A Comprehensive Guide to Boat Transport: How Boats are Moved

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated April 10, 2023

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Have you ever wondered what it takes for a boat to be moved from one location to the other? Boat transport can be a daunting task, with numerous methods available to move your vessel from one place to another. Whether you’re moving to a new state, selling your boat, or simply seeking a better storage location, you’ll need to transport your boat.

This post will provide everything you need to know about boat moving, including the different methods of boat transportation and how boats are moved. We’ll also discuss other information that boat owners need to know about boat transport. Let’s dive in!

Methods of Boat Shipping

1. Trailer Transport

Some boat owners consider trailer transport as the most popular and cost-effective method of moving a boat from one location to another. This method requires you to attach your boat to a trailer and haul it via a vehicle like a truck or SUV. Trailer transport is particularly useful for moving boats to the nearest water body or for storage in a marina.

When transporting your boat via a trailer, make sure you have the appropriate licensing and registration, including proper insurance coverage. You should also note the weight and dimensions of your vessel to ensure that it can be safely transported over the highways in the United States.

2. Water Transport

Water transport involves moving your boat using a water body like a lake, canal or river. This method is particularly useful if you want to move your boat to a new location along a waterway. If your boat is large, water transport via barges, ships or cargo vessels may be the most cost-effective transportation method. In contrast, smaller boats can be safely transported via a pontoon boat or any other watercraft.

3. Air Transport

If you need boats moved over a long distance, air transport is the most convenient and fast method. Air transport is not the most cost-effective method, but it saves owners time, effort and potential wear and tear. Air transport requires your boat to be transported via an airplane like a freight plane or cargo plane. However, air transport is not suitable for large boats or yachts because of the size limits of shipping planes.

4. Flatbed Truck Transport

Flatbed truck transport is another method of transporting boats from one location to another. This method requires loading the boat onto the truck bed and hauling it.

Flatbed truck transport is particularly useful for transporting boats with a width or height larger than what can legally be transported over highways. It’s essential to note that this method requires special permits and escorts to ensure driver safety and cargo protection, so it will have additional costs.

How Boats Are Moved

The type of boat and the distance to be traveled will determine the appropriate method of moving the boat. Nevertheless, there are some general steps that every boat-owner should follow when moving a boat.


Preparation is crucial when it comes to boat transport. Proper preparation will ensure the safety of the boat, trailer, and towing vehicle. Ensure you have the right straps or ropes to secure your boat to the trailer or flatbed truck. You should also note the height and width of your boat and trailer to ensure it’s within the legal limits for transport on the highways. Double-check that the boat trailer is in good condition and that the brakes, tires, and axles are in good condition.


The next step in moving a boat is loading. The boat must be carefully and securely loaded onto the trailer, taking into account the boat’s shape and weight distribution. Make sure the boat is evenly distributed on the trailer and centered to ensure stability during transport.


Once the boat has been successfully loaded, the next step is transportation. Ensure you have the necessary permits and driving licenses required to drive with large loads on the roads.

It’s important to note that when towing a boat behind a vehicle, you cannot exceed the highway speed limit. It’s also recommended that you drive at least five miles per hour below the freeway speed limit to ensure safety and stability during transportation.


After reaching your destination, ensure that you carefully unload your boat. Backup your trailer or flatbed truck to the suitable unloading area, and carefully release the straps to ease the boat down the trailer or flatbed.

Bottom Line

Knowing how boats are moved helps boat owners understand the available transport methods, ultimately making it easier to decide on the most suitable method of transport for their boat. Whichever method of transportation you choose, it’s crucial to prepare adequately and follow standard boat transport procedures to ensure the safety of your boat, trailer, and driver.

At CitizenShipper, we help connect boat owners with professional and insured drivers to deliver their boats safely and efficiently. Whether you need to transport your boat for recreation or business purposes, we’re committed to making your boat transport experience seamless and stress-free. Get in touch with us today!