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How To Measure Your Boat

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How To Measure Your Boat
How To Measure Your Boat

Measuring Your Boat

Transportation costs, winterization, storage, and other charges attached to your boat largely depend on its size. Although manufacturers provide boat measurements, it is important to do your own calculations. These measurements are also legally important as you will see in this article.

Although there are several boat parameters to consider here, the three most important ones are the overall boat length, total height, and the beam. Usually, you will only need a tape measure to take these dimensions. However, you might need an adhesive tape or a second person to hold the tape for you.

The overall boat length

The length overall (LOA) is the full length of a vessel from the bow to the transom. This does not include rudders, outboard motors, swim platforms, bowsprits, and other attachments to the vessel. However, for transportation logistics, some companies may want to know the length of the other boat attachments. Ensure all attachments are measured in a raised position.

So why is LOA important?

The cost of transportation: Larger boats take up more space and incur more transportation costs.

Marina accommodation: Marinas charge vessel accommodation partially depending on the boat length. It is only logical then that longer boats will take up more space and, therefore, will be charged more to dock.

Transportation laws: Boats that are oversized may not be allowed on the road during certain periods of the day.

Method of international transportation: Internationally your vessel can be transported using the following methods;

  • Roll-on/Roll-off: with the RORO services, your vessel will be loaded onto a ship efficiently on its cradle. The RORO method is the safest and most affordable way to transport a boat
  • Lift on/Lift off: unlike in the RORO transportation, the lift-on/lift-off (LOLO) method uses a crane to load your vessel onto a ship.
  • Containerized: Your boat can be transported in a container. However, only small-sized boats are suitable for containerized transportation method.
  • Flat rack: For larger boats, a flat rack is used to load the whole vessel.
  • Submersion: Here, the ship is semi-submerged to load a boat.
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The overall height

The overall height of your boat is the distance between the keel and highest part of the vessel. This dimension is important for three reasons:

  • Safety of your boat:  After spending your money on the luxurious vessel, safety is at the top of your mind. A healer carrying a tall boat is at a higher risk of keeling over that than when carrying a shorter boat.
  • Transportation laws: The height of your boat will determine whether it is allowed to be transported on the road during certain hours. Overpasses allow a maximum height of 13’6”. Above this height, you may require over-height permits. You may also need interstate clearance for boats taller than 16 feet.
  • Routing: Some routes such as Northeast have bridges which are lower than the legal height of 13 feet 6 inches. Your hauling company should advise you on the best route to take if your boat is at a risk of hitting a low bridge.
  • The cost of transportation: Transporting companies have different sizes of trailers. If your vessel is higher than their low-boy trailers, special handling costs may apply.

The beam

The beam is simply the width of your vessel. To take the width dimension, measure the length of widest part of your vessel. Usually, near the middle of the vessel is the widest area. As with the overall height and length, the beam of your boat has some implications;

  • Transportation laws: The width of a boat has some implications when it comes to transport logistics. Legally, boats wider than 8’6” are categorized as oversize loads. Many states require that you get a wide-load permit when transporting via road.
  • Insurance policies: Your boat’s and the transportation vehicle’s insurance policies may have limits for wide-loads. In the case of an accident, you must have the oversize permit to make your claim.
  • Together, the three dimensions are used to determine the shape of your vessel and;
  • Performance: The ratio of length to beam indicates how well a vessel performs. A larger length to width ratio shows a high-speed boat since it has less wave resistance.
  • Loading capacity: The loading capacity of a boat is calculated by its length multiplied by its beam. A larger area makes a hull take more weight.

For transportation purposes, ensure that you provide the right measurements to your hauling company. You can also estimate your shipping cost using our Domestic USA and International Shipping Quote Calculator.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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