How to Transport Your Boat Safely

by Veronica Jeans February 17, 2017

Seabrook Marina transportation servicesA boat is an expensive investment that can often be tricky to transport if the owner does not have a vehicle and trailer capable of hauling it. Boat transportation services are designed for consumers who want safe and efficient shipping.

Because boat transportation is a complicated process involving expensive cargo, consumers will want to make sure their boats are protected by finding a reputable, dependable company to ship their boat along their chosen route.

What matters most in boat transportation?

Excerpt from Consumer Affairs

General preparations

Before a boat can be transported, the shipper needs to prepare it. Most shipping companies offer quotes only after consumers provide them with the proper information.

  • Measurements: Knowing the exact size of the boat and trailer to be shipped is key to getting a useful estimate. A consumer should always measure their boat’s length (from bow to the center of the stern), height (from the bottom of the keel to the highest part of the boat) and beam (across the widest part of the boat). Accurate measurements lead to more accurate shipping quotes.
  • Plan the shipping route: Shipping boats across state borders often means paying for tolls. Shipping internationally also means that consumers will need to provide a host of custom forms subject to fees and taxes depending on the countries’ laws. Therefore, it is always a good idea to research the shipping route and to notify the shipping company accordingly.
  • Remove coverings: Shippers will usually request any boat snap-on canvas covers to be removed. These can come off or become damaged easily during transportation, so they are best stored inside the boat’s storage areas.

Protecting the boat

Keeping the boat protected, either by wrapping it to protect it from small dings and weather or by paying for some extra insurance, may be a chief concern for protective consumers. Most shipping companies will recommend taking a few extra measures to ensure the cargo is protected.

  • Insurance: Many shipping companies provide quotes with insurance already built into them, but, depending on the route the boat will take, additional insurance may be a good option.
  • Shrink wrap: Though canvas coverings should be removed, a consumer can use heavy duty shrink wrap to protect their boat from weather or small bits of debris that may cause slight damage in transport.

Extra services

Shipping companies that specialize in boat transportation often offer other services as well. Consumers should always look at the extra options to make sure they get the most out of their shipping experience.

  • Professional wrapping service: If the consumer does not have shrink wrap on hand, many transportation companies offer to wrap the boat themselves. This service will vary across companies, and price may depend on the size of vessel being wrapped.
  • Tracking: A few shipping companies allow consumers to track and monitor their boat as it moves toward its destination. Consumers wanting to follow their boat should ask a shipping company if it provides tracking support through GPS apps.

Company-provided trailers

Overland shipping requires the use of a trailer. For consumers who are shipping a boat from a harbor or who have purchased a boat without a trailer, transportation companies often have trailers on hand.

  • Adjustable trailers: Because boats come in all sizes, companies often use trailers that can adjust to accommodate various types of vessels.
  • Custom cradles: Some companies that do not have a large fleet of trucks and trailers available at their disposal will offer to build custom cradles to fit the consumer’s boat. These cradles keep the boat securely on its trailer for transportation.

Company qualifications

Few aspects matter more than a company’s qualifications when evaluating options for shipping boats. Consumers should make sure the company they work with has a good reputation and qualifications.

  • Licensed: For a shipping company to be licensed, it must be legally recognized as an entity. Fully-licensed shippers have multiple licenses from various state agencies, and some shippers will verify their licenses upon request.
  • Bonded: Bonding means that shippers are required to fulfill their contracts with consumers. A bond protects the consumer, allowing them to be reimbursed if the shipper does not perform its required service.
  • Insured: Shippers that are insured have their cargo protected in case of an accident. However, insured shippers vary regarding coverage. A consumer should make sure they have all the insurance information available in case they decide they need extra coverage.


Boats are expensive investments, and shipping them can cost a fair amount of money. Consumers should make sure their payments are secure, and sometimes shopping around yields better deals.

  • Online or instant quotes: With the right information, shipping companies can offer quotes instantly. Consumers with accurate measurements and planned routes can get immediate help with a quote either online or over the phone.
  • Online marketplaces: If the consumer prefers shipping companies to compete for their business, online marketplaces allow the consumer see various bids for services. Here, the consumer can compare prices, though information about the shipping companies may be limited.
  • Payment options: The best kind of payment is a secure one. Consumers should always make sure the companies they choose prioritize secure payments through checks or online transactions.

Read more in Consumer Affairs about Transport companies and other tips.

Veronica Jeans
Veronica Jeans


Veronica Jeans is a Ecommerce Business Coach and Marketing Expert. She is passionate about helping businesses launch successfully.

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