Transporting a boat is a delicate operation. Whether we are talking a small vessel propelled by a single engine or a more sophisticated craft, you need to get everything right.

by Chris Ward of A1 Auto Transport

Preparation needs to start weeks in advance to make sure that everything goes smoothly. This is not the kind of project you want to go DIY on, so be sure to engage professionals to take you through the logistics. Transporting a boat over land is simpler than water transport would be but in both, you have to follow a set of specific rules and do things by the book to avoid delays.

Start by finding the right carrier

Shipping a boat requires the owner to do plenty of due diligence because boats are expensive-you don’t want something to happen to them along the way, especially if the boat is an antique or a classic one. Look out for a carrier that has been in the business for a long time and is backed by a pool of satisfied clients and a reputation for professionalism. Make sure that the company you are hiring shows you their US DOT (Department of Transport) number. In addition, they should have no problem telling you about their rating as that gives you a window into the quality of services they offer. Do not shy away from asking for documents such as insurance certificates. Go even further and have them tell you the exact value of their cargo insurance. If, for example, they can only cover up to $50,000 worth of damage and your boat is worth $100,000, then that is a great moment to walk away because should anything happen, you will end up having to meet the difference.

If you are having difficulties finding the right carrier, you can always use comparison websites to compare boat shippers online with A1 Auto Transport. 

Get the vessel ready

The marina will not do this for you, neither will the transport company. You will need to do it on your own. No need to panic though, it is a rather straightforward procedure. You can start by draining your boat of a significant amount of fuel (leave just about ¼ in the fuel tank) to avoid spillage along the way. If your pumps and AC have water, drain them. Remove all personal items from the vessel and arrange for them to be transported separately. Look around to make sure that nothing is loose or unhinged. On the day before shipping, walk around the boat and make sure that everything is secured. If you notice loose doors or windows, latch them (with anything from their own hinges to scotch tape).

Provide accurate information

The transporter, whether they are using a ship or land-based means to ferry your boast home, need to know what to expect. Provide them with the exact weight and dimensions of your boat. This way, they can prepare for the loading and transport with this information in mind. At the same time, both parties should agree on the amount to be paid for shipping and decide when said payments should be made. Finally, have all paperwork ready by the time your transporter comes to collect.

Take pictures

Before the boat heads out, you need to map out all your contingencies. At times, boats on transit will suffer a scratch here or there, and this causes problems because the transporter might fail to pay for the damage simply because you can’t prove that the vessel was in a better condition before the move. When you have evidence of the state of your ship at loading on file, then it’s easy for you to put up a strong case for compensation for any damages, however minor.

Track your boat

The next few days after your boat ships out are going to be full of tension; that is only if you can’t track its movement. Fortunately, modern technology allows cargo owners to track the movement or their goods from the point of loading to their destination.  If your mover uses GPS technologies, then you will stay informed about every single move the truck/ship carrying your boat moves.

Transporting a boat is an involving activity, but if you have the right people in place, then the whole process is going to be a smooth sail. Get in touch with the right transporters, and that will put an entire team of marinas, inspection professionals and dock hands at your service.

What information would you like to share with the vintage boat community?


  1. Thanks for the tip that I should try to select the right carrier in order to transport my boat successfully. I think I’ll get my vessel ready once I settle on the right team. In order to make sure that my boat will be transported to the right place, I’ll try to provide the right information as well.

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