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A Guide to Properly Measuring Your Boat Before Shipping

A Guide to Properly Measuring Your Boat Before Shipping

Shipping a boat can be a complex process, and ensuring accurate measurements is crucial for a smooth and successful transit. Whether you’re moving your vessel for maintenance, relocation, or sale, taking precise measurements beforehand can prevent logistical headaches and potential damage. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to properly measure your boat before shipping, ensuring a safe and hassle-free journey.

Understanding the Importance of Accurate Measurements

Before delving into the specifics of measuring your boat, it’s essential to grasp why precise measurements are vital. Inaccurate measurements can lead to improper loading on transport trailers, potential damage during transit, or even legal issues if your boat exceeds transportation regulations. By taking the time to measure your vessel correctly, you’ll minimize risks and ensure a seamless shipping process.

Gather the Necessary Tools

To accurately measure your boat, you’ll need the right tools at your disposal. These may include a measuring tape, a carpenter’s level, a straightedge, and possibly a laser distance measurer for larger vessels. Ensure these tools are in good condition and calibrated for accurate readings.

Start with Length, Width, and Height

Begin by measuring the length, width, and height of your boat. For length, measure from the tip of the bow to the farthest point on the stern. Use the straightedge to ensure a straight line. For width, measure from the widest point on one side of the boat to the widest point on the opposite side. Finally, measure the height from the bottom of the keel to the highest point on the boat, typically the highest part of the deck or mast. Click here to know more.

Consider Beam and Draft

In addition to length, width, and height, it’s essential to measure the beam (the widest part of the boat) and draft (the depth of the boat below the waterline). These measurements are crucial for determining the boat’s stability and ensuring it fits properly on the transport trailer.

Account for Overhangs and Protrusions

Many boats have overhangs, such as swim platforms, bowsprits, or antennas, which extend beyond the main hull. Measure these protrusions separately and add them to the overall length and height measurements to ensure they’re accounted for during shipping.

Check for Special Considerations

Depending on the type of boat you’re shipping, there may be additional considerations to keep in mind. Sailboats, for example, may require measurements of the mast height and beam at the waterline to ensure clearance under bridges and overpasses. Motor Boats with flybridges or radar arches will also need careful measurement of these features to avoid clearance issues.

Account for Trailer Dimensions

If you’re shipping your boat on a trailer, don’t forget to measure the trailer dimensions as well. This includes the length, width, and height of the trailer, as well as any additional features such as ramps or extensions. Ensure the combined measurements of the boat and trailer fall within legal transportation limits to avoid fines or delays.

Double-Check Your Measurements

Once you’ve taken all the necessary measurements, it’s crucial to double-check them for accuracy. Compare your measurements to the manufacturer’s specifications if available, and have someone else review them to catch any potential errors. Remember, accuracy is key to a successful shipping experience.

Document and Communicate Measurements

After confirming your measurements, document them carefully and communicate them to the shipping company or transporter. Provide detailed measurements for both the boat and trailer, including any special considerations or overhangs. Clear communication will help ensure that the shipping process goes smoothly and that your boat arrives safely at its destination.

Consider Professional Assistance

If you’re uncertain about measuring your boat accurately or if your vessel has complex dimensions, consider hiring a professional marine surveyor. These experts have the knowledge and experience to take precise measurements and can provide valuable insights into any special considerations or potential challenges during shipping. While there is a cost associated with hiring a surveyor, it can ultimately save you time, money, and headaches by ensuring the process goes smoothly.

Account for Weight Distribution

In addition to measuring the physical dimensions of your boat, it’s essential to consider weight distribution. Improper weight distribution can affect the stability and safety of your vessel during transit. Ensure that heavy equipment, such as engines or ballast, is properly secured and balanced within the boat to prevent shifting or damage during shipping.

Plan for Permits and Regulations

Depending on the size and dimensions of your boat, you may need to obtain permits or comply with specific regulations for transportation. Oversized or overweight loads may require special permits or escorts, and certain routes may have restrictions on vehicle height or width. Research the transportation regulations in your area and ensure that your boat and trailer meet all necessary requirements before shipping.

Prepare Your Boat for Shipping

Before shipping your boat, take the time to prepare it properly for transit. This may include securing loose items on deck, removing valuables and personal belongings, and protecting delicate equipment from damage. Drain fuel tanks and water systems to prevent leaks or spills during transport, and secure hatches and doors to prevent them from opening unexpectedly.


Properly measuring your boat before shipping is a fundamental step in the transportation process. By taking accurate measurements and considering all relevant factors, you can avoid logistical headaches and ensure a smooth journey for your vessel. Whether you’re moving your boat for maintenance, relocation, or sale, investing time in precise measurements will pay off in peace of mind and a successful shipping experience.

Published by: Martin De Juan

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