If you wish to get from the US east coast to west coast, or vice versa, then trucking a yacht overland is a reasonably affordable alternative to the long passage via Panama or a NW passage attempt. Many US and Canadian yachts do the trip each year from both directions and there is no shortage of trucking companies specialising in this.
Based on our experiences of trucking a 38ft yacht from Lake Superior to Seattle in 2017 we would offer the following general advice:
- Cross border tucking from US to Canada or vice versa, appears to be very problematic and we didn’t find anyone prepared to do it for an affordable price. You are well advised to stick to one side of the border or the other when crossing.
- In 2017 quoted prices for a crossing on the US side of the border were on average 20-30% lower than on the Canadian side.
- Height of boat is a significant issue on the east coast of the US where there are many more low bridges than on the west. If you have a deep draught vessel then you may need to remove stanchions, push pit, pulpit, wheel, and in extremis even the keel, to meet height restrictions. If height is an issue then you can reduce costs by heading into the Great Lakes first and tucking from Lake Michigan, Superior or Ontario where the height constraints, and distance to be traversed, are less onerous than on the east coast. Furthermore, the trip into the lakes is an extremely worthwhile cruising destination in its own right, irrespective of whether you enter by the Hudson or St Lawrence Rivers.
- When choosing a trucking company, it pays to consult the boatyard from where you will be departing and arriving to get recommendations. The relationship between trucking company and boatyard is critical to the process and things will go a lot more smoothly if you choose a combination that are used to working with one another.
- If heading across to the Pacific North West then Anacortes or Seattle appear to be the preferred destinations. Heading in the opposite direction boats seem to get trucked to most of the major east coast yachting destinations.
- Preparing a yacht for a long transcontinental road crossing is at least as time consuming, if not more so, than preparing for a trans ocean passage and this needs to be factored into the planning. Most yards will do the work for you, but it is time consuming rather than technical work, and if budget is an issue then you will probably wish to do much of the work yourself as most yards will bill the work by the hour.