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Windsurfing vehicle, Mini Van ,SUV,Honda Element or box van
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mlaronde



Joined: 11 Jun 2001
Posts: 153

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AWD Chevy Astro/GMC Safari!

Wouldn't trade my Safari for anything.

The most important option is "7 passenger seating". That means 4 buckets and 1 bench seat. "8 passenger" is 2 buckets and 2 benches. Dutch doors is also nice; some prefer the barn-style doors though. Rear heater is more useful than rear A/C in most places, and it is a totally seperate option.

Remove the rear bench and drop it off at the junkyard. Remove ONE bucket seat, keep it in your garage. Now you have seating for 3 and tons of room for gear behind the driver seat.

If you have boards >8', you can still fit a couple by laying them on their side, with the noses poking between the front seats. Of course removing all the rear seats is the best for long trips, for 1 or 2 people. then you can lay 3-4 longer boards flat down the middle.

Mike L
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14486

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used the cargo Astro for many years (245,000 miles). Loved its space (the cargo version has much more interior space because it doesn't have all that stupid foo-foo plastic interior --- just SPACE limited only by bare metal walls), loved its drive train durability (never touched the engine or tranny except for routine maintenance; still had original timing chain), bought another one when the differential wore out. Got 13-18 mpg depending on roof load and speeds.

But compared to a modern minivan the Astro/Safari was a brick barn on square wheels. Our Odyssey is infinitely quieter, better handling, safer, more sophisticated, more powerful (but either would cruise at handcuff speeds all day), and gets 18-19 mpg at more or less legal speeds.

But there's no way I'd try to spend weeks living in any minivan with boards inside. I can see a cat, maybe two cats, doing it, but two humans over two years old trying to sleep and fix a sandwich and change clothes and find a fin and inhale fully around boards and sails and booms and wet suits inside any minivan seems just stupid when a full sized or stretched van has at least twice the volume and from 70% (Econoline) to 140% (Sprinter) the fuel economy of a minivan. Big vans all drive fine at legal speeds (15-passenger vans roll because their 15 passengers move, not just because their cg is high with > a ton of live flesh inside), they all park downtown, and they're usually cheaper than minivans (my last stretched Econoline Supervan, the biggest version Ford makes, cost 70% of what that year's Astro cost, had twice the interior volume, and drove much the same except for the Astro's tight turning circle.

As for the AWD Sienna ... no way. Was ready to buy one until I researched its nightmare run-flat tire system. Total deal-breaker, and made me drop that option from our Odyssey shopping list.

I think the only van I'd consider now for such extended travel for two w/WS gear would be the Sprinter, after more head-to-head comparison with current Econolines.

Or switch to kiting and get an Odyssey or Sienna. And be aware that the original Element and the newer version are very different vehicles if the magazines are telling the truth.

]m/
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windward1



Joined: 18 Jun 2000
Posts: 734

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject: Vehicle for Gear Reply with quote

I use a Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow and Go which lets the seats fold down into the lower chassis totally out of the way. Then when I need it to haul people they pop up into place. No having to dismount seats and store in the garage. I just put plastic mats down that I bought from Kragen Auto Supply to catch the sand ahd kelp that may fall from the gear.

It has a slide out drink holder so I have nothing in-between the front seats. This allows putting my large Bic Techno in on its side with its nose curling around the passenger seat and I can still travel with two people up front, no problem.

The van is front wheel drive and with the engine weight over the drive wheels it handles sand and mud and wet roads well. A Chevy Astro and GMC Safari, I used to borrow slipped on wet roads on hills that made one wonder if they were going to make it up the incline.

Anyway, the Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow 'N Go works well for me.
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mlaronde



Joined: 11 Jun 2001
Posts: 153

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

windward1 wrote:

A Chevy Astro and GMC Safari, I used to borrow slipped on wet roads on hills that made one wonder if they were going to make it up the incline.


obviously a 2WD model, certainly without the G80 Posi optional rear axle, and maybe with crappy tires.

Not trying to argue, but I gotta set the record straight, the Astro/Safari with full time 4WD does just fine in New England snowstorms, and has no problem driving on the beaches in Hatteras (within reason)....

as for the mileage, The way you drive, your tires, and your gear ratio make a substantial difference. For best hwy mileage, taller (75's), narrower tires with the highest pressure allowed work best. All the tires should be exactly worn the same(for AWD), with equal pressure, and proper wheel alignment goes without saying.

The "highest" axle ratio has the lowest number, and gives the best highway mileage. The most common ratios are 3.23, 3.42, 3.73(unfortunately, if you have the G80 posi, you almost certainly have a 3.73, if not 4.11..many of these are equipped for towing)

I can get 20mpg HWY running premium gas, driving like a granny. I have the 3.42 gears and 215/75 tires. otoh, if city mileage is more important, then there's really not much you can do.

aloha,
ML
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windward1



Joined: 18 Jun 2000
Posts: 734

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:18 am    Post subject: Mini-Van Comparison Reply with quote

Yes. Both the Chevy Astro and the GMC Safari that I drove were two wheel drive. But then again, so is the Dodge Grand Caravan that I am comparing them with.

I think all mini-vans have the advantage of a significant amount of room and drive more like a car than a truck, which cannot be said for the full-size vans. The vans of either type offer a lot more security for your gear than having it exposed. The tinted windows help in that area as well. the originator of the post indicated that he was going to be driving back and forth across the country. Security for the gear and possessions should be of concern.

As far as pure room, I have to agree with isobars that the Sprint looks ideal. Looks like one could keep their sails rigged and still store them in that thing.
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madspaniard



Joined: 23 May 2005
Posts: 380

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can count al least 6 windsurfers in my group of friends that drive long mini van models (Dodge, Honda, Toyota, Plymouth, Chrysler, Ford). Versatile, practical, low profile, drive like a car.
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speedysailor



Joined: 11 Sep 2007
Posts: 841

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you plan on going out on the dunes or into dirt roads, you might want to consider front wheel or four wheel drive and a lot of clearance.
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U2U2U2



Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 3090
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My intent was a mini-van, for anyone that has a Dodge Chevy or Ford , whats the reliablty like ? The Honda and Toyota are highly rated.

The box van looks to hold a lot more, and you can mold the interior to your requirements. Any thoughts on Dodge Chevy or Ford ?

Sprinter is sweet but way over budget.
The Honda Element may work, and may be the best compromise.

I need to look at all these, especially those that require mods, and consider the pro- and cons of each and determine what best fits my requirements.

_________________
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4Boards....May the fours be with you

http://www.k4fins.com/fins.html
http://4boards.co.uk/
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kmf



Joined: 02 Apr 2001
Posts: 336

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have used the Dodge Grand Caravan for my sailing transport for the last 10 years. I normally haul a 9'6" RRD, a 8'8 Mistral custom, and a 8'2" Open Ocean, 5 sails, masts booms etc, etc. All of this stuff fits inside, (boards flat on the floor).
The van easily carries all of this gear and more if called upon. (all of the rear seats reside in the garage during sailing season. )
I get 23 mpg on the highway, around 19mpg in town.
The vans that I have used have been reliable. I normally purchase a used van with 75,000 or 85,000 miles on it and drive it until 190,000 miles then I sell it.
The advantage of the caravan is that chysler made millions of these and thus they are cheap. I purchased my present one for $5000 with 81,000 miles on it. It needed some paint. So what, it's a surfer van.
As far as camping etc with it, It works, My wife and I spent a week camping last fall, but it is indeed somewhat small for that, as one has to remove everything in the van to comfortably sleep in it.
If I intended to camp and haul gear long term, I would buy an E-150 cargo as mentioned in this thread.
It makes no sense to spent $30,000 dollars for a surfer van.

KMF
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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3525

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tried a cargo truck at first- seemed logical-but stepping up to a Grand Minivan was like getting off work and back to a comfortable home.It has exactly 8 feet behind the seats for a long wide bed.
We travel a lot so we keep a Dodge Grand Caravan in Kansas City full of gear and another on Maui with all our stuffed stored inside.
On the mainland our Mini van has a platform to sleep on with all the gear stowed under out of the way.Cheap plywood platform that pulls out easily to use the van for other jobs.The bed needs king sheets- it is slightly larger than a queen.
In our unmodified Grand Caravan in Maui we leave the backseat in for comfort but still can haul four boards ,six sails, and four masts for six months at a time. Gear stays there day and night except while sailing.One board fits flat on the floor while three others fit angle ways leaving rear seat clear for friends.The third seat belt straps work as a rack on both sides holding sails and masts against the walls. Doors open on both sides leaving a more spacious feel while parked.
The 1996 van cost $2000.The 2000 in Maui cost $1500. It had 220,000 miles when I bought it in 2004. They get around 20 MPG combined hiway and town together, climbing the volcano it drops down to 15 MPG Both have a MPG indicater on the overhead console.
We used to use rental yellow box vans with the gear rigged inside and a rented hide a bed. They were no fun to drive or park.
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