Boat transportation help?

Is it cheaper to haul a 30 ft long 12 ft wide 12,000 lb boat by semi or by driving it on the mississippi. Distance is from Florida to Michigan

3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
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    I assume when you speak of "transport" you are speaking of a professional boat transport service. . . So obviously, if you have the time, and the fuel range - the waterway route would sure be a lot nicer. . . but it will also be the most expensive - especially if you have a twin engine cruiser. . . but the fact that you only get 3 mpg is not really a factor as an 18 wheeler only gets about that, and may also require an escort vehichle or even two in some states. ie: ikes! 3 drivers, plus expenses, plus fuel, plus miles = $$$$

    It would seriously depend on the type of boat and how it is powered, also the height of it's super structure. In addition, your waterway route would depend on where you are in Florida and exactly where in Michigan you are taking her, and her height above the water.

    If you are on the Atlantic side above Vero Beach City Marina (ICW St. Mile marker 952) you would want to head north on the ICW to the Hudson, and take the Erie Canal to Lakes Erie, and through Lakes St Clair, Huron to Michigan. All total, a distance of about 2,400 miles.

    If you are south of Vero Beach, you would take the Lake Okeechobee and Florida Gulf ICW to Mobile Bay, and head up the Tennessee-Tombigbee through Kentucky Lake to the Ohio river and then cruise only 219 miles on the Mississippi to the Illinois river and 334 more miles to Chicago. You save about 400 miles by taking the Tenn-Tom route vs the Mississippi.

    If your 30 footer is a power boat, I guarantee you it would never make it up the Mississippi river, as it will NOT have the necessary fuel range. (there are only 2 fuel stops between Sea Brook Marine - is located just 1/2 mile off of the Gulf Intracoastal east of Harvey Lock, and Hoppies Marina on the Upper Mississippi River at mile marker 158. This is a distance of 1,112 miles with only two fuel stops - both sides of which require a 450 plus mile fuel range. Then Tenn-Tom route gives you a lot less current against you, and for one (250 mile) exception, marinas average less the 50 miles apart all the way to the Ohio river. The exception is, it is 250 miles from your last fuel (Green Turtle Marina or Kentucky Lake Marina to Hoppies Marina (your first fuel on the Upper Mississippi river. .

    So if you have a 250 mile fuel range, you can go the Tennessee-Tombigbee route and not only have a more enjoyable adventure - but cut the journey by more then 400 miles and save a lot of fuel by not having the Mississippi current against you all the way. .

    I would not recommend the Mississippi route, as not only does it require two 400 plus mile areas between fuel stops, you are fighting the current all the way.

    The problem with over-land transport is that it could cost you more then the value of your boat. For one, they don't get any better milage then your boat, plus you have to pay the driver, and driver's hotel and expenses plus a bit of profits for the company, and insurance - it is not cheap. If the load it too high or too wide, you may also be required to pay for an escort service through some or all states. You will have to get bids for that - as "exactly" where they pick it up, and "exactly" where they are dropping it off, as well as your vessels height on the truck will make a huge difference.

    Believe me, I built boats for 40 years and your "guesses or estimates" on the cost of professional boat transport can easily be off by $10,000 or more.

    Last but not least - depending on exactly where you are taking her - there is a 19' 1" fixed bridge just south of Chicago. If you are headed to Lake Michigan, and can not make it under this bridge, then you will have to go the Atlantic ICW route to reach the Great Lakes. . .

    Source(s): This link covers the entire Great Loop with all your route, and river miles, stops, marinas, distances, etc.
  • 8 years ago

    Interesting problem. What I'd do is buy (yes buy!) a suitable trailer. Used if possible. Make sure the running gear is in great shape (new tires). Then buy (yes buy!) a R/V truck to be used as a tow vehicle. Something with dual rear and good load/towing capacity.

    You will need to pick up some wide load signs.

    Then with the assistance of your marina load the boat on the trailer. Get a friend to go along and using interstate highways, drive the boat to Michigan.

    Now, Sell the truck (Yes, sell the truck!) You can keep the trailer for off-season storage.

    My plan has been used successfully several times. It's both quicker and far less expensive than any other method.

  • 8 years ago

    Driving is always cheaper than boating, almost completely regardless of the circumstances. Boats get horrible gas mileage. Consider yourself lucky if you get 3 mpg out of a boat that size.

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