What to Know When It’s Time to Transport Your Boat

Are you wanting to transport your boat to a different location? It’s important to realize that shipping a boat is a bit different than shipping a car.  There are a few considerations that make boat-transporting unique, in its own right; and receiving bids from reliable boat transporters is vital.  Professional boat-transport companies provide drivers who have experience working with DOT, permit agencies, marinas, boat yards and ports.  These professionals in boat hauling and yacht transporting are well versed on how a boat must be supported, balanced, stabilized and secured.

Boat transporters will need boat measurements which should be precise, in order to ensure the safest transport as well as eliminate costly fees.  Providing accurate boat height, for example, is crucial to make sure no bridge or utility obstructions become an issue.  You will want to receive a quote from a reliable boat transporter that includes not only the shipping, but licenses and permits, as well.

To make the transport even more seamless, be sure to provide photos of your boat to the transporter in addition to any special requirements; and begin the shipping process a minimum of one month before the actual ship date.  You will, also, want to confirm pick-up and drop-off dates a minimum of two weeks, in advance.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if transporting your boat is on the horizon.  Though not exhaustive, this list will cover much of what needs to be done:


Boat Preparation

Preparing your boat for transport includes steps that may seem like no-brainers, but they can be easily overlooked.  Basic, yet vital, steps include:

  • Have your boat fully prepared a couple days ahead of pick-up in case circumstances dictate that the boat carrier must arrive a bit earlier than expected.
  • Secure all loose or movable items (including anchors from the deck) and remove all valuable stowed items such as watches, other jewelry items, etc., as well as other personal items including clothing, personal electronics – anything that is not specifically boat-related.
  • Remove all flammable materials and liquids including emergency flares, extra fuel etc.
  • Make a list of any current imperfections you boat may have such as scratches, dents or tears.  Take photos –  including the date the photos were taken – to verify the degree of any pre-existing flaws.
  • Take a further step and have your boat inspected by a licensed marine surveyor.
  • Select a boat yard to perform the preparation of your boat if you choose not to perform this task.
  • Secure/tie down all latches, cabinet doors, and windows.  Hatches can be sealed with tape to prevent damage from wind-driven water.
  • Drain fuel and water tanks.  Contact your carrier to determine if keeping water containers partially full is what is preferred, by them.  Remove drain plugs from the hull.
  • Drain water from pumps, AC units, water systems, etc. during cold weather.
  • Disconnect batteries; and make sure cables are secured.
  • Remove items such as radars, antennas, some bowsprits, bimini’s and dive boards to reduce your overall shipping dimensions.
  • Remove all canvas covers since they can come loose during transport.  Also, shrink-wrap is not recommended since it can, easily, detach and fly off during transit.
  • Check for Zebra Mussels in any possible areas of attachment.  If this type of organism is discovered by DOT officials, your boat will be seized until the problem can be rectified.  Zebra mussels  damage boat hulls and motors and can clog cooling systems.  These unwelcome visitors can be found on hard surfaces made of fiberglass, aluminum, wood and steel and can be carried to new water bodies when still attached to boat parts.

It’s important to realize that a boat transporter is not legally liable for damages or delays incurred during transport if a boat has not been properly or fully prepared.  Also, to guarantee that boat-preparation measures are thorough, a full-service marina, boatyard, Captain or Marine Surveyor can help to make sure no stone is left unturned regarding preparation.


Boat Insurance

It is absolutely vital your boat is completely insured before you allow your chosen transporter to take possession.  The transporter will provide its own insurance for your boat; but it may be minimal coverage making it even more vital that you review the policy, in detail, before your boat leaves your property.  Regardless of the condition of your boat – whether pristine or otherwise – take photos before your boat leaves your property since those photos would verify that any new scratches or dents were incurred, en-route, while in the hands of the transporter.   Also, take an additional step and verify the transporter’s coverage, via, the DOT’s SAFER System.  To be even more proactive, take out your own boat-insurance policy to maximize coverage.  Your hired carrier will provide an assessment of the condition of your boat and will provide you with a copy of a ‘Condition Report’ – read it, carefully, and make sure it is accurate.

Having the right insight will ensure your boat’s transport is as seamless and hassle-free, as possible.  Whether adequately preparing your boat, selecting a reputable boat transporter or making sure your boat is maximally insured, it’s all about peace of mind knowing your water-craft will arrive at its destination, protected and safe and sound.