Naturally I was devastated when my late husband died, but one of the things that really had me exercised was how the heck I was going to get kayaks on and off the truck by myself. It might sound silly to some, but I’m short, the rack is high, and the Kevlar boats are long and heavy.
Thanks to my friend Rebekah Kakuk, I learned how to get the X-15 up and down solo, so that was great. But what about the X-3 Trident? A boat that’s 25’ long and weighs 100 pounds? This summer I got a chance to see if I could manage it by myself and by golly I pulled it off. So for all of you out there who may find yourself in a similar predicament, here’s how to get a Tsunami X-3 Trident off a Rack-It rack on a Toyota Tacoma all by yourself, even if you’re 5’ 3”.
July 4th, Jim and I loaded the Trident onto the rack no problem. Jim wanted to try the boat out with his partner Patti because they were considering taking it to Baja. But at Russian Gulch they decided it was too tippy so I ended up taking it back home. Since Jim and Patti had returned to Guerneville, I was stuck unloading it myself. Actually, there are people I could have called to help, but I was walking with a friend the morning of my return and when I asked her if she could help she said, “Can’t you do it yourself?” She seemed to think I was totally capable. Of course, she hadn’t seen the Trident.
But her words stuck with me. Could I do it myself? I’ve done practically every other thing I’ve found myself having to do alone since Eric died. Maybe I should give it a shot. So the next morning when it was still nice and early and cool I walked up to the truck where it was parked by the boat rack and took stock of the situation.
I thought about whether I’d be able to lower the bow onto the tail gate once I got the stern down. It seemed doable. I decided to do it. I untied the ropes and then took a break to Really Think about what was going to happen. I visualized the process of sliding the boat off the rack and analyzed where the stern would end up. Then I opened the back of the truck and stood on the tail gate. The first thing was to flip the boat over, because it was resting on its rails and it slides a lot easier on the hull. First check. I couldn’t flip the damn thing to save my life because I was positioned toward the stern of the boat and it was too heavy. So I climbed up onto the rack, made my way to the center of the boat’s frame, and it was an easy flip from there.
I climbed down and thought about it some more. Then I got back up on the tail gate and holding onto a rail with both hands started to slide the Trident toward the back of the truck. Little by little I carefully worked the boat back. It started to tip but I controlled it so the stern slowly but surely lowered softly to the ground. Once the stern was established on the ground, I took a break and assessed the situation again. The Trident looked pretty impressive tilted up against the rack, its bow high in the air. Now came the tricky part.
Approaching the stern, I grabbed the back rails and again Very Slowly started sliding the Trident off the rack. Finally there was only a little bit of the bow still resting on the rack. I set the stern down and thought about the next step. I climbed up onto the tail gate and tried to lift the nose off the rack, but I couldn’t do it. The stern was stuck on the ground making it so I couldn’t lift the bow and I couldn’t slide the boat back without damaging the rudder. I wasn’t sure it would move anyway. So I got down, picked up the stern again, and slid the Trident back some more until just the littlest bit of the bow was still perched on the rack.
Cautiously so as not to rock the truck and drop the boat I climbed up on the tail gate and found that I could now lift the bow off the rack. There I was standing on the tail gate holding the bow of the Trident in my arms unable to move. I couldn’t get it down onto the tail gate because the stern wouldn’t move and the boat was a little too long to lower down without cracking the glass in the back window of the camper shell. If I tried to muscle it I was afraid to damage the rudder or lose control of the boat. Then I realized that I could probably lift the bow over the back of the rack to the side and then lower it down that way. I slid the boat as far over to one side as I could and took the hull in my arms. I gently lifted the boat up and over the rack. There I stood on the edge of the side of the tail gate, cradling the bow in my arms. I realized I couldn’t just drop it on the ground. Now what?
The boat actually felt light since I was only holding the very end. With my arms glued to my sides, elbows bent at 90 degrees like a forklift to protect my shoulders, I slowly bent my knees and squatted down with the boat in my arms. I got as low as I could and eased my butt down on to the edge of the tail gate till I could slide my legs over and sit. Now I could hop down and lower the bow to the ground. Mission accomplished!
I washed the boat off and two friends who live down the street came over and helped me get the Trident into its berth. Easy peasy. While moving the boat at no point did I feel out of control or in danger of blowing out a shoulder, losing a limb, or breaking the boat. The entire process, including all those pauses to stop and think, only took about 15 minutes. So even though the Trident is almost five times taller than me and weighs nearly as much as I do, I wrangled that bad boy no problem. Whoever said, “Where there’s a will there’s a way” never said a truer word. I probably could have racked the boat by myself too but why push it?
I hope this information is useful, and I’d love to hear your stories about maneuvering boats in difficult situations. If any of our readers have a good tale to share let’s hear it! Vive la independence!