If you enjoy the open waters, a jet ski is a great addition to any vacation. And while you will usually have your trailer in tow for trips to the lake, it can be nice to be able to bring your toys even when flying to your destination. If you want to ship your jet ski to your destination ahead of time, you can have the best of both worlds.
While some boating enthusiasts swear they have just strapped their jet skis to a pallet and sent them along with a freight forwarder, jet skis are commonly found on the list of prohibited items for most freight companies. That means that your equipment will be safest in the hands of a transportation company that ships jet skis and other vehicles. Here is how to go about it.
Choose a Shipping Method
For domestic transport, you can typically choose between transport on an open cargo trailer or an enclosed trailer. While an enclosed trailer offers the most protection, it is also more expensive than an open trailer. If you are shipping internationally, you may need to choose between air freight and sea freight. In this case, sea freight, which takes 4 to 6 weeks, is more economical than air freight which takes less than a week.
The good news is that the small size of jet skis gives them more flexibility for pickup and delivery addresses compared to other types of vehicles and watercraft. For example, a tractor-trailer hauling a bunch of cars may be restricted from residential addresses due to size and maneuverability. And, when they can pick up or deliver to residential addresses, there are additional fees for these types of addresses.
Gather Your Details
Before you can begin shopping around for the best rates and carriers, you need to know some basic information about your shipment. Gather all of the necessary information and keep it handy while you shop around for the right service.
- Make and Model of the Jet Ski
- Estimated Value (consider getting an appraisal)
- Total Weight
- Dimensions (height, width, and length)
- Special Requirements/Request (e.g., enclosed trailer)
- Full Address Details for Pickup and Delivery
- TImeframe Requirements (dates)
Compile a List of Shippers
Use the internet, referrals from your local jet ski dealer, as well as other sources to make a list of companies that can ship jet skis. These companies are usually auto transport companies, private shippers, and boat transportation companies. Some companies may ship a wide variety of property, and others may specialize in watercraft. Both types are okay as long as they offer the service that you need.
Once you know who to call, the next step is contacting and gathering details on pricing and availability. These information-gathering calls are a good time to ask about added fees and special requirements as well. When making notes, be sure to include all of the information that will be factored into the final choice, such as availability, added fees, ability to accommodate special requests, and more.
Narrow Your List to the Top 2 or 3 Choices
Take your list and pull out your top choices simply based on price, availability, and the small amount of information you were able to gather on the initial call. Take a harder look at these companies online. Pay close attention to customer reviews and their overall ratings. Be sure to ask around on message boards and check with the Better Business Bureau to get a complete picture. Use this information to make your final selection.
Book Your Shipment
Contact your selected shipping service and get your jet ski on the books. You may be asked to put down a deposit or leave a credit card number to hold your spot at the time of booking. The shipper will also provide you with a checklist of essential to-do items for preparing your shipment.
Get Your Jet Ski Serviced and Appraised
For insurance reasons, take your jet ski to a dealer for a full-service and documented appraisal shortly before your ship date. You should plan not to use the jet ski locally after the service and appraisal so that the information accurately represents the shipment. Take plenty of pictures from all angles and document any existing damage or wear.
Prepare Your Jet Ski for Shipping
Following the instructions provided by the shipper, you may need to drain the fuel tank or remove the battery prior to shipping. Don’t forget to include the necessary shipping paperwork as well as the keys to go along with the jet ski transport.
For domestic shipments, a bill of lading is the only official paperwork requirement. However, if your jet ski is crossing borders, you will also need customs declarations and supporting documentation. In both cases, the transporter can provide the required forms to be filled out prior to pick up.
If you are wondering about creating your jet ski, this depends largely on the shipping method that will be used. Jet skis do have some smaller parts that can be easily damaged. If your jet ski will ride on a pallet with a freight carrier, then custom crating is almost necessary. However, if the jet ski will ride on a trailer intended for hauling this type of equipment, it may just get in the way.
Brand new jet skis are commonly shipped in custom wooden crates provided by the manufacturer. Assuming that you cannot obtain a hand-me-down wooden crate, it may cost up to $500 to build a crate from plywood for shipping purposes. However, the level of protection that it offers may be worth the investment. This is especially true for long-distance and international shipments.
Confirm Transportation Pick Up
The transport company will typically confirm the scheduled pickup time 24-hours prior to arrival. If you don’t receive a call, reach out and confirm the arrangement yourself. Then, make sure someone is available to meet the driver at pick up.
Determine Transit Time
There is nothing for you to do during transit except travel to the destination or sit back and wait. Most transport companies will take a few days to a few weeks to complete the shipment. However, a delivery ETA will be scheduled at the time of booking and confirmed within 24 hours of delivery. Many companies also allow you to track your shipment online.
Many factors affect transit time. Make sure to ask your transporter if it will be a direct shipment or if your equipment will be loaded and unloaded at different stops. Will your jet ski be transported entirely by truck, or will it ride part of the way on the rails?
Confirm and Accept Delivery
This step works essentially the same as the pickup, except it happens on the other end of the trip. Always make sure that you have a responsible party available to meet the driver and take delivery of the jet ski.
Inspect and Document Delivery Condition
If at all possible, inspect and document the condition of the jet ski while the driver is still onsite. If there is any damage, the chain of custody and the responsible party are clear for insurance purposes.
Shipping a jet ski is similar to most other small vehicles. With a little bit of legwork upfront and a few safety precautions, it is relatively straightforward to have the equipment picked up at one location and transported to another destination for delivery.