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Shipping a boat can be a cumbersome task. And when you’re not prepared, you risk damaging the boat, facing delays, and paying unexpected fees.

By knowing the ins and outs of your boat and how to best transport it, you’ll have a much easier and enjoyable shipping experience. Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about preparing your boat for transport. 

Plan Your Move

Most boat companies don’t actually prepare the boat for shipment. This is something you’re likely going to have to do on your own. It’s important to know the dimensions of your boat, what type of vessel it is, and the exact spot you need it moved it to. 

By giving the exact dimensions to your transport company, they will be able to use the correct sized machinery to move your boat. Reporting inaccurate dimensions can result in extra fees. 

Also, make sure all of the items on your boat are properly secured down. Walk around your vessel and make note of any pre-existing damage. It’s also a good idea to have your boat inspected by a licensed marine surveyor.

Before removing anything from your boat, take a photo so you know where it goes when you need to put it back. Your boat should be prepped early in case the transportation service needs to come earlier due to weather or other issues. 

And when picking a transportation company, make sure they have cargo and liability insurance. Also known as freight insurance, this kind of policy will cover freight no matter if it’s transported by land, air, or sea. 

Understand the Importance of Size

The legal loaded height for transporting anything on the majority of roads in America is 13 feet 6 inches (4.1 meters). This means that fly-bridges, sailboat masts, radar arches, and anything else that puts your boat over the height limit need to be removed in advance.

Your sailboat’s mast should be wrapped in plastic. This will protect it during transport since it’s going to be secured on the trailer next to the boat.

You can also carpet-tie down points. Many sailboat owners will purchase carpet remnants from their local carpet store and then wrap their mast completely with those pieces. This is a rather effective way worth looking into. 

One way to bypass the 13 ft rule is to take an alternative route that you and the boat transportation company can both agree to. Be aware that alternative routes usually cost extra money because of permits, police escorts, and extra time needed for the travel. 

Remove Hazardous Substances

Hazardous substances such as fuel should be completely removed from your boat. Drain the fuel tank to at most 1/3 full. This is important for weight as well as safety. 

Although accidents are unlikely when you hire a reputable transport service, they are still possible and fires can happen when fuel is present.

The same goes for water tanks too, especially if you’re transporting in a location that can get very cold. Ice in the water tank can cause a lot of damage if it should get dislodged. Holding tanks should also be emptied in order to prevent any spillage. 

Secure All Hatches

All of your hatches and windows should be locked tightly shut. You should also tie down or tape the hatches from the outside.

If you have a fly-bridge window or a protruding windshield, you should remove it and wrap it inside of a blanket. Keep that wrapped windshield somewhere secure inside the cabin.

Remember that hatches can blow off during the transportation process. Simply latching them from the inside won’t be enough to protect your boat. Plus, the weather can always become an issue. 

If your hatches or windows aren’t properly secured, or they’re leaky, the interior of the boat may become damaged should there be a bad bout of rain. 

You should also remove plexiglass windshields since plastic is not good at withstanding powerful wind pressure. 

Remove Canvas Covers

Your bimini tops and canvas covers need to be taken off and stored below. If not, the wind will certainly remove the covers for you. If you don’t remove your covers, then the responsibility falls upon your shoulders.

When it comes to tarps and shrink wrap, these are usually not an issue. Many boat transportation services will happily transport a wrapped boat and will do their best to make sure no tearing occurs. If you plan on wrapping your boat, make sure to first speak with your boat transportation company and learn what their policy is. 

If your wrap becomes irreparably damaged, the driver will most likely remove the entire thing. This way, the tarp doesn’t constantly thrash against the side of your ship. 

Understand What’s Needed When it Comes to Shipping a Boat

There’s plenty of preparation that needs to be taken when shipping a boat. But that preparation is worth it when considering the alternative can be a lot worse. 

Be sure to first speak with your boat transportation service and see what they recommend and require beforehand. 

And if you’re not confident in your boat prepping abilities, don’t worry. You can likely find a qualified boatyard in your area who will prepare the vessel for you. For a price of course.

Either way, a well-prepped ship should have a reliable and fast boat transportation company to move it. If you’re looking to move your boat, contact us today for a free quote!