www.peconicpuffin.com > windsurfing van

A windsurfing van

A windsurfing van

A Ford E-150. As a machine to drive it's low-performance, but as a traveling windsurfing base it's high-performance. When I was researching vans, one factor I stumbled across was that "heavy duty" models of vans were less desireable for a windsurfing vehicle, because they're generally made to carry a lot of weight (think welders, plumbers) and that when loaded with just a few hundred pounds of WS gear, the ride can be harsh. Hence the E-150 instead of the 350.


Board_rack_side

Board_rack_side

The rack holds four boards, and has a sail loft above which holds my four largest sails. It's made of 2x2's. Board supports have foam pipe insulation on them. There are eye bolts for bungee cords, as well as a bottle opener. If you use bungee cords it's good to anticipate how the thing might snap out at you if the far hook somehow breaks, and position yourself accordingly. An eye surgeon friend has noted that bungee cords do their fair share of putting people's eyes out.


Board_support_detail

Board_support_detail

This is taken looking toward the back of the van. For the two free-floating board cross pieces, I cut up a piece of scrap 2x8 lumber to provide support and reinforcement underneath. The middle crosspiece is also held in place by the reinforcement piece above it. A bit of 2x2 does the same job for the upper free-floating cross piece.


Boom_bag

Boom_bag

Years ago Jason Voss told me that I wouldn't believe how great it is to have a boom bag. He was right It keeps things neat, controls the sand and dripping from the booms, and provides some protection to the carbon arms from from taking random hits.

This is a Neil Pryde race bag with five booms in it...a loop on the wide end of the bag hooks over the van's jack mount, and the tail end of the bag is suspended by a loop of nylon line attached to an eye hook.

Beneath the boom bag I keep a 4 foot piece of 2 x 4, plus some aftermarket "get out of snow and sand" pieces of plastic, to get me out of jams if I start spinning my wheels in sand or snow.


Bulkhead_wide

Bulkhead_wide

Here's the electronics set-up: An Alpine stereo (plays CD's and radio) is being fed by the iPod through the auxilliary input. To the left of the iPod and down is the black remote control for the subwoofer, which is installed behind the driver's seat on the van's side. The red and black cable seen going up to the cigarette lighter connects to a four "cigarette outlet" strip in the bulkhead, which provides power for the iPod (through an adapter) a cellphone charger, radar detector (for long trips) and a small DC-AC inverter for charging anything I'm traveling with that needs AC.


Extension_rack

Extension_rack

Attached with L brackets to the side. I recently updated this rack to accomodate a downhaul crank...take a look at this post. The rack is attached to the van using "Wafer self drilling screws" as is just about everything else I've added. The screws were Roger Jackson's suggestion (thank you Roger.) Spennie the Wind Junkie (who has done amazing work on his own van) notes this about wafer screws: "They're great, but if you have a high-stress application, use regular sheet metal screws and drill a smaller pilot hole.  For a #8 screw, like those wafer heads, use a 3/32" bit, instead of the self-drill's 1/8", for extra bite."


Forward_storage

Forward_storage

The four boxes are screwed together and attached to the board rack's 2x2 upright. These hold first aid, suntan lotion (bullfrog) tools for the van, CD's, and miscellaneous stuff that would normally get stuffed in the glove compartment.
The Dakine bag handles large soft stuff...extra clothes and towels. Behind them is the powered subwoofer.


Front_support_bottom

Front_support_bottom

The 2x2 sits on top of the van's inner body flange, with an L bracket holding it in place.
The weight of the rack is carried by the van, not the bracket. The cuts on the upright are on a slight angle to accomodate the sloping van wall.

The top of the front bracket is secured the same way as the rear 2x4...cut flush, and held in place with an L bracket.

All brackets got a hit of primer.


Ipod closeup

Ipod closeup

A garden-variety iPod, holding about 500 albums. I bought the cigerette lighter power adapter (plugged into the base) and velcro attached the base to the bulkhead at the natural viewing angle. NOTE: Don't try and read the iPod's screen while driving...it's difficult to do and an accident waiting to happen!


Left_rear_accessories

Left_rear_accessories

One of the best things about a windsurfing van is that it becomes practical to carry everything you might need. Here are two key items, and an experiment. The hand brush gets used all the time to keep the van floor relatively sand-free...it's also good for getting sand and dirt off of wet boards. The rubber mallet for stuck fins and anything else that needs a loving impact. The item to the left is a $2 bottle washer...made for cleaning the inside of wine glasses etc. I thought it might be good for cleaning out masts when they get particularly gritty. I've only used it twice (I keep my gear reasonably clean) and it was helpful but not crucial.

Thes things are literally jammed between the inner and outer shell of the raw van, where they are held firmly in place. There is a danger of putting bumps in the outside skin of the van, but I haven't had any yet.


Left_side_view_from_back

Left_side_view_from_back

In order to tweak my board spacing to get the most use out of the available space, I've got a mix of strategies here. My goals were to keep the fins on as many boards as possible (three of the four stay finned) and have them slide out of the rear board supports sideways so that they could be stacked together so tightly that the footstraps wouldn't clear the rack above if pulled straight back (also the fins don't impede board movement.)

Here's the scheme:

The lowest board is my waveboard (here a Naish 8'5"). It's short (leaving room for a longer board's fin to extend behind it.

Above that is a Bic Techno, which I use for nonplaning freestyle and for teaching. Given its weight I have a hinged support on the right side which reinforces the Techno's horizontal support. I flip the hinged piece down to slide out the wave board.

Above that is the one board that must have it's fin removed (JP Freestyle 109.) I run this board with the largest variety of fins anyway, so it's no particular hassle. This board slides easily slides out sideways.

The top board (a JP 93 Freestyle Wave...my wife's board, which I would never ride without permission) is the only board which slides straight back.

Above the boards is room for four sails (currently 4.7, 5.5, 6.2 and 7.0). Behind the wall support slide two small masts (the rest run behind the large storage boxes on the bottom.) Hidden behind the wave board are my two smallest sails (4.0, 3.4) which are only used when the wave board is out, so that's no inconvenience.


Powered_subwoofer

Powered_subwoofer

It's a Kenwood. Remote volume control is beneath the dashboard. This is a good spot for it...there's no dripping from wet boards. Leaving the stereo on for more than an hour with the engine off will drain down the battery considerably, as the sub's amp draws a lot of power. I generally run it while I'm rigging, then turn it off during the session.


Rear rack spacing detail

Rear rack spacing detail

Here is detail on the spacing and support. From top to bottom: The top board sits on a crosspiece hanging from the roof/sail loft. It has enough clearance to be withdrawn straight back. The board below it, however, is so tightly placed that it can not be pulled straight out, as the front footstraps would hit. The board slides sideways. Same for the two boards below it. Because I use the second lowest slot for heavy boards (currently a Bic Techno) I've put an extra support on a hinge on the lowest rack. This let's me drive on bumpy roads without fear of excess stress on that free-floating cross piece.


Rear_door_detail

Rear_door_detail

The first time I sailed out of the van I tied my fin bag to some holes in the left rear door, and planned to do something nicer/better/neater later. I never did, as this works well, and the bag is sufficiently padded that the fins don't get knocked against the door while driving.

To the right is my weirdest addition to date: A length of closet rod which holds my skinny mast adapters. In the year since I've installed it I find that while it's useful for organizing these things, it's perhaps more useful as a reminder to grab one for rigging, and the empty space left by each says "hey, you left the thing on the ground."


Rear_support_bottom

Rear_support_bottom

The rear upright is a 2x4. I went with a 2x4 instead of a 2x2 here to help support the two middle boards, the crosspieces for which float free. I've cut the bottom of the support to sit on the wheel well, and put a notch in to accomodate the crosspiece for the lowest board. They are secured on the other side with L brackets. As with the forward rack, the uprights transfer the weight they carry down into the van, not into the brackets. I will replace this photo with one in better focus soon.


Rear_support_top

Rear_support_top

the 2x4 is cut on an angle so it fits flush with the roof support. A notch is cut for the van's wiring bundle, and L brackets on either side hold the crosspiece in place. I'm using two L brackets on the top of each upright, as there is some downward pull placed on the brackets and screws.

All brackets get a shot of primer.


Rig on roof

Rig on roof

By setting up a conventional roof rack (mine is a Thule) a little wider than normal, it's possible to carry rigged sails if you're not going to drive over 30mph. It's no way to transport rigs at normal driving speeds, but it does work in situations where I'm driving from one launch to another and lower speeds are feasible. If I could figure out a wind cowl for the front of the roof I think this would work at higher speeds.


Sail_tied_to_rack

Sail_tied_to_rack

The booms go on the forward side of the rear rack, so that the apparent wind while driving pushes the rig back against the rear rack. Nylon ties on the mast and clew side of the boom hold things steady. I've driven with as many as 3 sails this way, but always under 35mph. Also, it's better for lighter wind days...it is a bad idea if serious crosswinds will be encountered.


Sail_under_front_rack

Sail_under_front_rack

The top of the sails slide under the front rack. Note the foam pipe insulation on the rack upright to prevent luff sleeve wear. I've driven with as many as 3 sails this way, but always under 35mph. Pipe insulation attached to the rack uprights with cable ties protects luff sleeves.


Side_storage

Side_storage

To the left of the side door are three large sliding drawers. One holds my booties, neoprene hats etc. One is for sunglasses and storage for longer trips, and one is my wife's for her harness, booties, and whatever else she wants to stuff in there. She loves having her own spot. I added a stretch cord in front of these drawers to stop them from opening during sudden stops. Without the cord they always open.

Beneath the lowest board are two storage boxes and a small cooler. One box for wetsuits, one box for all large miscellany (spare parts, spare harness, harness lines etc) and the cooler fits perfectly between them.
Behind the boxes are most of my masts, accessible from the rear.