything. Some cars, typically smaller and sportier cars are not rated for towing any amount of weight.

I looked up the Mini with a Google search and it can tow, but you will need to look up the specified tow rating for your model year and type of transmission. Automatics tend to be able to tow a little more weight.

I wouldn't consider towing until you know what the manufacturers towing ratings are. It might be too much for the brakes or drive train, or be completely unsafe for other reasons.

You betcha. The owner of that Mini Cooper might have been five minutes away from real grief.
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:37   #4
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

Yes , tow rating of the vehicle, but even more important, rating of a hitch to go on the sports car.. may have limited tongue weight etc.... a potter 15 should be towable with most anything with a good hitch.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:53   #5
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

A Potter 15 weighs about 500 lbs. That's not very much. That's less than two big, fat guys in the back seat. If your car can fit two fat guys in the back seat, then it can probably tow a Potter 15. I used to tow a Spindrift Rascal, which only weighs about 100 lbs. less than that, with absolutely no problems with a 1984 Toyota Tercel. I'm pretty sure the Tercel was not rated for towing anything at all.

If you stick to boats this small and/or smaller, I would not really worry about the tow rating of the vehicle. Like Cheechako said, be sure you get a hitch with an adequate rating and you should be fine.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:22   #6
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

No backseat in that Honda. I'm certain it has the power and drivetrain strength to tow the 15 but weight of the vehicle is a consideration and it may fishtail like crazy with a load like that. I'd opt for a Sunfish/Laser or a larger tow vehicle like an older Toyota truck.
kind regards,
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:35   #7
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

With towing, it's not as much the power and brakes as the frame. If there's no good frame points to mount the trailer hitch to the frame, then it may be a no-go.

Take it to a trailer hitch place and see what they say.
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Old 12-06-2013, 14:03   #8
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

I suspect there are significant liability issues for manufactures warranting tow ratings. There is no rating for a Honda two seater. But for its weight, the car has huge brakes and plenty of HP (tho pretty wimpy torque).

Think I will do as suggested and take it to a hitch installer. I have a feeling this is not a problem unless I take it to the track and see how the trailer drifts.
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Old 12-06-2013, 14:31   #9
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

For a boat, you also have to consider the ability to pull the boat/trailer out of the water.
If the boat is 500lbs, the trailer is maybe another 200lbs, soaking wet, tires in the water, going uphill, can be a problem, even for trucks.

I'd try to find a friend with a truck or bigger car that will tow it.
You can also rent one, which depending how often you go, can be cheaper than replacing a clutch, might just buy a cheap beater to tow it and sell it after the summer.
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Old 12-06-2013, 14:46   #10
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

Also, if your boat + trailer is near the car's towing capacity, you might want to add brakes to the trailer (if it doesn't already have them). Not a hard job, and it will vastly improve your stopping ability and overall handling. Plus it reduces the wear on the car's brakes.
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Old 12-06-2013, 14:52   #11
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

West Wight Potter :: features
Boat Weight w/Keel 475 lbs.
Trailer Weight 350 lbs.
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Old 12-06-2013, 15:19   #12
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Re: Towing a small boat with a small car

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
A Potter 15 weighs about 500 lbs. That's not very much. .
I have a potter 19 and like a dufus I sort of burned out my transmission pulling it up the mountains in California with a ford ranger. The tranny continued to work OK for about six months later when it finally died.

Now I pull it with a new ranger that has a bigger engine. Probably a similar transmission, and have had no problems, but I live in Texas now.

As Denver On says, a Fifteen will be easier to tow than my boat, which isn't hard to tow at all.
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Old 12-06-2013, 15:32   #13
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Re: Towing a Small Boat with a Small Car

You can buy a tow hitch, class I, rated for 2000 lbs for the Honda S2000 (I checked for 2009 but other years should be available). There should be no problem towing this boat and trailer. Agreed that the greatest load is when pulling the boat up the ramp - I once burned out a clutch pulling a 16' deep V Mercruiser up a steep ramp with a 240Z (admittedly not even close to adequate for the job). This load is modest and well within the capability of the car and hitch.

Go for it.

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Old 12-06-2013, 15:51   #14
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Re: Towing a Small Boat with a Small Car

For the record, this is the hitch I found: CURT Manufacturing - CURT Trailer Hitch #11198 | CURT Manufacturing It fits 2004-2009 S2000.

They have another part number (111983) that includes the ballmount (the part that fits into the receiver). I would go with this one rather than chase a ballmount. You will still need a ball and a wiring kit. It requires dropping the exhaust and drilling some mounting holes; they estimate 30 minutes but I would count on an hour or two for a novice. You are going to spend nearly as long hooking up the wiring, but then you're finished. This is a good DIY if you are so inclined - otherwise have a pro do it. Ordering on the internet can save a lot (one place sells, with shipping, at $175 instead of MSRP $260). Wiring kit should be $20-$40. The ball is less than $10.

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Old 12-06-2013, 17:00   #15
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Re: Towing a Small Boat with a Small Car

How far / much towing are you talking about?

A lot will wear the car a lot. A few weekends here and there - no big deal.

Cormorant has good advice too.

Have fun with the boat.
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