Towing A Classic Boat In The Nude?


Here is Suzy, our beloved 1960 Chris Craft 24 sportsman with her refresh new 8 coats of varnish.

This weekend I made a run up to Katz’s Marina to pick up Suzy after her refresh of 8 coats of stunning smooth varnish, and repair of my blunders last fall.. The repairs are amazing and to be honest I can’t find them to photograph them.. invisible… poof gone!!! And they were awful! Had all types of blunders, scratch, scrape, chunk and dent.. GONE! So.. as I was about to leave on to a 4 hour drive back, which turned into a 7 hour hell drive.. Thank god for Woody Gal, who made the hale mary trip with me, she saved the day, we laughed all the way.. While I was leaving we had to decide.. Covered or uncovered for the journey.. It turned into an interesting conversation.. OK.. wait, only to people that like talking about classic boats, to any outsider it’s like talking about which paint dries faster… So.. Wayne Moxfeild was there as well…. and if Sir Wayne the Knight of all that is classic boats says so.. it’s so.. He says, tow in open, no cover.. Don’t risk the potential scratching.. So we did.. Now, in the end, he is right, and depending on the whether.. that was the question.. No rain predicted.. So we left al fresco… But… As we were trapped in the 2 hr back up in Delaware, it started to snow… ON SUZYS 100% ORIGINAL INTERIOR… AHHHHHHHHH, jesus, not only did I feel every bump in the road with 8 fresh coats of beautiful Katz finish, but now I was counting snow flakes.. The cover would have helped.. At least my blood pressure. SO, is there a solution.. Scratch or rain? Well, I don’t know, I like towing in the nude. I like the boat to breath, also on an ego note, my truck has Woody Boater all over it, it’s nice to tow a giant ad behind me, heck, more people see it on the road than any show.. So, thanks to Don Jr. and DonSr, who found and saved Suzy.. They had made a flannel inner cover and Sunbrella cover .. Two covers.. Obsessive.. not if you tow your boat all over the place.. Here is how it works for me….. Whats your opinion?

Here is Suzy with her inner flannel layer, this way there is no friction on her varnish.

Here is the start of laying on the canvas, sunbrella cover. Now.. I don


29 replies
  1. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    I think your right. I tow mine without the cover and the top down because of scratching. I like the flannel cover idea. And I agree a hell of a lot more people see it on your trailer down Route 95.

  2. chad
    chad says:

    I’ve got the same set up, a flannel inner cover with a waterproof outer. The system works great for long hauls but I prefer towing it nude when the weather permits, on short runs of 2-5 hours. I tried towing it with just the soft cover once, and that was a big mistake. Even the softest flannel will dull varnish if it is not snug. And if the flannel gets wet, it shrinks and makes it difficult to stretch back into shape.

    That being said, use both covers or use nothing at all.

  3. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    There is nothing better than a proper fitting two cover system for long hauls. I can’t understand why people spend all the time and money just to let the weather crap all over the inside of the boat.

    Yes, if you don’t have a skin tight special two cover system do not haul with any cover. You are asking for trouble, I’ve been there.

    I’ll never haul a boat again more than a day trip without a double cover system.

    Plus, when you arrive at the show, no matter how bad the weather you just hauled through your boat is really to go!

    PS. I put an article in the Brass Bell a couple of years ago with pictures

  4. jim g
    jim g says:

    I’ve been having covers like that made for the last 20 years. But I have the flannel stitched to the inside of the sunbrella so you have only one cover to put on. Makes it a little heavier but easier to put on. I never really used to suggest covers to owners until after helping haul Miss America IX back from the Clayton NY show in 2010. The owner wanted a cover so I had both a hauling cover and mooring cover made. On the way back from Clayton there was a noise under the truck that sounded like lighting your propane grill with out opening the lid. you know that frummp sound. The Ford dealer that change the oil in the truck left the drain plug loose and it dumped out 10 to 12 qts of diesel oil all over the boat {we were running about 75 mph}. Thank god the cover was on it not a drop went through the sunbrella its now stained black from the front to half way back it even got some on the top. I can only imagine the mess if it had not had a cover and all that oil went into the side plank seams . One can only think of all the problems that would cause. Also sunbrella is a breathable material but I also have 4 big vents made into the cover. Oh the cover also protects the boat from flying wrenches {yes one hit the side of the boat} when truck drivers get into a fight while fueling your diesel truck at the truck stop.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Jim – After that, did you make a visit to the Ford dealership that serviced the truck and if so, is the technician still living? HA

      • jim g
        jim g says:

        When the owner got to the dealer the next day. They admitted they had fired the oil change guy several days before. Dealer took care of everything. New engine in the truck {had less then 10,000 miles} new cover, cleaning the boat, new cover {cover was only 4 months old},

  5. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    Jim G; Great comment. You just never know!

    We pulled our boat from coast to coast (Tahoe to Tavares) and we hit two major storms. It is very comforting to know that everything is well protected.

    I certainly don’t cover it to run to the local lake on a nice day. What would be the fun in covering up all the bling for people to miss. 🙂

    I just thought of another example, tree sap!!! When we took a 1939 Barrel to Tahoe in 2005 (Best of Show) we got there and took off the cover to do some last min work. Sure enough it was long enough for a bunch of tree sap to get all over the deck and hardware. We were shocked and ended up spending a bunch a time trying to polish out the little dots. What a pain the a**!

    Also, I thought of both being sewn together but I like them seperate so that while the boat is in the garage I can just use the inner flannel as a dust cover.


    • jim g
      jim g says:

      Don, I use the black stained cover for storage and the nice one for hauling. Only because the dealers insurance paid for a new cover. Better then tree sap is spider poop }you know the little black spots that are had as hell to get off} didn’t put the mooring cover on it at clayton because it was under the covered dock. Its fun washing and wiping basically a 20′ x 9′ deck on your hands and knees.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Brought The Majestic back from Geneva. VERY hard rain most of the way. Lots of construction, plus rain the rest of the way on a total restoration, 25 Sportsman. Seat cushions and box springs were in the back of my vehicle… bone dry. All that got wet were the seat backs and engine box. And even they were not getting pounded by the elements. Oh, I guess the boat got wet, too. But, as Nemo says, it’s supposed to. One other thing. I pulled the plug before setting out, so the boat did not become one giant rolling rain barrel.

    Tommy Mertaugh tells me to tow nude. So I do.

    Salter, of finger-sticking fame, has equally profound advice, “The faster you drive, the faster you arrive, Daddy.”

    So I advise towing nude and driving really quickly. You’ll only get half as many rain drops.

    P.S. I do, however, put my pants on each time I stop for fuel.

  7. brian
    brian says:

    You guys never saw the Mythbusters episode where they tested that old myth – the one where you’d get half as wet if you ran in the rain as opposed to just walk.

    After a very lengthy experiment, the facts showed that one got wetter by running.

    Yep, the runner got wetter.

    My point?

    By all means drive nude, but obey the speed limit, take your time and your baby will arrive a tad bit dryer.

    (I do not have data regarding tree sap and bird poop.)

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      The tow vehicle and windshield get wetter, not the interior. I towed naked through a very heavy downpour this spring, one of those 15 minute flash storms, and when I arrived at the launch the interior was bone dry.

  8. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Being a low end runabout guy (whirlwinds) I never the less wanted to TRY running covered…at least somewhat, on the tow to Mt. Dora a few years back. Sooooo I wrapped a flannel sheet around the bow and followed a suggest from boat buzz to use stretch wrap to hold it on. Bought the wrap, enough for the Titanic was minimun roll size. Did the deed, looked pretty good. FORGOT to overlap the wrap in the orientation such that the WIIND could not get under the edges…did it backassward in other words….made it five miles, pulled the mess off and never used any sort of road cover again.
    John in Va.

  9. Mark
    Mark says:

    What about the flannel lined, re-usable shrink wrap (Dr. Shrink). Sounds great to me. Maybe I’ll get to try it in a couple years when I finish my preversation.

  10. Dennis J. Mykols
    Dennis J. Mykols says:

    We pull ” Old School” nude also, but cheat. I had a nice cockpit cover made out of Sunbrella, to keep the interior clean and dry. The wet road grime that the passing Tractor trailers kick up, is hard to clean inside the boat. I found this out running up to the Bay Harbor International show in 2010.
    All those little nicks and crannys to clean, Not any more, plus I do not have to worry about the seat chusions or other gear flying out…

  11. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Captaim Nemo is right. Also recommended by my Coast Guard instructor. No cover. Use a cover at the dock to block the sun since it is there much longer than it is over the road.

  12. Phil Jones
    Phil Jones says:

    I have covers made from NAPBAK it is like flannel on one side and canvas on the other, exspensive but nice. Never scatched a boat yet.

    OH AND MATT, I just hope no one repeats that “Best boat” comment to Betsy, it would break her keel !!!!

  13. Victor Fabricius
    Victor Fabricius says:

    Having towed boats for customers all over US and Canada, I feel more comfortable when the boat is double covered, not only to protect the finish from rain and grit, but running 12 hrs a day in the hot sun over asphalt uncovered must dry the boat out severely w/o a cover.

    Additionally, an uncovered boat promotes gawkers to sit in the lane next to you while they stare at your boat blocking any opportunity for you to getting into the passing lane to get past slower traffic that you come up on. A most unsafe and frustrating situation can be avoided by just double covering or go deluxe and get an enclosed trailer.

  14. Victor Fabricius
    Victor Fabricius says:

    Having been a motorcycle rider and putting about 2k a year on my bicycle I can’t tell you how many free “dermabrasions” I’ve gotten from wind blown gravel and approaching tractor trailers or dump trucks on secondary roads. I wince every time I trailer a boat with a fine finish without a cover feeling the sandblasting my face got on those rides.

  15. Jay Wagner
    Jay Wagner says:

    A lot of fiberglass inboard guys tow covered, but they tie the cover down to the trailer frame. Seems to work for them.

  16. 'Bone Daddy' Deems
    'Bone Daddy' Deems says:

    We like to tow ‘naked’ and take out as much of the seats, etc. as we can. When the 2 Floridians towed from Mt. Dora to Priest Lake, and Coeur d Alene for the Internationals in ’08 the finish looked like it had been ‘cut and buffed’ by someone who didn’t know how to do it! Even with their 2 cover trick, kinda dull looking. I have seen the Resort Boat Shop use that white sticky wrap stuff, flannel, and then cover for their expensive custom wood boats to a Seattle show with pretty good there is my two cents….

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