Boat shipping do’s and don’ts for this summer

The boating season is still in full swing, but sooner or later owners will start thinking about winter storage. With that in mind, we bring you advice on getting your boat where it needs to be, safe and sound. Here’s half a dozen easy tips on boat shipping solutions.

DO prepare your boat for transport

Before getting the boat on the road, you’ll need to make sure it’s ready for it. Assuming this is not your first time moving it, you’re probably familiar with this checklist already. Still, let’s run through it one more time, just to make sure:
• Drain all the fuel from the tanks, all the water from the transom.
• Disconnect all the batteries, wrapping any loose cables in plastic.
• Remove detachable components such as anchors, antennas, or propellers.
• Secure any loose items belowdecks, or remove them from the boat entirely.
• Double-check to see if all openings are properly latched or taped shut.
• If using your own trailer, check the condition of the tires and brake lights.

DO NOT neglect safety precautions

You can usually sign up for a vessel safety check once the boat is in the water. However, it can’t hurt to cover your bases even before you ship out from home:
• Visually inspect the hull, looking for significant wear-and-tear.
• Check the boat’s electronics, confirm that everything is in working order.
• Make sure the engine is fully operational; consult a mechanic if necessary.
• Inspect the drains, pumps, and hoses for signs of blockage or corrosion.
• Check the safety equipment – life jackets, fire extinguishers, flare guns, etc.
• Make sure you’ve got all the supplies you’ll need onboard.

DO consider your storage options

In the post-season, many owners arrange for boat shipping to off-site dry storage location. Still, cheap on-site outdoor storage is also very popular. If you don’t mind paying for shrink-wrapping or similar protection, see what options your local boatyard is offering.

The safer choice is usually more expensive and involves having your boat hauled home for the winter. Depending on your location, residential dry storage can also involve protection from the elements. Additionally, it allows you to work on your boat during the winter months, which can be useful.

So consider all options and see works for you. Of course, whichever way you decide to go…

DO NOT let unqualified operators handle your boat

For most of us, owning a boat is still somewhat of a luxury. We value them greatly, and wouldn’t trust untrained personnel to operate, transport, or store them. But it’s not always easy to find someone who actually knows what they’re doing, is it?

If the staff at the boatyard doesn’t fill you with confidence, don’t rely on them to secure your boat for the winter. After all, insurance can only cover so much. You don’t want to return in the spring to find the boat full of mildew and bird droppings. But if they’re experienced and reliable, they’ll treat your boat as if it were their own.

The same standard applies to haulers, of course. If you choose to move your boat home for the season, don’t just go with the first towing company that comes along. Instead…

DO take the time to find a trustworthy transporter

When choosing a boat transporter, price is obviously an important factor but not always the decisive one. Above all else, you want someone you can trust to get the job done. Someone who’s hauled similar boats before. Ideally, someone who knows the route well.

Using CitizenShipper, you can apply all these criteria and more to hire the right transporter. When listing your shipment, let them know exactly what you want done and how. You can set your own price, or let transporters bid against each other by sending you their quotes.

Choosing a personal transporter this way takes a little effort, but it’s simple and works for most boat owners. You’ll know exactly who handles your boat, discussing any specifics with them directly. And obviously, trust is a key component in boat transport.

DO NOT fall victim to scammers

When hiring contractors online, one thing to watch out for are scam artists. A hauler might contact you privately with an attractive offer, perhaps allowing you to waive certain fees. They might even use the name of a reputable company (such as CitizenShipper) and falsely claim that they work there. They’ll ask for payment upfront, then fail to deliver. Sometimes they even come up with an excuse and demand additional payment to get the job done in time.

To avoid this, be sure to use only proper communication channels when discussing boat shipping bids. If you pay upfront, check to see if the payment processor that you’re using allows chargebacks. Most importantly, only deal with reputable transporters – those whose user feedback shows that they’re professional, honest actors.

But hey, boat shipping shouldn’t be stressful

All these warnings and checklists shouldn’t spoil your enjoyment of boating. Keep in mind that in the customer-hauler relationship, you’re the one holding all the cards. As long as you know what you want from a boat transporter and aren’t afraid to ask for it, you’ll be just fine.

So do remember that you’re in charge, and don’t forget to have fun.

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