Transport ships typically don’t provide power, so perishables come aboard after unloading. Fuel tanks must be near empty. The same is true for overland transport. But a delivery crew can bring along provisions, top off fuel tanks and detail the boat. “I’ve even had dogs come along,” says John Wampler, who’s been delivering boats for decades (yachtaide.com).
Two crew average $500 per day combined plus their return travel. Wampler requests half the crew fee beforehand to cover his expenses, along with a credit card for fuel and dockage. Ask to see a sample expense report and negotiate meal per diem beforehand. When traveling overnight and far from shore, three or four crew keep minor inconveniences from becoming big problems.
Don’t think the delivery crew is there to fix problems along the way. Before the trip, clean the bottom, change oil and filters, stock spares and check safety equipment. Wampler carries an EPIRB, GPS, laptop chart plotter and VHF radio, but he insists on a working autopilot. “Hand-steering for 1,300 miles makes for long, mentally fatiguing days,” he says. “I’m not a prima donna. Fatigue causes most accidents.” It’s also reasonable for a pro crew to expect things like air conditioning during tropical deliveries, along with provisions for food preparation and hygiene.
Delivery crews tolerate rough seas, but reasonable conditions favor the boat. Consider contingencies.“If your son and daughter-in-law are headed to the Bahamas for their honeymoon, have the boat there early or plan a backup cruise to the Keys,” Wampler suggests.
Check references from owners of similar boats transiting similar waters; don’t rely solely on referrals from captains and brokers. Run background and credit checks. “You’re giving a guy the keys to your seven-figure yacht and a credit card with a six-figure limit,” Wampler says. Insurance falls to the yacht’s policy — ensure it covers waters to be transited and that the captain meets requirements.
Delivering a boat on its bottom adds wear and tear but also catches problems. It’s reassuring to know a pro skipper has pronounced the boat ready for that dream vacation before you step off the airplane. You might avoid sleepless nights.