Inaugural Trip of the "SuperSpot Rig"

By Peter Duncan

First there was the single trailer, then some double deck rigs came along allowing two to share the drive or allowing one team to fly. Barney Harris took the next step in multi-boat regatta transport when he built his triple trailer and connected it to his van, Spot. This allowed one or two drivers to move four boats to a regatta and the rest to fly.

This past fall Lars Rathjen began talking with Barney about "mass transport" of boats. Peter Duncan had explored container loads of boats to Florida, but that proved not to be economical. Lars and Barney came up with the concept of getting a large truck and pulling a triple trailer, giving birth to what is now know as the "SuperSpot Rig" (see photos).

Lars did the initial legwork to prove the economics and Barney volunteered to do the engineering. When Lars wasn't able to make the trip, Peter Duncan took over as project manager and eventually co-driver of the truck.

The concept was to build an aluminum frame inside a large rental truck to support the boats during transit (details of how to build and fit such a frame will be documented in a later Albacourier). In this case we rented a truck with a 25 foot box and were able to fit 4 boats inside and three on the triple trailer, allowing seven boats to be economically transported from Washington to Sarasota and back for a round trip cost of $330 per boat. This is about double the gas cost of driving your own car, but might be close to break even if you figure in the cost of depreciation and maintenance over a 2000 mile trip. The difference then, is mostly the airfare to fly the crew down and back. Having room in the truck also made it easy to transport tents, dollies and other personal gear.

Of course, multi-boat transport makes sense only for longer trips. It also requires a considerable effort and coordination. Once the frame has been designed and test assembled, the loading and unloading process requires 8-10 people to help with the lifting and loading of boats and gear. The process including assembling the frame inside the truck takes about 2-3 hours. Each boat needs to arrive with all equipment tied inside so it is ready to be covered and loaded on truck or trailer.

This trip only worked as a result of a bunch of people banding together to achieve the goal. I want to thank Barney for the design and engineering. He gave us an "80% probability of success" and we exceeded his estimate by a wide margin. Marc Witowski get credit for giving up two days of sleep to join me on the drive. He always seemed to get to drive on the hardest stretches. Thanks also goes to the boat owners and crews who loaded, unloaded and had the courage to entrust their boats to this adventure. In addition there were a number of class members and friends who couldn't go, but who none-the-less helped out building or standing in for team members who had schedule conflicts- Guillo Citron cut, drilled and built most of the frame. Lars, Janice, Jasper Craig, John Duncan, Holly Twyford, Peter Norloff and Stephanie's brother all helped with the load, unload or retrieval of boats.

This trip proved the concept and technology work, now it will be up to others to refine the process to a fine art. The frame is stored and ready for use next time someone wants to organize mass transit of tuna! So who is going to North Americans or Canadians? Anyone want a ride?

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