How to Prepare Your Boat for Transport
Preparing a boat for transport requires planning and attention to detail, both from the boat's owner and the transport companies involved. While preparation of the vessel itself is the responsibility of the boat's owner, there is often the need to get marina or boatyard personnel engaged in the preparation process if the boat is being prepared on their property. Alternatively, you can transport a boat 'as is,' but the carrier is not responsible for any damage due to incorrect preparation. In the best-case scenario, the boat transport company that you pick to help get your boat to a new location will have experience working with the DOT, permit agencies, boatyards, ports, and marinas. In many cases, boat haulers are instructed not to move loads if they regard the situation as unsafe, which is why it's crucial to adequately prepare your boat for transport to avoid unnecessary and costly delays.
Besides paying extra for the unnecessary delay, a boat that hasn't been adequately prepared in time can cause costly time delays. It will not only likely have an impact on your boat's end destination delivery time, but it also has a knock-on effect on the boat transportation company's schedule to handle other deliveries.
Step 1: Measure Your Boat Before Transport
One essential preparation task before transporting a boat is to ensure that you have accurate measurements to pass along when completing a boat transfer quote. When requesting a quote, dimensions are incredibly important, as this helps the chosen haulers accurately quote for and provide equipment that can safely handle the boat's size.
Critical measurements include:
- Overall length
- Overall height
- Overall width
When it comes to measuring the overall length, don't forget to include bow pulpits, platforms, outboard motors, and motor brackets. Measure from the tip of the tongue to the end of the engine. As the maximum height of some overpasses is 13'6", and oversized transport regulations require deliveries to fall below a specific size, height is an essential measurement. Large yachts often need wide-belly low-boy trailers, and pole cars may also be required to escort the equipment. Height measurements should include a measure from the bottom of the keel to the highest non-removable section, and total standing height is calculated from the draft plus clearance.
Depending on your model, you may need to have the bridge removed; measure without including the bridge, and provide bridge dimensions to secure appropriate transport. Measure your boat at its widest point, including attachments, to get a suitable width measurement for the transport company.
Loading and unloading process for step deck trailers is much safer for everybody involved.
Step 2: Secure All Belongings Before Boat Transport
Some essential preparations to make before the boat transport truck arrives on-site at the promised time include:
- Secure electronics. You can store these in the cabin with all doors, windows, and access points locked. Alternatively, arrange to ship them separately.
- Secure anchors, propellers, and other moveable objects. Any items that extend beyond the previously stated dimensions of your vessel needs to be adequately secured to prevent unwanted movement during transit.
- Secure canvas, cushions, and screens below. To prevent unwanted movement and potential loss during transport, store these items in the cabin to avoid unnecessary exposure and damage to or caused by these items.
- Secure dinghies, if present. Dingies cannot be transported on their davits. They should either be stored inside the cabin or padded and lashed inside the cockpit.
- Remove exterior electronics, horns, lights, windshields, etc. Anything that must be removed should be packed securely packed in cargo blankets and stored below; carriers are not responsible if these items are lost in transit.
- Lock everything! All interior items should be battened down securely, and all locker doors should be locked. Items left onboard should be lashed down. As the driver won't have the key to the cabin, anything that becomes loose during transit cannot be re-secured.
- Seal hatches with tape. This prevents wind-driven water from entering the boat—also, secure latches to prevent them from coming undone during transit.
You should also check drain plugs. While a boat is being transported, there should be no water in the bilge. Make sure the fuel tank is not more than a quarter full. If transporting during winter, all water should be drained from pumps, air conditioners, and water systems.
Step 3: Check for Zebra Mussels Before Departure
If you're moving your boat from a state infested with Zebra mussels, make sure you're not transporting any with you to your new destination if traveling out of state. Thoroughly inspect intake strainers, through-hull fits, scuppers, outdrives, and other possible attachment areas. If Zebra mussels are found at a weigh station, your boat will be seized by DOT, and hot water removal will be required to rid the vessel of attached mussels.
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