Trucking a boat across North America:
THE GALIANDER JOURNEY
© 1997-1998 by John and Eleanor Coulthard
Permission to copy for non-commercial purposes is granted provided the source is acknowledged ~ http://www.galiander.ca/trucking.htm
In 1996 we trucked our Catalina
34 sailboat "Galiander" from Vancouver to the Baltimore
area and then in 1997 trucked her from Fort Lauderdale
back to Vancouver. It is not cheap
, and there is a lot of preparation and reassembly involved. In addition we had to handle crossing the US/Canadian border.
To truck a boat like a Catalina
34 across the continent expect to get quotes that may range from $5,000 to $8,000 (US) each way depending on a variety of factors. For example getting a "backhaul" involves getting a deal from a trucker that is delivering a boat out to your location and who would otherwise be returning with an empty truck. You need to be prepared to be flexible with respect to departure time to take advantage of a backhaul. Our trip from Vancouver to the Chesapeake was a backhaul and we were delayed about a month because the original load coming out to the West Coast
was cancelled and we had to wait for another trip.
The cost will only be for the trucking. The quote will not even cover lifting the boat onto the truck. You need to make arrangements with a marina at both the departure and arrival end. With respect to preparing the boat for trucking and refitting the boat, the more work you do yourself the more reasonable the cost will be. Expect to pay from $300 to $1000 US and up at each end depending on how much work you expect the marina to do.
Arrange the trip several months ahead of time. I would suggest a minimum of three months. I would recommend obtaining three quotes unless you are really comfortable with the company you have chosen and are not terribly price
sensitive. The following list of trucking companies was obtained from other boaters in the Bahamas
. I believe in each case the boater had actually dealt with the company and presumably was happy with the service
. I used Wyskochill Marine
o A & B Marine
o Joule Yacht Transport Inc., Fl. (800) 237-0727, (813) 572-0235(fax)
o Andrews Trucking, Niagara on the Lake, (800) 263-7140, (905) 262-4223(fax), (905) 262-5335, Contact: Glen Stewart
o Wyskochill Marine, Fl. (941) 758-0223, (941) 758-4196 (fax) Contact: Ken Wyskochill
o Booking Agent: Overland - (410) 263-1312, Contact: Dave Spokely.
The trucking company will need to know the specifications for your boat. Weight and width are not typically as much of a problem as overheight.
Try to get a reference for the trucking company. Things to consider include the importance to you of timing. If you can be flexible with respect to the shipping
date you may be able to negotiate a discount. On the other hand if you really want your boat to be moved on a certain date attempt to find out how reliable the company is with respect to shipping
dates. Be aware that even the most reliable companies may not be able to control all the factors behind the timing of the move. For example on the return trip from Ft. Lauderdale our truck had a bearing overheat. That one day delay turned into a longer delay when the truck was not allowed to move through the state of Montana over the Memorial Day weekend.
Allow at least a week to prepare your boat. The mast
must be removed and wrapped. The mast
will be laid close to the bed
of the truck and will be exposed to road grime. The marina should be able to prepare the mast for you. Typically the mast will be wrapped in plastic bubble wrap. Scraps of carpet will be used to pad winches. Some boaters recommend wrapping the entire mast in old carpet before putting the bubble wrap on. Another layer of plastic and lots of duct tape will follow the bubble wrap. Some boaters recommend shrink wrapping the boat. This involves putting plastic completely around the boat, right down below the water
line. If you are not price
sensitive, go ahead, as there is no apparent downside. Other than that the value of the shrink-wrap seemed to get mixed reviews
from boaters I discussed this with. We did not shrink-wrap our boat for either trip. We did put a good thick layer of wax on the mast and the boat. This will tend to repel road dirt and make the boat easier to clean after the trip. Galiander was so clean on arrival at Baltimore
that we didn't touch the hull
at that end. On the return trip we power washed her and applied another coat of wax. How dirty the boat will be seems to be determined by the weather
the trucker encounters during the trip.
will be completely removed, coiled, wrapped separately, labeled and stored, typically in the cabin
. We managed to fit the boom in the cabin
as well. Turnbuckles should be removed. Anything that sticks up will have to be removed. Radar
arches must come down, as will your dodger
. For through hull
masts seal up the mast hole very well. Think about a rain driven by a 60 mph wind!!!. Tape the companionway
board seams. The boat may travel backwards. (See picture). Everything that may normally be on the outside of the boat will be placed inside. For example your barbecue
and bumpers if they are normally stored outside. Anchors must be placed securely in their anchor
well or inside the boat. Your dinghy
must be deflated and stored, as must your outboard motor
. It is surprising how much space all this will take and how long it takes you to prepare everything. Load your boat up as much as you want. Just be aware that everything inside should be well secured for the trip. Pack all dishes and glasses in boxes with packing paper. Then place them on the floor. Secure drawers with tape. On the return trip, drawers, which have never opened under sailing conditions, opened and fell to the floor.
You may want to consider special insurance
for the trip. Your marine insurance
will probably not cover the road trip. The trucker should have insurance. Discuss it with them and decide if it is adequate.
It would be nice to be there when the boat is loaded but that may not be practical. For example you may have a flight booked and the truck may be delayed. In this case it is important to deal with a marina that you trust to load the boat competently in your absence.
Upon arrival everything has to be unpacked and reassembled. Allow another week. Check your masthead instruments and wiring
while it is convenient.
If you are crossing the US Canadian border you will have to deal with US/Canadian customs
and immigration. For Canadians entering the US the border officials seem to be most concerned that you have a permanent address in Canada
. I gather they want assurances that you do not plan to stay in the US indefinitely. I went to the border ahead of time, explained to them what we planned to do, and got the necessary forms. I then filled them out and gave them to the trucker. Despite this homework the trucker was delayed at the border. The boat dealer we arranged the trucking company through had to make a personal trip to the border to get it moving again. Although I went personally to the border ahead of time to make sure that we met all the US conditions, there was still a problem. If you can personally be there when the boat crosses I would advise it. Contracting with a customs
broker might be satisfactory.
Canadians need a cruising permit
. This cannot be obtained ahead of time. You have to wait until you arrive at your starting point. We picked up ours in Baltimore. Our permit
contained the warning, "FAILURE TO REPORT AT EACH PORT OF PLACE IN THE UNITED STATES MAY RESULT IN A PENALTY OR FOREITURE OF THE VESSEL." The first time we phoned in we asked when they would like us to call in next. The response was always that calling in when we entered the next state was sufficient.
On the return to Canada
we reentered Canada about a week before Galiander arrived. We met the trucker at the border. We had kept careful track of our expenses and although it took about an hour, the procedure was straightforward and the officials were courteous. Another boater I chatted to arranged for a customs broker to expedite the passage
of his boat. That worked as well.
Here is a picture of Galiander in the holding yard at the Canadian border on the return trip. Note that she is sharing the flatbed with a brand new Catalina 38
being delivered to the Vancouver area. This is called piggybacking and truckers love to be able to do this when they can. This represents a big load. Note that one boat is travelling backwards. There are strobe lights strapped to both ends. Note the mast lashed to the side. The bow pulpit was removed from Galiander to shave off a little more length. The trucker noted that they were "really stretching the envelope" with this load.
Go to The Galiander Journey Introduction
Revised: May 9, 1999