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How To Ship a Boat

How To Ship a Boat
How To Ship a Boat

Buying a boat and getting it to your home can be a fulfilling experience. However, what if you need to move your boat elsewhere? Boat shipping (both locally and internationally) happens more often than you'd think. Many boat sellers invest in boat shipping firms to help them get their products to their buyers when they don't have other options. Some boat shipping methods are as easy as driving the boat on its carrier all the way to the owner. Alternative approaches are more involved and may take much more time and effort.


Determine a Shipping Method

Determine a Shipping Method

A boat is smaller than a ship and, as a naval craft, should be small enough to be carried by ship. Some boats can reach up to 1000 feet in length. As a result, there are many different ways boat owners can move their watercraft from one place to another.

  • Overseas Shipping: The boat is loaded onto a ship and is then transported to another port and offloaded. Usually, this method is used for international shipping of boats.
  • Overland Shipping: Most local moves take advantage of overland boat shipping. Cradles and trailers help to ensure that the boat is secure and mobile.
  • Cargo Plane: Some boats are small enough to be carried by air. This approach is an alternative to sea shipping for overseas boat transport, but it is far more expensive.
  • Freight Carrier Shipping: Many transport companies offer a method of loading a ship onto a boat as freight and shipping it across to its new location. 
  • Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) Boat Shipping: Boats can be driven on (via their cradles or carriers) to a ship and then driven off. This method requires the least amount of overhead.
  • Lift-On-Lift-Off (LOLO) Shipping: In this case, a crane is used to lift the boat onto a specially designed rack that holds the boat during transit. It's lifted off again at its destination.

Sailing a Boat to its Destination

While this is doable, there are a lot of other factors to consider. If the destination is distant from your embarkation point, you may be spending a lot of time on the waves. Some watercraft aren't suited for ocean journeys. Boats, in particular, can be easily swamped in open water and go under. If you're moving any significant distance away, it may be better to ship your boat rather than chancing it on the open water.

Overland Shipping Details

If you're not trying to move overseas and still have a boat to ship overland, there are a few stipulations in overland shipping you may need to be aware of, including:

  • The boat must be no wider than 12'.
  • The boat, without masts and rigging, should be no taller than 13'6".
  • Both the source location and destination should have at least 14' of clearance for pickup and offload.

The ship should already be prepped and ready to move by the time the transport company shows up. Shipping overland via a carrier and trailer or even a container is a safe and secure method of getting your boat to its destination.


Shipping Cost Determination

Shipping Cost Determination

Many professional shipping companies can offer you decent cost savings for your boat shipping needs. Many of these companies give you details on what costs you'll be paying for shipping, transport, and customs fees, but these may be estimated shipping prices only. Finalized prices are only available after the ship makes berth. You may also have to pay local tolls to get your boat across state lines if you're shipping across states. 

If you're shipping internationally, you may be required to pay landing duties or costs on the size of the boat's engine. The shipping company should advise you on these costs and whether they're included in the initial quote. Most times, however, since shipping entry fees are so dynamic, many companies are unable to give you a solid quote for the additional costs until they get the boat off the port of entry.

Comprehensive boat insurance may cover your boat while it's on the open water, but it may not cover it while being transported on a ship. Freight insurance coverage may be limited as well, but many companies offer additional coverage for expensive items such as boats. Paying for the insurance will ensure that you have peace of mind in any eventuality.


Prepare for Shipping

Prepping the boat for a journey is a lot different if you're not simply sailing it somewhere yourself. It starts with securing all the loose parts within the ship. Ideally, if there are loose parts, they should be detached from the boat and put into a lockbox. Some clients like to shrink-wrap their boats to limit damage to the hull and for their own peace of mind. Hatches should be secured prior to loading (if any exist). Personal belongings and breakables should also be taken from the ship before loading. Empty both fuel and water tanks to ensure the boat is as light as possible for the journey. Switch off the power and disconnect terminals if necessary. Ideally, if you have other utilities inside the boat that pull power from the boat's systems, disconnecting them may also help in case they drain the battery directly.

While the shipping company can handle a lot of this paperwork for you, you'll still need to show up to fill in some details. Things like registration and ownership details would need to be put on customs sheets so that you'll be able to pick up the boat when you get to your destination. You may be required to pay at this juncture, but different shipping companies have their own procedures for payments.

The arrival time varies depending on where you're shipping as well as the traffic associated with shipping routes at the time of year. You may also need to consider other factors, including things like traffic at major shipping terminals and if a ship will need to be completely filled before it sails. Each of these will have its own impacts on whether your boat will get to its destination on time.

There are many types of boats, and each has its own methodology when it comes to shipping. Some shipping companies prefer specific methods for shipping certain kinds of crafts. Consult your shipping company to see if your boat falls into this specialized subsection.


Clear the Boat At Its Location

Before you can collect the boat at its port of entry, you'll need to clear it with the local authorities. Many shipping companies do this for you automatically, but if you're trying to save on the costs of shipping, you may want to consider doing so yourself. When you leave your source location, you would have been required to present information about boat registration and other details that are necessary to show ownership. These documents and your ID will be needed depending on where in the world you're shipping the boat to.

It's important to remember that each country has its own rules for what you'll have to pay to clear incoming goods. Boats, as vehicles, may fall under the same class as automobiles or maybe in a class of their own. Most shipping companies deal with tax payments and duty fees automatically. If you choose to do it yourself, you'll need to familiarize yourself with what the local authorities require.

Many locales also require you to register your boat with the authorities before you start using it. Once again, these details could be avoided in some cases by choosing the right transport company to help you.

When choosing a shipping company, A1 Transport offers superb deals for our clients. We offer insurance for boat shipping and all other freight. We've been doing shipping for years, so if you want a professional company that knows the ropes when it comes to shipping boats, give us a call today!

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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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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

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
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
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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