The Finer Details of Yacht Transportation


Navigating yacht relocation can be as foggy as the high seas. Selecting a respected transport company and identifying the ideal method to transport your prized boat or yacht may leave you at loose ends. But, don’t let the wind get knocked out of your sails, with the proper professional advice, moving your yacht will be smooth sailing.

Qualified yacht transport companies such as Ocean Transport relocate any size and type of boat or yacht anywhere around the world. Clients’ vessels are safeguarded throughout the whole moving process. From insurance and custom clearance, to shrink wrapping and divers, the experts organize everything from pick up to delivery. They specialize in every transportation method including the uber-luxury float-on/float-off method, where a yacht seamlessly floats onto a shipping vessel. These are all services to look for when hiring a transport specialist.

To ensure your prized yacht or boat is transported, managed and cared for with red-carpet treatment, it is important to understand the finer details of yacht transportation and follow these steps:

Select a Qualified Yacht Transport Company

The first step, of course, is to find and qualify a transport company to care for and move your boat. It is critical to do a deep dive into the company:

  • Check their experience and knowledge.
  • Inquire about their service offerings. Do they handle all sizes and types of yachts? Do they prepare all documents for you? Do they provide insurance? What are their loading solutions?
  • Are you comfortable with the loading solution they recommended for your boat? Do they provide cradle support systems? Will they shrink wrap if needed?
  • Have them walk you through the entire process.
  • Ask to speak with their references.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of fraud in the yacht transport business. These dishonest companies offer transport services without having the materials, knowledge or even a transporter. They also collect 100% of the payment at booking, so beware of paying in full in advance.

As with most things, cheaper service does not usually guarantee quality. If the quoted price is drastically different from other providers, you will likely sacrifice good service. It is worth paying slightly more to ensure your yacht is in safe hands.

Understand Transport Methods

The size, dimensions and mobility of your vessel will directly impact which option you choose to transport your yacht. There are five ways to transport a boat, yacht or super yacht:

Roll On/Roll Off

This method is the most common way to transport boats. The boat is towed on a trailer or cradle onto the transport vessel and parked on the deck. The roll on/roll off method minimizes any potential damage as the boat is driven on and off, not lifted; and while at sea, the boat is secured for the entire voyage. Upon arrival at the destination port, it is easy to tow the boat straight off the ship and to its final destination.

Lift On/Lift Off

Lift on/lift off is more suitable for larger boats that can’t be moved via a road to the port. This process involves the boat being moored alongside the vessel, with lifting slings lowered from the transport vessel into the water. Divers are then used to secure the boat in the slings. The boat is lifted safely from the water to the transport vessel, where a cradle will be waiting for the boat. The boat is firmly secured to the cradle and floor of the transport vehicle with straps and chains.
Closed Container
This is the most economical way to ship your boat if it fits inside a standard container. If your boat fits into a 40’ container then transporting it via a container vessel is a good option.

Flat Rack

This is the most suitable method for larger boats that can be moved by road to the port for loading and do not fit into a closed container. In this method the boat is loaded onto a “Flat Rack” which is a large flat surface that is an open shipping container. The boat is lifted using a forklift or crane onto the cradle on the flat rack. It is then secured and braced to the cradle and flat rack on the transport vessel. Shrink-wrapping the boat is recommend to protect it against damage and debris.

Float On/Float Off

The graceful float on/float off transport method is often the best option for large, super and mega yachts. First, the shipping vessel is submerged into the water. The yachts then float over the submerged vessel and are moored in their position. Next, the vessel starts coming up to the surface. Once the deck is dry, the yachts are secured to the deck and sent on their way to their final destination. Upon arrival, the yacht is unloaded in the reverse “float-off” method to fully protect it from damage.

Take the time to evaluate the transport company and all of the service options. You will rest easy as your watercraft arrives from her fabulous voyage to your new home port.

By Laura McHolm

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

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