A boat is an expensive investment that can often be tricky to transport if the owner does not have a vehicle and trailer capable of hauling it. Boat transportation services are designed for consumers who want safe and efficient shipping.

Because boat transportation is a complicated process involving expensive cargo, consumers will want to make sure their boats are protected by finding a reputable, dependable company to ship their boat along their chosen route.

Top 9 Best Rated Boat Transport Companies

DAS organizes pick-up and shipment for a variety of vehicles and large hauls, including airplanes, boats and recreational vehicles. Their fleet of 150 multiple-car carriers plus flatbeds can deliver anywhere in the US.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What features matter most in boat transportation?

General preparations

Before a boat can be transported, the shipper needs to prepare it. Most shipping companies offer quotes only after consumers provide them with the proper information.

  • Measurements: Knowing the exact size of the boat and trailer to be shipped is key to getting a useful estimate. A consumer should always measure their boat’s length (from bow to the center of the stern), height (from the bottom of the keel to the highest part of the boat) and beam (across the widest part of the boat). Accurate measurements lead to more accurate shipping quotes.
  • Plan the shipping route: Shipping boats across state borders often means paying for tolls. Shipping internationally also means that consumers will need to provide a host of custom forms subject to fees and taxes depending on the countries’ laws. Therefore, it is always a good idea to research the shipping route and to notify the shipping company accordingly.
  • Remove coverings: Shippers will usually request any boat snap-on canvas covers to be removed. These can come off or become damaged easily during transportation, so they are best stored inside the boat’s storage areas.

Protecting the boat

Keeping the boat protected, either by wrapping it to protect it from small dings and weather or by paying for some extra insurance, may be a chief concern for protective consumers. Most shipping companies will recommend taking a few extra measures to ensure the cargo is protected.

  • Insurance: Many shipping companies provide quotes with insurance already built into them, but, depending on the route the boat will take, additional insurance may be a good option.
  • Shrink wrap: Though canvas coverings should be removed, a consumer can use heavy duty shrink wrap to protect their boat from weather or small bits of debris that may cause slight damage in transport.

Extra services

Shipping companies that specialize in boat transportation often offer other services as well. Consumers should always look at the extra options to make sure they get the most out of their shipping experience.

  • Professional wrapping service: If the consumer does not have shrink wrap on hand, many transportation companies offer to wrap the boat themselves. This service will vary across companies, and price may depend on the size of vessel being wrapped.
  • Tracking: A few shipping companies allow consumers to track and monitor their boat as it moves toward its destination. Consumers wanting to follow their boat should ask a shipping company if it provides tracking support through GPS apps.

Company-provided trailers

Overland shipping requires the use of a trailer. For consumers who are shipping a boat from a harbor or who have purchased a boat without a trailer, transportation companies often have trailers on hand.

  • Adjustable trailers: Because boats come in all sizes, companies often use trailers that can adjust to accommodate various types of vessels.
  • Custom cradles: Some companies that do not have a large fleet of trucks and trailers available at their disposal will offer to build custom cradles to fit the consumer’s boat. These cradles keep the boat securely on its trailer for transportation.

Company qualifications

Few aspects matter more than a company’s qualifications when evaluating options for shipping boats. Consumers should make sure the company they work with has a good reputation and qualifications.

  • Licensed: For a shipping company to be licensed, it must be legally recognized as an entity. Fully-licensed shippers have multiple licenses from various state agencies, and some shippers will verify their licenses upon request.
  • Bonded: Bonding means that shippers are required to fulfill their contracts with consumers. A bond protects the consumer, allowing them to be reimbursed if the shipper does not perform its required service.
  • Insured: Shippers that are insured have their cargo protected in case of an accident. However, insured shippers vary regarding coverage. A consumer should make sure they have all the insurance information available in case they decide they need extra coverage.

Pricing

Boats are expensive investments, and shipping them can cost a fair amount of money. Consumers should make sure their payments are secure, and sometimes shopping around yields better deals.

  • Online or instant quotes: With the right information, shipping companies can offer quotes instantly. Consumers with accurate measurements and planned routes can get immediate help with a quote either online or over the phone.
  • Online marketplaces: If the consumer prefers shipping companies to compete for their business, online marketplaces allow the consumer see various bids for services. Here, the consumer can compare prices, though information about the shipping companies may be limited.
  • Payment options: The best kind of payment is a secure one. Consumers should always make sure the companies they choose prioritize secure payments through checks or online transactions.

What are different types of boat transportation?

Overland

Overland boat transportation refers to shipping a boat across land. Overland transportation companies require a trailer for the consumer’s boat, though some can build custom trailers and cradles if the consumer does not have one. Overland transportation may be subject to fees for transporting cargo across state and international borders.

Oversea

Oversea transportation is mostly used for international shipping. For oversea transportation, services load the consumer’s boat onto a ship for safe transport. If the consumer needs their boat moved across a relatively short distance, some services have captains for hire that can move the consumer’s boat between harbors.

Air shipping

Some companies have access to cargo planes for transporting boats. It is often more efficient to ship by land or sea (not to mention less costly), but for smaller boats or specialty boat parts, like masts for sailboats and yachts, a cargo plane may be viable option.

Who's it for?

New boat owners

Sometimes, consumers have to travel out of state or even to other countries to purchase a boat they want. A boat transportation service can make sure their boat arrives where it needs to after it is purchased.

Showroom promoters

Boat shows circulate all over the country, and showroom promoters often move several boats at a time. An insured shipping company can help promoters move their inventory securely and efficiently.

People relocating

When boat owners are moving across long distances, a boat transportation service can help move their boat to their new homes.

Vacationers

Boat owners who want to take their boats on vacation can have their boats shipped to local harbors or docks. This way, the owner does not have to haul the boat themselves.

Boat dealer

Boat owners who want to take their boats on vacation can have their boats shipped to local harbors or docks. This way, the owner does not have to haul the boat themselves.

Company reviews

  • Boatmovers.com

    Boatmovers.com (also known as Showroom Transport) has been in the business of transporting boats and jet skis since 1994.

    • Best for Boatmovers.com is best for consumers transporting a boat or recreational watercraft in the continental United States.

  • uShip

    uShip is an online marketplace that connects consumers to transportation services around the globe.

    • Best for uShip is best for consumers who want to choose from multiple offers from potential shippers.

  • Boats Express

    Boats Express is one of the largest marine transportation companies operating in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

    • Best for Boats Express is best for consumers wanting to transport boats across the continental United States.

  • Express Boat Transport

    Express Boat Transport has been offering land and overseas boat transportation since 1998.

    • Best for Express Boat Transport is best for consumers looking to transport a boat domestically or internationally.

  • Joule Yacht Transport

    Joule Yacht Transport has been in operation since 1954. They specialize in transporting large boats across the United States.

    • Best for Best for Joule Yacht Transport is best for consumers looking for overland yacht transportation in the United States.

  • Peters & May Group

    The Peters & May Group has provided transportation logistics solutions across sea, air, road and railroad since 1988.

    • Best for Peters & May is best for shipping luxury vessels internationally.

  • Sevenstar Yacht Transport

    Sevenstar Yacht Transport is a worldwide yacht shipping company with offices around the globe.

    • Best for Sevenstar Yacht Transport is best for yacht owners transporting their vessels across long distances.

  • Interstate Haulers

    Interstate haulers, a family-owned, U.S. company, has been transporting boats and other vehicles nationwide since 1997.

    • Best for Interstate Haulers is best for consumers shipping their boats across the United States.