How To Move A Boat Without A Truck (3 Easy Methods)

Moving a boat can be a complicated task, especially when a truck is not available for use.

However, there are various alternative methods that can be employed depending on factors like the size of the boat, its weight, and the distance of movement required.

From human-powered techniques to utilizing different kinds of vehicles and equipment, the task is achievable with careful planning and execution.

We will provide you with extensive details on how to move a boat without a truck while prioritizing safety and compliance with local laws and regulations.

Understanding Your Boat

Understanding your boat is the crucial first step before attempting to move it without a truck. The size, weight, and structure of the boat greatly influence the methods you can use for transportation.

Determining the boat’s size and weight

This information is fundamental as it will dictate what methods are suitable.

Measure the length, width, and height of your boat, and if its weight is not listed in the owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website, consider using a public weigh station.

Assessing the structure and materials of the boat

The structural integrity and materials of your boat can affect how it should be moved.

For instance, lighter materials such as fiberglass or aluminum may allow for easier manual carrying, while heavier materials like wood or steel might require more substantial equipment or machinery.

Understanding the limitations and requirements of the boat

Different boat designs have different requirements for transportation. Flat-bottomed boats, for example, are easier to transport on flat surfaces, while V-shaped hulls might need special consideration to prevent damage.

Additionally, boats with fragile or sensitive parts should be properly secured before transport.

By fully understanding your boat, you can make more informed decisions about the most appropriate and safest methods for moving it.

Preparing For The Move

Preparation is a critical aspect when planning to move a boat. You will need to make sure the boat is ready for the move, plan your route, and adhere to all legal regulations in your area.

Check Local Laws and Regulations About Boat Transportation

Before you start the moving process, it’s essential to be aware of any local laws or regulations regarding boat transportation.

This could include obtaining necessary permits or following specific road rules when transporting your boat.

Prepping the Boat

The next step is preparing your boat for the move. Remove any loose items on the boat that could shift or fall during the move, causing damage.

It’s also a good idea to cover your boat to protect it from any debris or weather elements during transportation. Make sure any hatches are secured, and remove valuable electronics, if possible.

Planning the Route

Finally, planning your route is crucial. Consider the terrain, distance, and accessibility of your route. Be aware of any low bridges, narrow roads, or tight turns you may encounter, especially if you’re towing your boat.

Use a mapping tool to plan the best path to your destination and always have a backup route ready in case of unforeseen circumstances.

By meticulously preparing for the move, you can help ensure a smoother and safer transportation process for your boat.

How To Move A Boat Without A Truck

There are several methods you can use to move a boat without a truck, from human-powered options to alternative vehicles.

The best method will depend on the size and weight of your boat, as well as the distance you need to move it.

Human-Powered Methods

  • Boat Dollies

Boat dollies are essentially a set of wheels that you attach to the hull of the boat. Once attached, you can push or pull the boat over hard surfaces.

Appropriate boat sizes and types for this method: Dollies are most effective for small to medium-sized boats. They are generally not suitable for large or heavy boats.

Pros and cons of using boat dollies: Boat dollies are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. However, they require a smooth surface and are not ideal for long distances or uneven terrains.

  • Manual Carrying (For Small Boats)

Safety considerations when manually carrying a boat: Make sure you have enough people to handle the weight of the boat and that everyone knows how to lift properly to avoid injury.

How to properly lift and carry a boat: Lift with your legs, not your back, and make sure the weight of the boat is evenly distributed among all carriers.

Possible need for multiple people: For anything but the smallest boats, you will likely need multiple people to carry the boat safely.

Animal-Powered Methods

  • Horse-Drawn Boat Pulling

This method was used extensively before the advent of motor vehicles. It involves harnessing one or more horses to the boat and having them pull.

Practicality and requirements for this method: While not commonly used today, it could still be an option for short distances and in certain environments, provided that care is taken to ensure the welfare of the animals.

Pros and cons of using horse-drawn methods: This method can handle larger boats than human power alone, but it’s less practical in modern settings and requires access to trained animals and handlers.

Alternative Vehicle Methods

  • Using A Trailer And Car/SUV

The trailer must be suitable for the size and weight of the boat. It should have appropriate support and tie-down points to secure the boat during transport.

Attaching the boat to the trailer: The boat should be properly balanced on the trailer, and all straps and chains should be securely fastened.

Driving considerations when towing a boat: You need to be aware of the increased stopping distance when towing, and take wider turns to avoid clipping the curb or other obstacles.

  • Using A Professional Boat Hauling Service

These services specialize in moving boats. They have specialized equipment and experienced staff to safely move your boat.

Cost considerations: While this is the easiest method, it is also usually the most expensive.

How to choose a reputable service: Look for services with positive customer reviews, proper licenses, and insurance.

By understanding and weighing these methods, you can choose the most suitable one for your needs. Remember that the key factor in your decision should be the safe and secure transportation of your boat.

Safety Precautions When Moving A Boat

Moving a boat without a truck can present unique challenges and safety risks. It is crucial to take appropriate safety measures to ensure both the protection of the boat and those involved in its transportation.

Understanding the Risk of Injury and Damage

Heavy lifting and towing can lead to potential injuries or damage to the boat if not conducted properly. Ensure everyone involved understands the risks and is committed to safety.

Ensuring the Boat is Secure During Transport

The boat should be secured properly no matter the method of transportation.

This might involve tying it down onto a dolly, or trailer, or ensuring it’s held securely while being manually carried. Always double-check all straps, chains, and securing points.

Safe Practices When Moving the Boat Manually

When manually carrying a boat, everyone should use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.

This means lifting with the legs, not with the back, and ensuring the weight is evenly distributed. It also means taking frequent breaks to avoid overexertion.

Driving Safely When Towing a Boat

If you’re using a car or SUV to tow the boat, remember that towing changes the dynamics of your vehicle. Allow for extra stopping distance, take turns wide, and drive slower than you normally would.

Taking the time to prioritize safety can help prevent accidents, injuries, or damage to the boat during its transport.

Always err on the side of caution and don’t rush the process. Safety should always be the number one concern when moving a boat without a truck.

Post-Move Considerations

After successfully moving your boat without a truck, there are some post-move considerations to attend to.

This involves checking for potential damages, ensuring the boat is properly placed at its new location, and fulfilling any follow-up requirements.

Checking the Boat for Possible Damage

Despite your best efforts, the boat may have suffered some minor damage during the move.

Conduct a thorough inspection of the boat as soon as possible. Look for any signs of wear, tear, or damage that might have occurred during the move.

If you find anything, make sure to have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Properly Placing and Securing the Boat at its New Location

Once you’ve moved your boat to its new location, you’ll need to ensure it’s properly placed and secured. If you’re leaving it in the water, make sure it’s moored securely.

If you’re storing it on land, it should be supported in a way that distributes its weight evenly to avoid any warping or structural damage.

Follow-Up Requirements

Depending on the laws and regulations in your area, you might need to report the boat’s new location to local authorities.

If you used a professional boat hauling service, they might have paperwork for you to complete.

The post-move phase is just as important as the move itself. By conducting a thorough check, correctly placing the boat, and completing all necessary paperwork, you can ensure the long-term safety and performance of your boat.


Moving a boat without a truck can be a complex task, but with a proper understanding of your boat’s specifications, careful planning, selecting the right method of transportation, and adherence to safety measures, it is entirely achievable.

This process underscores the importance of preparation and attention to detail. Whether it’s human-powered methods or utilizing alternative vehicles, each method comes with its own pros and cons that need to be evaluated against your specific circumstances.

Post-move considerations ensure the longevity and functionality of your boat. Remember, no matter what method you choose, safety and compliance with local regulations should be paramount throughout the entire process.