A Guide to Yacht Transport

Sure, there are always a lot of options on the West Coast, but sometimes you just fall in love with a yacht somewhere else. Now, the big question is: How do I get it here? With the right knowledge and preparation, yacht shipping can be simple. 


Compared to traditional methods of transportation, yacht transport is an alternative to sailing and motoring in order to reach more destinations. When deciding to transport your yacht, there are several options carriers can prove to you.

  • Overland Transport: Smaller yachts that only need to be transported smaller distances and domestically will use private or commercial trailers. Once the boat is big enough, commercial trailers are typically chosen. However, transport permits, trailer safety, proper preparation, and insurance coverage will be needed.
  • Deck Cargo: Yachts can be transported on a ship’s deck cargo. They are loaded directly from the shore or from the water via ship or shore cranes. Rigging can be left intact for conventional deck cargo.
  • Container Shipment: Transporting yachts via freight can be done if they meet container sizing restrictions. Usually needing de-rigging, yachts must be within 39 ft. x 7.5 ft. x 9.3ft to use container shipping as an alternative
  • Semi-submersible Ships (SSS): Created to move large project cargoes, semi-submersible ships have been adapted to accommodate yacht shipping.

Depending on size, mobility of the vessel, and dimensions, a yacht can be loaded for transportation in several different ways.

  • Roll on/off: The yacht is towed onto a cradle on the vessel or trailer that will then be parked on the deck. This is the most common yacht transport method.
  • Flat rack This method is suitable for larger yachts that can still be moved by road to the port. The yacht is lifted using a crane or forklift onto the cradle of the flat rack. This solution is generally chosen when roll on/off is unavailable.
  • Lift on/off: This method is for larger yachts that can not be moved via road to port. Instead, lifting slings from the transport vessel must grab the yacht from a parked location alongside the vessel. Divers will then secure the slings to the yacht, and the yacht will be lifted to a cradle on the vessel.
  • Float on/off: For larger yachts or superyachts, this method is the best option. The deck must install keelblocks and supports to attach the yacht to. The vessel will then submerge itself for yachts to be easily loaded on.

Whether you are shipping to another country, to another state, or just to a domestic port, large shipments can end up costing you a lot of money and time. Since yacht transport costs are dependent on quite a few things, it is pertinent that yacht owners be aware of all the factors that can affect final pricing.

  • Size of the yacht
  • Distance it’s moving
  • Destination
  • Seasonality
  • Reputation and relationship with carrier
  • Services needed for a safe shipment and delivery
1. Get Quotes

We suggest you begin the planning process for shipping your yacht at least a month before your ship date. This will give you enough time to research your options on boat trailers, choosing a yacht carrier, shopping for quotes, and how to best prepare your yacht for pickup. For international yacht shipping, you should provide more time for carriers to research quotes and to properly prepare for your yacht during the extended transport.

Consider your time frame and locations for pickup and delivery and specify if your yacht will be on its own trailer or if you’ll need the service providers to get the yacht onto their trailer. Take some high-quality photos of your yacht and be ready with the dimensions, make, and model of your yacht. It is important to gather precise measurements when measuring your yacht to ensure proper transportation and eliminate costly fees. (See notes on how to measure your yacht below). With this information, a yacht transporter can provide a quote for boat shipping that includes licenses and permits. Provide as much detail as possible in the shipment listing so the transporters can provide you their best rates.


The cost of boat and sailboat transportation is partially determined by the measurements of your boat loaded on the trailer, so it is very important that you provide accurate dimensions when hiring a transporter. It’s best to measure your boat even if you have the manufacturing information from the owner’s manual.

  • Overall Length is measured from the tip of the bow to the center of the stern. Include bow pulpits, swim platforms, motor brackets and the length of the motors, or out drives in the raised position.
  • Overall Height is measured from the bottom of the keel to the highest non-removable part of the boat.
  • Beam is measured from the widest point of the boat, including the rub-rail.

If you are looking into sailboat transport, know that sailboats are slightly more complicated to measure, because the sails and boom need to be disassembled to fit height requirements. If you're planning on overland transport, talk with your sailboat transportation service provider about loading, as the keel may conflict with the structure of their trailer.


After you get quotes, talk to the transporters directly. Ask them questions about their experience shipping yachts and what kind of service they can provide. Make sure you check out the transporter's history to see if they have experience shipping a yacht like yours and see the experience their previous customers had with them. By talking to the service providers and reviewing their carrier profiles, you can feel confident you’re choosing the best yacht shipping company.


You should hire your yacht carrier and confirm pickup and drop-off dates at least two weeks in advance. Once you've chosen your yacht transport company, contact them directly with any concerns, questions, or additional details you may have about your shipment. Provide any marina or third-party contact information to your transporter, as clear communication is the key to a successful shipment.

Secure everything down and identify any pre-existing damage before your transporter loads your boat. This will prepare you for the unlikely event that your boat is damaged in transit. If you cannot prepare the boat yourself, you can have a qualified boat yard do so. It is also advised that you have it inspected by a licensed marine surveyor.

You should have your boat prepped for pick-up before the transporter arrives. If possible, be prepped early just in case the transport company needs to come a day early for weather or any other reasons.

Before dismantling anything on your boat, take photos so that you have something to reference when reassembling the boat after the transport. Then, remove all personal items from your boat. Clean your boat’s exterior and inspect for any damages. Make a list of any problems found and take date-stamped photos. The driver you hire will also run an assessment with you for your Condition Report.

Before you hand your yacht over to your movers, make sure you know what to expect from a boat transport service. You can rest assured that if you take the time to prepare your yacht and communicate with your yacht transporter, your vessel will arrive safely at its new destination.

  • Check the marina or boatyard's loading spot clearance, so that branches and wires will not interfere with 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 any possible water damage.
  • Cabin windows also need to be latched and taped from the outside.
  • Drain all fuel and water tanks (some companies say to drain until 1/4 full, others want them completely empty), and remove any drain plugs from the hull.
  • To avoid damage during the winter months, all water systems, pumps, and air conditioners, etc. should be drained of any water.
  • Disconnect batteries, and secure the cables away from it to prevent any contact.

Make accommodations for any special characteristics of your boat. Any external accessories and anything protruding past the hull must be removed, securely padded, packed and stored below. Verify your boat is prepared using the checklist below:

  • 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, they will need to be removed, padded and secured to the boat.
  • Damage or loss of these external items does not fall under the service provider’s responsibility. Once everything is secured below, lock the cabin and keep the key during travel.

Transporters will not be held responsible for any damages caused by your failure to properly prepare the boat, including damage caused by boat coverings or shrink wrap. Consult with your specific transporter for any questions about this. Professional boat transporters will be able to advise you on these matters before transport.

Remember, your boat will be experiencing stronger winds than it is used to, so expect it to arrive with normal travel wear and dirt from the roads.


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. Your mast will be secured to the trailer, not on 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. Be forgiving of paint cracks and wear in these areas; it is close to impossible to avoid them due to the chafing from road vibrations. Also keep in mind that some disassembling and rearranging of the sailboat may be necessary in order to reach the desired traveling height.


If you are transporting a wooden boat, prepare it against drying out by coating it with linseed oil. It is also advisable to transport wooden boats in their own custom cradle, because these are made to spread the boat’s weight properly.


Safety is the number one priority when transporting your boat. It’s also important to be aware of regulations and restrictions you may have to work with when transporting a boat:

  • Height of the boat: We suggest removing some parts to reduce the height of the boat. The greater the height, the greater the chance of the boat being tipped over.
  • Transport boat based on its style: Different types of boats have certain things to look out for when being transported. For example, with power boats and speed boats, it is important to check that windshields are tough enough to withstand strong winds during transport.
  • Insurance: You should make sure the boat is covered during transport. Talk to your insurance company and the transport company to make sure your boat is insured during transit.

Don’t forget to update all of you licenses and tags when your boat arrives at its new location!

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