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Our Boat on the Truck
~ Our Boat on the Truck ~
Schedule for Ship Shipment
Take It From a Professional
Several options are available for getting your new-to-you vessel to the location that you choose to live or sail. Of course, if the distance is within reach of the time you have, you can sail it yourself. If you're not 100% confident and/or would like to safely become more familiar with your boat, you can hire a captain to come along and show you the ropes. Hiring a captain to sail your boat solo and meet you at a new location is also an option. Or you can go the route we chose and hire a truck to ship your baby home.

Given that we had a long way to go from our boat's Rhode Island location to her new home on Florida's Gulf Coast, and that we were both working 9 to 5 jobs that couldn't be left for a weeks-long voyage, the cost of shipping our ship was far less than the cost of hiring a captain.

The downside to this option was that a lot of preparation had to occur. The upside is that I'm a Project Manager by profession, and I was able to apply those skills to this endeavor! Following is a list of all the tasks that had to occur to ship a ship.

Surveying the Boat
1) Survey
Do NOT invest your money or your life in a vessel without first having it inspected by a reputable surveyor. Besides – you will need the final survey for boat insurance. And you will need boat insurance for the marina. And you will need a marina to put your boat in the water. It's sort of a catch 22.

Find out what your surveyor will provide, check references, and follow him throughout the inspection to learn about the boat's systems. If your boat is in the water, be sure to have it hauled out for the survey, so every square inch is inspected. You'll most likely have to pay for the haul out and launch, but don't worry – you're going to be doing that quite a bit in the future.

The surveyor will find things – that is his job. Assess what you can afford to fix, or walk away. There is no such thing as 'just a little deck rot.' The survey's List of Findings will be your first list of boat projects. P.S. There is no end to the Boat Projects list.

  • Interview Surveyor
  • Call References
  • Schedule Survey
  • Attend Survey
  • Obtain Documentation
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Sea Trial
2) Sea Trial
Hulls, keels, and sail plans are designed in all different shapes and sizes for a reason – and every vessel sails a little differently. You should always take your potential boat out for a test drive to see if you are comfortable with how she handles. Ok – if your boat was in the water I just told you to take it out of the water for the survey and now I'm telling you to put it back in the water! But how embarrassing would it be to find a major leak before the ink on the check was dry?

Even if it is not required by the seller, it is a good idea to hire a certified captain for your sea trial. He carries insurance should anything occur that causes expensive damage to the boat before you own it. A captain who has handled many different models might also be able to provide you with some helpful information about how to handle your boat.

Dock space is at a premium and expensive in many places. If the boat was up on jack stands before the sea trial, you will most likely have to put it back there. Stick around for each launch and each haul out to be sure no damage is done in the process.

  • Schedule Captain
  • Schedule Launch for Sea Trial
  • GO SAILING!
  • Schedule Haul Out
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Our Boat on the Truck
3) The VERY SPECIAL Trucker
There are lots of companies out there who deal with shipping a ship as a specialty – pick one of these. It takes a special bed to haul a sailboat, so not every trucking company is equipped for the job.

Get quotes, referrals, and find out all you can about the company. Once you purchase your vessel – it becomes very special to you and you need to be sure it will be safe and well taken care of.

Before your ship is loaded onto the truck, make sure you have a valid copy of the trucker's MTC liability insurance in hand, and verify it will cover the value of your vessel. Make sure you understand all the fees on your contract as well. Some trucking companies will charge you an hourly rate if it takes more than a certain amount of time to load or unload your vessel – so scheduling and timing is critical.

  • Research Trucking Companies
  • Request Quotes
  • Obtain Copy of Trucker's Insurance
  • Hire Trucker
  • Schedule Pickup
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Working Ontop of the Mast
4) Prep for Mast Removal
Before the mast is removed, the wires for the lights, radar, anemometer, and what have you will need to be disconnected. If you have a radar dome, you will want to remove if from its bracket so it doesn't get damaged in the mast removal process. You can do this part yourself, but if you are at all skittish about climbing a 50' stick, your ship yard should be able to help you with taking care of this. P.S. You may need to get over that skittishness eventually.

We opted to let the guy who rigged the mast to the crane do this, but it turned out to be a bad idea. He marked each of the numerous radome wires with tape, writing the initial of the matching colors between the cut wires. I don't know why it never dawned on him that Blue, Black, and Brown would get confused by this method. And we were never sure if 'G' stood for Green, Grey or Ground. I suppose when your way up at that altitude, it's difficult to think clearly.

  • Mark Wiring Connections
  • Disconnect Wires
  • Climb Mast
  • Remove Radar Dome
  • Land Safely OR Write a Big Fat Check
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Working Ontop of the Mast
5) Mast Removal
If your boat is big enough to need a truck, the mast is too big for you to take down yourself. You will need to hire a crane. The shipyard may have the capability to do this, or will do the hiring and scheduling for you if they don't. Then all you do is the paying. But make sure it is not overlooked, and schedule it so it occurs on the day of shipping. That way the ship yard won't charge you for storage, and if timed right, the crane can just load the mast onto the truck.

I have to smile to myself about this one. My father, a very intelligent engineer, volunteered to assist us in dismantling and prepping the boat for shipping. I kept him well informed of the project schedule, updating him frequently as the shipping day grew nearer. When I mentioned scheduling the crane, he responded "What do you need a crane for?" Once I explained, my mom confessed that dad had been losing sleep over calculating and designing ways for Don and him to bring down the mast safely. I had to laugh, but knowing my father, in time he probably would have come up with some viable scheme.

Once the mast is horizontal, remove all you can from it. Standing rigging and the hardware that attaches it is very expensive. Be sure to mark every piece so you know where it goes, but you will want to hire someone to tune your riggingApplying the appropriate amount of downward tension on the cables that run from the top of the mast to the hull of the boat to increase performance and prevent failure caused by the forces of wind on the sails. after you get it all back together, so don't worry about marking where the toggle bolts were set. Coil and store all the pieces below, then wrap your mast in thick plastic to protect it from road debris.

  • Schedule Crane
  • Remove Mast
  • Secure Standing Rigging & Toggle Bolts
  • Wrap Everything in Thick Plastic
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Our Naked Boat
6) Dismantling the Deck
Your trucker will provide you with information about the height of the bed, and the maximum height of the load. We had to get the boat's overall height to 13' 3" as the truck bed was 9" from the road. This will mean removing most everything on the deck for a blue water cruiser with a very deep keel.

Most things on a well made ship are made to somehow stay on deck in stormy weather, and yet come-off for repair and maintenance. We were very impressed with the ease engineered into dismantling gear on our Hans Christian.

You should be able to store what was removed from the top of the boat – inside the boat. It is the safest place for it to travel. Now get out the duct tape. Cover holes left open by removed deck hardware. Tape up toggle bolts, T-bolts, anything that can work its way free. Finally, lock your boat up, and cover the hull with some bio-friendly dish soap. This will make it easier to clean the road grime off when it arrives in its new port.

  • Remove Stanchions, Boom Gallows, Bow Rails, Stern Rails, Cowl Vents, Anything Sticking Up Higher than what Your Trucker Recommends
  • Pack Safely Below Decks
  • Tape Holes and Hardware
  • Soap Hull
  • Lock it Up
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Our Boat in the Travel Lift
7) Loading
How the boat will be loaded depends on your trucker's rig. Again, the ship yard will assist with scheduling the travel lift and crane. All you have to do is get out the checkbook – again.

Verify your truck arrival time, and be there for the loading to make sure no damage is done. It is really quite a site to see!

You will also need to find out the rules and requirements for each state the truck will pass through. Escorts, or special permitting may be required. Your trucker may be able to help with this as well, but it's best to be informed as it can impact not just fees, but schedules as well.

Once everything is secured on the truck, there is nothing to do but wait until it arrives at the new destination. Be sure to have your trucking company provide you with updates along the way – so you will know if everything is on schedule for the receiving marina.

  • Schedule Travel Lift
  • Verify State Requirements
  • Watch Boat Load
  • Track Shipment
  • Wait
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Truck Backing Up to Travel Lift
8) Unloading
Not all marinas have the capability to launch a vessel, so if yours doesn't, you will need to find one close by that has a well and a travel lift. Be sure to mention the amount of depth you need, the tonnage of the boat, and the amount of clearance your mast will take so you don't get trapped behind a bridge, or stuck on a shoal.

Provide the receiving marina with your expected delivery date, and make sure they will be ready to take the boat off the truck as soon as it arrives so you will not be charged extra fees while your trucker waits around.

If you needed a travel lift to load the boat – you will need one to take it off as well. This very specialized piece of equipment takes a trained operator, but shouldn't take more than an hour from flatbed to launch or blocking.

  • Research Receiving Marina's Capabilities, Fees, and Requirements
  • Schedule Delivery
  • Schedule Travel Lift
  • Unload Boat
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Our Boat Sitting in the Travel Lift
9) Prepping for Launch
This is your chance to take care of things that you won't normally be able to do – because they are under water. You may want to paint the hull with a new coat of bottom paint, or check and repair any thru-hulls – the controlled holes that bring water in and take water out of the boat. There may be other things found in the survey that need to be taken care of before the big splash.

Note that the marina will NOT want your boat hanging in the lift for longer than necessary, so if you plan on doing work before getting splashed, you'll need them to set you on jack stands.

Also check whether they allow you to do your own work, or require you to hire them. The lift, blocking the boat, yard storage, moving jack stands, launching, electric, water, EPA fees; there are so many charges the boatyard can impose. And that's not even counting the actual work that might need to be done. You didn't put that checkbook away did you?

Be sure you know what all the costs are before committing to any of them. If you are hiring someone to do the work, make sure they are scheduled as well, because boatyard space can be pricey. Otherwise, you can have the boat unloaded and splashed in one fell swoop.

  • Off-Load Boat
  • Block or Splash
  • Scrape, Sand, Paint, Caulk
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Ready to Launch
10) Launch
Now that you have gotten her bottom all beautiful, it's time to show it to the ocean floor! I know we haven't talked about putting her deck gear back on, but some of that can be easier done from the side of a dock then from a 7' ladder. You be the judge.

After she's in the water, but before the slings are slid away, be sure to check each of the thru-hulls for leaks. Some drying and shrinking may have occurred while your vessel was out of her element, and it's better to catch these issues without the chance of sinking. This is also a good time to replace the flax-packing – the material that wraps around the shaft in the stuffing box. This is a task that needs tended from time to time and again, better dealt with while in the safety of the travel lift.

  • Schedule Launch
  • Hope She Floats
  • Check for Leaks
  • Replace Flax Packing
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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Sailing Away
11) Reassembly
Time to reattach everything that you took off. You'll be caulking and bolting and cleaning off duct tape glue for a bit. And you'll probably discover the magnetic attraction the ocean has for fasteners and tools – so have spares on hand. To this day when I purchase screws, I always get extras for paying alms to the sea.

It won't take long to have your shipped ship ship-shape again. And before you know it, you are part of the tribe of Live-Aboards.

  • Attach the Stanchions, Boom Gallows, Bow Rails, Stern rails, Cowl Vents, Everything Previous Taken Off the Boat
  • If you do it yourself, you won't have to write a big fat check!
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Crane Stepping the Mast
12) Mast Stepping
Déjà Vu! Basically do the reverse of task 5 & 4, and hope that all your toggle bolts are still in one piece, and the wires you cut are long enough to reconnect.

You should hire someone to 'Tune the Rig' once the mast is put back on. Basically, this is someone skilled in tightening all the cables that come from the top of the mast down to the ship. The tuning will make sure that the correct forces are placed on your rigging, and will rake, or bow your mast so that your ship sails properly. A tuner will also check your cables and the connections to make sure they are in good shape. Few things are scarier on a sailboat than seeing that big stick snap and fall.

  • Schedule Crane
  • Step the Mast
  • Write a Big Fat Check
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All of these steps may seem a bit overwhelming and I'll admit both Don and I lost a lot of sleep over the weeks we were preparing for our own experience. Don lost sleep mostly because I would wake with a start and shriek "WE FORGOT TO SCHEDULE A …!"

But our experience with the ship yards, marinas, and everyone else involved with the services we needed was wonderful. Family members helped with the disassembly and reassembly of the deck gear, and the whole process gave us a jump start on getting to know our new home better.

The bottom line was that financially, we came out ahead with regard to shipping verses hiring a crew. Although it may have been less labor (no assembly required), a crew is paid wages and expenses for every hour from departure to delivery. We were in hurricane season, and with Katrina spinning around, I'm certain there would have been more than a few days that crew would have been waiting out bad weather in a port.

About Us
About Re Metau
About Our Journey
Becoming Re Metau
About Our Cruising Kitty
Neptune
Tour Our Floating Home
Big Living on a Little Boat
About Our 1st Boat
A Morgan 24 – Points Unknown
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