How To Ship a Powerboat and Other Standard Sized Craft

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated: March 8, 2023 / Published: June 17, 2020

Are you considering shipping your boat to a far-off location? Are you wondering which way is safest for your powerboat, rowboat or canoe? Don’t worry – the risks are slight if you follow advice or employ a reputable boat hauler.

Boats of this size can be handled very safely by any driver, haulier or not. That’s because they can fit in the bed of a full-sized pickup or covered van. If a trailer is required, be sure to choose one with the right dimensions, or let a specialised driver know how large the precious cargo will be.

1. Selecting the Right Driver

It’s best to pick a driver with experience and who has earned positive feedback delivering powerboats, or whatever type of boat you own. 

Be sure the driver is comfortable if a trailer is being used – navigating a trailer under full load can be tricky for a beginner.

2. Securing the Craft

Your boat’s motor should be trimmed to its highest point, especially the outboard engines. Empty the fuel tank and make sure all fluid lines are secure and not liable to leak.

All rigging and tackle should be removed topside. Anything that could be dislodged, including seat cushions and fish hold hatches, must be secure. A fitted tarp or industrial plastic cover is ideal, keeping your boat clean from road debris and loose items from ejecting the craft during travel. Wind resistance and road stress can easily cause boats to shift and they should be checked often, particularly on long distance trips.

Choosing a driver who hauled your type and size of boat before means they’ll be aware of all these issues, allowing you to relax. Save the adrenaline for the waves.

3. Powerboats on the road

With outboard engines and electrical systems, powerboats need special attention from their shippers.

Here’s a checklist for preparing your powerboat for shipment:

  • Disconnect all batteries and electronics
  • Drain your main and auxiliary fuel tanks, as well as the generator tank. Also check fuel lines for leaks
  • Apply industrial tapes to all hatches and seal all portholes
  • For ventilation, wedge open refrigerator door with Styrofoam and secure with tape
  • Label boat’s keys with her name and relevant contact information. Keep a separate set of keys.
  • Take the time to inspect the boat’s hull once the vessel is on the hauling vehicle, especially if it’s fresh out of the water. This is a good opportunity to check the entire boat.

4. Special requirements

Powerboat shipping also requires the right equipment as well as industry-grade block and tackle. Add fuel expenses to the mix and you can expect increased costs to deliver your vessel, although the total amount will be cheaper by going with an online shipper.

There are also laws governing powerboat shipping in many U.S. states, particularly in the Northeast. Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia are just a few states that regulate large vessel shipping to daylight hours on business days, so don’t expect much weekend road time shipping in or out of that corridor.

There are also size limits to consider, according to Patrick Ghirardi, a boat transporter based in Bay St. Louis, Ms:

“Powerboats with a beam of 12 feet or less can travel well on interstates, but when you get close to the water, transport time generally slows down because the roads usually get smaller and you’ll probably pass through areas with traffic controls,” he said. “If a boat is 16 or 20 feet wide, it’s a whole other ballgame. It can be done, but it just takes time, as well as the right permits.”

It may be tempting to think about transporting your powerboat port-to-port in the water instead of overland, but time and vessel fuel costs must be considered. A general industry standard is that it takes twice the time in the water as it does over the road. So if you do plan to travel by water, leave yourself lots of time. 

And Bon Voyage!

If you need to ship a powerboat, bass boat, canoe, bay boat or all-purpose fishing boat but don’t want to be bogged down with shipping concerns, CitizenShipper is your port in a storm. Get a quote on your boat today.