AWBF supporter Chris Ward knows a thing or two about shipping boats around the world, because that’s the business he’s in. Here, he gives us a comprehensive guide to the things you need to know about moving your boat from one place to another. Thanks, Chris!
How to Transport a Sailboat for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival
The 2019 Australian Wooden Boat Festival is less than one year away, but there is still lots of preparation you must do if you are planning on making the trip out this year.
I always recommend you familiarize yourself with the program first, so you know what to expect, and the different events that will take place throughout.
This is an article for both individuals who have never transported a boat before, and for individuals who have, but want to learn more about the process so that you can ship your boat more efficiently. While sailboats may seem complicated to ship, it’s is no more complex than shipping any other type of vehicle.
In this article, I’ll cover the various popular shipping methods that you can use to ship your sailboat, how to recognize what a good transport company looks like, and some general preparation tips and best practices that you can use to better prepare your boat for transport.
Transporting Sailboats by Trailer
Transporting sailboats by trailer is an affordable method when shipping boats overland. You may be using overland shipping as the sole shipping method, or you may use it in conjunction with other shipping methods like overseas shipping.
Note that shipping boats by trailer is slow, and if time is a factor, this may not be a good method for you. Drivers and couriers have to take great precautions when driving boats because accidents can happen if they are not careful. A trailer can swipe a car, a trailer can flip, and more. This is, mercifully, a rare occurrence for any shipping company.
Of course, hiring a quality transport company will reduce the chance of any abnormal shipping experience to near zero. However, because of the risks involved, shipping a boat by trailer overland will take some time.
Transporting Sailboats by Shipping Container
Shipping containers are a popular method for shipping sailboats by sea or even over land. You will need to contact the shipping company that you want to use as they may have some dimensional restrictions when agreeing to ship your sailboat by container.
Shipping containers are a great method to transport personal boats. They are also an affordable method of transport. The container is secured and locked down from the moment the boat is placed in the container to the moment it arrives at its destination port, and you control who has access to your boat and when.
If you are concerned about the welfare of your boat, and you want to make sure that it arrives at port in the same condition that you sent it, shipping containers are a great method to use.
Transporting Sailboats as Cargo
Transporting your sailboats as cargo may seem odd to the new boat owner, but it is a well-established practice and can be the best shipping method for you, depending on your needs. Your sailboat will be loaded onto a cargo ship and secured, and then transported to your destination port. From there, your boat will be unloaded, and then transported by land or by waterway to your eventual destination.
You may be concerned about sizing dimensions and whether your sailboat can fit. Do not worry. Very large yachts and cruise ships use cargo shipping. Shipping your sailboat as cargo will be effortless.
General Tips and Best Practice
There are many tips and best practices that shipping transport companies should know. Each style of boat has its own general preparedness guide. Shipping a rowboat is a lot different than shipping a yacht, for example.
Here are some tips and best practices that are universal when shipping a boat.
- If you are shipping a boat overland, usually with a trailer attached to a truck, be prepared to spend a long time travelling. Transporting a boat means that you need to drive slowly and carefully, making sure that your trailer does not accidentally fishtail or hit another vehicle.
- The quickest method to ship your boat will depend on your location, and your destination. Shipping a boat to Australia means that you will need to start the transport process with overseas shipping. However, travelling inland in Australia will require you to use road transportation. The best thing that you can do prior to contacting a transport company is to research the various ways you can transport your sailboat so that you can focus on specific solutions when talking to a sales representative.
- The larger the dimensions of your sailboat, the more complex the shipping process will be. Simply put, larger items of anything are more complex to ship than their smaller counterparts. This is merely a size and space issue.
- Weight matters, a lot. The larger the dimensions and mass of your boat, the more expensive the shipping process will be. Make sure that you have an average pricing figure in mind when consulting with a transport company in order to avoid any surprises.
- Add potential expenses for delivery crew members, if you use them. If you are transporting your boat overseas, you may be able to have it couriered to your destination by a professional delivery crew. Payment for the delivery crew can add up, depending on how far you are shipping the boat. You can ask the shipping company for a sample expense report based on your quote and desired services before contracting the company with the transport of your sailboat.
How to Prepare Your Sailboat for Transport
Regardless of the transport method that you use to transport your sailboat, there is a general process that you need to follow. The specific process will depend on the shipping and transport company that you use, but the general process covered below is a good starting point.
- Secure everything on your sailboat as best you can.
- Remove any ancillary objects that can be removed.
- Purchase additional insurance (like voyage insurance) to protect your boat in the event that it is damaged during transport.
- Accurately fill out the shipping form that the company provides you.
- Inspect your sailboat for pre-existing damage and document the state of your boat with a written report, photographs, and even video.
- Remove prohibited items from your sailboat that are not allowed to pass through customs.
- Shrink-wrap your sailboat to protect its exterior from debris and cosmetic damage.
- Power down your sailboat before transit.
- Reduce the weight of your sailboat before transport, especially if you are paying for transport based on weight.
- Provide the shipping company will copies of all the necessary documentation it will need for transport.
- Wooden boats need extra protection, so coat the wood in linseed oil to protect the wood from drying out during transport.
Signs of a Good Transportation Company
There are several, well-known signs that good transport companies share. We will discuss them below, for readers who are either relatively inexperienced transporting their sailboats, or who are transporting their sailboat for the first time.
- Years of experience – the longer a company has been around, the more experience it has. Sales staff will be knowledgeable, helpful, and precise in providing you with the services you need. They will recommend various insurance packages, take you step-by-step through the transport process, and help you successfully prepare for your sailboat’s transport.
- Great references and testimonials – your boat cost you a lot of money so you should use the best transport company you can afford. You need to protect your investment. A ruined sailboat is a sailboat that cannot compete. Contact previous clients of the prospective transport companies you are negotiating with. Makes sure you use the best transport company possible.
- Great rates – a good transport company will provide goods and services that are near the market value based on their competition. If you encounter a shipping company with rates that are well above or well below the market value for shipping your boat, you should be wary and inquire further as to why their rates are unique.
- Long-term satisfaction – a great shipping company will provide great service in an attempt to become your long-term shipping company. If you are not satisfied with the service you are provided, you can contact them and they are helpful. By contrast, shipping companies that do not value your business will not treat you as well. If you feel you are being treated like a commodity or a number by your shipping company, consider switching to a different one.
- Attentive staff members – if you are consulting with a transport company whose staff remember you, this is a sign of a good transport company. Morale will be high and past clients and customers will be satisfied with the services they have received. Attentive staff members are also good because they can help you get the best deals and services, resulting in the most efficient transport service possible for your boat shipping needs.
Import / Export Laws
Depending where you ship your boat from, you will want to check in with the proper authorities to make sure that the process goes smoothly.
In the United States, specific cases require special permits, boaters are asked to declare any goods that they have brought with them, and there are several other smaller laws that are worth looking at.
Likewise, in Australia, boats that arrive via sea are required to check in with the Department of Home Affairs, where they will perform a set of clearance tests before an individual boat and its passengers are granted access to the country. Depending when you arrive, this process can be quick, or take some time.
In certain cases where you arrive late, you may be asked to stay on your boat overnight before being cleared for entrance in the morning.
The Department of Home Affairs makes it very clear that anyone arriving like this should:
- Stay on their boat until they have been granted clearance
- Keep all food and animals secure
- Don’t exchange goods with other vessels
- Keep your boat free of insects
- Any prescription drugs and firearms must be reported
- Passengers carrying more than $10,000 AUD must declare it
- Commercial goods brought in for the purpose of sale must be declared
Don’t be scared of this process. It’s really easy and designed to prevent large-scale abuse. As a recreational sailor, you’ll have no trouble at all getting clearance and enjoying the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.
It’s Time to Sail
In this article, we have covered the following:
- Various methods of transport for boats
- General tips and best practices to ensure your boat’s transport is a breeze
- The general preparation process to ship a boat
- How to recognize a good shipping and transport company
- A brief look at some of the laws that may affect you upon arrival
You now know everything you need to start shipping your sailboat for the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Don’t miss out on this amazing event, it’s something that all sailors should experience if they are enthusiastic about the sailing lifestyle.
And don’t forget, we are trying to set a Guinness World Record this year. (For boats in bottles!) Make sure to bring yours along so you can take part in helping us set a record.