Boat season is full throttle again, and that means somebody, somewhere needs to move and relocate their water craft. Every year, I move hundreds of over 100 boats on uShip and other sites all around the country - and every year I come across boats that aren't properly prepared for transport. What owners may not realize is that their boat needs to be just as road worthy as it is sea worthy. So here are my Top 5 Tips to prepare a powerboat or sailboat for shipping:
- Scrape It. Twenty states, especially Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, have a new Public Enemy No. 1: the zebra mussel, an aquatic invasive species of dime-sized, barnacle-like clams. So what harm could these little guys pose, you ask? A lot. They wreak havoc on lake and fishery ecosystems, clog pipes, compete with native specifies, damage harbors, waterways, ships, boats, as well as water treatment and power plants. Transporters and boaters alike have been slapped with huge fines for moving boats and trailers containing zebra mussels. You can eliminate potential for problems by scraping off any mussels, barnacles and debris - and letting it dry - before your boat is hauled away and moved to a different fresh body of water. There are other "invasive species" in the form of water weeds that many states ban so check with your home state and where your boat is going for all such regulations.
- Store It. It's not uncommon to see cushions, life jackets and ski gear flying out of boats as they go down the highway. Not only is this a hazard to those traveling around you, these cushions are expensive and often hard to replace. So, store and lock those cushions and other gear in the cabin. If you have an open boat, assemble the loose items together, secure them together and to the boat for transport.
- Kick It. If you plan to move a boat on a trailer any distance, it's wise to do a very close check of tires. A trailer sitting for even 2 years won't make it across the country without a blowout. So kick those tires a bit, looking for dry rot, cracking and tread separation, so you to save you and your carrier a ton of hassle down the road. Other trailer tips include using a lock - not a pin - when securing the trailer to the hitch. Also, use electrical tape for the connector cables - without this, they become disconnected on the road and need to be rewired.
- Drain It. News flash: fuel and water are heavy. A full tank of gas and excess water on a boat can add as much as 1,000 lbs, which completely changes how a transporter prices and carries a load. So, along with draining the vessel of all water, leave less than a quarter tank of fuel prior to pickup.
- Secure It. All antennas, depth finders, stereo, electronics, and communication equipment should be removed from the boat before transport. These high-end items have a tendency to "disappear" at truck stops and overnight parking locations. So, secure these items by taking with you what you can, or lock it away in the cabin if necessary.