Moving is more than just transporting your belongings from one house to another. If you own a boat, you must also arrange its transportation. Depending on the size of your boat, where you are, and where you’re migrating to, shipping a boat can be complicated and expensive. Here’s what you need to know.
Three ways to move a boat
You have three options for moving your boat: you can move it yourself, hire a delivery captain (yacht delivery service) or use a professional boat transport service. If they don’t pull too far and already have a trailer, most people will choose to move it themselves. However, a do-it-yourself approach is not always an option.
- Move by yourself
If you have a trailer, it’s usually best to tow the boat yourself, as long as it’s not too big. Any boat over 8 feet 6 inches wide requires a permit to travel on public roads. Vessels over a 12′ beam may require one pilot car, while vessels over a 14′ beam will require two pilot cars, one aft.
Height is another consideration. If your boat is 14 feet tall when loaded onto a trailer, you may need to change course to avoid freeway overpasses and overhead utilities. Vessels larger than 16 feet may need to be navigated by a tower-supported vehicle before your permit to transport the vessel on public roads can be granted. If the elevation bar touches anything, your application will be rejected.
If your boat is big enough to require a permit, pilot car, and tower escort, you probably don’t have a trailer yet. Don’t buy anything. Considering the hassle of researching permits and planning a route, it’s easier to have your boat transported by a professional shipping service.
- Hire a delivery captain
Another option is to hire a skipper to steer your boat to the new dock if a waterway route is feasible. For example, if you’re moving from Chicago to Detroit, you can hire a captain without taking your boat out of the water. You can usually find a good captain through a yacht broker or by asking at your marina. Just make sure you have a USCG license and proper insurance.
However, hiring a captain to bring your boat to its new home is not cheap. Expect $350 per day for the captain and $175 per crew per day, with a minimum of one crew member required. Add in a meal allowance of $30 per person, and you’re paying a base price of $585 per day. Additionally, you will be required to pay for the transportation of the captain and crew to your origin and home after the tour. Not to mention ship fuel, permits, port costs, and all the other costs involved in getting your boat to your new home.
- Use a professional boat transfer service
The last option is to hire a professional boat shipping service. You can find reliable ship shippers through online resources such as uShip, search companies online, or seek advice from your terminal.
According to Boat Hauling US, expect an average of $1.50 to $3.50 per mile to tow a typical boat. The boat is on its trailer. Whether you’re heading east or west also affects the cost – you’ll pay $1 more per mile east than west.
Professional boat shipping services can ship your vessel both domestically and internationally. Assuming you don’t want to hire a captain to transport your boat to an international destination, you can ship by boat. The most common method is roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO), where your boat stays on a trailer for the entire voyage. Alternatively, you can mount it in a closed container or flat rack, a custom mount.
Shipping overseas can be very expensive. According to Boats.com, a large yacht can easily top $100,000.
How to measure your boat
Since a lot depends on the size of your boat, including shipping costs and licensing requirements, it’s important to know how to measure it properly. (Don’t rely on the boat owner’s measurements, as they may not be accurate, and variations may add to the size of your boat.)
Remove all removable parts first; then measure the length. The overall length is measured from the tip of the bow to the middle of the stern. Length including pulpit, swim platform, engine mounts, and engine or outboard drive in the raised position.
Next, measure the height from the bottom of the keel to the highest non-removable part of the boat. If you use your label, include the label in your measurements. Height should be at or below 13 feet 6 inches to avoid escort height bars. Even if your boat is below this height, remove radar, antennas, and anything else that reduces its height and the risk of tipping over in transit.
Finally, measure the width at the widest point of the boat, including the friction rail. If you are wider than 8 feet 6 inches, you will need a shipping permit. Boats larger than 12 feet usually require at least one pilot car, so you should remove any items, such as grills, minimize width (and prevent them from falling or being damaged during movement).
How to prepare your boat
Whether you move your boat yourself or hire a professional boat moving service, you need to have your boat ready. Shoot your boat in the water before doing anything. Next, delete all personal items. This includes food, clothing, and bedding. Then remove all combustible items including propane, stern, flares, and extra fuel.
After taking your boat out of the water, thoroughly clean and remove any growths from the hull. Most states have invasive species checkpoints, and if they fail, you’re incurring thousands of dollars a day in detention and residency fees. After cleaning, photograph your boat from the water, making sure you get a close-up and a full profile.
Next, remove all cables from the battery, fuel from the tank, and liquid from the storage tank. Secure all hatches and undo any items attached to the sides, such as cooking grills, buoys, and anchors. Finally, you should consider removing all valuable electronic components and shipping them separately. You may also need to shrink wrap your boat to keep it clean and protect it from damage while moving.
Is it worth it?
Even if you just prep your boat and hire someone to move it for you, moving a boat can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s often easier and cheaper to sell your boat before moving and buying a new boat after you’ve settled into your new home.
However, if you decide to move your boat, it will greatly increase your moving to-do list. Take some of the stress out of the way by hiring a professional moving company to transport your belongings to your new home, or even help with packing. Our network of reliable moving companies makes it easy to find a reputable company to take the stress out of moving.