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5 Solid Boat Shipping Methods: Pros and Cons

Shipping a boat, whether it’s a cherished family vessel or a brand-new purchase, is no small task. It requires careful planning, attention to detail, and, most importantly, the right method of transportation.

The sheer diversity of boat types, sizes, and purposes means that what works for one boat might not necessarily work for another. Consequently, understanding boat shipping methods and choosing the right one can be the difference between a smooth, stress-free experience and a logistical nightmare.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the various boat shipping methods, breaking down their advantages and disadvantages. Whether you’re a seasoned boat owner or just dipping your toes in the water, here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision for your boat transportation needs.


Shipping a boat might seem relatively straightforward, but it’s a specialized task with different factors and variables that can affect the process and the price. For example, one of the main factors affecting the price is the transportation method that you choose.

Here’s a brief overview of the primary boat shipping methods:

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) Shipping: This method involves driving or towing the boat onto a large vessel on its trailer, where it’s secured in a dedicated space. Once at the destination, it’s simply rolled off.

  • Pros: Generally more affordable; relatively straightforward process; boat remains on its trailer.
  • Cons: Exposed to the elements; might not be suitable for extremely large or unique-shaped boats.

Container Shipping: The boat is packed securely inside a standard shipping container, making it easy to ship with other cargo.

  • Pros: Protection from the elements; can be cost-effective when shipping with other goods; ideal for smaller boats.
  • Cons: Size limitations; modification may be required for the boat to fit.

Flat-Rack Shipping: Boats are secured to a flat rack, which is then loaded onto a ship. This method is particularly useful for boats that don’t fit in standard containers.

  • Pros: Versatility in accommodating various sizes and shapes; provides some protection during transport.
  • Cons: More exposure to the elements compared to container shipping.

Lift-on/Lift-off (LoLo) Shipping: This method uses cranes to lift the boat onto the shipping vessel, where it’s placed and secured. At the destination, cranes lift the boat off the ship.

  • Pros: Ideal for larger vessels or those without trailers; less handling involved compared to RoRo.
  • Cons: Generally more expensive due to specialized equipment; potential risk of damage if not lifted properly.

Yacht Transport Carriers: Specialized carriers designed exclusively for transporting yachts and large boats. These carriers are equipped to handle the unique needs of yacht transportation.

  • Pros: Tailored for yachts, ensuring maximum protection and care; often includes added services like cleaning and maintenance.
  • Cons: Typically more expensive; might be overkill for smaller, less valuable boats.

Choosing the right shipping method for your boat might seem daunting, but with the right information, you can ensure your vessel arrives safely at its destination.

As you weigh the pros and cons of different boat shipping methods, remember to consider your vessel’s unique specifications, your budget, and the distance of transportation. And, as always, trust in experienced professionals to guide you through the process.


Selecting between boat shipping methods isn’t just about finding the cheapest option or the first one that comes along. It requires balancing several factors that can impact the shipping experience:

Boat Size and Type: Different boat shipping methods cater to different vessel sizes and types. For instance, while container shipping might be apt for smaller boats, larger vessels might require the capabilities of Lift-on/Lift-off or yacht transport carriers.

Distance of Transportation: The further the distance, the more you should consider protection from the elements and potential hazards. Longer journeys can also influence the cost factor.

Budget Considerations: Boat shipping costs can feel overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. Every shipping method has its own cost structure. It’s essential to balance the safety and convenience of the boat with what you’re willing (or able) to spend.

Time Constraints: Need it shipped quickly? Some boat shipping methods are faster than others. For instance, Roll-on/Roll-off might be quicker than container shipping, depending on the schedule of vessels.

Security and Insurance: Ensuring the boat’s safety is paramount. Check if the shipping method provides security measures like surveillance, guards, or secured areas. Always be sure to inquire about insurance coverage and what it entails.


Sailing Yacht Transported via Yacht Carrier:

  • Scenario: A 90-foot sailing yacht needed to be transported from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean for a seasonal change.
  • Solution: Using a yacht transport carrier, the vessel was loaded with care and expertise, ensuring no damage. Additional services like cleaning and basic maintenance were performed during transit.
  • Outcome: The yacht reached its destination in pristine condition, ready for the Caribbean season.

Small Motorboat Shipped in a Container:

  • Scenario: A family relocating from California to Australia wanted to bring their 20-foot motorboat.
  • Solution: Opting for container shipping, the boat was safely packed and secured inside a standard shipping container along with other household goods.
  • Outcome: The boat, along with the family’s belongings, reached Australia safely, proving to be a cost-effective solution.

Speedboat Transfer via RoRo:

  • Scenario: A speedboat enthusiast in Florida purchased a boat from Texas and needed it transported.
  • Solution: The boat was driven onto a RoRo vessel, securely stored, and rolled off upon arrival in Florida.
  • Outcome: The boat was transported efficiently and quickly, allowing the owner to enjoy his new purchase without delay.

example of roll on roll off boat shipping methods

Remember: every vessel and situation is unique. By understanding the various boat shipping methods and aligning them with your needs, you can ensure a successful boat shipping experience.


Whether you’re an experienced boat owner or exploring your shipping options for the first time, the collective wisdom of industry experts can be invaluable. Here are insights from professionals specializing in boat transportation:

Jackson Tremaine, Marine Logistics Specialist: “When considering boat shipping, it’s not just about the size, but also the type of boat. For instance, sailboats with their masts require different handling than powerboats.”

Linda Hartley, Insurance Expert in Marine Transportation: “Always ensure you understand the insurance coverage. It’s not just about potential damages, but also about potential delays or unforeseen circumstances that could affect your boat’s transport.”

Carlos de Silva, Veteran Ship Captain: “Weather is a major factor, especially in long-distance transportation. It’s crucial to align shipping schedules with seasons to avoid rough seas and potential harm to the vessel.”


Choosing the right method to ship your boat is a journey in itself. By weighing factors like size, type, budget, and distance, you can find a method tailored to your needs. And, as always, seeking expert insights and answers to common questions can help you choose the right next step.

Whether you’re shipping a cherished family boat or a brand-new yacht, the goal remains the same: a safe, efficient, and cost-effective transit. At the end of the day, informed decision-making is the anchor that ensures a smooth sailing experience in boat transportation.

With uShip, you can enjoy a stress-free boat transportation experience by combining affordability with reliability. Get a Quote Today!


How much does it cost to ship a boat?

Boat shipping costs can vary based on the size, distance, and transport method. Request a detailed quote for a more accurate price that reflects current market conditions.

What is the best way to transport a yacht?

Yacht transport carriers or LoLo shipping are commonly preferred for yachts due to their size and value.

Are there specialized carriers for oversized boats?

Yes, options like yacht transport carriers and flat-rack shipping are designed for larger or uniquely shaped boats.

How do I prepare my boat for shipping?

Make sure to secure loose items, remove personal belongings, document the boat’s condition, and ensure it’s clean and winterized if needed.

Is container shipping more secure than RoRo shipping?

Container shipping offers protection from the elements, whereas RoRo may expose boats to weather. However, both boat shipping methods have safety measures in place.

What insurance options are available for boat transportation?

Standard shipping insurance is common, but additional coverage can be acquired for higher value or specific risks. Consider purchasing a uShip Protection Plan for total peace of mind.

Can I transport my boat internationally?

Yes, there are many companies that specialize in international boat shipping, but always consider customs and import/export regulations before selecting this route.

How long does boat shipping usually take?

Duration varies based on distance, method, and potential stops along the way. Boat shipping within the United States can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

What permits are needed for boat transportation?

Required permits depend on the boat size, route, and location. Some oversized boats require special permits for transportation on roads. Check with your carrier for the exact documents required.

Are there DIY boat shipping methods?

While you can transport smaller boats yourself using trailers, larger boats often require professional handling due to complexities and potential risks.

Looking for boat shipping services? Start your free listing today and tap into our extensive network of feedback-rated boat transporters.