Boat Shipping

Boat Shipping 101 | Shiplux


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The joys of owning a boat are infinite—you can enjoy time with family and friends exploring endless waters in exciting locations.

Of course, if you want to visit some of the fabulous boating destinations in the US, you have to think about how to move your boat for your next adventure. That’s where hiring a boat transport service comes in.

Can I Haul My Boat Myself?

Whether or not you can haul your boat with personal equipment depends on the size of the boat. Generally, if the boat is no wider than 8 ft. 6 in. and less than 12 ft. high, it is legal for you to tow your boat. However, there are variations in different states, including some permit requirements, so do your research if you will be leaving your state of residence.

The other concern is if you have the proper equipment to move your boat safely. Most light boat trailers are intended for short trips and therefore not designed to withstand the excess wear and tear needed to move a boat across the country. Things to think about when it comes to equipment:

  • Hauling Vehicle: You’ll need a 4-wheel drive truck or SUV capable of hauling. Your vehicle will get wet when you back a trailer and boat into the water, which can cause wear and tear, especially with saltwater. While maneuvering the boat and trailer into the water, it is also possible that your vehicle could get stuck.
  • Trailer: It’s essential to have the right trailer for your boat. If your boat is less than 20 feet long, lightweight, and you won’t be hauling it long-distance, a single-axle boat trailer should do the job. Longer or heavier boats may require a double axle trailer, which are more expensive.
  • Protecting the Boat: The snap-on cover that you might use to protect the boat when in storage may not be enough in the face of high winds on the highway kicking up road debris to prevent dings or scratches. Ask your shipping logistics specialists if there are enclosed trailers that will fit your boat if retaining a mint condition exterior is important to you.

Boat trailers can be difficult to maneuver, especially if it’s new to you. The terrain can add to the challenge. However, if you have the right equipment, a short distance, andthe confidence that you can load and unload the boat, you can haul it yourself.

No matter the size of your boat, the easiest solution to the move is to hire boat transport professionals. They’ll arrange the logistics and take care of all the heavy lifting so you can just focus on the adventures you’ll have in the open waters ahead.

Ship Using Your Boat Trailer

When hiring a boat transport company, you can have them use your own trailer or provide the necessary equipment. Wooden boats should be transported in their own custom cradles, designed to spread the weight of the boat evenly.

Keep in mind that when using your own trailer, you may be fully responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of your trailer not being fit for transport. (Talk with a shipping specialist for details.) Inspect your trailer thoroughly, including brakes, tires, and lights.

Ship Using the Carrier’s Boat Trailer

The advantage to using trailers provided by the company is that they know the best needs for any boat. The best boat transport service will have access to trailers that can adjust to accommodate various types of vessels. Some may even offer to provide a custom trailer if one is available.

Beyond the Trailer: Boat Transport Logistics Boat Dimensions

Standard-sized boats are up to 40’ long, 7’10” high, and 7’8” wide. Boats this size can be transported by an enclosed container for ultimate protection.

If your boat is oversize—more than 8.6 feet wide or more than 12 feet high—will require an oversize load permit and a specialized trailer. A boat over 12 feet wide will need a certified escort, and interstate travel might be restricted. That’s where experienced professionals come in. They know the specific requirements and can help with all the details.

There is much more to moving a boat than just loading it on and off a trailer. Professional transport companies are familiar with the complexities of moving all types of vehicles.

Permits and Insurance
Every state, and sometimes every county, has different requirements for transporting oversized loads—and that includes boats. An experienced transport company will save you headaches from having to wade through these permits, regulations, and insurance requirements.

International/Overseas Shipping
If you are looking to ship your boat over the ocean, there are lots of options, including:

  • Roll-on-Roll-off (RO/RO) shipping
  • Flat racks for oversize shipping
  • Submersion (where the watercraft is loaded directly from the water)

Experienced shipping professionals will be able to guide you to the form best suited for your boat, and which will provide the most protection.

Preparing Your Boat for Shipping
While your transport company may not do this for you, the good ones will provide you with guidance on what you need to do to ensure that your boat arrives shipshape and sound.

Premium Service with ShipLux means that we will be with you on every step of the journey, including helping you keep track of the preparation details.

Here’s a little graphic to help you prepare, but always check with your carrier to ensure you have done everything they require.

boat shipping preparation checklist


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In addition, you may choose to shrink wrap your boat for added protection.

Proper Loading
Boats must be supported at specific points along the hull. The professionals will understand how a boat needs to be supported, stabilized, balanced, and secured.

Zebra Mussel Inspections
Add this to your preparation checklist, as there will be inspections for invasive zebra mussels as points throughout transport. While the drivers will deal with DOT inspections, your boat will be held in quarantine if zebra mussels are found, adding delays and added expense.

How Much Will this Cost?

As with any shipping, there’s never one answer for this, as costs for shipping include a variety of factors, including:

  • Boat Dimensions: larger and heavier boats will cost more to ship.  
  • Distance: longer distances require more gas, tolls, and possibly permits
  • Shipping Type: enclosed shipping costs more than open shipping; however it is worth it to protect your standard-sized boat

The best way to ensure you get the best service and the best price (remember: less expensive doesn’t always equal better service) is to get quotes from various boat shippers, providing them with all the specifics they need to know.

Ship Your Boat with ShipLux

With ShipLux, you’ll have a dedicated agent to manage every aspect of your boat transport. Planning the route, securing the permits, and selecting the best options to get your boat delivered on time and hassle-free are all included when you book with us.

With our extensive network of carriers, we have the trailer to ship any boat, regardless of weight or the dimensions. We can place your smaller boat in an enclosed trailer or on a flatbed. With our price transparency, we provide you with you an accurate breakdown of costs, and no hidden fees including things like permits.

Contact ShipLux today for a quote, and let’s get you on the water!


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