Need advice on shipping a sea kayak

-- Last Updated: Apr-25-05 10:08 AM EST --

I'm looking to ship an 18ft sea kayak from East coast to Wyoming. Too big for most
parcel carriers and Wyoming isn't exactly a shipping hub.
Any advice on how best to accomplish this?

give Eddyline a call
there’s a fellow who only ships kayaks/canoes,sorry I don’t recall the name but I’m pretty sure Eddyline uses him,he’s located in S.C,or is it NC. anyway you’ll have to drive to his pickup/drop off points but if you absolutely do not want to risk damage,I’d take him over ANY shipping company. I sent a wood kayak coast to coast through him,cheaper than regular shippers. Too many instances of regular shippers spearing a kayak with a forklift or other misc. accidents to risk it.

Forward Air

– Last Updated: Apr-25-05 12:32 PM EST –

If you can ship between two major cities, Forward Air probably services them and their rates are amazingly low. I shipped an 18' kayak from Boston to Denver through them for $86. Go to and you can get a list of cities served and an estimate of the cost. The estimate I got was $135, but the actual shipping was much less.

You might check for the closest ConWay agent. QCC ships all of their boats, (other than pick ups I suppose), using ConWay.


Don’t ship fiberglass
There’s a good reason most etailers won’t ship fiberglass boats via common carrier. They can get broken up pretty good. Last year, I used Forward Air to ship from OH to MA and it got punched through in five places, even though it had extra padding. There are a number of freelance boat movers who crisscross the country with trailers. One of your local outfitters might know of one or two. They’re not cheap, but are usually careful. If you have to go by truck, insure in an amount enough to cover everything: boat, packing, freight, etc.

Forward Air was the carrier of choice
to ship an 18’ kevlar 'yak from Denver to Boston. As other posters have stated the cost is very reasonable.

But as others have indicated you must to take precautions to adequately protect the 'yak.

Mine was first wrapped in cheese cloth, then double wrapped in heavy duty bubble wrap. Then the whole thing was wrapped in shrink wrap. The two ends were further reinforced with more bubble wrap, cardboard and shipping tape. The center of the 'yak around the cockpit espcially the bottom of the hull was reinforced with cardboard and more bubble wrap.

Finally, the whole thing was placed in a cardboard crate made by modifying two cardboard crates obtained from a kayak retailer. (I think the crates were originally used for Epic kayaks)

The 'yak made the trip sustaining only a couple of minor cosmetic scratches – but you should’a seen the “crate” it took a lot of abuse along the way. I would guess that all the signs saying “fragile” and “this side up” were ignored. As the box was not crushed I can assume they didn’t ignore the “top load only” sign. The bashed ends of the crate indicated pretty rough handling - fortunately the extra lenght and padding paid off!

I think the keys are:

  1. Protective packaging (the more the better)
  2. As few “transfers” as possible along the route (the fewer times the yak is handled in transit the better - Denver to Boston required one transfer in Ohio)
  3. Reliable shipper
  4. Insurance if you can get it.

Ditto on Forward Air…
You are taking your chances with wood or glass. Of the three kayaks that I have personal knowledge two of them were speared. I would not ship again with out a crate.

Hard to tell…
I work in the shipping industry and any common carrier is probably destroy it. I would suggest looking for a moving company, a company offering “white glove”, or “blanket wrap” service. These guys generally deal in unprotected furniture. Most other carriers line haul freight from terminal to terminal till it gets to is destination. So it goes on and off trucks. Also these companies move anything from kayaks to cement so who knows what your boat will be slamming up against in the trailer.

Conway and Forward Air are both decent companies, but things do happen. We have stuff damaged all the time on every carrier we use. I would definately put it in a plywood crate. It may cost a bit to make, but its well worth it.

A quick trick of the trade… trucking companies charge more to pick up/ deliver to a residence so if you have a business with a dock or know someone that does it will save you $50-75 on each end. Or you can drop it off at the terminal yourself if you have a way of getting it there.

Anyway that’s my advice… if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Where to get packed
Where can you get a kayak packed in crate? Any idea on the cost?

He is in WV. Good prices.

– Last Updated: May-10-05 10:49 AM EST –

I do not remember his name either - call Eddyline as suggested.


Here is one dealer’s way to deal with

– Last Updated: May-10-05 10:50 AM EST –

truckers bashing boats:

Just remembered other; kayak dealer used those hardboard tubes used to pour cement columns to ship their kayaks in. Looked like a good idea! Scroll down to Sona Tube.


Kruger ships RoadWay when they have to


Be careful of Forward Air!
Turns out that they are NOT shippers, but shippers agents. They accept your load and ship with whomever.

I have a brand new Bell FlashFire in my basement I picked up cheap after “Forward Air” put four holes in it. They also tried to charge the dealer for returning the damaged canoe and then tried to avoid paying the claim saying the dealer must have packed a damaged boat to collect damages from the shipper.

Anytime you ship with over the road shippers (regular frieght haulers) be ready for damage and a fight getting reinbursed.


Downside to tubes

– Last Updated: May-10-05 12:26 PM EST –

is that the carrier no longer takes 'special' care of the kayak (if they were ever going to). Oceanpaddlesports used to ship surfskis in tubes, but stopped when the boats were ironically getting more damaged.

I've shipped with Forward-Air, no problems, but I bubble-wrapped the whole boat and then wrapped bow, underside of cockpit and stern in cardboard.

I've had a surfski shipped to me via YellowFreight's special service - expensive and it still arrived slightly damaged (gel-coat scuffs). I know of another surfski that was destroyed by YellowFreight.

Affordable Boat Carriers have an excellent reputation but are more expensive. A family run firm and they're currently moving a surfski up from FL for me.

I recently drove from ME to FL to fetch three skis - ended up being a hassle with 4K miles of driving and sleeplessness nights worrying whether the boats were OK on top of my car outside of the motel room which was inevitably in a dodgy area off of I-95.

Never accept a boat unless you've unwrapped it and checked it over. Once you've signed for it, it's yours, dings an' all

crating no solution
all you need to do is spear it with a 3000lb forklift. I was lucky when I got my Mariner from a regular shipper but the risk for a one and only irreplacable kayak isn’t worth the odds. Go with people who only ship kayaks/canoes.

You can make your own simple crate from lumber purchased at the local home improvement store or lumber yard. 2 x 4 framing with partical board or plywood skins.

Air space is the name of the game. Pack in a crate that is about 12" wider than you need. Could fill the voids with the dreaded foam peanuts.

Make some simple molds to support and center your boat. Cut the molds the shape of your hull and then staple some old towels over the edge that will contact the hull skin.

Plan on it be stacked on top of. Make the crate strong enough.

Install some easy grab holes all around the ends.

Install some 4 x 4s on the bottom so the forklift drivers have somewhere to get their forks underneath.

A good crate pack job will cost you about $100 in materials.

MAybe not $100 for materials …
look at

again. This protects the boat while saving cost and weight. It has been successful to date as far as I know.


100lb crate vs. 4,000lb forklift.
I don’t know,it’s dicey

sell the kayak
The best solution may be to sell the kayak in the East where you can get a good price for it, then buy out West, if that’s where you are moving…It is a move isn’t it? Then buy a new kayak in Denver or Seattle, whichever is closest. An 18 footer doesn’t sound like a good boat for the rivers and streams where you are going.

JEM is on it… just gotta make it easy
for the forks to side under… we do this + use the foam from the bulkhead cut outs to pad /float boats hull AND deck figuring it will somehow end up upside down… the boat is tied down inside crate as well as being wrapped too… end padding and grab loops are always there. No brainer where to lift it, ‘man’ or machine.

Affordable Boats Carriers ( ABC ) are great…

Boats sit on well spaced, padded bunks with nothing else around them and drivers understand about not cranking down on straps + plus they keep you in the loop as they hone in on your location…

A similar shipper ( with another initialed name) is the polar opposite of ABC.