Prepare your boat for shipping to ensure it isn't damaged when moving

John Roehll Executive Vice President and Co-owner Dependable Auto Shippers

Whether you own a boat and are moving to a new city, or you’re buying a boat from a different state, ensuring that your boat arrives safely and undamaged isn’t always easy.

While it is possible to ship your boat yourself, it is recommended that you consider hiring a company that has extensive boat-shipping experience, saving you time and risk of damage to your boat. Before you begin preparing your boat for transit, read over this advice when preparing to ship your valuable boat or yacht.


Do book ASAP

As soon as you know your boat will need to be transported, start booking the shipment. The sooner you can book the transport of your boat, the more control you’ll have on the price of the shipment.

Do consider all services you might need

Ask your boat-shipping company what it recommends regarding selecting shipping, trucking and other marine services like insurance. Insurance is essential to ensure your boat is taken care of if damaged in transit.

Do measure your boat accurately

The two most important details your boat-shipping company needs in order to compute an accurate quote are the boat’s dimensions and the distance it will be shipped. Shipping companies often move multiple boats at one time, so it is important that your dimensions are accurate.

Do prepare your boat for the move

Your boat can incur damage if you don’t take the time to prepare it for transit, which includes tasks that require attention to detail. This preparation includes removing and securing all loose items such as electronics, propellers, antennas, lights, boat covers, seat cushions, etc.

Do empty your fuel tank

The weight of your boat is closely tied to the shipping costs, procedure and equipment. Be sure to drain your fuel and water tanks, which should not be more than ¼ full, to ensure your boat’s weight is correctly estimated.


Do not assume the boat will be shipped right-side up

Because the boat-shipping company will often ship multiple boats at once, some boats are turned upside down to ensure they fit in the carrier’s trailer. Tape all latches down so they do not open while in transit, which could risk rain or water damage.

Do not overestimate your windshield’s strength

As your boat will be being moved at 60 miles per hour with additional head wind, conditions for your boat can seem similar to inclement weather conditions. Some large yachts are transported backwards, which creates an even greater force on the windshield. Make sure that the window’s seal is tight and that the screws aren’t rusted. You can fully avoid the risk by removing Plexiglas windshields, which will likely break if not framed.

Do not forget to mention if you boat is wooden

It is recommended that wooden boats be transported using a cradle, as opposed to a trailer. Wooden boats may have structural weaknesses that are difficult to detect and could result in boat damage, so a cradle that spreads the weight evenly is the best choice.

Do not forget to check for Zebra mussels

Department of Transportation officers will check boats for Zebra mussels, which are small freshwater mussels considered invasive, as they attach to and damage power plants, boats, harbors and waterways. If found, your boat is required to be seized. You will have to arrange for hot water removal and/or for your boat to be launched in salt water before it is put in fresh water. You can save this time by making sure your boat is in good condition before it is shipped.

Do not forget to make loading and unloading plans

Make sure you are familiar with all the customs clearances, port fees and taxes that may be required in the country the boat is being shipped to. In addition, documents required for international overseas shipping are a bill of lading, shipping documents from your shipping company, a copy of the boat title and a bill of sale. Some countries may require import permits for the boat or the trailer or both.

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Though the idea of shipping your boat can be a daunting one, doing research will help you make the most informed choices concerning the delivery. If you follow the advice provided above, the process should be a simple and worry-free one.

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Photo Credits: Riley Huntley at English Wikipedia; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

John RoehllExecutive Vice President and Co-owner

John Roehll serves as executive vice president and part owner for Dependable Auto Shippers, one of the largest vehicle relocation companies in the U.S. representing corporate and retail clients since 1954. Roehll manages the company’s corporate ...

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