Moving a boat: help me break analysis paralysis
April 11, 2021 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Hi all, I have a powerboat that is in a slip at a marina. I also have the matching trailer at a rented parking spot at a self-storage place. This was a project boat, and unlike most project boats, I actually completed the project!

Well, sort of. The end result is a boat that isn't really useful for anything except the learning experience that was the project. I definitely do not want to just sell it, as I don't think that's very responsible. The trailer is in great condition though, and someone could definitely buy the trailer and get good use out of it... but then I'd still have the boat.

I stuck in the "but then the grain will blow away, and the duck will eat the wolf" realm of analysis paralysis. I figure this can't be impossible, don't people with boats sometimes die and those boats need to be moved without owner intervention?

What I do have is a pretty good budget, because the current situation is costing $300/month.

I have a vehicle that can move the trailer, but not the boat on the trailer (too much weight). After a bad experience years ago, I won't be asking any friends for free labor or use of vehicles. I'd like everyone involved to be a competent business, who I pay for the service.

The end goal is for the boat to get put on the trailer, and the trailer and boat to be put in my storage parking space. Then I can cancel the marina slip rental while I work on what to do with the boat, and then eventually can stop renting the trailer parking space.

Are there companies that I can call which will just do all this for a price? The boat is not reliable under its own power, and so needs to be towed. (If you are wondering how the boat got to the marina: the boat does have an engine, it just turned out to be too underpowered (this was an electric boat conversion). On a nice calm day it works great, but we have very few of those, and the style of boat with its high freeboard makes it not a good idea to be underpowered in the wind. If I wanted to keep it I would upgrade to a better electric outboard, but I'd rather keep the electrics and downsize boats instead. So on the calm day when I moved it from yard to marina, all went well. I don't want to count on that again, though.)

I have a towing policy with Tow Boat US, at the Unlimited Gold level with Trailer Assist. That says:

Unlimited Gold - 100% payment for offshore, restricted dock and from home dock or mooring to a repair facility.

Unlimited Trailer Assist - Trailer/Vehicle Towing up to 100 miles, Flat Tire Service, Jumpstarts, Fuel Delivery, Lockout & Trailering News.

So can I just arrange all of this through Tow Boat US? Has anyone done this before? Would I be exceeding the "trailer assist" by having the boat and trailer moved to a 3rd location?

Thanks. I'm in Houston, Texas.
posted by BeeDo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Best answer: When I sold my cabin on a lake, I had a similar situation. I ended up paying the person who worked at the marina to come with a trailer and tow my boat 100 miles to a different marina. He was happy to make a few hundred dollars on his day off.

Having said that, I would certainly try Tow Boat USA. Nothing to lose by asking. Many boat owners either do not have their own trailer or do not keep it at the same location as their boat.
posted by AugustWest at 1:38 PM on April 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Uhaul pickups are rentable as tow vehicles, which may help with the “don’t have a vehicle that can tow the trailer with the boat on it” problem.
posted by rockindata at 1:46 PM on April 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Is this boat useful to anyone? Say, someone who has a house on a small lake with little wind? Someone willing to put a larger electric motor in it? Someone who wants to put a giant gas outboard on it? Someone wanting to put a ladder on it and anchor it as a swimming platform? Someone who wants to display it in their yard as a handmade boat sculpture? I respect you not wanting anyone to get hurt by the combination high freeboard, low power, and high winds in the area. So you would have to sell it or give it to someone who is definitely not going to use it in that situation. Or sell it as parts. In particular, you could sell electric motor and dispose of the boat separately.

The problem is, once you put it in storage on the trailer it may be there for years. YEARS. You will save yourself years of storage fees if you can get rid of the boat from where it is now. It is easier to rid yourself of a boat if people can see it on the water. If someone buys it, or takes it gratis, you can have it towed to wherever they are going to use/store it. If you feel the boat is so unsafe that no person can ever use it on the water, then you should dispose of it now, where it sits. But it doesn't seem like that is the case. There must be a use for this boat. You just have to find the person who can use it safely. The harbormaster and the internet seem good prospects for finding that person, or selling the boat as parts.

Congratulations on completing your project. You are the extremely rare boat project completer. So elusive no one has ever seen another.
posted by KayQuestions at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2021 [16 favorites]

Does your marina have a dry storage facility/warehouse? Or, is there another nearby? I don’t know where you are in Houston but there are a number of these in and around Kemah. Dry storage marinas have either a large forklift or marine lift to pull boats out of the water and put them on racks or on trailers. I have done this several times in the past. Here in FL, this service is cheap - $25-50.

Tow Boat US can tow your boat to the marine “for repair.” Just have the marina pull your boat out and drop it on the trailer, then the marina can use their yard tractor to pull the trailer to a site in the yard for you to pick up. You can rent an F-250 at Home Depot for $19.99 for a half day. The whole thing should be <$100.
posted by sudogeek at 3:36 PM on April 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely call Tow Boat but be very clear about terms are totally included or explicitly stated additional costs are locked down prior. As in get an exact route and mileage agreed before hand for both the water stage and road stage.
posted by sammyo at 3:47 PM on April 11, 2021

I definitely do not want to just sell it, as I don't think that's very responsible.

If you were to put it up for sale with an accurate description, and somebody chose to buy it from you at a price you both agreed was fair, how is that irresponsible?

The end goal is for the boat to get put on the trailer, and the trailer and boat to be put in my storage parking space.

If I were in your shoes I'd rent a suitable tow vehicle for long enough to do it myself.
posted by flabdablet at 5:16 PM on April 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

It's ok to sell a bike with dented rims.
It's ok to sell a car with worn out tires.

It's ok to sell a house with a crack in the basement, and any other of zillions of things that are well loved and used and need some repair or improvement from the buyer.

As long as you're honest, there's no problem.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:54 PM on April 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

While metafilter doesn't encourage back and forth in ask, as I'm really a bit bewildered by one of the constraints in this situation, so could you add more detail?
It sounds like you had the experience, you don't actually want the boat now. You are trying to figure out what to do with the boat AND trailer.

So the sentence I don't understand is:
"I definitely do not want to just sell it, as I don't think that's very responsible."

What does that even mean?

You think it's in such bad condition it should be junked? But you aren't junking it, so it's not that. Is it that you have spent enough money on it that you feel you aren't allowed to sell it and must keep spending more money on it? See sunk cost fallacy (if it was a hobby, the cost was the cost of a hobby). I'm just brainstorming here because I literally don't understand what that sentence means.

I mean, the most basic out would be, sell the boat first, or boat & trailer as a combo. It is buyers responsibility to pick it up.

If you are keeping the boat, just ask around at your marina as to who people hire to move boats. You won't be the first or only, and can then sell trailer.
posted by Elysum at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you are comfortable towing in general, U-haul trucks can be used for towing up to 6,000 lbs. If you need a bigger truck, Enterprise rents 3/4 ton and 1-ton trucks that can tow up to 12,000 lbs.
posted by drlith at 6:12 PM on April 11, 2021

Best answer: So, 3 problems. Move boat to somewhere, put boat on trailer, move boat and trailer to desired spot. It looks like tow boat will do the first and last. Call and discuss. You will probably find that they do that sort of thing in their own time when not otherwise busy, but will want you there.

You didn't mention getting the boat onto the trailer. Has the trailer been used for this boat before? If so, using a ramp may be possible. If not, have the boat towed to a working boatyard and pay the $$$ to have the boat lifted out of the water and the trailer adjusted to support it.

I have rented Uhauls, the regular kind for moving stuff. They worked OK, but are not really good for the job for length and visibility reasons. I'm not at all sure UHaul is happy about you using their vehicles for towing, though. You really want a pickup. You might try calling car dealers and see if they can rent you something.

Another thing I might try is to drop in to a local boat dealer and ask for advice. They move boats all the time, both in water and on land. They have people and equipment and might be happy to help for a fee.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:18 PM on April 11, 2021

Find a marina that can haul the boat out of the water and place it on the trailer. Get boat towed to the marina. The marina should also be able to store the boat on the trailer on dry land. This should be cheaper then paying for a slip and storing the trailer at the storage facility.
posted by tman99 at 8:08 AM on April 12, 2021

I don't really know how it works, but if you are in the US you can donate it to your local public radio or TV station, high school, or community college. The former might even arrange for it to be towed, the latter two you might have to deliver it yourself. A high school, technical/vocational school, or community college might be especially interested because of the conversion you've done. And then you get a tax break or something.
posted by Snowishberlin at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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