Small Boat Transportation Vs. Large Boat Transportation

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated February 23, 2024

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Small boats, large boats, wide boats, long boats. As Dr. Seuss could have written, there are many types of boats out there. You may even have a super yacht. After all, if you have an extra $100,000,000 lying around like Jeff Bezos, you can just buy one… or two. Most people, however, have small boats and a select few do, in fact, have large boats. They may not be very large or yachts, but according to the Department of Transportation, they are considered large. Boating season is upon us. And for those that have boats, we want to take them out for a spin. Whether you live in San Diego or in New Mexico, you may find yourself needing a way to ship your boat to a body of water. Understand that there are some significant difference between small boat transportation and moving a large boat or yacht.

Or maybe you just want to repair your boat. There aren’t any boat repair shops in your neck of the woods? You can ship your boat to a place where it’s possible.

Whatever the reason you may have to want to ship your boat, this article will give you a rundown of small boat transportation and large boat transport. They are not the same thing, but after reading this article, the questions you may have will have been answered.

What is Classified as a Small Boat?

You may think there is a standard size for small boats — but the reality is that small boats come in a variety of sizes. In fact, according to, there are three classes of small boats.

  • 16 to 26 feet in length
  • 27 to 39 feet in length
  • 40 to 65 feet in length

So what does this all mean? A small boat is any boat under 66 feet in length. Anything larger is considered a large boat.

DIY Small Boat Transportation Vs Hiring a Professional

There are several methods in transporting a small boat. You can do it yourself, but of course you will need time and the proper equipment to do it. You can also hire a professional shipping company. Let’s take a look at these two methods.

Transporting a Small Boat on a Trailer

The do-it-yourself option is available for those people whose boats are small enough to be hauled on a trailer and the distance traveled is short enough that you can easily do it yourself. It’s simple, really. If you don’t have a trailer or the hauling equipment, you can rent one and get a truck to trailer your boat.

Transporting a Small Boat with a Boat Shipping Company

This method of boat transportation is the easiest way because you don’t have to do much, except pay for the haul. A professional company can take care of all the logistics, but your boat has to meet certain requirements.

Here are the requirements:

  • Cannot exceed 12 feet wide.
  • Cannot be taller than 13.6 feet (you can take out removable parts of your boat that make it taller than this).
  • Make sure the destination area where you are going to pick your boat up has at least 14 feet of overhead clearance.

If your boat meets these requirements, then you’re good to go. Of course, you will pay more than trailering it yourself, but boat shipping companies are professionals and can maneuver things more efficiently. The costs will depend on various factors like distance, the size of the boat and its value, which can affect insurance costs.

Is Small Boat Transportatoin Cheaper Than Shipping a Large Boat?

The simple answer is yes. A small boat is easier to maneuver. A small boat usually can be transported using any kind of trailer to haul it, but a large boat needs a bigger trailer. For large boats, you need a semi boat trailer or a flat rack trailer. These trailers are expensive, which means going through a boat shipping company that owns these transportation vehicles for commercial purposes is the way to go.

Transporting a large boat can cost in the range of $15,000, which is much more expensive than a small boat. The costs, of course, depend on the various factors like distance, the boat’s dimensions and size, value of the boat, and the type of insurance coverage you decide on. If you decide on extra perks for a calmer peace of mind, that will be added to the final price tag.

What is the Average Cost of Shipping a Small Boat?

The average cost of shipping a small boat is $2.25 per mile over land. So that means that if you are transporting your small boat on a 200 mile trip, it will cost you between $450-$550.

Boat Shipping Cost Factors

There are several factors, though, that go into the cost of boat shipping. Let’s take a look at them below.


The size of the boat will determine how much the final price of the transport will be. Small boat transportation will cost less than transporting a larger boat. The weight, width and length are all factored in to determine the cost. The other part of the cost is the boat transport trailer — the more expensive trailer will increase the cost of boat shipping.


Like stated above, boat transport costs are determined per mile, which means that a larger distance will increase the overall cost of your boat shipping.


The destination plays a part in boat shipping costs. If the destination is remote and hard to get to, then it will cost more. If the port that you are putting the boat in has costly fees, then this will increase the cost more, as well.


Like many things in the transport and tourism spectrum, the summer months end up being more expensive. The spring and autumn months are usually the cheapest. The winter months end up being more expensive because of the weather conditions that could impact transport.

Shipping a Small Boat to Another State

Small boat transportation to another state is fairly simple. There are three simple steps that you can take, especially if you are hiring a boat shipping company or a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper.

Step 1: Research boat shipping companies and find several that you like best, based on online reviews, their information, and customer opinions on social media.

Step 2: Send the boat shipping companies your information and wait for their quotes. Once you have a quote you like, you can contact them to begin the shipping process.

Step 3: Get the boat picked up and track the voyage until your small boat gets delivered to another state. Depending on the distance, your small boat will be delivered within a few days to a week.

How Long Does It Take for a Small Boat to be Delivered?

Usually a boat shipping company traveling by land will deliver your small boat in a matter of days. For example, a delivery that has to go from Boston to San Diego will take approximately 5-7 business days to get there. A boat getting shipped from Miami to New York can take 2-3 business days (roughly half the amount of time) because of the proximity between the two cities.

When you send in your boat’s information, including the pick up and drop off locations, the boat shipping company will send you a quote along with the rough amount of time it will take to ship your small boat to its final destination.

Impact of Weather Conditions on Small Boat Shipping

As stated above, weather conditions have an effect on small boat shipping. It all depends on the type of transport method you choose and how much of an effect it will have. You see, weather conditions are not created equal when it comes to transport on land or transport on water.

You can transport your small boat by sea, if you are near one body of water and going to another body of water with ease. There are logistical matters to take care of, of course. You’ll have to take time off from work to do the voyage or hire a crew to do it for you, which can be very expensive. Weather conditions — like storms for example — can affect the timing of the voyage and the amount of time it takes to get to the final destination.

When transporting your small boat by land, however, the weather conditions can be less dramatic. Unless you run into a tornado, there won’t be as many intense weather conditions that delay the delivery of your small boat. Heavy weather like sleet or snow can slow down the delivery, but it won’t be catastrophic to the voyage.

How to Hire a Small Boat Transportation Company?

First, go online and do your research. After you find several companies you like, plug in your boat’s information so you can get quotes. Once you get quotes from these companies, you can choose one and start the shipping process with them.

Qualities of Good Boat Shipping Companies

You should look for several qualities before you choose a boat shipping company. Let’s take a look at them.

Boat Transport Experience

The best boat shipping companies have the proven experience to transport your boat. They have shipped thousands of boats domestically, throughout the United States.

Insurance Policy

A good boat shipping company will have a good insurance policy. This creates peace of mind that your boat will be transported in the condition you left it in. 

The Right Licensing

A quality boat transport company will have its appropriating licensing authorizations to ship boats. They should be registered with the Department of Transportation and with the Federal Motor Carrier Authority.

Good Communication and Customer Service

The best boat shipping company has excellent communication and customer service skills with you throughout the entire process. They give you all the fees and pricing information upfront, as well as give you updates throughout the transport journey.

Good Reviews

When doing your research, you read good reviews online from other websites and social media groups that have previously hired that particular boat shipping company.

Using CitizenShipper

Traditional boat shipping companies are usually more expensive than using a marketplace like CitizenShipper. Transporters charge lower rates than traditional boat shipping companies because they’re competing for your business.

The process is super easy!

  • Create a shipment listing with your boat’s information. We’ll send it to boat haulers on our network.
  • You will receive quotes from the haulers and once you like one, pick them and you’ll be ready to get things started.
  • You can track your shipment with scheduled updates from your hired transporter.

With CitizenShipper, all transporters are background checked, their contact information is verified, there are pictures of the haulers and their vehicles to confirm who and what they are driving, and there are detailed hauler reviews, too.

We make sure that CitizenShipper is the easiest and most trusted way to transport a boat. The haulers on our network know the value of your boat and will treat it with care throughout the journey. Post your boat’s info and get quotes from trusted haulers instantly!