There are several different methods of yacht transportation to move a sailboat from one location to another. The most popular forms of seagoing transport include Roll On/Roll Off (RO/RO), flat-rack, container, and bespoke float-on services such as those provided by Sevenstar.
Container shipping can be the most economical, but your boat must be able to fit into a standard container size. Standard sizes are 8ft wide, 8.5 ft high and either 20ft or 40 ft long. This sizing tends to favour motor boats or smaller yachts with detached keels.
If the boat’s beam is greater then 8 foot then the boat will need to be positioned at an angle; this can lead to stresses on the hull however.
If you can get your boat into a container, then its probably the most economical means of transportation. And there are many carriers and frequent sailings to go with. If your yacht will not fit into a standard container, then flat rack may be an option.
Flat Rack Shipping
Flat-rack has the footprint of a standard 20 ft or 40 ft container, this allows for the container to be stacked and secured on top of other containers. However flat-rack has open ends and sides, allowing for oversized cargo.
Generally the yacht can be oversize in terms of width, but should be with the 20 or 40 ft length. There may be some flexibility in terms of what can be acceptable between carriers. A custom made cradle is also required. There seems to be a good supply of carriers and routes that can support flat-rack shipping.
Roll On/Roll Off
RO/RO can be a more standardised form of transport; I previously used this method to move a yacht from Baltimore to Hong Kong and was looking for the same option for moving Wanda. RO/RO requires the yacht to be strapped to a cradle, then the cradle is loaded to a MAFI trailer. The trailer is then driven on to a RO/RO, which is used predominantly to move cars. The handling is relatively straightforwards, and the boat is protected for the elements.
The downside with RO/RO is that costs can be high. Costs are based on cubic metre, so Biminis, Radar arches, bowsprits etc should be removed to reduce overall volume. Not every port has RO/RO facilities either. The schedules are frequent enough, however booking into a schedule can be challenging if the carrier has more lucrative cargo to move. Also your boat may end up waiting at dock for a feeder service to deliver to the final destination.
Finally, the Sevenstar float on service is surprisingly good value for money. With this solution your boat is guided onto a semi-submerged transport ship. The divers line your boat up with supports welded to the deck, and the transport ship’s ballast is expelled. The deck then rises out of the water and is ready to go. The advantage with this is you do not need to step your mast; you just drive on and drive off. However the sailing schedules tend to be quite limited, if the dates line up for you then this is a great option.
This would have been a great option for Wanda, in fact the price was 50% of my final cost. However the sailing schedule was limited to April 2017, and the route was from American Virgin Islands to the UK. I had no way of easily moving Wanda from Sint Maarten to the AVI.