Guide To Know About Shipping A Boat

Transporting a boat comes with a lot of challenges, especially if the boat owner has no capable vehicle and trailer to move it. Boat owners are presented with boat transportation service, which is solely designed to help them ship their boats safely and efficiently.

Shipping boats might seem too easy to many people, but there are many unforeseen risks involved in transporting your vessels such as roads and weather conditions, and can only be explained by professionals.

There are many reasons associated with relocating from one home to another; packing up your household possessions and transporting them safely to your new home can present you with many challenges. With that being said, shipping a boat comes with greater risk, especially when it is to be done over a long distance.

You have gone through many processes to locate your dream boat and have found it, only that the said boat is in another place, and getting it to your location becomes a problem. Here is a solution for you.

Are you worried about getting your new ride to the nearest port to your home? What options do you have, and which of them is perfect for your needs? We have conducted a series of research and put together everything you need to know about shipping your boat to your location so you can cruise on its inexpensive ports. Here is all you need to know about this subject matter.

Guide To Know About Shipping A Boat

In this article

What is Boat Shipping?

First and foremost, what is a boat? A boat is a type of water-transport vehicle which is specially designed for use on inland waterways or near-shore areas like lakes or rivers.

The major difference between a boat and a ship is the size and the reduction in the carrying capacity of the former.

The modern definition of a boat in navel terms is “a watercraft of smaller size that can be carried abroad by ship.” There are boats of up to 1,000ft in length.

The needs to extend your search for a new boat to other places other than your local area varies, which leads to a need to ship your boat.

For example, conducting a wider search will present you the opportunity to see varieties of larger vessels. However, foreign currency exchange rates may also make the boat more affordable than the vessels moving in local waters.

Similarly, you may be moving your boat to a different place for a variety of reasons, such as to experience new cruising areas or because you are moving to a new home or job. An important point to looking up the market when you are looking to buy a new watercraft is “boat shipping.”

Boat shipping is a booming industry over three significant options, which include transport via a ship, road delivery, and sailing under the steam. In most situations, the pickup and delivery points of the route will lead to a certain solution.

For example, a 2,800 sail will be involved when transporting a boat to an English Chanel port from Croatia, the same distance involved in Atlantic crossing, or 1,200 miles via the road.

What are the Different Methods of Boat shipping?

When it comes to own a boat, different questions arise. How will I get my dreamboat to the nearest port to my home? What options do I have, and which of them is perfect for my needs? Below is the breakdown of the varieties of boat transport methods you can consider:

1. Oversea Boat Shipping

This shipping method is popularly used for shipping from one country to another. The customer’s boat is loaded onto a ship by a service provider for safe transport.

If the customer prefers to move their boat over a short distance, some companies offer captains that can transport the boat through harbors for hire.

2. Overland Boat Shipping

This boat transportation method means transporting a boat across the land. A trailer is required for a customer’s boats by overland transportation companies; although, many of these companies can design custom cradles and trailers if the customer has none.

Transporting fees on cargo from one state to another or internationally may be incurred in overland transportation.

3. Air Shipping Boat Shipping

Some boat transportation companies have access to cargo planes for their business. Although shipping boats by sea or land is more efficient and less costly, however, air shipping might be the best option when transporting smaller boats or parts, especially when the delivery period is required to be short.

4. Freight Carriers Boat Shipping

Most buyers prefer to transport their yachts by freight in a commercial ship. However, you have to make a reservation for space on a carrier to do so.

The majority of boat owners will hire the services of a licensed non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) or a freight forwarder OTI.

These companies will help you book space for your boat on a ship, reserve transit, handle the entire paperwork involved, all at a certain fee.

The NVOCCs and OTIs are both governed and regulated by the rules of the FMO (Federal Maritime Commission).

An NVOCC can sign an annual agreement with sipping companies based on a factor like a volume commitment, and at such, get competitive rates for boat owners.

The same rates given by the carriers are the same as a forwarder will sell without adding any mark-up.

To locate a company that belongs to this category, begin with companies that are registered with the Federal Maritime Commission. Be sure to consider the company’s working history and experience.

If the company has been operating for a long, there are chances the company has strong financial standing.

According to a chief executive working with a licensed NVOCC Peters and May, David Holley states that “there are many shippers offering yacht transportation services but only a few yacht and boat transport specialists.

5. Shrink-wrapping

There is a need for you to understand the possibilities of shrink wrap failure while in transit if you decide to wrap your PWC boat before you transport in a truck.

For this cause, make sure edges, cleat, windshield, and so on are wrapped perfectly by your transporter to reduce surplus rubbing ad chaffing of the wraps.

There are possibilities that the wind velocity will tear the shrink wrap because of the rubbing that occurs on the sharp corners as the truck moves on the highway.

The transporter should remove the shrink wraps once it was torn; else, it will cause damage to the boat by beating itself against it. Shrink-wraps can remain untouched throughout the entire transition if well padded.

6. Roll-On/Roll-Off Boat Shipping

This transport method is mostly used if the trailer can be towed securely in difficult conditions. The boats are rolled inside their trailers and away from the ship.

A special cradle is made instead if the boat doesn’t have a trailer. This method can be used if towing is securely possible under difficult conditions using the trailer.

7. Lo-Lo (Lift-On/Lift-Off) Boat Shipping

This shipping method is used for big-size PWCs that are larger enough for the trailer to contain in the container or the door opening. Shrink-wrapping of the boat is the first step a transporter will take when shipping a private watercraft to prevent it from any damage from the seas.

This method incurs a little higher fee due to the requirement of additional equipment like forklifts, cradle costs, cranes, and workforce.

8. Flat Racks Boat Shipping

This method involves loading the private boat for shipping and then wrapping it for safety in the ship. The boat is protected from debris, dirt, and any potential damage using this method.

How to Transport a Boat?

The process involved in shipping your boat from the United States of America to any part of the world can be tedious and can require a lot of planning.

Taking this to professional international shippers is recommended as you will also come up with a plan that will simplify and secure the shipping of your watercraft across the sea promptly.

Below are the steps involved in shipping your boat:

1. Determine if you need a trailer:

Using the trailer is required in overland shipping. Transportation companies will help you with trailers if the boat you have purchased doesn’t come with a trailer or you are transporting a boat from a harbor.

2. Adjustable trailers:

Due to the various sizes of boats, transportation companies use trailers that can be adjusted to contain different types of vessels most of the time.

3. Custom cradles:

Transportation companies that don’t have trucks and trailers in different sizes in their fleet will offer to build custom cradles for the customer’s boat. The cradles will keep the boat safe on its trailer all through the transportation.

4. Compare boat transport quotes:

The shipping company needs to prepare the boat before it can be transported. To get an accurate boat transport quote, you need to provide some important information.

5. Measurements:

The first important key to getting an accurate estimate is to know the actual size of the boat to be transported. Measure the height (from the lower part of the keel to the peak of the boat), the length (bow to stern’s center), and the beam (width) of the boat. The more accurate the measurements, the more accurate the boat shipping estimate.

6. Plan the shipping route:

You will be required to pay for tolls when transporting boats across state lines. You will also be required to provide many custom forms that involve paying certain fees and taxes based on the laws of countries involved when shipping boats internationally. It is, therefore essential to conduct research on the shipping route and to inform the shippers as well.

7. Remove coverings:

Most boat shipping companies will require removal of any boat snap-on canvas covers. This is because they can easily get damaged or lost during shipping, so it is better to prevent such by keeping them in the boat’s storage sections.

8. Make decisions on extra services:

Shipping companies offer other services aside from boat transportation, which is their main service. These additional services should be looked into to make sure you are not missing out on anything. These extra services may include:

9. Professional wrapping service:

Many boat shipping companies offer to wrap off the boat as a service if you don’t have shrink-wrap with you. This service differs from one company to another, and the price may be determined by the size of the boat to be wrapped.

10. Tracking:

A few boat transportation companies provide you with the chance to track and monitor the movement of your boat as it is being transported to its destination. If you would like to have a real-time update on your boat, be sure to ask if your shipper has this feature in place using GPS application.

11. Check the qualification of the boat transport company:

The company’s qualification is very important when deciding on a boat shipping company to hire. Ensure the company you choose to hire is qualified and of good reputation. Other qualities to check include:

12. Licensed:

The licensing of a shipping company depends on its legal recognition as an entity. Shipping companies with full license acquire their licenses from different state agencies, and some of them will gladly verify their licenses for you upon request.

13. Bonded:

When a shipping company is bonded, it means they have to fulfill their contract. You will be reimbursed if the shipping company failed to complete their end of the contract.

14. Insured:

Shipping companies that are well insured have protection on their cargo in case of an accident. Insured shipping companies are different based on the coverage they provide. Ensure the entire information concerning insurance is available should they require additional coverage.

Prep the Boat for Transport

Your highest priority might be to protect the boat from weather or dirt, whether by wrapping or investing more on additional insurance.

The majority of boat shipping companies will advise you to take other measures to ensure strong protection for your cargo.

Insurance: Most shippers provide shipping estimates with insurance included in them; however, additional insurance may be the best option for your cargo based on the shipping route.

Shrink-wrap: Although you will be asked to remove canvas coverings, you can protect your boat from potential damages that may be caused by debris, dirt or weather condition by using heavy-duty shrink wrap.

How to get your Boat Ready for Shipping?

The process involved in preparing and shipping your boat is similar to the ones involved in getting ready for a long-distance boat trip. When going to a private party, it is exceptionally demanding.

You will be required to learn how to prepare your boat for shipping as it requires a lot of planning, time, and preparation.

The effort required in preparing your boat for overland transportation is similar to transportation across the sea. It is very important to be fully prepared regardless of the requirements involved in shipping your watercraft, powerboat, yacht, sailboat, or commercial fishing boat.

Below tips will go a long way in ensuring successful boat shipping:

1. Securing the entire boat is important when preparing it for transport. Regardless of the distance involved in transporting your boat, you should make sure you secure it as if it were just crossing to the other side of the ocean.

Make sure all the parts that all hull and lose parts that could cause damage during the sail are fully covered and secured.

2. Ensure hatches are secured using tape to prevent leaks and other damages from water and also latch all cabin windows.

Make sure you also shut cabinet doors using tape and close the cabin doors securely as well as the exterior doors.

3. Thoroughly check your boat for any damages and take pictures for record purposes where applicable. Make sure you take pictures of any part of the boat you dismantle when trying to match size requirements or prevent the parts from getting damaged during the voyage for easy reassembling.

4. Notify the boat shipping company of its specifications before the sail. Ensure the measurements are accurate because space will be allocated to your boat based on the measurement you provide.

Kindly note that they are only interested in the exact weight of your boat and not it’s tonnage. Check your boat’s stability book for this information if you don’t know where to find it.

5. Make sure you remove all personal belongings from the boat and store any breakable items in the storage section. The sea’s turbulence will still affect your boat even if it is being transported on another boat or a ship.

Kindly make sure you remove any prohibited items from your boat lockers before the voyage, especially if you are shipping internationally.

6. Use shrink wrap to protect the exterior of your boat from salt, soot, etc. Concentrate on securing vulnerable areas of your boat if it is impossible to cover it entirely.

Areas like non-skid surfaces and teak are to be covered at all costs. Cover chrome fittings and every stainless steel on the boat with insulator wax. The windshields can also be removed and stored if possible.

7. Make sure your cargo is as light as possible. Make sure you empty both fuel and water tanks. Drain plugs should be removed from the hull, as well as anchors from the deck, and also clean out the water in the bilge.

It is also a good idea to use a chlorine bleach solution to flush and sanitize your tanks.

8. Switch off all the power, unplug batteries, and store cables to prevent any potential contact. You still want your batteries running when your boat is offloaded from the ship at your destination.

The keys to your boat and the original registry are to be brought with you on the sail date. Ensure you have all the required customs paperwork if you are embarking on international transport.

How to Ship Different Types of Boats?

There are different types of boats and each of them has their unique ways of transporting them.

1. Dinghies

This type of boat has davits but cannot be transported on it. Store the dinghy in the cabin and lash it securely, fully padded on your boat, or properly prepare it to be transported in the trailer. Make sure you pad and secure any removable items on the boat you are shipping.

2. Wooden Boats

Before loading wood boats onto the transport trailer, it is important to carefully inspect it. This is required, so you can detect any hidden structural weaknesses that are not easily detectable.

The second option is to make a custom cradle that will distribute the weight of the boat across a wider contact area.

Ensure your transporter uses additional crossbars, pads, and other supports to hold your wooden boat if you decide to transport it without a cradle. Kindly note that, you cannot hold them responsible for any damage to your boat in this wise.

You can also dry out wooden boats as expected using linseed oil. The majority of boat shipping companies will require you to sign a release of liability for your wooden boats.

3. Powerboat  

Ensure your windshield is stronger enough to go through the difficult situations in the voyage. Make sure you confirm the tightness of the seal and the condition of the screw holding it.

If you have any doubt, remove the seal and keep it under the deck. Larger size boats are shipped in a backward position to create a high force of wind pressure in most cases.

Using shrink wrap on the boat is important in this case. Raise any inboard/outboard or outboard motors and lock them. Placing a 2×4 nicely between your out-drive and bracket is a good idea. It is also important to remove the props and store them in a safe place when possible.

4. Sailboat  

Ensure you de-rig and un-step all masts. Bind all cables and spreaders to the mast after padding. Remove all lights, winches, rigging, and wind indicators. Make sure the strongest side of the mast is clean, so it can be placed on the mast stands.

Carry the boom laid over the interior of the trailer using boom stands. It is not mandatory to wrap the mast, but it should be done to protect it from road grime and dirt. Chafing will occur even though you will pad the mast to the contact point with the stand.

Keeping the paint on a painted mast from chaffing is mostly impossible. The transporter will not reimburse you for mast repainting after chaffing. It is recommended to place the mast on the space provided on the trailer and not to secure it to the boat.

Although you are to choose whichever option you prefer, the transporter will not be responsible for any damage that occurs to the mast or the boat if you choose to secure the mast to the boat. To reduce the height of the boat, remove winches, lifelines, stern pulpits, stanchions, and bow.

Ensure the centerboard sailboats are secured, and they will not be moved during transit. Separation may occur with Keel sailboats if the keel is connected to the hull.

This is not considered as structural damage, but instead, the filler or paint is cracking at the contact point.

Hull indentation may occur from the support pads on racing or light built sailboats. Once the boat returns to the water, these indentations will not be found again.

Properly secure or rather remove any parts such as ladders, rudders, outboards, or sticks that can turn or flap in the wind.

How much does it Cost to ship a Boat?

The size of a boat and the distance it will be shipped will determine the cost of transport. This is why it’s priced between $1 and $3 upward per mileage.

Shipping companies can provide you with boat transport estimates instantly based on the accuracy of the information you supply.

You can get an online or phone estimate if you have an accurate measurement of your boat dimensions and your desired routes.

All you need to know is how much it costs to ship a boat, and the factors involved in deciding the cost. It will cost an average of $600 to $1,000 to ship a boat across a longer distance while an average of $150 to $350 for local boat shipping.

Many factors add to the cost of transporting a boat; they include:


One of the first questions that boat shipper will ask you is the weight and size of the shipment, as it is essential for pricing.

Shipments with larger sizes require additional resources and thus incur added costs when it requires unique shipment methods or equipment for heavy lifting.


Although shippers extend their services to almost every location, and they have their agents placed in strategic locations as well, shipping through long-distance or remote places comes at a cost.

Location is significant in pricing, and the cost adds up quickly from an increase in the cost of fuel due to the distances; the cost of hiring deck space, and the cost of hiring special equipment for loading.

The cost of services is also different from one company to another based on the port or region.


Sailing is done by shippers regularly through widely known routes following the yachting seasons all over the world. Shipping your boats during the sailing season will likely cause a reduction in your shipping costs due to economies of scale.

A recent sailing back of fifty-two yacht from the Caribbean this year is a perfect example. The entire costs, such as vessel hire and loadmaster resources, were divided into 52, making the shipping cost much cheaper for customers.

Relationships and Reputation:

Experience and loyalty are the major factors that play an important role in the cost of shipping your boat, especially in the shipping industry, where reputation and relationships are taken seriously.

The shipping companies know that reputation is very important, and they make sure they deliver your shipment without any problem. Reputation also plays a major role when it comes to shipment pricing.

The price will be given to you by a vessel owner based on the reputation of a merchant.

Duration of shipping a Boat:

Although the shipping times for the entire route offered by the shipper may not be listed here, here are a few of the frequent routes, for example.

The transit times listed here are indicative and do not contain every container, shipping companies, or part container option.

Feel free to contact your chosen shipping company for container sailing dates.

Routes Duration (approximately)
Australia – New Zealand 10 days
New Zealand to Australia 30 days
Europe to New Zealand 50 days
The USA to New Zealand 30 days
New Zealand to Europe 90 days
New Zealand to the USA 50 days

Which boat shipping company is the best?

Yeah! There are hundreds of boat shipping companies out there, but you can’t just enter the market and pick one.

In our subsequent post, we will be sharing top boat shipping companies we had researched and picked for your consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a boat transportation company help dismantle equipment?

Boat transportation companies uphold the utmost professionalism, so you can expect some help dismantling your boat’s equipment to make shipping it safer and more efficient.

Transportation crew members can help dismantle air conditioners, antennas, and other items your boat is equipped with to keep it functioning properly and out of harm’s way so they can be used for future boating adventures.

When should I schedule boat transportation services?

If you are planning on shipping your boat, it’s recommended that you make arrangements and schedule the relocation as soon as you know where your boat needs to be transported. Professional transportation specialists can make sure that your vessel reaches its destination within the specified timeframe.

A vehicle will need to be assigned to pick up your vessel, so to avoid scheduling issues it is best to arrange services sooner rather than later. Once you have made your reservation, your boat will be picked up during the available dates you choose.

Should I use a broker to arrange services?

Brokers may not be your best bet when it comes to shipping your boat, as they may not have your vessel’s best interest at heart. Brokers tend to use shippers that cost the least, which can leave your property in the hands of unknown or untrustworthy companies.

Brokers also don’t insure loads, which means your boat will be vulnerable to damage that is unrecoverable. Working directly with a shipping company you choose is the best option, as these professionals can be verified and often strive to maintain and improve their reputation.

Why can’t I just transport my boat on my own?

It may seem like you’re avoiding the hassle and saving money by transporting your vessel yourself, but there are several reasons you should leave boat transportation to professionals. One of the main reasons is that shippers know how to spot problems and fix them without adding charges for mechanic or tow services.

Another reason you should simply hire shippers is that they have experience and are comfortable travelling long distances while carrying boats and trailers. You’ll also be happy to know that you won’t be spending much more than you would if you transport your boat yourself.

What do I need to consider before I decide to ship my boat?

Shipping your boat domestically, which means it is being shipped within the United States, means you will need to consider some things before scheduling pick up times. You will need to know what type of carrier is required for your vessel, effective routes, permits required, equipment needed, and what the weather will be like while the boat is being transported.

Overseas shipping comes with a different set of considerations, namely the way you want your boat stored while it is in transit. You will also need all necessary legal documents and may want to consider winterizing your vessel.

What if the shipping company cannot reach me at the time of delivery?

If you are not available at the time your boat is supposed to be delivered, your delivery time may be changed or the vessel may be stored at a nearby storage facility. Transportation specialists will contact you at least 24 hours before the estimated arrival time of your boat, so make sure you are available at the scheduled delivery time.

If your boat needs to be stored or delivered at a later date, you will be charged a fee for additional services rendered. Want to avoid extra fees when getting your boat to its new home? Make sure the shipping company can reach you.

Final Words

All you need to know about shipping your boat overseas and the varieties of options you have been fully discussed in this article. Make sure your boat is perfectly clean and free of any prohibited items and organic contamination; so that you don’t have to spend unnecessarily getting your boat to your destination.  Do you have questions? Ask in the comment box.

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