Ruby Bootie Successfully Hauls Two Kayaks
We bought our Smart Car to tow behind the Ruby Slipper because we wanted an easy to tow vehicle to shuttle bikes and kayaks on pedal/paddle adventures. The idea was to leave the Slipper at a bike trail head or kayak put-in near where we planned to spend the night, and then leave the Bootie at the other end of the pedal or paddle as a shuttle vehicle to get us and our gear back to the Slipper. This would give us the ability to do one way rides and paddles- and that means all down-hill or down-stream (which is good . . . . or even great depending on the pitch of the trail or fall of the stream).
Anyway, we liked the Bootie for this job because it is really light and compact and therefore easy to tow and park in camp grounds (It’s only five feet long) and doesn’t use much gasoline (and it is cute). The problem was that everyone from Smart Car to Yakima Racks said you can’t haul two sea kayaks on a SmartCar. The car will take car racks like any car, but on the Smart the bars are only eighteen inches apart. That is just not enough spread to carry kayaks.
We understood the problem (after hours of Google searches with strings like “Smart Car Kayak Racks”) but we didn’t believe we couldn’t carry two sea kayaks on a SmartCar. The reason we didn’t wasn’t completely hubris- but that is a factor, of course. Beginning in 2009, Smart started offering a dealer installed tow package for the Smart Car. We (actually, this kind of stuff falls into that small category of things that Pam defers to me about) figured that between the tow hitch and the two tow-eye attachment points on the back of the car, we could somehow fabricate a kayak rack for the back of the Bootie that would give us enough spread for kayaks. As it turns out, we were right!
Not to get too technical here (unless someone is actually interested) the big problem was that Smart Car tow packages use an inch and a quarter tow bar hitch instead of the more common two-inch hitch. That’s a problem because the very few hitch mounted kayak racks (like the Yakima Dry Dock) available all use two inch tongues that fit into two inch hitches. Rack makers universally warn against trying to use a hitch adaptor to plug a two inch rack into an inch and quarter hitch. So, we figured we’d have to have someone purpose-build an inch and a quarter tongue kayak rack to plug into the tow hitch we had installed on the Smart Car when we bought it.
While hunting around for a metal fabricator willing to build a one-off rack for less than the cost of the car, inspiration struck (something about mothers and necessity here). The Hollywood bike rack we’d used on the Slipper since before we even thought about pedal/paddle was designed to fit either two inch hitches (like on the Slipper ) or inch and quarter hitches (like on the Smart Car). Hollywood does this by making their bike rack tongue an inch and a quarter and using an adaptor if the rack is used with a two inch hitch. That is the opposite of the forbidden adapting two-inch to inch and a quarter adaptors shunned by Yakima. Better yet (in fact, critically so) the Hollywood tongue assembly is a separate machined piece onto which Hollywood bolts their two inch bike rack assembly.
I know, I know, opaque techno geek stuff here. But the point is that it dawned on me that one could order a Yakima two inch Dry Dock hitch- mounted kayak rack and an inch and a quarter Hollywood tongue assembly (on the Internet of course), cut the two inch tongue off the Yakima rack, drill in the proper mounting holes and bolt the Yakima kayak rack onto the inch and a quarter Hollywood tongue. The result is a stable strong rear kayak rack that results in an almost fifty inch spread from the standard roof mounted Yakima bars that fit on a Smart Car roof. And that means plenty of spread to put two small sea kayaks on top of the Smart Car.
Maybe it would be a good idea to look at the pictures again at this point. They will no doubt (ok, some doubt) make more sense than the painful prose you’ve waded through to get this far. Anyway, the Bootie is now bike and kayak ready. The Slipper is bike and kayak ready. The Slipper can tow the Bootie anywhere. The only thing we can’t do at this is point is tow the Slipper behind the Bootie (we’re working on that). Now, all we need is a little time and some good weather to put an “all-up” (Slipper with two sea kayaks on top towing Bootie with two mountain bike on the back) pedal/paddle trip on the road. But first we’re on two Slipper-only, back to back head-down (long way to go, short time to get there) runs to Texas. Stay tuned.