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What is it Called When a Boat is Moved on Land?

Published by Tamar Hela.

What's in this article?
  1. What is it Called?
  2. Methods of Boat Transport
  3. Overland Transport
  4. International Boat Transport
  5. Hiring Professional Transport Services
  6. Final Thoughts
What is it Called When a Boat is Moved on Land?

Many boat owners need to move a boat over land to another water or storage location. However, specific terms are used within the boating community to refer to transporting vessels on roadways and overland. Understanding the correct terminology is essential when discussing or researching how to transport a boat by land.

This blog post will explore the various land transportation methods for boats and explain the terms typically associated with overland transport.

What is it Called?

A few key terms are used when referring to moving a boat over land. The most general term is "overland transport," which means transporting the boat across land instead of water. Another common phrase is "boat trailer transport," as most recreational boats are hauled on a trailer designed specifically for boats. For larger vessels that may be transported without a trailer, the action is sometimes called "hauling a boat." Regardless of the size, preparing a boat for road travel and relocating it over land rather than by water is generally called overland transport, boat trailer transport, or hauling within the boating community.


Methods of Boat Transport

There are three main methods for transporting boats: overland, sea, and air.

Overland transport involves pulling the boat on a trailer or specialized vehicle over roads and highways. Sea transport consists of loading the boat onto a ship or barge and transporting it by water between ports. Air transport is used for very large or expensive boats and involves carrying the boat beneath a cargo plane.

Overland transport is best for short to medium distances as it is the most cost-effective option. Preparing a recreational boat for highway travel is also relatively simple.

However, overland limits the boat's range to the road network. Sea transport can move boats long distances internationally but requires ports at both ends and dealing with variables like weather. It is most suitable for commercial transport of many boats or large vessels. Air transport allows for the most excellent flexibility and speed but has high costs, complex logistics, and size/weight limits for boats it can accommodate.

Overland Transport

Boat owners must take several key steps when embarking on an overland transport.

First, they should verify that the boat's height, width, length, and weight do not exceed the maximum limits allowed on roadways for their route.

Next, all water needs to be drained from the boat to prevent damage from sloshing during transport. Fuel tanks are typically emptied or secured as well.

Once measurements and preparations are made, the boat can be loaded onto a trailer tailored for its size. Many recreational boats 15-35 feet long are suitable for standard boat trailers with roller wheels, stake pockets, and surge brake systems. Larger vessels may require specialized trailers with extra axles, larger tires, and independent suspension.

Huge commercial boats weighing hundreds of tons are transported overland on self-propelled modular transporters or floating trailers that can handle their immense size and weight.

Proper trailer provisioning also involves securing tie-down straps over the boat, installing additional permanent or temporary bracing between the boat and trailer, attaching lighting, and making the trailer roadworthy. Trailer brakes and suspension ensure stable towing.

Finally, transport permits may be required depending on the boat trailer's loaded dimensions and planned routes. With careful preparation, overland transport allows boat owners to quickly relocate their vessels on roads.

International Boat Transport

Crossing international borders with a boat in tow poses additional considerations beyond domestic overland transport. Planning is critical to research import/export regulations, document inspections, duty fees, and permit requirements, which vary between countries. Hiring professional transporters experienced in logistics helps navigate complex jurisdictions.

Land routes may be more direct than shipping but involve multiple checkpoints.

Alternatively, boats can travel by cargo vessel between distant ports and clear customs there instead of dealing with multiple border crossings overland. Boats relocated to new home countries on vessels often clear customs upon arrival rather than at each port. Temporary importation documents may also come into play if the ship is re-exported later. With proper organization well in advance, international boat relocation can be achieved smoothly.


Hiring Professional Transport Services

For many vessel owners, hiring licensed professional transport carriers makes the most sense compared to self-transporting, especially for larger boats or international moves. Transport companies own specialized equipment suited to different boat sizes with experienced crews for loading/unloading. They also hold necessary commercial transportation permits and commercial automobile insurance for highway transit.

When selecting a transport service, boat owners should compare quotes from several companies, factoring in mileage, specific equipment/capabilities required, target dates, and included services. Reputable companies provide proof of licensing and safe road records.

A pre-haul vessel inspection allows carriers to assess any onboard challenges and work with owners to secure the load safely. Services may also include limited storm protection coverage, rigging and de-rigging of masts/gear, and delivery to turnkey Condition at destination. Professional boat transport minimizes risks for budget-conscious boaters.

Final Thoughts

Whether transporting small trailered boats or massive yachts, it is essential for all involved in boating to understand the terminology associated with overland transport. Moving vessels by land between bodies of water, to winter storage, for repairs, or for relocating to new home ports remains essential to vessel ownership. Modern capabilities enable boats of nearly any size to be transported internationally or across continents when needed.

While specialized equipment and experienced carriers excel at major relocations, recreational boaters can also learn to prepare their crafts properly for local overland travel.

With correct preparation and terminology knowledge, watercraft can smoothly traverse over land rather than water when necessary.

Need help transporting your boat?

Moving your boat over land can be a hassle. You must find the right trailer, prepare your boat for the road, and deal with permits yourself.

Let A1 Auto Transport handle the heavy lifting. As a licensed and insured carrier, we have the expertise and equipment to safely transport boats - from small fishing boats to large yachts.

Get a free quote.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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