How to Move and Ship Your Boat

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How to Move a Boat

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Moving is usually a difficult process, but when you have a large, expensive, and fragile possession like a boat, things get even more complicated. Boats are one of the most difficult and expensive things that you can move. There is a lot of risk associated with shipping a boat over land. With such an expensive possession's safety at stake, it is best to be fully prepared for what you'll face when moving your boat.


Shipping a boat is a large project and if you want it to go smoothly, it takes a great deal of preparation before your planned moving day. You need to decide that you are indeed going to move your boat well before the date of the move. You're going to have to clean and prepare your boat and find and contact specialty boat movers. Even if you think you have the necessary equipment, a DIY boat move is inadvisable since so much can go wrong so easily with such a large and fragile object. A full service, fully insured boat moving company is always recommended. 

Clean your boat: Cleaning your boat is the first step of the preparation process. Pour hot fresh water all over the boat's exterior. You can use soap and a scrub brush, but choose environmentally friendly cleaning agents because you are likely going to spill some soap in the water if you boat is still floating while you are cleaning it.

TIP: "Marine soap" is specifically designed to be environmentally friendly boat cleaner. You can also use a vinegar and water solution to clean windows of your boat without using harmful chemicals.

Pay special attention to the areas where salt water residue can build up, like around an outboard motor, for example. Be sure to use a light brush that won't harm the boat's finish. If you can clean the boat during the early stages of the moving process, you'll have access to the lower areas of the boat that are normally submerged. Remove any barnacles on the hull of the boat and be wary of other organisms like muscles that could potentially get inside your boat's machinery and clog up the works.

Inspect your boat: Like any expensive item that is being prepared for moving, it is a good idea to inspect and document the condition of your boat before it is shipped. Make sure everything is running smoothly and that the motor is tuned up if it has one. Take pictures of your boat noting any preexisting damage it may have had before the moving process. This is very important for insurance claims if the boat is damaged during transport.

Make sure there is no water in any part of your boat before it is shipped. Dry off the deck and exterior. You also need to make sure there is no water in the air conditioning system, the pumps, or the water systems.

Remove everything possible from your boat: No loose articles should be on your boat as you are preparing to move it. That means any personal items or clutter should be removed from the deck and interior of the boat. Anything removable or lose on the boat should also be removed. This may include:
  • Anchors
  • Antennas
  • Propellers
  • Outriggers
  • Flagstaffs
  • Depth sounders
  • Removable screens/windows
  • Seat cushions
  • Radar equipment
  • Removable radios

Finding boat moving services

Even though you can do some preparation ahead of time, it is a good idea to find a boat moving service as quickly as possible. You can plan to be present when they remove your boat from the water so you can clean and inspect your boat as you see fit. Some services will do quite a bit of the preparation process for you, but it will add more cost to an already expensive venture.

You can search for boat movers on sites like this. Be wary of false reviews, however. Always looks for at least three different companies with three different estimates for moving your boat. The process is very expensive, so it pays to be diligent. You also want to make sure the company offers a good insurance plan.

If you have any friends or family who have moved boats, be sure to ask them if they can refer any good boat moving companies.
The moving companies will charge you based on the size and weight of your boat and the distance that the boat needs to be moved.

It is likely your boat will be moved in an open air trailer. You may need to winterize your boat or cover it with a boat wrap to avoid damaging your boat in transit. Wooden boats usually need special cradles to avoid damaging their frames. International boat moves involve open or closed trailer containers being parked in a cargo deck. Like any vehicle shipping, the more enclosed and protected your boat is, the more expensive the service will be.

Be sure to ask the boat moving company any questions you may have about the specifics of the moving process and insurance. There are always additional levels of insurance and practical precautions you can take at additional costs. Once you and the moving company come to an agreement, you're ready to move your boat. Happy sailing at your new location!

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on July 15, 2014 - Moving Expert
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