Blog | It’s time for the Great Seasonal Yacht Migration!

October 18, 2016

It’s time for the Great Seasonal Yacht Migration!

It’s mid-October, the days are growing shorter, the leaves are turning, it’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, trick-or-treats – and the Great Seasonal Yacht Migration!

Just as South Florida yacht owners love to move their yachts up to New England during the summer months, like Canadian Geese, Northeastern boaters migrate south for the winter.

There are basically three options to move your luxury motoryacht from one locale to the other: overland transportation by truck, sea transportation by a “lift-on/lift off” ship, or having the boat driven by a transport captain. Which is best for you depends on the size of your boat, and your timeframe, and your budget.

The Intercoastal Waterway

One of the nicest things about moving a yacht from the Northeast to Florida, or vice-versa is you have the option of taking a nice cruise along the Intercoastal Waterway, or ICW. Officially it is known as the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, but most boaters call it “The Ditch.”  Built by the Army Corps of Engineers, the ICW runs approximately 3,000 miles along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., then curves around the Gulf Coast, taking in the massive ports at New Orleans and Galveston, and then on to Brownsville, Texas.

The Atlantic ICW

The Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway

However, be aware that the main purpose of ICW was to provide a trade route for commercial barges in the early decades of the 20th century, so its minimum depth was designed at 13 feet. Since that time, commercial traffic on the ICW has dropped off significantly, at that depth has not been maintained over the years. Today, vessels half that draft have been known to go aground, even when traveling squarely between the channel markers. So, while there are many places to stop and sights to see along the Intercoastal, yachts of appreciable draft, may need to take an open water route, if they are to be driven south.

Other Ways to Transport Your Yacht

Overland transport, or shipping your yacht by truck is another option. However, this method is usually only practical for boats much smaller than most luxury motor yachts.

Once you get to a yacht of appreciable size, anywhere more than 15-20 feet wide, overland transport is rarely the most cost effective method. For such bigger boats, sea transport, or a delivery crew is the better option. The cost of having your yacht shipped from New England to Florida via transport ship, versus having a captain make the voyage for you will pretty be a wash.

Transport yacht by Truck

However, if you choose the transport captain and crew method, you have far greater control over when the yacht arrives. Also, you may want to make an excursion of it yourself, joining the crew as your yacht cruises down to Florida, maybe even making some interesting stops along the way. You may even be able to arrange with your charter broker to offer booking of a charter vacation package from the Northeast to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, and off-set the cost of transport!

The final method of moving a yacht is via a yacht transport ship. You may be wondering “just exactly how is a mega-yacht loaded onto a cargo vessel?” As you might imagine, many times the yacht is loaded onto the cargo ship using a crane, much like a large shipping container. But, there are also yacht shipping boats that are actually “semi-submersible,” which means the cargo holds are designed to flood with water below the water line, and the yacht can be “floated” right onboard, much like a car drives onto a ferry!

Choosing A Yacht Transportation Company  

There are a growing number of companies offering this kind of yacht transportation service. However, like most things involved in yacht management and operation, it is important you look for a company with transparency, and a reputation for reliability.

As in any industry there are great yacht transport companies, and those that can be unscrupulous. In 2013, Yacht Path, a yacht transport service based here in Ft. Lauderdale was forced into bankruptcy, after they were sued by dozens of dissatisfied motor yacht owners. Accusations included owners who were charged double – once upfront, and then again to release their boat upon arrival – and others who were charged for boats that were never shipped at all!

When it comes time to transport your yacht, your yacht broker can help you to separate the good from the bad.

26 North Yachts, and our sister company Florida Yacht Management, works with Sevenstar Yacht Transport. Sevenstar is one of largest and most well-known yacht transport companies in the industry. They have over 30 years of experience, offering liner, tender and ferry services.  Sevenstar also owns Dockwise Yacht Transport (DYT). DYT operates the Yacht Express, the largest “float on/float off” carrier in the world.

Working with a respectable and responsible yacht transport company, means that your boating season never has to end!


Finding the right company to ship your new or pre-owned luxury yacht can be challenging. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Sales Specialists, or call us at 954-900-9988.

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