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J/30 Trailering

On the Road Again . . .

Hauling the J/30 to Open Water

by Skip Vielhauer, Frolic

Last update: January 31, 1997 (Copied from old J/30 website)


When we purchased our J/30 about four years ago, I was convinced that it was just a big J/24. My wife and I had sailed the J/24 for four years in upstate New York, and hauled it to Florida for winter sailing every fall. So we did the same thing with the J/30: fresh water summers and salt water winters. (Go to the open water!)

Necessary muscle

We started with a good trailer. Ours was made by Triad Trailers who had made J/30 trailers and had templates. The trailer has two axles and truck tires with electric brakes. It also doubles as a great cradle … albeit a bit expensive. The selection of a tow vehicle was the next concern. Fortunately my construction company needed a new truck, so that was easy! I calculated a total load of the boat and trailer (complete with gear) and included a safety factor at approximately 9,000 lb. I believe in overkill – especially regarding a large investment following on the road at 60 m.p.h. – so I went with a one-ton truck with dual rear wheels. I also like to go fast (even off the water) and not slow down for hills, so I selected the 460 horsepower V-8 gas engine. And for creature comforts, cruise control and air conditioning were added, as well as a trailer hitch with stabilizer bars. This towing package (truck and trailer) is very stable on the road. The boat sits high enough to see under it to the traffic behind. It can be driven at 55-60 m.p.h. on reasonably smooth roads (not Pennsylvania’s Route 80) without stress on the rig or driver.

Rules of the road

The J/30 is an overwidth (not overlength) load, so rules of the road regarding overwidth vehicles apply. Each state to be driven in requires an overwidth permit; I use a permit service company to obtain all permits. Procedure is to plan your route including origin, destination, and days you will travel. Supply this information to the permit service by fax or mail. (Fax is best.) The permit service will need to know about the tow vehicle, trailer, insurance, registration and dimensions. Allow one or two days for permits to be issued. Fees vary among states; we’ve been charged a range as low as $5 to as high as $60. Our permit service also charges a fee (of course) for their work, but the extra is worth the convenience.

Extra tips

Some tips we learned the hard way:

  • To hold the boat and trailer together, we use two-inch straps with ratchets of 3,000-lb. capacity. We had thought nylon dock line was sufficient until the trailer stopped and the boat didn’t.
  • The overall height should be kept as low as possible. Low bridges and high bow pulpits create a lot of fiberglass work! I made cradles from plywood to hold the mast on deck and the butt end slides under the bow pulpit. The boat and trailer measure 13 ft. 2 in. total height; most bridges are a minimum of 13 ft. 8 in.
  • Driving is not allowed after dark, or on days before or after a legal holiday. Some states allow weekend travel, but check first when planning your trip.
  • “Wide load” signs on the tow vehicle and trailer are necessary (especially in Georgia!).
  • You must stop at truck weigh stations, where your rig will be weighed and sometimes permits checked. You might also be asked to contribute to the local little league baseball fund ($5 donation).

Worth the effort!

In summary, it has been worth the time (it’s a three-day trip from Syracuse, NY, to Florida), money and effort to enjoy our boat in Lake Ontario, Long Island Sound, the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico (and who knows where next!) … for racing and cruising. The only thing I regret is not being able to float it off the trailer, rig a ginpole and step my own mast! Hmmm … maybe a hydraulic truck crane built into the trailer. Well, that will have to be in another article.

. . . Happy Hauling!

About the author: Skip Vielhauer, Bridgeport, NY, and the Frolic crew are regulars at J/30 North Americans (no matter where). This Eastern Great Lakes District Governor and his rig recently migrated south for Key West race week … following the sun and heading for open water!


More J/30 Towing Information

by Steven R. Tenniswood stennis9@ally.ios.com Dark Star

We recently trailered our J30 Dark Star to Key West, Florida for Yachting’s Key West Race Week. When the subject of permits was researched, we contacted each state’s department of motor vehicles. We were informed that none was necessary for the states through which we were to travel, from Michigan to Florida on I-75. The DMVs told us that the maximum allowed vehicle height is 13’6″, and the maximum width is 12′ 0″ before any special permits are required. We were also told that no weigh station stops are required and driving at night was allowed. I am certainly hoping that we didn’t receive any incorrect information.

The trailer we use has 3 axles, electric brakes, and load equalizing stabilizer bars. For a tow vehicle, we use a Dodge 1 ton truck with the Cummins diesel engine. This rig has served us well.

I am going to research this topic again and get some sort of documents from each state reguarding what kind of loads need to be permitted and which do not.

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