Boats

5 min read

Sail Smoothly: Unveil Hidden Boat Shipping Fees

Set sail on savings! Ever wondered if your dream boat could sink your budget? Dive into our chart-tastic guide on boat transportation costs and navigate your finances like a pro. Anchors aweigh, savvy sailors!

Tobi Miles
October 23, 2022

For one reason or another, you may need to move your boat from one location to another. For example, perhaps you purchase your boat in a different city, state, or even country and want to bring it to your location. Or maybe you want to transport your boat to a marina or boatyard for vacation or repairs.

Boat transportation cost varies mainly depending on how far the distance is. It costs between $150 to $350 for short distances. On the other hand, you could pay between $600 to $1,000 or more for longer distances. Furthermore, another notable factor that affects the cost of transporting your boat is its size.

Boats are relatively large vessels, so, typically, you’ll pay a high amount for their transportation. However, many factors affect the cost. The primary factor, as referenced earlier, is distance. Longer hauls cost more than shorter hauls.

Other factors that could influence the transportation cost include the delivery and pickup location, boat size, boat type, and transportation route – especially when bringing in a boat from overseas. This post will go into all the details of boat transportation costs. 

How Much Does It Cost To Transport A Boat?

On average, transporting a boat will cost you between $600 and $1,000 for longer distances and between $150 and $350 for shorter trips. However, the cost can be lowered or higher depending on several factors.

These factors include pickup and drop-off point, height, weight, and boat length. In addition, for some boats, especially the larger ones, you may need to purchase permits and escorts to transport them. Such extra payments can stretch the overall transportation cost.

The safe shipping of various boat types requires attention to specific details. If you own power or a speed boat, for instance, you need to make sure the windshield can resist the force of the wind while being transported. In such a situation, you’re limited to certain transport methods, which will influence the cost.

A factor boat owners downplay when transporting their boats is the season. During some seasons, the cost of transporting becomes higher since boat transport companies are in high demand. Examples are during early summer and spring when boat sales are high. Therefore, planning your boat transport and checking the rates for different periods earlier is always ideal.

Transport Costs by Boat Size

Boat sizeCost
More than 12 feet long$2.75 - $3.75 per mile
Up to 12 feet long$2.50 - $3.50 per mile
Up to 11 feet long$2.25 - $3.25 per mile
Up to 10 feet long$2 - $3 per mile
Up to 9 feet long$1.75 - $2.75 per mile
Less than 9 feet long$1.50 - $2.50 per mile

According to a1autotransport.com, boat size is a critical factor in determining the cost of transporting a boat. This is because a boat’s size reflects how much space it’ll cover and its weight, which might place extra pressure on the vehicle used to carry it.

The larger the boat, the higher the transportation cost per mile, as the above chart reveals. However, if the chart doesn’t cover your boat size, you can do the calculation and get a workable cost estimate. To do this, multiply the distance of your voyage by the per-mile rate according to the length of your boat.

For illustration using the above chart, it would cost between $500 and $700 to move a boat that is 12 feet long and travels 200 kilometers. Of course, the final transportation price may vary depending on the company you choose to transport your boat.

When you contact them, you’ll receive a more accurate quote from the boat transport company if you have your boat’s dimensions and the planned route.

Cost of Different Boat Transportation Methods

You can transport your boat by truck & trailer, shipping, container, or flat trail. However, each method costs differently.

Truck & Trailer

Truck & Trailer is the most popular method for transporting boat overland. It’s popular not only because it’s easily accessible but also because it’s relatively affordable. As usual, the cost of transporting a boat by truck and trailer will depend on your boat size. 

However, truck & trailer transport can be expensive when traveling a long distance. For example, you want to transport a 12-inch boat by land. You could pay around $3.5 per mile for longer distances.

On the other hand, shorter hauls could cost less than $2.5 per mile. Truck & Trailer is also a faster method to transport your boat within short or long distances. For example, you could receive your boat in less than five days if transported by land over 1,500 miles.

In comparison, it could take water shipping up to a week. The main disadvantage of truck & trailer transport is that not all locations can be accessed by road.

Container

Container shipping is usually the go-to if you’re transporting your boat into the country from overseas. Transporting a boat via container could cost you from $2,000 to $5,000. However, this varies widely.

Notably, how much you’ll pay for container shipping will depend on how many boats the container will carry. You have two options. You can pay for a full container or pay for a groupage.

The shipping company will ship only your boat when you pay for a full container. As a result, it’s a relatively expensive option since you’ll also pay for the empty spaces in the container. Of course, it’s only ideal to pay for a full container when you’re shipping multiple boats you own.

On the other hand, groupage container shipping is more cost-effective. This is because you only pay for a particular spot in the container, and the shipping company can transport other items in the same container.

Flatbed

Unlike open and enclosed auto transport carriers, transport carriers can accommodate and load various vehicles. Therefore, size and weight are the two most important considerations when deciding whether to use a flatbed carrier for your boat transport. 

Typically, these vehicles transport no more than a couple of boats at a time. Therefore, instead of sharing the overall expenses with multiple boats as you would with a groupage container, you will share them with just one or two. 

Prices are distance-based. The rate per mile might range from $1.50 to $3.00 for shorter distances. Long-distance trips typically range from $0.60 to $1.50 per mile. The boat’s size, weight, and condition primarily set the price. 

How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Boat for Transport?

Irrespective of your transportation method, you must prepare your boat ahead of transport. Preparing your boat has to do with ensuring its safety during transit. You can do this with insurance and protective materials like shrink wrap.

Secure Your Boat with Insurance.

Most boat insurance policies will cost you between $200 and $500 annually. That said, it’s a ballpark figure based on the most popular boat types. Boat insurance rates may cost anything from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. 

One of the primary considerations in boat insurance is the kind of boat you wish to cover. Larger and more costly boats tend to have higher insurance costs. Higher horsepower powerboats also have a higher price. 

Insurers will consider your boat’s condition before determining your insurance rate. As you’d expected, boats in better condition are worth more money than those that are not. In addition, it’s also more probable that a boat in bad condition may sustain more damage while in transit.

Shrink Wrap

Many marinas and yacht yards provide shrink-wrapping services. However, the service comes at a relatively high cost. Typically, the size of the boat plays a significant role in determining the transportation cost.

The price per foot for boat shrink wrap is often between $8 and $25. Therefore, professional shrink wrapping of your yacht can set you back between $300 and $500 every winter.

However, you can purchase the kits and materials and do it yourself, which will help you save money at a reasonable cost. For that, it’s essential to get boat shrink-wrap material that’s the right size for your vessel. 

When wrapping a boat, it’s best practice to buy shrink wrap wide enough to cover the vessel and long enough, so you have enough extra to tuck it inside the outer band by 6 inches.

How Much Does Yacht Transport Cost?

Yacht transport costs for a large yacht might easily exceed $20,000. On the contrary, if your boat is on the smaller side, you might have to spend a couple hundred dollars.

Yacht transport involves moving a yacht or boat from one area to another and can be accomplished by road or sea. However, long-distance transport by land may be faster and cheaper than sea transport for vessels up to a certain length.

If you’re unable or unwilling to sail your yacht or boat across great distances, you may engage a yacht transport service to do it on your behalf. Most yacht owners seek the services of yacht transport companies for safety reasons.

The yacht transport company you hire may charge you by the length of your boat or by its weight. To be on the safe side, you can compare the prices of different companies before settling on a price.

Most of the time, you should go with the lowest-pricing business. However, know that quality service isn’t always cheap, and you shouldn’t lose your boat because of a few dollars.

How are Large Boats Transported, and What Does it Cost?

Usually, boat transport companies transport large boats using containers and yacht transport across the sea. There’s typically a limit for overland transporting boats; for most boat companies, it’s twelve feet. Twelve feet is relatively small compared to some super yachts that are up to 50 feet wide.

However, many boat companies also offer exclusive flat rack shipping for big boats. Since size is one of the primary factors affecting boat transportation costs, you’ll pay more to transport larger boats than small boats. You can expect to pay $2.75 - $3.75 per mile to transport a large boat.

However, note that the price can significantly increase or decrease depending on your shipping method. For example, if you’re going with container shipping, you’ll pay more for a full container than a groupage, as explained earlier.

If you’re going to transport your large boat, it’s ideal that you take off some removable parts to save costs. For example, you can remove removable parts at the top to reduce the height. You can then transport these other parts using other cheaper transport methods. Then, when the boat arrives, you can easily couple back the removed parts.

What is the Overall Cost of Transporting a Boat?

The overall cost of transporting a boat is in the hundreds if it’s a short haul, but in the thousands if it’s a long haul. So no matter the size of your boat, whether big or small, you should expect to pay up to $1,000 if you’re transporting it over 400 miles.

More important than the cost, however, is the transport company. It is worth noting that some companies offer unreliable services over a low overall cost.

Using such companies is risky because your boat may never reach its destination. Only use boat shippers that have shown expertise in transporting boats like yours.

Even if it isn’t apparent from their profile or website, it’s always worth asking directly about it. It’s always a good idea to visit the transport company in person and make all the necessary inquiries.

Finding a shipping company’s reliability is easy with the help of reviews. If you’re looking for the best service, you should ask within the local boating community. You might also look at reviews from third-party sites like Yelp, Google, and Trust Pilot to see what other people have to say.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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