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Boat being shipped

Boat shipping is a breeze when you know the ropes. Every year, 100 million Americans set sail for adventure, showing that the love for boating is vast. But transporting your boat is more than just trailering it across the country.

Back in 2020, boat sales surged to a 13-year high. Since 95% of these vessels are under 26 feet, it’s common to see boats being towed on highways. But for those longer journeys or when you don’t have a trailer, that’s where boat shipping services come into play.

Thinking of boat ownership? Maybe you’re looking to transport your watercraft? Check out our essential guide, 6 Top Tips From the Pros, for seamless sailing. Here, we dock into the details of boat shipping. With Nationwide Auto Transportation, you can chart a course for safe and efficient delivery to your favorite marina or dock. Welcome aboard for an easy ride to your aquatic destination!

When Would I Need Boat Transport?

Owning a boat would be a great start as to why you may want to ship it across the United States, and to help you get on an even keel when buying your first boat, our blog Buy a Boat with This Handy Guide for First-Time Boat Owners, is a must read.

When would I need boat shipping? That’s a question that is really not that uncommon.

People ship boats across the country or internationally for a variety of reasons, and most boat owners ship their vessels at least once. To prepare you in the event that you may need boat shipping, we take a look at the primary reasons and situations where you, as a boat owner, may require boat transport to get your vessel from Point A to Point B.

  • Weather – For people who wish to escape the severe weather, harsh snowstorms, and frozen water in winter, boat transport is the perfect choice. Rather than just listening to Rod Stewart sing, you could be the one who is sailing on your boat all winter long. Your boat can be shipped down south for all vacations. Nationwide Auto Transportation Boat Shipping might just be the perfect boat carrier for the job. Now you can be on board your vessel for the whole year, minus a couple of days while your craft is shipped to its new destination.

Moving and relocating

  • Relocation and moving – This is a major reason for boat shipping. Moving is recognized as one of the  most stressful undertakings for most people. Add in a huge boat that needs to move, with all your other belongings, vehicles and trailers etc., from one town, state, or even country, to another, and you instantly move up a few levels on the stress-o-meter. But guess what? Your worries are over because of reliable auto carriers like Nationwide Auto Transportation. Shipping your precious craft safely is our primary concern. We can also help with any other vehicles you might need to get to your new home, or boating destination. Get a Free No obligation quote right here!

Nationwide Auto Transportation are Boat Shipping Experts

  • Maintenance – Custom-designed boats require maintenance services that may not be available to you locally, and your schedule might just be so crazy that even if your local boat shop could sort out your problem, you just cannot seem to find the time. This is where Nationwide Auto Transportation comes to the rescue. Schedule your maintenance and we will get your vessel safely there, and back, and in time for your wife to try out that new bikini she’s planning on getting.
  • Buying or Selling – It stands to reason that if you have either bought or sold a boat, you more than likely will need the services of a boat shipping company. Boat transportation companies have suitable tools and equipment to transport your boat safely, no matter how it is being shipped.

In the next section we look at different boat shipping methods, and you will learn that in boat transportation, size really does matter.

Looking for more insights? Read our comprehensive blog for expert advice, tips, and the latest trends in vehicle shipping. Whether it’s boat, car, or RV transport, find everything you need to know!

boat shipping

How are They Shipped? | 4 Different Methods

You have finally made the commitment and bought a boat. Lucky for you, you read our blog post Buy a Boat with This Handy Guide for First-Time Boat Owners and saved yourself some dollars and stress.

Now you need to get your B-Yacht’ch back to your home waters, so the two of you can start having some aqualiscious fun. So, How DO you ship a boat?

It may sound super difficult, and it could be if you are a novice, or you partner with a sub-par auto shipping company. Nationwide Auto Transportation are professionals with 16+ years of experience. Our professional staff will assist you and help you choose the right option to get your Yeah Buoy on the water.

Depending on the size of the boat, there are usually four ways of boat transportation:

  • Trailering a boat
  • Using a professional boat hauler to move a boat on land
  • A boat can be sailed on its own bottom
  • Yacht transport ships for shipping boats
boat shipping

Own Trailer

When you buy a boat-motor-trailer package, you may be able to take care of the delivery all by yourself for nothing more than the cost of fuel… and your own time (and a few other things…).

That means you’ll need your own tow vehicle to haul the load, and if you don’t have one, you would have to hire one. If you are reading this post, and you happen to be in the military, our post PCS Move: Your Ultimate Guide for a Simple Military Relocation will make for some informative reading.

Over Land

It is most common for boats to be shipped over land, and many boats with trailers are loaded on a flatbed or a large multi-boat trailer for delivery. While boat shipping down the highway is popular and preferred, there are a number of very specific restrictions. A boat that is shipped over land must:

  1. Not to exceed 12 feet in width
  2. Be no taller than 13’6”
  3. Ensure the loading and unloading area has at least 14’0” of overhead clearance, prior to pick up, and it is required that your boat is ready on the arranged time.

If your watercraft meets these requirements, a professional auto carrier like Nationwide Auto Transportation, can safely deliver it over land. To get an idea of what shipping might cost you, our Free Quote is ideal.

boat transportation overland

Bottoms Up – Boat Transportation on Your Own Keel

If you are in the super fortunate position where you could take a week or three to adventure your new nautical purchase down the coast back home, you are envied by millions, my friend. Most of us mere mortal boat owners just do not have the means and time to take a fun fortnight escapade.

People with an annual income of $75,000 or less make up 61% of our country’s boaters, meaning more often than not boats shipped on their own bottom are delivered by a professional skipper. Large boats and yachts may require additional crew.

This method of boat transport does require some special considerations. 

Purchasing special insurance, providing provisions and/or accommodations for the crew, and in some cases, paying the captain and crew to fly home after the delivery, may be required.

You must also be prepared for unpredictable weather, mechanical issues, or other factors that may cause delays in this type of delivery. Having a contingency plan in place is essential in case your boat and crew are stranded due to a hurricane.

boat transport

Boat Shipping on a Yacht Transport Ship

For very large boats or yachts traveling long distances or overseas, a yacht transport ship may be the best option. As one may expect, such cases are comparatively rare, as well as significantly more expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars are often involved. There are companies that specialize in reserving space on ships and handling all the paperwork and logistics involved.

Despite the apparent simplicity of boat shipping, only professionals can anticipate the possible risks that weather and road conditions pose. Your insurance policy will not cover boat shipping unless it is done by a company that carries the proper insurance, Motor Carrier Authority and Department of Transportation registration.

So even if Tony from the club (Tony has towed boats from here to Timbuktu, he says) can tow your precious floating investment, it might not be the move a wise wo/man would make.

Regardless of how big or small your boat is, one of these options is right for you. Remember, when you own a boat, you don’t need therapy.

boat transport

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Boat?

Boat shipping can vary in cost, and it’s important to keep up with the latest figures. In 2024, if you’re moving a vessel that’s less than 9 feet, expect to pay between $1.50 and $2.50 per mile. For boats up to 12 feet, the price can range from $2.50 to $3.50 per mile. And for those majestic vessels greater than 12 feet, the rates are generally between $2.75 and $3.75 per mile​​​​​​.

Let’s put that into perspective: shipping a 9-foot boat for 1,000 miles could cost between $1,500 and $2,500. And for a 12-foot boat covering the same distance, you’re looking at about $2,500 to $3,500. Keep in mind, these are just estimates, and actual costs can change based on a variety of factors, like the pickup and delivery locations, the season, and the specific shipping company you choose​​.

For an accurate and up-to-date quote on boat shipping, it’s best to reach out directly to trusted transporters like Nationwide Auto Transportation. They can provide detailed pricing based on your boat’s specifications and the journey it needs to take. Plus, with potential discounts for multiple boat shipments or off-peak season bookings, you might find that shipping your boat is more affordable than you think.

Here’s an updated table with facts and figures that readers interested in boat shipping costs might find useful:

Boat SizeCost Range per MileAdditional Notes
Less than 9 ft$1.50 – $2.50Ideal for short-distance shipping; costs may increase with remote pickup/drop-off locations.
9 to 12 ft$2.50 – $3.50Most common size for recreational boats; widely available shipping options.
Greater than 12 ft$2.75 – $3.75Larger boats may incur higher costs due to permits, pilotage, and tug fees.
20 to 30 ft$3.00 – $5.00Medium-sized boats; price varies with season and company.
Over 30 ft$4.00 – $6.00May require specialized shipping methods such as flatbed trucks or sea transportation.
Yachts & Large VesselsQuote-basedTransport methods include crew shipping, container shipping, or flatbed, often exceeding $20,000 for large yachts.

Additional Information:

  • Seasonal fluctuations can affect pricing, with higher costs during peak boating seasons.
  • The type of transport (open trailer, flatbed, container, etc.) also impacts the cost.
  • Insurance is typically 1% to 3% of the boat’s value and is an essential add-on for transport.
  • Additional services like preparation, packing, and door-to-door delivery will increase the overall cost.

Please note, these are estimated ranges and the actual cost can vary based on a multitude of factors. It’s always recommended to get quotes from multiple boat shipping companies to find the best deal that suits your needs.

Nationwide Auto Transportation Tip: Make sure you have the correct measurements of your boat, as well as the distance it will travel, before contacting a transport company.

Boat Shipping Requires Planning

Boat transportation should be approached as if going to war. And by that I don’t mean you find a clandestine little group from the South to transport your boat… It’s just that when it comes to boat shipping, the old adage of failing to plan, is planning to fail, really applies perfectly.

Start making a detailed ‘war’ plan well ahead of time. Your desired outcome is to get your Unsinkable 2, from A to B, and in the same state and condition as when she started her journey.

Boat shipping requires a detailed and careful approach. It is possible for the boatyard professionals to handle your move and take care of everything. It should be kept in mind, however, that in the event your boat is not prepared as required, it will be shipped “as-is”, which means the auto carrier won’t be responsible for damage during transit.

You Need a Reliable and Reputable Boat Shipping Company


You should approach the search for a boat shipping company in the same way you would if you were looking for a moving company. Compare at least three quotes from different companies. Boat shipping companies are often harder to find than moving companies in general, so finding the right one can be a humdrum process.

In order to ensure that you’re getting the best services possible, ask whether the driver and crew know all of the tricks of the trade of boat transport.  Pick a company that has experience working with DOT, boatyards, ports, and permit agencies. Having this experience ensures that the boat is shipped properly and on time. Nationwide Auto Transportation has this experience. Get your Free Quote now.

Before moving the boat, the owner should prepare it. You’ll need to take measurements of the height and width, which the shipper needs to obtain a trailer of the correct size.

How to Properly Prepare Your Boat for Transport

It is very important to prepare your boat for transportation before moving it. Remove all personal items and anything else that could cause damage to the boat during the move. A few examples include:

  • Things of value
  • Antennas
  • Navigation and Fish Finding Equipment
  • The anchors
  • Outriggers
  • Covers for couches or cushions
  • The screens
  • Window glass
  • Items related to electronics
  • Flagpoles/staffs
  • Propellers

This is where you might need to use a little elbow grease to empty your boat, inside and out, before the boat transport carrier arrives. Also, make sure there is no water anywhere on or in the boat, including in pumps, air conditioners, and water systems.

  • Keep no more than a fourth of the gas tank full when moving
  • Tie or tape any hatches closed and secure
  • Lock and tape the windows of the cabin from the outside
  • Lock any doors or hatches that need to be secured, and keep your keys on hand at all times
  • Make sure the movers have a spare set in case they need to access the boat’s interior
  • If you’re loading at a marina or boatyard, make sure there is at least 14′ of clearance
  • Ensure all water systems, pumps, and air conditioners are drained and plugs are removed from the hull
  • To prevent contact, disconnect batteries and secure cables away from them
  • Do not leave any valuables on the deck – pad and secure what you can inside the cabin
  • Make sure any large objects, like a dinghy, are well-padded on board

How to Protect Your Boat During Transportation

If you plan to move your boat during the winter, you’ll need to winterize the exterior of the boat. A plastic covering or boat wrap can also be purchased to protect it from the elements during the move. Despite being more expensive, shrink wrapping your boat will protect it from rain, hail, freezing rain, snow, dust, dirt, and bird droppings.

Before moving your boat, conduct a thorough inspection of the entire vessel to ensure that everything is in good condition.

Cleaning your boat with hot water before moving is essential, as is maintaining it to code. You run the risk of your boat being seized by DOT officers if you don’t.

You can remove all the risk by letting Nationwide Auto Transportation do the hard work of getting your precious Main Mistress back to her berth.

Boat Transport has Style

It is suggested that wooden boats be carried on their own custom cradles. This balances out any structural weaknesses. A liability release may also be required.

If you are moving a power boat or speed boat, check that the boat’s windshield is durable enough to withstand any strong winds it is likely to encounter while moving. You should check that all the seals and screws are tight.

If you are moving your boat internationally, there are three different types of trailers you can use:

  1. The roll-on/roll-off trailer
  2. Closed container
  3. The flat rack and submersible container

Don’t forget to

  • Before pics. Taking pictures of your boat before your move will help you if it is damaged in transit. A photo will serve as proof that your boat was undamaged before the move.
  • Documents related to moving should be filed safely. You will need to provide your bill of lading, your insurance coverage policy, and any pictures you have taken of the boat as proof of insurance.
  • Know your dimensions before contacting a boat shipper. It will be the first thing they ask you. Measure the length of your boat from its bow to its stern. Include bow pulpits, swim platforms, motor brackets, and thrusters in the raised position. Overall height: measured from the bottom of the keel to the highest permanent part of the boat. The beam of a boat is measured from the widest part to the rub rail.

The “and Then Some” We Mentioned in the Heading

Let’s get into the details beyond just the basics for your boat shipping prep.

  • First off, check when your marina or boatyard is open for business. Knowing their hours is key, but catching their cut-off times is even more critical. And let’s talk equipment – does your spot have a travel lift or a forklift ready to go with straps?
  • Next, nail down your vessel’s weight, especially if you’re going to need a forklift. And think big – will there be enough room for a 75-foot rig during the load or offload?
  • Communication is everything. Your transporter needs a direct line to someone at the yard to sidestep any hold-ups. Ask the yard crew about any potential snags like height restrictions, width limits, or unexpected construction sites that could surprise your driver.
  • Don’t forget about the money talk. Find out your marina’s policy on payment for loading and unloading services. Some places won’t lift a finger until those fees are settled.
  • Remember, marinas can be tight on space, so if you’re bringing in a lengthy truck and trailer, every inch counts.
  • Lastly, keep your paperwork in check. Marinas love their documentation, so getting this squared away will help you avoid a sea of trouble later. Smooth sailing comes with careful planning, so make sure you’ve got everything lined up for a hassle-free shipping day.

Request a Free Boat Shipping Quote

Nationwide Auto Transportation Boat Shipping Quote

At Nationwide Auto Transportation, our trucks travel on all major routes several times a week. When you need a spot on a truck, we can get it at an affordable price. Get in touch with one of our boat shipping brokers today.

You can get a free quote from Nationwide Auto Transportation for boat shipping. Let us know the size and weight of your boat, the pick-up and drop-off locations, and the approximate dates, and we’ll give you a free quote.