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I've shipped my sailboat from Florida (Port Everglades) to the Caribbean (St. Thomas) twice and from Oman to Turkey once. I managed a group of 20 sailboats, including mine, that were on the shipment from Oman to Turkey. I give this as background to the experiences I have with shipping.
1. Obtain shipping quotations from at least 3 different shipping companies (see below) with approximate shipping dates included in the quotation.
2. Do not use a "broker" to arrange the shipment of your vessel. Brokers are simple middle-men who do exactly what you would do to obtain a quotation and charge a significant fee for their services. I have 1st hand horror stories of using a "broker" that are not pleasant and resulted in the loss of enormous amounts of money.
3. A cradle is necessary to ship your vessel. Without a cradle is it not possible to ship - UNLESS you use the float on - float off ships (Dockwise fleet). The float on - float off ships are fantastic and your vessel is welded to the ship's hull using the ship's supports (provided by the ship).
4. Insurance is required to ship your vessel. Either your current insurance carrier or a 3rd party company will insure your vessel (at your expense).
5. Ask the shipping company who the "Load Master" is. Without a "load master" there is no loading of your vessel. Dockwise and Seven Seas (now called United Yacht Transport) have "load masters" they contract or are employees of the company. Just ask if they have one for your vessel at the point of origin and destination.
6. The major shipping companies are Dockwise (DYT) and Seven Seas. Dockwise and Seven Seas have now become one and the same company (United Yacht Transport), as indicated on the emails I receive twice monthly (www.united-yacht.com). The Dockwise fleet has the float on - float off vessels. The Seven Seas part of the company can only ship your vessel as "deck cargo" on a contracted cargo ship. "Deck Cargo" always requires a cradle for your vessel.
7. Peters & May also can ship vessels. I had limited contact with them because they had a ship hijacked with a load of vessels as "deck cargo" near Yemen so they were off my list, temporarily.
8. You can also contact any large cargo ship (Maersk, etc.) and ask them directly if they will take your vessel as "deck cargo". Remember to provide your own cradle and load master if you pursue this shipping option.
9. Cradles are normally arranged through the shipping company. Make sure the cradle is enroute to the shipping point of origin, and check on this at all times as you do the location of the ship. The other option is to have a cradle custom made for your vessel at huge expense at the point of origin.
10. Shipping prices are extremely negotiable. Discounts are common with significant lead time before your loading time frame.
11. Track the arrival of your ship with AIS (online). Simply get the MMSI number or ship name and you will know where it current is sailing and when it will arrive at your location.
12. Shipping time frames are variable and no specific date can be relied upon as your shipping date - UNTIL the ship is waiting at the dock to load your vessel.
13. Delivery dates at the final destination are usually easier to predict because you can track your ship using AIS (online).
14. Customs clearance is necessary for your vessel when it arrives at its' destination. Sometimes the shipping company arranges for Customs but not always. Ask the shipping company who is responsible for Customs clearance. Contracting a local agent to clear your vessel into the arriving country is necessary, either by yourself or the shipping company, and this is another expense.
15. Prepare your vessel for shipping as you would if a hurricane were passing over the vessel. Seriously. Remove all sails and canvas, clear the decks and lash down everything that could possible move (anchors, etc.). Secure everything inside the vessel as if you were doing an ocean passage. There will be a lot of movement of the ship, along with gale force winds. Keep your vessel as light as possible (minimal fuel and water).
16. Loading your vessel on the ship is by either motoring into the ship's cargo hold (float on - float off) or the use of the ship's crane. All securing of your vessel on the ship is done by the ship's crew and "load master". Your physical presence on the ship (if the vessel is being shipped as "deck cargo" is at the discretion of the ship's captain. Make prior arrangements to obtain the captain's permission to be on the ship. This is mandatory and nothing should be left to chance.
17. It is not permitted to be on your vessel onboard the ship, nor to ride onboard the ship, normally. If your vessel is over a certain length (varies but usually 80 feet or greater) a skeleton crew is allowed to stay on the vessel (for a fee).
18. Upon arrival at the final destination, your vessel may have soot from the ship's engines, or desert sand, or grime, etc. The ship's crew may spray your vessel in port with salt water as it arrives to minimize any dirt. Usually vessels arrive very clean at the final destination.
I hope this helps those wishing to ship their vessels.
edited by ssiguaw on 7/31/2017