Boat Moving

I work on a tug with a 30-14 rotation and have been hoping to find work moving vessels in my off time with current rotation or an alternative rotation with equal time on/off if I can find one.

Anyone have any references for places to find such work, part time, within 2w - 1m times off, or anyone here done that/something similar?

Or alternatively, anyone need crew that actually is doing it/know where I might get myself out there?

Right now, all I can think of is getting some business cards out to certain marinas.

My background/licensing is suitable for skippering/crewing moves of vessels up to 40-50’ I would say in inland or near coastal waters and/or crewing or as mate for larger vessels on longer voyages and on ocean waters.

Background is heavy on the sailing side with current rotation on a push tug. Would like to build the resume on the side gig/boat moving interest (beyond sailboats as well) as much as my main employment so just looking for an entry point/points. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. If it matters, 38 years old.


If you want to do this for fun, that’s great. It can be fun. But there are too many people doing it too cheap. You might find some decent paying gigs, but most boat owners will want you to do it for peanuts.

There is plenty of tugboat work around. You can only spend so much time on a boat away from home. Why bother if your not getting paid well to do it? has a lot of temporary yacht gigs and deliveries.

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Boat moving is done with tractor trailer units. When done on water, moves are called boat deliveries. Tugsailor is right, marinas are crawling with wharf bums willing to work for food. Don’t hire them as crew, they are likely to cause more problems than they are worth.
Prove yourself with the bottom feeders if you have to. You have to start somewhere to establish a reputation. Write a resume featuring your most successful deliveries and move on to reputable yacht brokers and crewing agencies. Keep in mind anyone can write a resume. Reference letters from previous deliveries singing your praises and word of mouth carry more weight.
Charge by the day, not by the mile.
Good luck.

PS. One more thing. If the owner wants to come along for the ride or provide the crew, walk away.


After reading this post, was thinking Lee-Shore would have some good advise in this area. Didn’t want to put him on the hook by mentioning his name before he responded. He is on to something there and knows the business you are asking about. Take heed.


This is not impossible, but boat deliveries may or may not correspond to your days off and you really will have a short career if your delivery runs into your tugboat time and you abandon a boat halfway home.
If you literally meant boat moving, you’ll need a CDL and a tractor-trailer :wink:

I would say if you are persistent, lucky, and meet the right people eventually you’ll be getting gigs where they don’t want cheap, they want good. The low end of the industry is a lot of competition that will work for cheap to get a boat to play with one the one hand and cheap owners on the other hand that are hiring you because their crap boat might no make it and they don’t want to be on it offshore. I have had job offers that I swore were insurance setups where they HOPED I never was seen again :fearful:
Good luck and remember that there is no “overtime” or anything like it, either per mile or per day you are on 24/7.

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Thanks for the responses. For the most part and currently - yes, for fun. And to build up the delivery resume with an eye for more elaborate deliveries in the future. Not really thinking of it as a substitute for current position. But the wharf bums make me wonder if there is still a market for competent captains moving higher dollar vessels (NY–>Miami or Virgin Islands—>stateside, for example) despite the dime a dozen boat owners wanting deliveries done for peanuts. Perhaps this isn’t the case at all given the responses thus far. That’s fine. Also currently no ties to home in terms of fam so while it’s certainly true a person can only spend so much time away from home, its one more thing I can do/way I can be productive when I have a lot of time off and feel like I need to see some place new, etc. Thanks again.

Thanks again. That’s fair. And no, I wouldn’t think of abandoning a delivery (apologies for the misnomer) halfway through. More like setting up a rotation of a month off at a time, or a few if I ever hop on a ship, with either a preset schedule of dates available and/or partnering at some point with a like minded person to rotate on/off times on/off.

Incidentally, while I originally hadn’t thought of boat moving with tractor trailers, that sounds interesting as well. Anyone here posting done that in their off time from a maritime career? I understand the CDL will be required.

While that was not my cup of tea early in my career, I worked for the other local (and not so local) tug companies when and if I worked equal time. Got paid a decent salary {Not the best mind you) but got the extra wheel and sea time well before I was married. Was of the mindset if I had to go to sea, make the dollars for being away and upgrade every chance you get… Never interfered with my regular/permanent job, or wouldn’t take it.

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I’m of a similar mindset - upgrade as much as possible, get as much time in as possible while no other responsibilities need attention. I actually, for whatever reason, hadn’t thought of working for another tug company during time off. Thanks for the suggestion. That’s probably a better arrangement if I can find a company/rotation that fits.

People with expensive boats still are willing to pay to get boats delivered. Exactly how many and where I am not really sure of right now, I haven’t been doing that for awhile now.
You can definitely get on a boat as crew for free if you poke around enough, but aside from sea time that may not help you too much past a certain point. The better way to sail for free or low pay is to find a professional delivery operation and crew for them. You want to get known among those people if you want to move up to $$$ jobs.

As for trucks, that is a thing and some firms specialize in boat moving. I think they mostly would not be that interested in a guy who just learned to drive a truck last week, but I could be wrong.


Having CDL is ok, but a tough business, and very similar to being away from home as we are… You will do better even on a mediocre paying outfit sailing extra… Check out the average pay for a driver with CDL. Not trying to discourage you, I have a relative or two that drives semis, Can assure you, boats pay better with more time off.

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That’s fair.

Bear in mind, that a lot, if not most, of the larger “high dollar” yachts are foreign flag.

There are many highly qualified British, European, and other foreign mariners kicking around American marinas doing deliveries on the side far too cheap.

Most people who are successful in the yachting business tend to be young, fit, attractive, educated, and have a great personality. In addition, they must have a strong “service mentality” and great manners. Not everyone fits in. While these attributes are not as important for deliveries, these are the type of people owners, brokers, etc. are use to dealing with.

In terms of entering the delivery business. I know a guy that has done it successfully. After his significant business went bankrupt during the Great Recession, and he lost his own large sailing yacht, on which he was semi-retired, he started delivering yachts. He had no money, but wanted to continue his yachting life style. He has good contacts and he is busy. He probably can charge a bit of a premium.

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Young, fit , and attractive way back when would qualify me then. As of now, counts me out big time… Did have a strong service mentality even in my boomer age. Tugsailor, thank you for the chuckle of the day. Truth though.

Makes sense.

I don’t really care about young, pretty, or service mentality. If you are moving my boat I want her to arrive in one piece looking like when she left. I am not going to be on the boat to look at your tits or bitch about cold coffee or whatever :roll_eyes:

  • speaking of service, one thing you might not fully realize if you came up on commercial vessels is the boat you are delivering is someones dream, their second home, and/or possibly their only home. Their expectations on how she will be treated are vastly different than you might be used to.

Re foreign flag - As I mentioned over in the endless waterspout thread (LOL), once you get to the point where some kind of ratings are desired or required, they are liable to be things like YachMaster and other EU-ish stuff not commonly held by USA mariners. You’ll probably need to get some of those ratings, but some people view USA citizenship as an automatic disqualification no matter what, we tend to sue and expect $$$$$ medical bills to be paid.

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Having a foot in both worlds, I found that work experience on working vessels is not highly valued by the yacht crowd and vice versa. Parallel universes requiring different sets of skills.


Well, I ran a sailing school before the tug and at times worked with folks on their own vessels, so while the tug is a world apart the sailing was not.