Transporting Your Yacht Can Get You There
Transporting Your Yacht Can Get You There
Since the company
started moving yachts in
Jeff Last, Dockwise Sales Manager waits for his ride
to the Dockwise Yacht Transport Mother ship.
1993 when it shipped
103 vessels, Dockwise
Yacht Transport has
become synonymous with
the easy transporting of
large yachts.This year
the company expects
to move yachts from
ports as far apart as
Toulon, and Athens.
1 0 • DOCKWALK • AUGUST 2004
By Roger Marshall
uppose you need to get your yacht from Antigua to Palma de Mallorca, in three weeks.
What are your options? You can hurriedly provision the boat and get underway for a
three-week cruise across the Atlantic. Or you can turn to Dockwise Yacht Transport
and give your crew a vacation. Using DYT, you will have enough time to also schedule a repaint of
the bottom, touch up varnish work, and maybe even change the anodes or props before getting to
Palma de Mallorca ready for a remunerative charter season. So which option would you prefer?
Since the company started moving yachts in 1993 when it shipped 104 vessels, Dockwise Yacht
Transport has become synonymous with the easy transporting of large yachts. This year the company expects to move yachts from ports as far apart as Vancouver, Newport, Ensenada, Palma de
Mallorca, Toulon, Athens, Brisbane and Aukland. To find out how the process works, I boarded
one of the Dockwise ships with Jeff Last, the Dockwise Sales Manager, just prior to the vessel’s
scheduled trip from Newport, Rhode Island, to Palma de Mallorca.
From the deck of Oldport Marine’s launch, the Dockwise ship looked huge. It must be to carry
up to 35 yachts of up to 60 feet LOA. The actual number of yachts onboard at any given time is
determined by the size of the vessels to be carried. Going to Europe on this trip there was a 150foot Feadship occupying less than half of the Dockwise hold. In front of it was Jude, a 1964 30foot wooden Cheoy Lee ketch sailboat being transported to Europe for a summer of sailing by the
American owner who lives in France. And in front of Jude was another yacht of about 60 feet. The
yachts were slowly settling on the blocks placed in the bottom of the ship as the water level inside
the hull dropped.
The capacity of a Dockwise transport ship is limited by two factors: a yacht’s length and its draft.
A Dockwise transport ship can sink, in what Last referred to as crash dive mode, to allow a 20-foot
draft. In such a mode, the Dockwise ship draws about 45 feet of water. The largest yacht transported was the Presidential yacht Williamsburg with a length of 250 feet. Generally, smaller transport
ships are used from the Caribbean to Newport, than are used for Atlantic crossings.
Photo credit: Suki Finnerty
While we were aboard, Jeff Last made
some interesting observations about the yacht
transport business. He said, “When we first
started transporting yachts in 1993, the average yacht length was 85 feet. Last year the
average length was 125 feet. In 1993 we
moved 104 yachts. This year we will move
So what does a captain need to do to use
Dockwise transportation? First, you should enquire as to availability.
According to Last, trips are often booked as far as six months in
advance. However, if the DYT vessel isn’t filled, you can often get
aboard on short notice.
Second, you’ll need a docking plan. The docking plan is basically a
drawing showing the shape of your boat’s hull, often called a lines
plan by designers. The docking plan also needs to show any protuberances, such as keel coolers, stabilizers, water intakes, or exhausts, and
where the rudders, props, and shafts are located. The docking plan
should accurately portray the overall width, length, and draft of your
yacht, along with its displacement. Such a plan can usually be
obtained from the vessel’s designer or its builder. This plan should be
preferably electronically mailed to the Dockwise office in Ft.
Lauderdale, Florida, where it will be used by the loadmaster to develop a loading and blocking plan.
Onboard the ship that I visited the loadmaster (who flies up from
the Dutch office for every loading) was Pascall Minjon, who is normally based in the Holland office of DYT. The loading and blocking
plan drawing, when printed out, ends up being about three feet long
and shows every yacht’s location aboard the Dockwise transport ship.
It also shows the blocking required to support each yacht when it is
hauled out, as well as the lines that will be used to secure it.
Interestingly, the yachts are packed so tightly that they are often less
than a foot from the side of the ship. This says that the docking plan
that you send to Dockwise had better be accurate and include rubrails
and anything that protrudes from the hull side or bottom.
The next thing for a captain using the Dockwise transport service to
know is that you must arrive on time. Yachts go aboard in a predetermined order, and a yacht that is late can hold up the boarding process.
If a boat is extremely late, it may miss the ship altogether, although
Last said that that almost never happens. “We rarely get cancellations,” he said. “Even after 9/11 we got only one cancellation.”
Any crew that accompanies a yacht on a DYT vessel sleeps aboard
the yacht. But yacht crews eat in the ship’s mess. Typically, only one
crewmember goes with each yacht. However, the number may vary
depending upon how many yachts are onboard. Riders are only
allowed for yachts over 80 feet.
Once the boat is high and dry, safely in the hold of the Dockwise
ship, maintenance work is allowed to be done on the hull. For a
captain, this is a chance to schedule hull work at no extra cost and
with no downtime.
How much time will you typically have aboard a Dockwise transport ship? It usually takes about ten to fourteen days to go transatlantic, depending on the final destination. For trips from the
Caribbean or Florida to Newport, three to four days is typical.
Dockwise Yacht Transport has an extensive schedule. The company
runs several transatlantic trips every year, as shown on the schedule
published on page 27 of this issue. In addition to its East Coast runs
from the Caribbean and Florida to Newport, the company also has a
vessel dedicated solely to carrying yachts up and down the West Coast
from Ensenada, California, to the Seattle-Vancouver area. When the
America’s Cup was in Australia and New Zealand, the company ran
several trips to carry syndicate yachts to the venues. Over the next season, DYT expects to transport yachts to the Olympics in Greece, and
next year to Valencia, the new home of the America’s Cup.
DOCKWALK • AUGUST 2004 • 11