How to get your boat ready for trucking

Story by Harris & Ellis / July 3, 2023

Author: David Harris, President Harris & Ellis Yachts

It’s fun to move your boat to a new harbour on her own bottom, but sometimes, due to time constraints or geography, you need to ship it. For decades, we’ve been helping clients get their boats ready for trucking. Thorough preparation, plus good communication with the transport company and original and destination boatyards, will ensure that your baby arrives in great shape at her new home.

There is a more to do on a sailboat to prepare the sailboat rig, but apart from that, shipping sail and power require much the same steps.

Here are a few tips to ensure a safe and comfortable ride:

  • Contact the trucking company and your current boatyard to coordinate a date for mast removal, haul out (if the boat is in the water), and loading for transport.
  • Prepare the mast by removing masthead equipment and spreaders. Pull halyards through to the masthead, secure or remove all lines, and take turnbuckles off the shrouds and stow them below. Determine if the mast is to be carried in a rack on the side of the trailer (common for larger spars) or on deck. If it will be on deck, prepare supports and lashings. Use carpet padding wherever needed for protection.
  • Clear off the deck as much as possible so that things won’t vibrate or blow around. This includes your anchor, vents, winch handles, canvas, dodger, and frames. Remove or secure lines on deck and secure any deck fittings.
  • Below deck, set bagged and folded sails on the cabin sole and place the boom, anchor, fenders, and mooring lines on top of cushions to provide a soft ride. Ensure that the contents of lockers are secure. Tip: if items stay in place on a rough sailing day, they are likely okay for the road trip. Secure all hatches and ports so they don’t fly open at highway speeds.
  • Check with the trucker about the allowable maximum height of the boat above the road. If necessary to reduce height, remove the bow rail and stanchions and stow them below.


As first-time boat buyers and as foreigners wanting to buy a cruising catamaran in the US, we knew we needed a reliable broker that had our best interests in mind. John Heintzman was just that, and more! He was extremely committed to understanding what we were looking for, gave great advice, and guided us through the purchase process with great patience and knowledge. All in all, we felt very well taken care of.

I feel compelled to reach out about the absolutely wonderful experience that I have had with Grant and Patricia Bowlby. I completed the purchase of a boat yesterday and I couldn’t be happier. They were so helpful, kind, and patient. This was my first experience with a broker, and I think I’ve found the best.

I can’t thank Ewan Campbell enough for the super job he did in selling G, making up for my lack of experience in this realm and patiently searching for just the right buyer and a win-win for seller and buyer alike.

It was a wonderful experience selling A with Jeff Cole’s expert assistance. Thank you for simplifying a complicated process. Your patience and kindness are especially appreciated.

I just wanted to thank Jeff Cole for all his hard work. He was very professional and effective.

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