In last month’s Northwest Yachting, we addressed the issue about purchasing a boat from out of state and having it moved. Daniel J. wrote in and asked about hiring a captain to deliver the boat instead. There are advantages and disadvantages to water deliveries that warrant special consideration as the logistics get ironed out.
Some advantages would be savings on the trucking costs and yard bills, but let’s work on the assumption that the boat can be feasibly trucked. If you’re buying a boat in New England, you can have the boat trucked to Seattle in seven days. By water, it may take months.
If the boat is not on the same continent, it may make sense to explore some of the shipping companies such as Dockwise Yacht Transport (formerly Dockwise) as an option. If you have plans to cruise in the Caribbean, it may make sense to truck it to Florida. Another logistical issue to consider is the type of boat and if it is really up to the task. If you bought a 40-foot day sailor, or bowrider, it most definitely makes sense to put it on a truck.
Whether the boat is sail or power, you’ll have some truck and yard costs that will be eliminated. However, you will also want to consider some added expenses associated with a water delivery. Before making that call to a captain, it’s important to consider if the boat is prepared for a blue water delivery.
Any good captain is going to require a current survey and proof that deficiencies have been corrected before agreeing to the delivery. For power boats, greater emphasis is placed on a mechanical survey, whereas with a sailboat, more attention is placed on a rigging survey.
After the survey items are considered and any issues corrected, there are additional items that may be necessary to make a blue water delivery. Considerations such as whether the boat has a current life raft or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), as these items can be costly. Are there mechanical spares onboard, offshore sails, and/or offshore communications? These are the questions to ask when you start analyzing what additional costs you may need to absorb.
Another big consideration is calculating the fuel; how many gallons per hour that the boat uses and its range so you know how many fuel stops will be required. Staffing the delivery crew must also be factored in as you determine the cost per person for food and any other fees that you may be required to pay, including airfare and hotels. Determining a delivery plan from Point A to Point B in advance is key so you can factor the number of days on the water into your cost analysis.
Probably the biggest unknown involved with a water delivery are the costs associated with wear and tear. The average boat gets about 100 hours of usage a year. That breaks down to basically four days. A trip from San Francisco to Seattle, for example, could easily put two years’ worth of wear and tear on the boat and systems. That’s a lot.
When and if you do start looking for a delivery captain, my advice is that you ask around and talk to people you trust. If you purchased the boat from a broker, they may be able to refer someone. There are also plenty of online forums where you can ask for recommendations and read reviews. Finding someone who is familiar with your brand or type of boat is a plus and worth some extra digging.
Not all boats are created equal and neither are all captains. Speak to your insurance agent to check if the insurance company has any specific requirements or licenses that the captain may need. Find out if the captain you’re considering has made deliveries on the same route and if so, on what types of boats. Other questions to explore include whether they have their own liability insurance, a current captain’s license, and what tonnage boats they have sailed. Some captains will charge more if the owner comes along, so this is a question to address up front.
Thanks for the question, Daniel J. The short answer is that in some cases, it just doesn’t make sense to hire a captain to deliver your boat.
Do you have a question about your boat, your friend’s boat or a stranger’s boat but didn’t know who to ask? If so, please ask me and we may explore the answer in a future column! Nigel@NWYachting.com