After 20 years of hauling Lasers around on a trailer and later on top of a car – I’ve finally arrived at the ultimate Laser hauling vehicle – a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. The rear part of a 170″ wheelbase Sprinter is 14′ and just the right size for a 13′ 9″ Laser sailboat. Not only does the van carry the boat – but it’s also got a queen bed, seating for 5 and plenty of space for all of the gear to go along with.
As with sailing, as with life – there’s just not enough time to do everything and the ideas for this van were born over the last 5-6 years ago as I came up with ways to make going sailing easier. I sail almost every weekend April-September – and my boat lives in Richmond – far from the water where I sail. So every event is a travel event for me whether I’m going to Deltaville, Annapolis or beyond. Every Friday night I spend 1-1.5 hours loading the boat and pulling all of the gear out of the shed. Same goes for Sunday night after a long day on the water and a long drive home – another hour+ of unloading gear before catching some shut-eye. With the van – all the gear stays loaded and ready to go and I only have to pull cooler/food and clothes out. I also save on tolls and the hassle of maintaining a trailer.
- Room for mast/boom and spares
- Protective storage for blades and other Laser gear (and spares)
- Bed for napping on long trips or ‘tin tenting’ at venues with camping
- Seating for 4-5 for sailing and non-sailing road trips including ECU tailgating
- The ability to tow a J/70
Loading Hoist, Rail and Sling
To load the Laser – there’s a jib track run along the roof of the van. The track has a slide with a pulley that I can attach to the bow eye of the Laser (yes, I know this not recommended). To load the laser the front of the boat is hoisted on the pulley system. I lift the stern walking the boat into the van with the front of the boat/pulley sliding over the bed and the seat. I use the sling to cinch the boat up to the roof and then ratchet it in for travel.
The spar holder sits above the boat and holds 7 sections. A bungee with a hook holds the spars in place for travel.
The blade drawer has room to fit 2 sets of parts. The blades sit on their edge to prevent risk of them warping in a hot vehicle and the inside is wrapped in carpet to prevent scratches.
The bed in the van was custom sized to fit – it’s 70″ long and 60″ wide. That’s the same width as a queen and 5″ shorter than a double. That way the length of the bed goes across the van side to side – saving valuable fore/aft room in the van for gear. This wouldn’t work for someone taller. The bed is raised about 20″ off the ground leaving room for the blade drawer and more space for rolled sails and other gear underneath. On top of the bed is a Sunbrella duvet cover to keep the bed dry should a dripping boat be hoisted overhead or wet clothes be thrown on top of it.
These curtains have magnets holding them in. They have a bit of cotton filler for some insulation and are black so they are completely unnoticeable from the outside.
The van also features a roof air vent with a thermostat to hopefully keep the van a little cooler on hot days and nights. In the future I’ll consider installing insulated walls, a house/shore power system and an AC/Heat Pump unit.
This has been a fun project and I’m looking forward to many years of fun and sailing with it. Thanks to my Mom for help on the curtains. Dad and neighbors for help building and the Sprinter Forum for ideas.