How to Prep Your Boat for Safe Transport

Our history working with DOT, boat yards, permit agencies, and marinas ensures greater payload security and fewer delays. Beattie's Marine Transport policy forbids drivers from hauling cargo in conditions they deem hazardous, whether due to faults identified on a client's trailer, the weather, or any other impediment that might compromise safe transport. That said, proper boat transport preparation requires meticulous planning. 

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The onus for boat prep rests soley on the owner, not the transport company. We do not prep boats for transport. If you need assistance with Prepping/De/Re-Commissioning your vessel, we can help you select a Full Service Marina, Boatyard, Captain, or Marine Surveyor to accommodate your needs.

**If ill-prepped for hauling, the boat will be transported “as is.”  Beattie's Marine Transport bears no liability for any consequent damage**

We suggest that you…

...Have the vessel properly prepped when our truck arrives. To ensure that we meet scheduled obligations with other clients, we may, at our discretion, impose a fee for unnecessary delays. Though we have an excellent track record when it comes to delivering boats on time, we cannot guarantee on time delivery given the many elements over which we have no influence, such as storms, highway congestion and marina operations.

...Prepare your boat for a successful transport as directed in this guide.

...Have a licensed marine surveyor supervise or inspect your boat prep, which should be performed by a well-respected boat yard. The larger the boat, the more imperitive this recommendation.

...Be fully cognizant of that fact that Beattie's Marine Transport holds itself harmless as relates to casualty resulting from: improper loading or preparation, defective cradles, chains, trailers, binders, or other implements supplied to secure cargo. Failures not caused by driver negligence (such as client supplied equipment that fails due to road vibration or high winds) cannot be deemed the fault of the transport company. View List of items for which Beattie's is not responsible.

...Bear in mind that if your boat is traveling 55MPH into a 19MPH head wind, it is withstanding hurricane force winds, making it all the more important to secure all loose items before transport. The accumulation of road dirt on the boat during moderate to long trips is inevitable, the cleaning of which is the responsibility of the boat owner.

When requesting a transport quote, accurately measuring your vessel is imperitive, since space allowing, we may be able to transport another boat along with yours, thereby allowing us to offer a lower transport rate. Failure to supply accurate dimensions makes it impossible for us to gauge what we can and can't transport in a single trip.

OVERALL LENGTH: Include bow pulpits, swim platforms, outboard motor brackets, outboard motors (the length of the motors or out drives in the raised position). If on a trailer, include from the tip of the tongue to the end of the motor. The maximum height of many overpasses is 13 feet 6 inches. Boats with an overall height greater than 13.6’ loaded on the trailer require special handling and routing.

OVERALL HEIGHT: Measured from the bottom of the keel to the highest non-removable part of the boats. The draft + clearance = total height. Pending on your model, if the bridge is to be removed, measure the vessel without the bridge, provide bridge dimensions to ensure appropriate transport space.  Remember measure twice – cut once!!! Bridge should be placed somewhere suitable on the boat and make certain it is safely secured. If it must be placed on our trailer, a frame should be prepared for it to rest upon. If your radar arch is removed, it should be secured against your boat. You might consider using carpet to protect areas where surfaces may "touch".Electronics such as radios, Loran Systems, etc., should be shipped separately or securely stowed in your cabin, with all cabin doors, windows, and any other access, locked.

Measured as the widest point of the boat including anything attached to the boat. Boats wider than 8 feet 6 inches are regarded as oversize loads and require state permits.

 Here are some basic questions to ask when choosing a marina for your boat. Do they have a travel lift or fork lift to load or offload your boat? If necessary, can they shrink wrap or cradle your boat for international transport? Do they have a service bay for disassembly or reassembly of the radar arch or fly bridge?
Can they assist with the preparation of the boat for transport?
Please choose a marina with at least 14’ overhead clearance, with no low tree branches or wires on its approach. Remember, the larger the boat, the higher the load, the more clearance required.

Once a rate to transport is agreed upon, a deposit payable to Beattie's Marine Transport is taken to secure booking, boat coordination fee, and in some cases permits and escorts. Prior to delivery the full balance due is either wired direct to Beattie's Marine Transport Account or a certified check made payable direct to your Owner/Operator driver. This information will be given to you once your boat is picked up. The driver will prepare a condition report noting any obvious damage which you or your designated Agent will be asked to sign before the driver leaves with the boat and again when the driver delivers your boat. Our partner drivers spend much time on the road and it is sometimes difficult to get to the bank. While it’s not required, a cash tip is greatly appreciated for a job well done.


How to Prep Your Boat for Safe Transport

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMOVE AND PROPERLY STORE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: All valuables, exterior electronics, Anchors, Antennas, Propellers, Flagstaffs, Outriggers, any item that extends beyond the stated length, width or height of your vessel.  All canvas, screens, weatherboards and Isinglass. Drain plugs (There should not be any water in the bilge while in transport.), radar transmitters, hailers, and dinghies. Drain fuel and water tanks. Be sure the tank is no more than ¼ full. During winter months, water systems should be drained, as should pumps, and air conditioners.

The batteries should be disconnected and the cables tied off to prevent contact.
If engine hatch covers are battery operated, they should be secured to prevent their opening while in transit. Check for any loose items or items that could become loose.

Please remove, securely pack and stow below decks all electronics, radar, hailers, horns, antennas, propellers, flag masts, lights, anchor lights, etc.. The carrier will not be responsible if they are damaged or if they vibrate off.

All items in the cabin, such as doors and hatches, should be battened down securely and locked. All items on deck should be lashed down. Once you have inspected the cabin to ensure that there are no items which can cause damage, we recommend you lock the the cabin and YOU keep the key.

COVERS & SHRINK WRAP: Life jackets, cushions, grills, deck chairs, or hatch doors can suffer or cause considerable damageif no propery secured. Canvas covers MUST be removed as they will tear or fly off during transport

Despite its ability to keep a boat clean during transport, we DO NOT RECOMMEND shrink wrap. Wind-torn shrink wrap can cause significant harm as it whips against the boat. If we notice a tear, we will repair it with tape if feasible, or if necessary, remove the shrink wrap entirely. It is possible that tthe driver may not hear or see torn shrink wrap due to driving conditions, dark of night or line of sight impediments. Given so much, we accept no blame for harm caused by shrink-wrap or any other covers. In some instances, we may even have to charge for the time it takes to remove covers or shrink wrap in the event of a tear or broken lashing.

WOOD  BOATS: We suggest that wood boats be hauled on custom cradles due to the the difficulty in detecting structural vulnerabilities in wood boats. Custom cradles diffuse the boat's load over a wider area, thus decreasing the likelihood of structural compromise. A coat of linseed oil can help prevent wood boats from drying out.

DINGHIES: Dinghies CANNOT be transported on their davits. They should be stored in the cabin or securely lashed and padded in the cockpit.

HATCHES: Tightly secure and seal all hatches with tape to prevent damage from wind and driving rain. The latches should also be taped to prevent the hatch from popping open in transit and to prevent damage to the boat caused by rain water thru an absent or poorly sealed hatch or deck. Note that boats do not rest at the same angle on the trailer as on the water.

WINDOWS/WINDSHIELDS: Latch and tape all cabin windows from the outside, and remove, pack with a cargo blanket, and stow, all windshields and/or Plexiglas that protrudes over the flying bridge. 

ZEBRA MUSSELS: If moving your boat from an infected state, thoroughly inspect engine intake strainers, all through-hull fittings, drain scuppers, out-drives and all possible areas of attachment. DOT officers check boats for Zebra mussels at weigh stations. If found, they will impound your boat. You will have to schedule hot water removal, and may also be required to have your boat launched first in salt water if your intended destination was fresh water.

INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING:  Overseas shipping requires either your boat to be on its own trailer or on a cradle. We have extensive experience with all requirements regarding international boat shipment. We must receive all appropriate contact information and documentation should you decide to employ a different carrier for overseas delivery.

CRADLES/TRAILERS: Please inspect cradles carefully for fit snugness, bolt tightness, sturdiness and structural integrity. Should your cradle breaks in transit, Beattie's will not accept responsisbilty for resultant damages. If shipping your boat overseas, we can provide a quote for cradling your boat.

If transporting your boat on its own trailer, please read our requirements at the foot of the page to confirm the roadworthiness of your trailer.

SAILBOAT TRANSPORT: Rigging, winches, wind indicators, and lights must be removed from the mast. Mast Poles should be de-rigged, and all cables and spreaders, lashed to the pole. The strong side of the mast should be left "clean" to rest on our trailer. We suggest, but don't require wrapping poles. Though some chafing is unavoidable, particularly if the mast is painted, padding such as carpet should be provided to cushion the mast at the points of tie down. Beattie's Marine Transport is not responsible for costs associated with repainting masts in the event of chafing. Do not secure masts to the boat, as our trailers feature a special area to accomodate the mast. In the event that the mast is secured to the boat, Beatties Marine Transport is to be held harmless for any consequent damage.

If their inclusion causes the boat to exceed maximum height limits, life lines, stanchions, bow and stern pulpits should be taken off. On center board sailboats, make sure the board is secured and will stay up in transit. Keel sailboats may expect some separation where the keel joins the hull. This is not structural damage, but rather is the paint or filler cracking at the joint. Light built or racing sailboats can expect some hull indentation from the support pads. These indentations generally disappear when the boat is returned to water.

Rudders, sticks, ladders, outboards, and anything else that can turn or flap in the wind, should be removed and/or well secured.

POWER BOAT TRANSPORT - ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: Make certain that your windshield is strong enough to withstand the rigors and wind of travel. Confirm the seal is tight and screws holding it in place are not corroded. In some cases, oversize yachts are hauled backwards creating an even greater force of wind pressure. When in the least doubt, REMOVE and SAFELY SECURE IT.   Please NOTE: If not removed, frameless Plexiglas windshields WILL BREAK!!!  We will not be responsible if this happens. Take precautionary measures !! Any inboard/outboard or outboard motors should be raised and locked. It is sometimes prudent to place a 2 x 4 securely between your out-drive and bracket. Whenever possible, you should consider removing the props and safely storing them.

LIST OF ITEMS FOR WHICH CARRIER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE: Hatches, windows or doors that become loose or open, radio speakers, lights or electronics that fall from their mounts, Radio or other antennas, seat cushions that blow out, engine covers that come open, loose items inside or outside of the cabin, locker or cabinet drawers that come open, shrink wrap or canvas that tears or blows off, windshields that fail, drink holders, anchors, and motor brackets, boats shipped on their own faulty trailer, improperly prepared vessels.

USING YOUR OWN TRAILER? PLEASE ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING: To make a trailer ROADWORTHY for a long Interstate trip, please do the following:

1. Tires should be inspected for wear, damage, and dry rot, and should be replaced if necessary. A spare tire is manditory, and all tires should be inspected to ensure that they are inflated to the appropriate tire pressure.

2. Remove wheels and hubs; inspect hubs for wear and rough surfaces, turn drums if necessary.

3. Wheel bearings that have been poorly maintained or exposed to salt water regularly overheat and fail. If your trailer's bearings have not recently been installed or inspected, please have them professionally serviced or replaced prior to ship date. Remove bearings; inspect bearing races for wear. If you replace bearings, also replace races and seals. If bearings are OK, repack and install new seals.

4. Trailers with surge breaks: inspect brakes and hubs for wear, replace brakes and turn hubs if necessary, also check brake fluid level.

5. Check springs, shackles and bushings for wear and corrosion, replace as necessary.

6. Remember to rinse off salt water, as it will ruin trailer wheels, springs and axles.

7. Check to ensure that all lights, wires, plugs, turn signals, brake lights, and marker lights are in good condition and working properly. All necessary repairs should be completed well in advance of the ship date.

8. This work should be done by a professional or someone very knowledgeable on trailers.

Do be sure to properly inspect and prep your trailer. On the Interstate, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, particularly when those ounces and pounds are translated into dollars. Beattie's Marine Transport accepts no liability for damages caused by a faulty trailer, and may at our discretion refuse tranport if the trailor is not deemed road worthy. We cannot afford to put our equipment, your boat, or the health of our employees at unnecessary risk. Thank you for using Beattie's. If you have questions, please call 216-533-4863.


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