Preparing Your Boat for Transport
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There is a lot to consider when preparing your boat for transport, whether it’s one you’ve just bought or sold, or you’re just hauling it to store for the off-season. Doing it right is one of the best ways to ensure that your boat, whether it’s a sailboat, powerboat, ski boat or other water craft, arrives at its destination in great shape. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:
Be ready early. Your boat must be prepped for pickup before the transporter arrives. Give yourself plenty of time – it may take more than a day to fully prepare. Bear in mind that the transporter might surprise you with an early pickup for weather or logistics reasons. You want to take your time and not be scrambling at the last minute.
Choose pickup and delivery locations. Pick a marina, boatyard or other pickup location that has a 14-foot clearance so that branches, wires or overhangs do not interfere with a smooth pickup. If you or the other party (if there is one) have not already chosen a delivery location, you can ask the transporter to refer you to one in the destination area. Again, make sure it has a 14-foot clearance.
Take photos. Before dismantling anything on your boat, take photos so that you have something to reference when reassembling the boat after the transport. Clean and inspect your boat's exterior for any damages – make a list and take dated photos of any damages you identify. The transporter will likely do a full assessment with you for your Condition Report, but it is smart to have your own documentation.
Do it right. Transporters are not responsible for damage due to improper travel and loading preparations, so you must either take great care in preparing the boat yourself or hire a qualified boat yard to do so. It is also a good idea to have the boat inspected by a licensed marine surveyor before pickup.
Checklist for basic components
- Remove all personal items from your boat.
- Secure all loose gear above and below deck.
- Close and secure any hatches by tying or taping them. If they leak, seal them to avoid possible water damage.
- Latch cabin windows and tape them from the outside.
- Drain fuel and water tanks (check with your chosen transporter – some say to drain until 1/4 full, others want them completely empty) and remove any drain plugs from the hull.
- Drain all water systems, pumps, air conditioners, etc., of any water, especially during colder months.
- Disconnect batteries, and secure the cables away from them to prevent accidental contact.
- Once everything is secured below, lock the cabin and keep the key during travel.
Checklist for external components
- Remove external accessories and anything protruding past the hull. It must all be securely padded, packed and stored below deck.
- Remove any valuable electronics and anchors from the deck, pad and secure what you can in the cabin. The same goes for any windshield or Plexiglas that protrudes over the flying bridge.
- In the case of something large, such as a dinghy or any superstructure, secure it on board and make sure it is well-padded.
- If your boat has a radar arch or fly-bridge which causes it to load out higher than 13 feet, 6 inches, remove it, pad it and secure it to the boat.
NOTE: Damage or loss of external items do not fall under the transporter’s responsibility, so be sure to properly dismantle and secure everything. Also, transporters cannot be held responsible for damage caused by covers or shrink wrap. Thus, it is best to remove boat covers. Shrink wrap easily rips during travel and can cause damage to your boat, which may outweigh potential benefits.
Be realistic. Expect your boat to arrive with normal travel wear as well as dirt from the road. Be forgiving of minor damage. It is nearly impossible to avoid chafing caused by road vibrations and your boat will be buffeted by stronger winds than it is used to.
Special types of transport -
Sailboat transport. Your mast will be secured to the trailer, not to your boat. Be sure it is secured on carpet at the spots it is tied down, if not completely wrapped in carpet, to help avoid paint scratches. The keel of a sailboat will often give the appearance of some separation from the hull, but keep in mind this is just minor cracking in the paint or sealant. Also keep in mind that some disassembling and rearranging of the sailboat may be necessary to reach the desired traveling height.
International transport. You will need to take extra steps when preparing for international boat transport. Well in advance of pickup, make sure you have all the necessary customs documents for your boat. A transporter with experience in international boat transport will be able to tell you exactly which forms you need and any special precautions to take. Forms do vary by country, so finding a transporter who specializes in boat shipping to that country is ideal.
uShip is a great way to find experienced and reliable boat transporters. uShip is an online shipping marketplace that connects people with customer-reviewed transport companies that can move hard-to-ship items like boats. Transporters place competing bids to win your business, making boat transport more affordable and more efficient. http://www.uship.com/boats