From Texas to SF Bay on a truck

We bought our boat in North Texas and we live in Northern California. Somehow we had to get this boat to the San Francisco Bay. We considered sailing it but that meant shipping it to Houston, refitting it for cruising, and then taking the time off to bring it over. While it sounded like the perfect adventure, we knew we weren’t ready. 

So we had our 37ft Jeanneau Sun Fast shipped on a flatbed truck. Sounds simple, right?

Getting her ready

We spent 10 days in Texas and that’s how long we took to get her ready. Could we have done it in less time? Sure! But we cleaned her, fixed small issues, stowed everything away, changed the engine’s oil, and then proceeded to more or less disassemble her. Spending several nights on the boat made us really get to know it, and finding those small things you only learn about when you spend a significant amount of time onboard. 

The yard people in TX thought we were crazy for working on our boat 24/7. I am not sure there are too many DYI people over there. Well, we definitely could not afford their labor rates (as expensive as in SF Bay) and we wanted to be sure it was done right. So there we were. Let me tell you, Texas is cold in the winter. 

Some days the inside our of our boat looked like a war zone. And we thought we were never going to finish. But we did, in time, as planned. There she is w/o a mast and all wrapped and ready to go.

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Preparing the mast possibly took us the most time. The custom is to wrap the mast using an old carpet. Instead, we used a floor liner from IKEA that would not be affected by water/rain from the road trip. We bought two rolls of that and we used it to wrap the mast, the boom, the jib furler, and spinnaker pole. In addition, we bought a big roll of plastic wrap (yes Saran Wrap) and used that to wrap the batens around the mast. We also bubble wrapped the whole thing but it took serious amounts of duct tape to make sure they would not fly away with the wind. 

Getting our boat on the truck and securing her took 4 hours more or less. It’s important you be there. Nobody cares more about your boat than you. Check every fastener, check the supports that are in contact with your boat and make sure they are well padded. And it’s also a good idea to talk to the driver. Chances are you know the owner of the shipping company and not the actual guy who will be driving your boat. We asked a million questions, when we saw something we thought was not well secured, we asked our driver to check it and so on. We also got his cell phone number so that we could get updates as he traveled. I am sure he was happy to drive away when he did! 

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Since we have a 6’9 draft, we had to take off the wheel. We had not anticipated that but using the IKEA floor liner and bubble wrap, we secured it flat on the cockpit and it arrived safe and sound in CA. Words of wisdom: Make sure you measure your boat well as this will have massive influence on the cost of your trip. You don’t want to find out that you need accompanying vehicles (more $$) once your boat is loaded and ready go to.

The trip

So she was secured on top of the flat bed truck, the mast strapped on the side, and seemed to be ready to go. Alas no! The driver had to wait for a fax with the exact routes, as determined by the Department of Transportation (DoT), that he had to take. By the way, it must be that we have been living in the Bay Area for too long, but we were surprised how much business is done via fax and fax only. Forget about scanning a document and sending it via email. Some people want a fax!

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But I digress. The fact that the routes are pre-determined ensures that there is enough clearance on the overpasses etc. It also means that if there’s an accident or similar the driver cannot take an alternate route. And transporting oversize loads is apparently not permitted during the weekend in some states. In any case, even 4 hr delay due to a traffic accident on the road  our driver still made it in 4 days, leaving Monday January 7 at 1pm and arriving in KKMI’s boat yard in Richmond, CA around noon on Friday, January 11. 

Sigh of relief. 

We read the following guides, posts, and resources from helpful others to get our boat ready.

About to tie the knot

For the past 3 months, we have been looking at boats, reading about them, and listing our priorities wishes:

  1. aft cockpit
  2. solid construction
  3. L or U shaped galley
  4. spacious cockpit
  5. no de-lamination issues in the hull
  6. space for visitors
  7. One head for simplicity
  8. Keel stepped mast
  9. not a project boat

I am rather new to sailing so I have been reading non-stop: blogs from those who are cruising non-stop, boat reviews, and just absorbing everything as fast I can.

We fell for Baltic 42 here in the Bay Area that was in need of a lot of care and repair. We did the math and finally decided to walk away; we just could not make the price work out for us given the amount of repairs and upgrades we wanted to make on it. I was slightly relieved as that “project boat” would have forced us to stay on dock for years. And I am slightly concerned about over planning and never leaving dock. So I am convinced it was for the best.

Recently we became aware of a very interesting vessel in Texas that has always been in fresh water, is on the newer side, and is solidly built. We would of course have it shipped over here. I just could see how I could fit a long hiatus in the short term, specially the financial implications that come with it.

One Friday evening, returning home after a very LONG week at work, I realized we were actually walking away from the perfect opportunity to really go cruising. I mean, if we buy it of course, why not sail it progressively to our home base? We could first take it to Florida and then later in the year take some serious time off and sail it to San Francisco. Not easy, somewhat hasty, but doable, and fun in the not so distant future.

This weekend we sent to see a sister ship to get a sense of its interior and general feeling. My only job when we go see boats is figure out whether I can see myself in it. Does it feel right? Is it comfortable?  And this type of boat checked out on all those fronts. Plus we think the boat out of state is in even better shape than the one we visited.

To keep things interesting, we also have our eye on a slightly older boat that has a ton of character and  is right here in the Bay Area.  My husband Christian is familiar with this type of boat—his family had one— and it definitely inspires trust and seaworthiness. We did see some rust and little things here and there that could turn into headaches. But it did pass my “comfort” test.

So, we continue strong on both fronts, asking questions, researching, and then figuring out which one will take us where we want to be faster and cheaper. I sincerely hope that all these boat brokers we have dealt with don’t hate us for all the questions, turning every boat upside down, poking our fingers everywhere. More about boat brokers in a separate post. They do come in all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. Sometimes, I wonder if they really want to sell boats…

Anyway, that’s where we are with the boat search. I hope that we can combine reason with feeling and come up with our boat.