Maybe you’ve moved cross-country, maybe you purchased a boat from afar, or maybe you just want to splurge and ship your boat to a distant location so you have it on a special vacation. Whatever the reason, shipping your boat requires some special consideration. Here are five important things you need to know, before turning Mom’s Mink over to the shipping company.

shipping boat

Shipping your boat shouldn't be a difficult experience, as long as you keep a few things in mind.

Picture Perfect

In the unlikely event your boat gets damaged in transit, you’ll need to be aware of—and have documentation of—the condition of the boat before shipping it. Taking and keeping photographs will help with any potential claims that come up. Photos can also be a help if any post-transport reassembly is necessary. Be sure to clean the boat before taking photos of the exterior, and take pictures from multiple angles of all parts of the boat to document its general condition.

Security Check

Stuff can move around during shipment, and it’s your responsibility to make sure all the boat’s gear and accessories are secured. Also be sure to dog down hatches and secure doors (by tying or taping them if necessary). If they leak, seal them to avoid water damage. Cabin windows also need to be latched and taped from the outside.

When it comes to large, heavy items (like a tender or PWC), strap it down and make sure it’s well-padded. Remember: in many cases damage or loss of external items which aren’t a part of the boat itself are not the service provider's responsibility.

The Drain Game

Fuel, water, and waste tanks will need to be emptied before transportation, and all drain plugs should be removed from the hull. When shipping during the winter, all water systems, pumps, and air conditioners need to be drained.

But liquids aren’t the only thing you need to drain down. The boat’s power system also need to be removed from the shipping equation; disconnect the battery(s) and secure the cables away from the terminals to prevent accidental contact.

Tall Orders

Thirteen feet, six inches is a magic number when it comes to overland transportation. If your boat has a tower, arch, pulpit, or bridge that will be any taller than this once the boat is on its trailer, it will need to be removed. It also has to be secured to the boat, and protected with padding.

That’ll get you down the road. It’s also wise to check in with your boat’s destination, whether it’s a marina, storage facility, or private property, and make sure there won’t be any clearance issues upon arrival.


These boats are ready for safe travel, but since they aren't shrink-wrapped (the owner's responsibility) one must expect some road grime at the end of the trip.

Great Expectations

You can expect a reputable shipper to take care with your pride and joy, but your boat will be exposed to strong winds, bumps in the road, and unpredictable weather. You need to expect it to arrive with normal travel wear and road dirt. Remember that any damage caused by a failure to properly prepare the boat, including coverings or shrink wrap, will not be covered by the service provider.

If you’re shipping a yacht or need to ship internationally, be sure to read Shipping Options: How to Get Your Boat Where You Want It on YachtWorld.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.