Boat being shipped on a truck bed.

How To Ship A Boat Across The Country

It’s not everyday a situation arises that would require someone to ship their boat across the country. Maybe you’re moving, or you’ve finally decided to take that long, much needed vacation that you’ve been dreaming about.

In either circumstance, you’re probably going to want your boat. The best way to do this is to have it shipped. Even if you’re driving the entire distance yourself, a boat is too much to haul the whole way.

The price in gas alone is worth having it shipped, especially if you’ve got a big boat. Not to mention, it will free you up to make as many stops as you want, unencumbered by a wide load.

Boat being shipped on a truck bed.
Boat being shipped on a truck bed.


Finding A Shipping Provider

 The company you choose to ship your boat should have a stellar word-of-mouth among past and present clients. It’s important to do your research, and choose a reputable company with extensive knowledge in heavy hauling and shipping boats.

A company who knows what they’re doing will get your boat to its final destination without issues, or you are experiencing any misgivings along the way. Your trip should be fun, so give yourself peace of mind during travel by knowing that your precious cargo is in good hands.

Shipping A Boat Across The Country

 If you’ve found a great shipping company, you won’t have to worry about much. However, it doesn’t hurt to know at least a few of the ins and outs when it comes to the boat shipping process as described on

Normal Wear And Tear

 The shipping company you’ve chosen will undoubtedly take amazing care of your boat, but even the most responsible shipper has no control over the elements. While out on the road, things like bumps, construction, potholes, wind, and other weather have to be expected.

You boat will probably arrive to you with a little bit of travel and road dirt wear, but absolutely no damage. The boat should have been prepared to travel by the shipping company, including the proper tie downs and coverings. Be sure to know exactly what the company will and will not cover cost wise.

Photo Documentation

It’s unlikely that your boat will suffer any damage during it’s travels, but make sure you document the boat exactly as it is upon departure. Take note of any existing scratches or damages that are your fault.

Also, take photographs from every angle so you have proof of any potential insurance claims that come up. Clean your boat really well before taking the photos, and hang on to them until your boat has arrived in perfect working order.


Before you send your boat off on its way, make sure you’re on the same page with your transport company regarding height. When it comes to heavy hauling and wide loads, the magic number for maximum height is 13’6”.

If your boat has a tower or arch, or anything that will make it taller than 13’6” when it’s loaded, it may have to be removed. Photos will come in handy here again, as they can help with reassembly post delivery.

The shipping company will secure any additional parts to the boat, and protect it with padding. This responsibility may fall on you, so again, get familiar with the shipping policy for the transport company you’ve chosen. Check with the final destination of your vessel as well, to address any clearance issues that might pop up upon delivery.

Items May Have Shifted During Transport

Things can shuffle around during a long shipment, especially across the country, so be sure that all of your gear and any extras that you typically keep in your boat are removed or secured. This will be your responsibility.

You will also have to make sure that every window, door and hatch is secured with tape. Heavier items shipping with your boat, like a jetski, must be strapped down, secured and padded. Damage to external items do not fall to the company. If your jetski were to arrive damaged, it’s all on you.

Drain It Dry

Finally, every fluid must be emptied from your boat before you ship it. Water, fuel and waste tanks must be barren to be eligible to ship. Also, a boat cannot ship with a power system that’s up and running. Disconnect the battery and secure all cables.

This must be done in the winter as well. Transport companies will not ship a boat that hasn’t been drained, so be prepared to take care of it! You can have this professionally done, or you can do it yourself.

The professional route is best, especially if you’re inexperienced.

In Summary

Even if you have a smaller boat, it’s highly recommended to hire a shipping company to care of it over the miles of such a long trip. They will be better equipped to deal with any problems that may arise, and you won’t have to worry about finding places to stop that are wide load friendly.

Before the send off, all shipping preparations should be completed so the process is not delayed. Any possible delays in the shipping of your boat will result in delaying your trip as well. Be ready to roll and educated about the entire process.

A fantastic shipping company will be able to answer every question you have, as well as provide you with a shipping estimate before pick up. It has the possibility to change during transit due to weight, height or distance, but are typically fairly accurate.

When the bulk of the work is done for you, shipping your boat across the country is a breeze. The right people for the job will make sure it’s done correctly and efficiently, and you’ll be enjoying your boat in your new home or vacation spot in no time!





Max Francisco