Traditionally, boat transport has been limited to enclosed container shipping, the roll-on/roll-off method (in which the vessel must first be secured to a trailer with wheels), and specialty transport carriers that utilize a crane to load and unload. Although these methods are in no-way rendered obsolete, and still serve a very important purpose, new technologies in boat shipping are constantly being created and introduced into the industry, all in an attempt to improve efficiency.
Although not a brand new concept, as it has been used in the past for military and oil rig transport purposes, the float-on/float-off (also known as flo/flo) method for use in luxury vessel transport is one of the most exciting developments in recent years. The technique repurposes specialized heavy lift ships as yacht carriers that can be used to transport a large number of sizeable maritime vessels at once. These vessels have long and low decks that can be partially submerged in order to load the cargo. After the goods are in position, the tanks are pumped and the deck rises out of the water. The yacht carrier will then be able to start the journey with the shipment in place.
To begin the process, extensive preparation occurs on the deck of these “yacht shuttles” which includes the installation of keel block cradles and hull supports for the carrier. The vessel is then adequately submerged in the water to allow for the yachts to be moved into their respective positions, in what is known as a floating marina. The carrier then begins dock operation, and after the deck is completely dry, the yachts are then more sufficiently secured onto the deck. These carriers also employ the use of spray covers, to keep the many yachts on board better protected from the elements.
Some of these carriers provide onboard quarters for the yacht crew if desired, but of course, the boat owners could always opt just to fly in and meet their vessel at the final destination. The use of these yacht carriers has opened up many options for those who may have previously been intimidated by a cross-ocean voyage, but had aspirations of visiting far-off destinations.
The companies that provide this service pride themselves on giving the gift of time. Since a yacht captain could potentially be tied up for weeks, or even months, at sea otherwise. They are now able to meet their yacht at their endpoint, which can save them a lot of time and effort. It also saves the yacht itself the wear and tear a long sea voyage would normally inflict on the condition of the boat.