Is Shipping a Boat Different Than Shipping a Car?

Is shipping a boat different than shipping a car

Many people have shipped a car before. This is a relatively simple process that involves getting a quote or two and finding the right shipping company for your needs. You will be able to have your car picked up in most cases and delivered to your new home at the end of the shipping job. This all sounds very simple, and in most cases, it is not a difficult process to ship your car to a new location.

However, what if you have a boat to move? Can you ship a boat to a new location just like you can ship a car? Are there major differences between shipping a car and a boat? We will talk about the differences between shipping a boat and a car in this article so that you know what the process is like. There are some standard methods for shipping a boat that you should be aware of, but you might be limited in the options that you can choose from due to the size of your boat.

If you are ready to learn some more about the difference between shipping a boat and a car, you need to keep reading.

Challenges of Shipping a Boat

There are various challenges in shipping a boat. The biggest challenge of this kind of shipping process is that boats come in so many different shapes and sizes. The other factor that goes along with the fact that boats can vary so widely in shape and size is that the necessary towing vehicle to move your boat can vary widely as well. You might need a much bigger shipping vehicle to move a large boat than you would ship a small boat.

There are also legal requirements related to loading and unloading a boat that must be followed that are more complicated than the requirements that are necessary for the delivery and pickup of a car. These processes can be very labor intensive and can add time and cost to your shipping process that would never be involved in shipping a car.

There are also limitations on the season that you can ship your boat as well. It is not always safe to move something that is top-heavy, like a boat, and when the weather is not ideal in the winter, most shipping companies will not move your boat for you. There are also various routes across the US that very large boats will not be allowed to be transported over. The weight limitations and the size limitations of smaller roads will impact the size of boats that can be moved across these highways and roads.

When shipping your boat on a transfer ship, you might run into limitations regarding shipping dates and shipping routes. It can take quite a long time for a ship carrying your boat to get to your new location, and the drop-off location might not be that convenient due to the size of the transfer vessel and the limitations on where it can come into port unload.

Shipping a boat

Ways to Make Your Boat Shipping Process Easier

There are some key ways that you can make your boat shipping process more straightforward. The first thing that you need to know is the actual dimensions of your boat. You will want to be positive about the size and shape of your boat so that you can get accurate quotes and so that you don’t run into issues when the company you have hired comes to pick up your boat.

You might need to measure your motors and other added parts that could change the overall dimensions of the basic model of your boat. Giving general dimensions will not cut it for these kinds of shipping jobs. You will want to be sure as well that you provide all the requested information to the shipping company so that you can get the most accurate quote possible.

The other major factor that you need to keep in mind is that you must follow the guidelines and requests of the shipping company perfectly regarding shipping preparation. Each company might have different requirements for the preparation of your boat, and you must follow all of their demands if you want your boat to be picked up and shipped to your new location. Most companies will expect that you remove most of the fuel in your boat before pickup, and you will also be asked to clean and inspect your boat before it is picked up. Various connections might need to be disconnected, and you might need to disconnect the batteries. Anything that is taller than 13 feet will need to be lowered to reduce issues with bridges and overpasses during transport.

Do not use shrink wraps, boat covers, or canopies to try and protect your boat either. These will not be allowed by the shipping company and could lead to your pickup date being pushed back until you have made changes to the way that your boat is prepared.

What to Expect When Your Boat is Picked Up for Shipping

When the shipping company comes to pick up your boat, the process will not be that different than when a car is picked up. The company representative will go over all the various parts of your boat to look for obvious existing damage and to check that the necessary preparations have been made for pickup.

You will be asked to make minimal changes in some cases, but if you have done your preparation correctly, there should not be much that needs to be taken care of before your boat can be picked up. The Bill of Lading will be looked over, and the condition of the boat will be noted carefully in great detail. When the boat is delivered to you, you will have to repeat this process in reverse to sign off on the condition of the boat when it is delivered to you again.

Shipping a boat is different than shipping a car

Options For Boat Shipping

There are various options for boat shipping jobs. You will want to be aware of what these options are so that you can make an educated choice about the right shipping process for your preferences and needs.

Shipping a Boat on Its Trailer

This is the most common way to ship your boat. Most boats have custom trailers that are made to match the hull of the boat. This trailer would have to be relocated in a separate trip from the boat itself if you don’t opt for this method of shipping your boat. Most people don’t want to have to drag a boat trailer with them and then deal with the transfer of the boat to the boat trailer again when pickup needs to happen.

This is also not a feasible process if you are going to be flying to your new home or if you are not ready to be towing your boat yourself. The most common way of shipping a boat is to just use the trailer that is made to match it.

Shipping a Boat Overland

You can sometimes opt for your boat to be shipped over land on a flatbed or a multi-boat trailer. This is a method of shipping that comes with many constraints, but it can save you a lot of money over having your boat shipped by itself. You will find that boats that are shipped this way cannot be more than twelve feet wide, and they cannot be more than 13 and a half feet tall. The loading location will also need to offer more than fourteen feet of overhead space as well.

The size of the boat and the size of the trailer can impact the cost of this kind of transport, but it will usually be much more affordable than shipping your boat alone. This kind of shipping process can vary widely in cost for many reasons, so you will want to get an accurate quote before you commit to this kind of shipping, thinking it will be cheaper.

 Shipping a Boat on Its Bottom

Large boats are often best shipped on their bottom. This can be a very time-intensive process when pickup and delivery are taken into consideration and without access to a skilled shipping company for the job. This is also a trust-intensive process since you will need to trust someone that you have never met and a crew that you do not know to sail your boat to its new home. This kind of delivery can take a lot longer than travel overland since weather, and general sailing conditions can be tough to control.

This shipping process will require that you have the right insurance in place to protect your boat, and you will also want to inquire about the insurance that the shipping company has to offer. You do not want to find out that your boat was not protected during the trip after it has been damaged in some way.

One of the main detractions to this kind of shipping process is that your boat might get stuck at a port for numerous days waiting out bad weather, and it could be opened up to risks of theft and damage when it is lingering in a strange port for too long. This is also a shipping method that cannot take place during every season of the year since winter is not an ideal time for sailing in most parts of the world.

Transport Ship

This is a method of relocating your boat that is often reserved for very large vessels or very long journeys. In this method of shipping, your boat will be loaded on a larger shipping vessel, and it will be mailed to your new location. This is a common choice when you have to send a boat from one country to another or when there is no other safe method of relocating a very large boat.

 This can be a very expensive shipping option, but if you are moving a boat from one country to another, it is typically your only available choice. This is a shipping job that requires working with a specialty company that is experienced in this kind of job and has the right tools to make sure that this process is handled correctly. You can also ship a small boat this way, but the cost for the job will likely be almost the same, no matter what size your boat happens to be. The true cost for this kind of shipping job is the loading and unloading process and the fuel to sail your boat to a new location on a larger ship.

Boat shipping

Shipping a Boat is Very Different From Shipping a Car

While there is some common ground between shipping a car and shipping a boat, there are many complexities to the shipping process for boats that are not present in the car shipping process. This guide will help you to understand what options you will need to choose from and what the associated costs might be when shipping a boat. Remember as well that large boats can be quite expensive to relocate, and you might have to be patient with the company that is transferring your boat to its new home. Weather and many other considerations can impact the ease with which a large boat is moved to a new port location, whether traveling overland or on a boat transport.

Just as with shipping a car, you will want to be sure that you get more than one quote and that you look at your options carefully. Making the right choice is not always about saving money, and you need to consider the safety and well-being of your boat just as much as the cost. Always be sure to work with a reputable shipping company and do your research, and you should have a good experience with your boat shipping process.


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What Our Customrs Are Saying


We feel it’s important for you to know how we determined your quote. Quotes are based on what the market demands for cars to be moved at a given time. Each quote is compared with the current rates on the National Load Board before being sent to our customers and will be reviewed periodically through the process.

Other companies might offer you a lower price to obtain your business. This method is ineffective because if the car does not pay the correct amount of money, it will run the probability of not getting loaded or transported on time. You will not get this information from our competitors. Truck drivers always take the loads that pay the most first, leaving the loads that are mispriced to be moved last or not at all. We try very hard to avoid this with our customers by quoting a fair but realistic quote up front. Visit our How we determine your quote page for more information.

Understanding auto transport insurance is important and we think it’s valuable to explain how it works. As part of providing a great car transport service, it is our job to guarantee that the carrier we assign to pickup your vehicle is licensed and insured. Click here to check out our license.

When you go with Mercury to ship your vehicle, you can rest assured that the carrier assigned to move your car is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier and Saftey Administration).

Your vehicle is covered by the carrier’s insurance policy that is doing the shipping. Depending on the type and size of the truck/trailer that is shipping your car, the insurance policy can cover from $100,000 to $1,000,000 of damage.

We have also provided a checklist to explain what you need to do at both pickup and delivery in case there are any issues so, you can file a claim and know that everything will be taken care of.

It is rare but, time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit and it is good to know that your carrier’s insurance will protect your auto shipment in that event.

To view a sample BOL (Bill of Lading) and learn what to do in case of accidental damage, please check out our Condition Report and Procedure checklist.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible.  

We feel it’s important for you to know how we determine your quote.

When you’re looking for a car shipping rate, you want to understand how auto transport works. Prices are based on seasonal market demands for cars to be moved at any given time. Each quote is prepared based on the season and the current national rates.

When comparing auto transport companies, keep in mind that low-priced quotes often result in delays in getting your vehicle loaded. Choosing the right broker is vital to getting a reputable carrier for the lowest price possible. Not all brokers are created equal in this talent.

Mercury does a thorough background check with each carrier for every shipment. We verify their ratings, references, and in addition, we obtain a certified copy of their insurance certificate, directly from the government agency that it is on file with.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the carrier shipping your vehicle is the very best and that there are no surprises guaranteed.

Mercury Auto Transport is licensed, Bonded and Insured. Our FMSCA Motor Carrier Number is MC647319.

While we do our best match your auto shipping needs with the most responsible carriers with the best track records, from time-to-time there may be accidental damage while in transit, it is good to know that the insurance of the carrier we locate for you will protect your auto shipment in that event.

Shipping a vehicle can be stressful if you don’t know what to do.  This is why we believe it is paramount to have our highly trained agents be your main point of contact from start to finish.

They will go over everything you need to know so you can relax.  In the meanwhile, we prepared this checklist.  This includes everything from pickup to delivery and how to make sure your car is ready for pickup.

When it comes to car moving, we want you to be ahead of the game!  For any questions and further assistance our agents are standing by, (800) 553-1828.  Please read our checklist to prepare your vehicle to learn more.

There are several ways you can ship a car.  The options include enclosed trailer, open carrier transport, flatbed truck, door-to-door shipping services, and to or from a terminal as well.  The most popular of the options is a 7 to 10 car open carrier.  These large trucks can accommodate almost any size vehicle including carsSUVstrucksjeeps, and vans.

Open car transport, door to door is also the best way to get the cheapest auto transport rate possible.  To learn more and see what transport method is best for you, please fill out our free quote form and one of our representatives will respond to you within minutes.  You can also call us at (800) 553-1828.

We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service, and 100% bumper-to-bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.