One of the biggest concerns in owning a boat is figuring out how to get it from point A to point B, and everywhere in between. When you purchase a boat, as well as when you need to transport it to and from the water, you’ll find yourself researching the best ways to get the job done. Fortunately, We do have a few different options when it comes to transporting your boat, depending on the size of your vessel, where it is going, and how you intend to get it there.
Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about boat transport, including shipping, trailering, and even helpful tips for boat transport that will ensure that your move goes off without a hitch every single time.

Ways to Transport a Boat

There are plenty of different options for transporting your vessel, depending on its size, where you’re taking it, and how far the journey will be. Typically, the three main options you have will be trailering your boat yourself, hiring a delivery captain (for on-the-water shipping) or shipping your boat with a professional boat shipping company over land or sea. Within those categories, you do have many other specific choices that you can make, but these are typically the two ways that you’ll move your boat across any significant distance of land.
Let’s take a look at each of these options in more detail.

Trailering Your Boat

The most common option for people who are moving a boat is to trailer the vessel to their home, into storage or to the water. Many boaters purchase a trailer with their boat in order to ensure that they can always get the boat where they need it to go. If you happen to live near the water or don’t need a trailer on a regular basis, you may be able to hold off on buying a trailer one until it’s absolutely necessary.

Another option is to rent a trailer or hire a trailering service that can move your boat for you when you need it to be moved. It can be costly to hire transport services, of course, so you’ll need to compare your options to make the best moves when you have a boat that is trailerable.

What is a “trailerable” boat?

A trailerable boat is any vessel that is able to be transported on a trailer that is hauled by a passenger car or truck on public roadways. Most boats that are 35 feet and under are considered trailerable. However, this can vary significantly based on the width (beam), height (air draft) and weight (dry weight) of the vessel. Trailering options for boats all the way up to 60 feet are possible, although once you get over roughly 13 feet wide, you’re verging on tricky territory when it comes to various state transportation rules regarding oversized loads.

For example, a 34-foot center console would usually be considered a trailerable boat, but a 34-foot catamaran may have a wide enough beam that it prevents the vessel from fitting within the width of standard lanes on most public roads. Additionally, if the mast cannot be lowered, the air draft may be too high to fit under most bridges. In such a case, delivery would likely require a professional boat shipping company. If a boat is transported on anything larger than a passenger vehicle or truck, it is not considered to be “trailerable” – such as if it has to be shipped on a semi or flatbed truck.

Hiring A Delivery Captain

There are also for-hire boat delivery captains who specialize in delivering boats on-the-water for owners who don’t have the time or ability to sail or motor their own vessel to its intended destination. This is a common practice on both the East and West coast of the United States, where seasoned captains will take an owner’s boat down the coast or via inland waterways, such as the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), navigating bridges and locks and safely delivering the boat to its harbor. Finding the right delivery captain can be a tricky process but yacht brokerages can often help with sourcing a qualified captain for such a purpose. Asking around at any decent marina is also a good way to find captains who may specialize in this area. Keep in mind that experience is key when interviewing potential delivery captains, and make sure they have a USCG license and are covered by insurance.

Shipping Your Boat

If for some reason, you are looking to ship your new or used boat a longer distance, there are some things that you need to consider. You can certainly ship a boat across the country, or even around the world, but it must be done with safety in mind. Make sure that you contact a reputable shipping company that understands proper regulations for the type and size of vessel that you are transporting. You should check their references to ensure that they are worth the investment, and make sure that the shipping company truly has your best interests in mind. Remember that boat hauling quotes can range greatly in price so do your research before buying a boat you may not be able to afford to ship.

You can also ship a boat overseas, thanks to larger cargo ships that can transport these vessels anywhere in the world (often called yacht shuttles). If trailering or towing a boat isn’t the best option, this might be worth checking into. Keep in mind that shipping something as large as a boat could get quite costly, with some people spending tens of thousands of dollars to ship a boat across the country or overseas, and similar amounts to ship a vessel wherever else it needs to go. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to simplify the process and reduce your expenses.

Boat Transport Tips

Although you’ve already read a lot of helpful information about how to transport your boat, here are some quick and easy tips to keep in mind to help you get your boat where it needs to go, no matter how it has to get there.

  • Height restrictions when trailering a boat are 13 feet, six inches (13’6”). Anything taller than this will need to be removed for overland transport before it can be transported.

  • You’ll need to empty all fuel, waste, and water tanks, as well as any other fluids. Disconnect the battery and secure the terminals so that there are no accidental connections in transit.

  • Make sure that all of your accessories and gear, as well as any windows, doors, and hatches on your boat are secure prior to transport. This will ensure that you avoid any damage in transit, no matter how you are moving your vessel.

  • Take pictures of your boat before you load it for shipping or transport. Then, take pictures of it on the trailer or at the last point where you see it before the move takes place. That way, if something does happen during the shipping process, you will have proof of the boat’s original condition. The other reason photos are helpful is for when you have to disassemble and reassemble certain parts during the move.

  • Make sure any delivery captain you hire has a USCG license and has experience delivering boats.

Wrapping Up

While long distance and oversea boat transport can be complicated, expensive endeavors, shipping a boat on land isn’t as big of a challenge as some people assume. It also doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. If you keep the information in this transport guide in mind, moving a boat can be simpler than you expected. Just remember that you are going to see some road dirt and travel wear on your vessel and that if you don’t prepare the boat for shipping, any damage is your responsibility. Finally, make sure that you know whatever shipping or overland transport rules and laws that apply to your situation when moving your boat so that you can ensure that you’re doing everything by the book for the best results.


How much does it cost to transport a boat?

Factors include the height, width and weight of the vessel and the necessary equipment and services for safely transporting it. Roughly between $1-$3 per mile could be considered the average cost of boat transport under 1,000 miles, but for greater distances and more complex requirements, the cost could easily exceed $5 per mile.

How much does it cost to ship a boat across the Atlantic?

As one might imagine, it can be quite expensive to ship a boat across the Atlantic, easily costing tens of thousands of dollars. For a larger yacht that requires specialized yacht shipping services on a “yacht shuttle” (a large commercial vessel designed specifically to transport big yachts long distances) the price may exceed $100,000 USD, perhaps even upwards of $200-300K.