Transporting Your Portable Microskiff

Car-topped Wavewalk S4 portable catamaran skiff
The S4 microskiff is a fully portable, car-topper boat

Updated June 13, 2024

A Car-Topper boat is a portable boat that’s so lightweight that it can be transported by car without using a trailer, and carried by hand or with a wheel cart over short distances, such as when launching it or taking it out.

Transporting a microskiff can be done on top of a vehicle (cartop), inside it, on a special platform (for pickup trucks), or on top of a trailer.
Carrying a microskiff can be done by hand (Portaging) or with a lightweight wheel cart (Dolly).

Kayaks are lightweight, and considered cartop boats. This is generally true, except for a small number of humongous kayaks (typically pedal driven fishing kayaks) that weigh over 120 lbs. The Wavewalk S4 microskiff weighs 100 lbs without a motor attached to it, and one person can cartop it, and store the motor inside the vehicle.

Except for a few ultralight portable boats, boats are too heavy to be car topped. Size and weight, namely the same factors that prevent boat owners from transporting them on top of their vehicles, also prevent them from carrying them.
The S4, Wavewalk’s seaworthy microskiff, weighs just 100 lbs.
A portable 6 HP 4-Cycle outboard motor weighs up to 60 lbs, and mounting it on the S4 is quick and easy.
The Wavewalk S4 is a cartop microskiff, and you can transport it on top of your vehicle, even if it’s an SUV, a minivan, or a van, while transporting the motor inside the vehicle.
If you transport your S4 on the bed of your pickup truck, you can leave the motor attached to it if you use a T-extension that hooks into a trailer hitch.

This video shows one person cart topping an S4 microskiff in 30 seconds:

Using ratcheted straps to attach your S4 to a roof rack, truck bed, or trailer, might lead to over-ratcheting, and damage the boat. Use only regular straps, or rope.

The ability to cartop a boat frees its owner from the need to park a boat trailer on their driveway, and from launching and beaching in special places, namely designated boat ramps. You can launch, carry and beach your S4 microskiff practically anywhere:

This photo gallery shows how S4 micrsokiff owners transport it on top of their vehicle, and inside it –

Using a T-extension for a pickup truck bed

If you outfit your SUV, minivan or pickup truck with a T-extension, you can transport your S4 microskiff with the motor attached to it. In such case, you’d be advised to secure the propeller shaft with bungee cords or a special accessory, to prevent excessive shocks to the boat’s motor mount while your vehicle rolls over bumpy roads.

Using ratcheted straps to attach your S4 to a roof rack, truck bed, or trailer, might lead to over-ratcheting, and damage the boat. Use only regular straps, or rope.

Transporting on a trailer

The Wavewalk S4 microskiff is a seaworthy boat that allows you to fish in the ocean, and since it is lighter and narrower than any microskiff, it fits any kayak trailer, boat trailer, and utility trailer.
Transporting the S4 on a trailer can make loading and attaching it easier than if you cartop it. But the main advantage of a trailer over car-topping is that you can leave the motor attached to your S4.
The big disadvantage of transportation by trailer is that you have to wait for others to clear the boat ramp in order to access it with your vehicle.
A trailer can also takes the space of a vehicle in your garage, or on your driveway, and it requires registration.

Compact Trailers

Lightweight trailers that can be used for transporting the S4 sell for as little as $400. For example, Harbor Freight’s 40.5″ wide and 48″ long Haul-Master utility trailer that can be easily extended by a few feet using 2×4 timber and/or 2×2 aluminum tubing (see picture below). Similar products from Ironton and Northern Tools sell online at a similar price. A trailer this size weighs 150 lbs, and its footprint on your driveway is smaller than that of a full size trailer.

S4 microskiff transported on compact trailer
S4 microskiff transported on an extended compact trailer with a DIY extension
Launch anywhere ultralight trailer for S4 microskiff Key Largo FL
Ultralight flatbed trailer for S4 Microskiff

electric bike towing trailer with S4 microskiff

Photos: Captain Larry Jarboe, Key Largo

Other inexpensive trailers require no extension –

8 ft long trailer for $500. Does not require an extension
This 48″ W x 96″ L, $500 Haul-Master trailer requires no extension (Source: Harbor Freight)
Simple modifications to a boat trailer
DIY trailer for S4 microskiff - Guam
DIY improvements to trailer, by Terry Wilkison, Guam

Click images to enlarge

Terry: -“In Hawaii I used to launch my green S4 from my truck, which worked fine, but my goal now is to simplify the process of launching & recovering.
I shortened and narrowed a trailer that I had in Florida, and replaced its axle with a smaller, lighter capacity axle.
I tried to make the side bunks and bow stop as simple as I could with the materials I had on hand and without a welder.
The S4 fits tightly between the side bunks. I added a roller to the rear cross member, this is used as a stop and support for the engine to take strain off the transom when trailering.
Next I’ll start rigging this new white S4 for fishing here in Guam!”


Different modes of transportation come with different advantages and disadvantages, and S4 microskiff owners can switch between them according to their needs and possibilities. For example, if boat ramps in your area tend to be overcrowded during the boating season you’d better cartop your S4, or transport it inside your vehicle, if possible. However, if you’re going on a camping trip, and both your roof rack and the inside of your vehicle are packed with gear, you may want to transport your S4 on a trailer.

Best Boat For Under $10,000 in 2024

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