All Posts

How To Prepare for Safe and Smooth Boat Shipping

Boats are unlike other cargo due to their unique sizes and the sensitivity of their materials. They require special handling and a thorough strategy to avoid damage.

The large size and heavy weight of boats typically require special permits and careful route planning. Weather conditions, such as storms or high winds, can further complicate boat shipping efforts. These factors pose real threats, affecting many shipments’ timing and safety. Furthermore, logistical challenges associated with collecting and dropping off goods, especially in distant or less accessible places, demand thorough planning and special equipment.

So, preparing well is vital for the safe transport of boats. This preparation includes securing all movable items, covering delicate parts such as electronics with protective materials like covers or shrink wrap, and performing complete maintenance checks.

Don’t worry if you are unaware of how to secure your sailboat during shipment. This guide outlines detailed steps for handling the difficulties of boat shipping and strategies for apt preparation.


Man cleaning a boat before boat transport

Getting your vessel ready for boat shipping is an essential task that requires several steps. This checklist will guide boat owners and transporters as they prepare for the journey.

Cleaning and Securing Loose Items

  • Interior Cleaning: Thoroughly clean the inside of the boat. Remove all personal items, garbage, and anything that might move around or cause damage during transport.
  • Exterior Inspection: Look over the outside of the boat for any parts that can be taken off or need to be fastened down, such as antennas, flags, outriggers, or removable accessories.
  • Secure All Hatches: Ensure all hatches, windows, and doors are tightly closed and secured with locks or tape to keep them from opening while in transit.

Draining Fuel and Water Tanks

  • Fuel Tanks: To minimize fuel leakage, lower the fuel level to no more than one-quarter of the tank’s capacity, as most transport companies and safety regulations usually recommend.
  • Safety Precautions: Secure all loose items inside the boat for safety.
  • Water Tanks: Empty all types of water tanks, including freshwater, gray water, and black water, to reduce weight and prevent leaks.
  • Bilges: Keep bilges clean and dry to prevent invasive species from spreading and lower the risks of moisture damage.

Protecting Delicate Components

  • Electronics: Shield all delicate electronics by stabilizing them inside the cabin or removing and transporting them separately.
  • Upholstery and Canvas: Take off any removable fabric pieces or ensure they are secured and shielded from weather and road debris.
  • Wrap and Cover: Encase the entire boat in protective materials like shrink wrap to guard against weather, dust, and dirt while moving.


Choosing an exemplary boat shipping service is essential for ensuring your boat arrives safely and on time at its destination. There are several options to consider, each carrying distinct advantages. Knowing these can help you decide based on your boat’s requirements.

Types of Boat Shipping Services Available

  • Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo): Using this method, boats on trailers are driven directly onto a ship. Once on board, they are securely fastened to the deck. RoRo is suitable for trailerable vessels and often offers a straightforward and budget-friendly approach.
  • Lift-on/Lift-off (LoLo): This technique uses cranes to place boats that can’t be trailed onto the ship. The vessels are then tightly secured on deck or within the ship’s hold. LoLo is preferable for larger boats that cannot be transported by trailer.
  • Container Shipping: Smaller boats can often be shipped inside standard shipping containers. This approach offers robust protection from weather and is highly secure. The boat needs to fit within a container’s dimensions, typically around 40 feet in length, and must be able to be taken apart if necessary.
  • Flat Rack Shipping: Flat rack shipping is used for larger boats that cannot fit into containers. Here, the boat is fixed onto a flat rack before being placed on a ship. Although this method exposes the boat somewhat to the elements, it effectively handles bigger sizes.
  • Trailer Hauling: Usually used for smaller boats across local or state lines, trailer hauling is the method of hauling a boat with a truck and trailer setup. 

Key Points When Choosing a Boat Transporter

  • Experience and Reputation: Opt for a transporter known for reliably handling boats like yours. Research their history through customer reviews and testimonials to gauge their service quality.
  • Insurance Coverage: Ensure your chosen transporter offers adequate insurance to protect your boat during transit. Confirm what the policy covers and if there are any limits or exemptions that could affect you.
  • Service Options: Scrutinize what types of services are available. Some companies might transport your items directly from your door to the final spot (door-to-door), while others could handle shipments from one port to another (port-to-port). Your needs and where the goods must go will decide which option suits you best.
  • Cost:  Cost matters but shouldn’t be your only criterion. Look at what the cost covers. Does it include help with loading and unloading? Is insurance part of the package? What about storage solutions?
  • Regulatory Compliance: If shipping internationally, the shipping company must follow all appropriate laws and rules, both within your country and abroad. Sticking to these regulations avoids any legal issues that could delay your shipment.
  • Customer Service: Excellent customer support is crucial for addressing any concerns or questions you have quickly and effectively without unnecessary delays. A company that offers transparent, continuous communication can make transporting your boat less stressful.


Safe boat transportation requires careful planning and execution. Follow these important tips and strategies to keep your vessel secure during loading, moving, and unloading.

Safety Measures During Loading and Unloading

  • Hire Experienced Professionals: Make sure that professionals experienced with boats handle the loading and unloading. They need to know the safest methods to manage boats carefully.
  • Use Proper Equipment: Ensure that you use appropriate tools, such as cranes, trailers, and lifting straps, suited to your boat’s dimensions and weight. Regular inspections of this equipment will help maintain its condition.
  • Maintain Clear Communication: Accurate communication is essential to prevent misunderstandings or accidents. Effective conversations can significantly decrease risks.
  • Effective Team Communication: It’s crucial for all team members involved in loading and unloading to communicate clearly. Use agreed-upon signals and have an emergency plan ready.
  • Weather Conditions: Before starting the load or unloading, check the weather forecast. Windy, rainy, or other harsh conditions can lead to accidents.

Protecting the Boat from Potential Damages in Transit

  • Securing Fixtures and Accessories: Ensure all parts of the boat, such as fixtures, antennas, and accessories, are either firmly attached or removed to prevent them from becoming loose during transportation.
  • Using Protective Covers: Cover the boat with protective materials like covers or shrink wrap to protect against sun, wind, and water. This is important during long transports across different climates and road conditions.
  • Padding and Support: Make sure every point where the boat touches its support systems (like cradles or trailers) is well-cushioned to avoid scratches or dents. Support the ship so that its weight is spread evenly, preventing pressure points.
  • Regular Inspections: For long transports, plan regular checks to ensure the boat stays secure. Promptly fix any wear on straps or coverings to protect the boat from weather damage.
  • Comprehensive Protection: Confirm that your boat has extensive insurance coverage (or opt for additional protection from uShip) for potential transport-related damages before transporting. This will cover financial losses if any problems arise.


When you ship a boat, handling several documents and legal issues properly is crucial to ensure everything is lawful and goes smoothly. Different factors, like where the ship is coming from and going, its size, and how it’s being transported, can change what needs to be done.

Required Paperwork and Permits

To ship a boat, you must show that you own it with a title or registration. Customs forms are required for vessels crossing international borders. This often includes a bill of lading that describes the boat’s starting point, destination, size, and condition. Sometimes, you might also need to export or import papers.

Special permits might be necessary if the boat is large or unusual in size or shape beyond usual limits. These help ensure that your shipping process respects local regulations about transporting large items.

Transporting oversized boats often requires special permits. These permits ensure that the boat can safely move through routes with potential barriers like low bridges or narrow paths. Coordinating with local authorities may also be required to arrange closures or help from escorts.


Once your boat has arrived after shipping, it is essential to check its condition thoroughly. You must carefully inspect every part of the boat to spot damages or issues that might have arisen during its journey.

Inspecting the Boat Upon Delivery

Begin by closely inspecting the boat’s exterior for obvious damages like scratches, dents, or cracks. Focus primarily on the hull to notice any strange marks not there before the boat was shipped. Ensure you take photos or videos of everything, as these could be essential for an insurance claim later.

Then, examine the interior of the boat. Review all electronic systems and mechanical operations to ensure they work correctly. This includes checking navigation systems, communication devices, and engines.

Review the seating areas, cabin, and additional internal spaces for signs of water infiltration or damage.

Examine the boat’s mechanical elements, such as the engine, bilge, and fuel system. Check for any loose parts or leakage signs that might have occurred during transport. Turn on the engine to verify it operates smoothly with no unexpected noises or issues.

Addressing Any Issues Post Boat Shipping

If you find any issues or damages after shipping, address them immediately. Contact the shipping company and your insurance provider to report these damages. Clear documentation and evidence concerning the damage support a smooth claim process and help get proper compensation.

If there is significant damage, consider consulting a professional for repairs. A specialist is recommended for problems related to mechanics or electronics.

After your boat is transported, it’s wise to have a qualified technician check and fix any parts of the system. Even if your ship looks fine, a service inspection will ensure everything works properly.

Consistent maintenance following transportation addresses immediate problems and contributes to keeping your boat in good shape and retaining its value. Ensuring your boat gets thorough inspections and quick repairs after being shipped is crucial for extending its lifespan and providing an enjoyable time on the water.

Purchased a uShip Protection Plan? You’re in luck! Simply open a case from your uShip account and let us handle the rest. 


Successful boat shipping demands careful organization, appropriate planning, and keen attention to every transport stage. Each phase is crucial for keeping your vessel safe, from selecting the best boat shipping method to handling all necessary legal paperwork and documentation. It’s essential to make sure the boat is ready, secure any items that might move, and shield sensitive parts to avoid damage while in transit. Also, having all required permits and a full insurance policy ensures your boat is legally and financially covered.

Once the boat arrives, a detailed inspection is essential to spot any potential damage caused during transportation. This step helps keep the ship in good condition by ensuring that any issues are dealt with quickly.

Transporting a boat involves many choices and detailed planning, which can feel overwhelming. uShip offers a simple solution. We connect you with skilled and reliable transporters experienced in boat shipping on one platform. uShip provides adaptive services to meet your requirements. With strong, competitive prices and a vast network of transport providers, using uShip for your boat shipping needs ensures a seamless and worry-free experience.

Motor boat on truck trailer for boat shipping


How should you prepare a boat for shipping?

First, clean the boat well and secure anything that might move. Next, drain all fluids, such as fuel and water, disconnect the batteries, and cover the boat with protective materials like shrink wrap to keep it safe from weather and dirt.

What does it cost to ship a boat?

The price of shipping a boat can vary greatly. It depends on the size and type of the boat, how far it needs to travel, how it is being shipped (like RoRo or container), and where it’s being shipped from and to. Prices can be as low as a few hundred dollars or run into thousands.

Can you ship a boat to another country? 

Yes, boats can be sent overseas using methods such as RoRo, containers, or flat rack shipping based on the size of your vessel. You will also need to handle customs forms and other official paperwork.

How do you find a trustworthy company for shipping boats?

When selecting a company to ship your boat, it’s crucial to check its credentials and ensure it is experienced with boats similar to yours. It should be licensed, insured, and have positive customer reviews. Also, confirm that it provides comprehensive insurance coverage.

Is boat shipping safe for my boat’s condition? 

Boat shipping is typically safe if you take the proper steps. Ensure your boat is well prepared for transit, choose a trusted shipping service, and verify that there is enough insurance coverage (or add protection) to compensate for any damages.

What paperwork is needed for boat transportation? 

Essential documents for transporting a boat include proof of ownership (title and registration), valid insurance papers, a bill of lading, necessary customs declarations, and import/export forms if you’re shipping internationally.

How do I ensure my vessel is protected during boat shipping? 

To protect your boat during transportation, use suitable covers such as shrink wrap or other protective materials. Securely fasten all parts and accessories to prevent them from moving or being damaged. It’s also key to pick a reliable transporter with good practices in place. Choosing added protection from uShip and using enclosed shipping methods are wise choices if your boat is very valuable or easily damaged.