How to Ship a Boat

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How to Ship a Boat
How to Ship a Boat

People might choose to ship their boats if they're moving their residence or looking to make the most out of a vacation spot. Whatever your reason is to ship your boat, a professional boat transport company can take tons of stress off your plate. Professional boat shipping companies can use their skills and experience to thoroughly plan your boat's route and ensure that its condition remains the same during and after transit.  

In this article, we're going to be unpacking essential boat shipping topics like: 

—and more! 

If we're going to discuss how to ship a boat, it makes sense to start out discussing the different types of boat shipping methods. 

What Are the Different Types of Boat Shipping? 

When it comes to selecting a method to ship your boat, it's all about choosing a method that suits your specific needs. Different boats will call for various styles of shipping. Professional boat shipping services will have the means to accommodate your boat style so it can travel safely and efficiently. There are eight main methods that shipping companies use to move boats. 

Those methods are: 

  • Overseas boat shipping
  • Overland boat shipping
  • Airfreight shipping
  • Freight carrier boat shipping
  • Roll-on/Roll-off boat shipping
  • Flat racks boat shipping
  • Lift-on/lift-off boat shipping
  • Shrink-wrapping

What Is Overseas Boat Shipping?

Boat owners tend to use overseas boat shipping if they're moving their boat internationally. Your boat will be loaded onto a large shipping vessel for overseas travel and unloaded upon arrival at its destination port. If you're in an instance where you have to ship your boat short-distance, individual companies offer services where a captain can move your boat through harbors that lead to the boat's destination.  

What Is Overland Boat Shipping?

Overland boat shipping is the opposite of overseas boat shipping in that your boat will be transported across the land. A boat shipping company will typically use a trailer for overland boat shipping. If a customer can provide a boat shipping service with a trailer that accommodates their boat, the shipping company will use often use that trailer. In times where the customer doesn't have a trailer for their boat, the shipping service will cover them in these situations. 

What Is Air Freight Boat Shipping? 

Airfreight boat shipping involves your boat being loaded into a cargo plane before being flown to its destination. You'll find that many boat owners turn to overland or overseas shipping due to the inflated cost of air freight boat shipping. It costs so much to fly your boat somewhere because it's the fastest and most secure way to ship your boat. People might be more inclined to ship boat parts or smaller boats by air since shipping a large boat through a cargo plane is extremely expensive.  

What Is Freight Carrier Boat Shipping?

Freight carrier boat shipping is a form of sea shipping that involves you putting your boat in a freight container to be transported by a commercial ship. Boat owners who utilize freight carrier shipping are often shipping large boats like yachts, as these types of carriers have the space to accommodate bigger boats. 

What Is Roll-on/Roll-off Shipping?

Roll-on/roll-off shipping consists of your boat being rolled inside a trailer for loading and vice-versa for unloading. If a boat owner doesn't have a trailer, a specific cradle type can be used to support and secure the boat during transit.  

How To Ship A Boat

What Is Flat Racks Boat Shipping?

Flat racks boat shipping involves loading and wrapping your boat to protect it from debris, dirt, or any other general damage that could occur during transit. 

What Is Lift-on/Lift-off Boat Shipping?

Lift-on/lift-off boat shipping requires special equipment like cranes and forklifts to raise a boat for loading and lower the boat during unloading. 

With so many different boat shipping methods to choose from, you're going to want to work with a company that displays the utmost amount of professionalism. If you think there are many boat shipping methods to select from, there are way more boat shipping services to choose from. It's time to talk about how you can choose the right boat shipping company, so your boat arrives on time in the same condition you left it. 

How Do I Choose a Boat Shipping Company? 

Scanning online reviews can help you find out whether or not a boat shipping service is worth working with. Sites like Trustpilot are accredited sources that review covers all the essential components of a business. Do your best to evaluate a shipping company's customer feedback, transport history, and safety records. 

When you're consulting with a boat shipping service, make sure that you're asking the critical questions like:

  • What transport method do you recommend for my boat?
  • Do you have experience shipping my type of boat?
  • What equipment will you be using to transport my boat?
  • Are you licensed, insured, and bonded?

We understand that shipping your boat is an investment. Here's how your investment will pay off: 

How Will a Boat Shipping Company Help Me?

Shipping a boat long distance or short distance requires a lot of planning. Hiring a professional boat shipping service can result in the company's staff drawing up a plan for you that simplifies that shipping process with an emphasis on delivery speed and safety. 

A boat shipping service will help you determine if you need a trailer. Your boat must be shipped within the correct type of trailer. Boat shipping companies can have adjustable trailers that serve to accommodate different styles of boats. If shipping isn't able to accommodate your boat with a specific trailer, there are many cases where a custom cradle can be built to secure the boat for travel. A professional boat shipping service will research the best route to travel when transporting your boat. Time is money. The faster your boat can be delivered, the more money the shipping company will save in transport costs. 

Companies that ship boats understand that the owners care about the well-being and shipping status of their boat. Many companies today will offer GPS tracking so you can check in on the status of your boat during its transit route. 

While we can agree that shipping a boat is convenient, you're probably wondering what factors will influence your final shipping cost.

How Much Money Does It Cost to Ship a Boat? 

The distance that your boat is traveling and your boat's size are the two primary factors that will impact how much money you dish out for shipping. Since a shipping company will ask you the weight and size of your ship, it's helpful to have this information on hand before you request a quote. The more accurate you are with the information you provide, the easier it'll for the shipping company to give you a realistic quote. 

Domestic boat shipping is different from international shipping because international boat transport can be more complicated. 

How Do I Ship My Boat Domestically? 

Domestic boat shipping is done city-to-city or state-to-state. Most domestic boat shipping services are done through inland transportation. 

Below is a list of things to consider before shipping a boat domestically: 

  • The most effective route
  • Weather
  • Equipment needed for pickup and delivery
  • Required permits (states have different requirements)

How Do I Ship My Boat Internationally? 

One of the essential components of international boat shipping is ensuring that you have your documentation in order. You can contact the foreign embassy of the country you're shipping your boat to for consultation on what documentation you'll need to ship your boat legally. If you fail to present all of the necessary documentation to ship your boat internationally, you can risk delaying your shipment. 

Here are the ways that boats are commonly shipped internationally: 

  • Roll-on/roll-off (your boat stays on a trailer)
  • Enclosed container (common for large shipping vessels)
  • Flat rack (typical for oversized boats)
  • Submersion (loading and unloading your boat from the water)

Let's wrap up by discussing all of the general things you should do to prepare your boat for shipping. You can follow the tips we're about to give for international and domestic boat shipping.  

How Do I Prepare My Boat For Shipping? 

Preparing your boat for shipping mostly revolves around the idea that everything is secure for transit. Loose parts that could move around and cause damage during the boat's shipping route should be secured or taken out of the boat. Hatches should be secured to prevent leaks, and cabin windows should be secured as well. After you remove all personal belongings in the boat, document the boat's condition so you could recognize if any damage occurred during the shipping route. 

Switch off the boat's power, store cables, and unplug batteries. Some boat owners use shrink wrap to cover their whole boat or specific vulnerable parts of the boat from outdoor elements that may harm the boat's condition. A quality boat shipping service will ensure that your boat is properly prepared before shipping is initiated. 

Why Should I Consider A-1 Auto Transport When Shipping My Boat?

We provide domestic and international boat shipping services that deliver to all corners of the world. Our 25 years of experience give you top-notch service that results in you receiving an affordable shipping rate. We accommodate a wide variety of boats through several popular boat moving services


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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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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
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45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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