Defining Excellence in Boat Delivery Services


There’s a multitude of factors to consider when hiring a boat delivery service. Knowing what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to verify claims before signing a contract is crucial.

We will walk through how to confidently select the best boat delivery service for your unique needs and boat.  Everything below will be applicable no matter who you hire, but we will also take the time to highlight how Onyx repeatedly ensures safe, timely, and professional boat deliveries.

Typical boat delivery services

First, let’s look at typical boat delivery services and how they differ from a charter or full-time hired captain.

Unlike a charter boat situation, you, as the boat owner, will be responsible for hiring the crew.  It also means you will be responsible for adding your hired captain and crew to your insurance coverage.  Yes, your captain may have additional coverage for themselves, but it won’t cover a boat they don’t own. In addition, your insurance will likely request copies of your hired crew’s licenses and experience.  If hiring a private captain, don’t forget to do this step.  At Onyx, we will take care of all this administration work for you.

And, unlike a full-time captain, your delivery captain will not be responsible for the long-term ongoing maintenance of your boat—like scheduling preventative maintenance.

So what do delivery captains do?

Seasonal Deliveries-Many boat owners migrate down—and back up—the coasts with the seasons and hire delivery captains for help.  Sometimes, they’d rather spend more of their time on their boat once it has reached its cruising destination.  Other times owners prefer to have a professional navigate the complex route, weather concerns, and tight timelines.

New Purchase-It’s common for new boat owners to finally find their dream boat, but it’s not in their home port.  New owners may hire delivery captains to save time bringing it home, or because they are not comfortable with their new boat yet, especially in an unfamiliar location.  Other times there are time restraints on how long you have to get your newly purchased boat out of a state or pay additional state taxes.

Maximizing Vacation Days-Some boat owners love the “getting there” part the best.  Others enjoy the “being there” part the best.  There is no right answer.  If you’d rather spend your limited vacation days cruising your final destination, it makes sense to hire a delivery captain to have the boat waiting for you when you arrive by car or plane. 

For example, our captains often deliver boats to the Bahamas, allowing owners to avoid the offshore passages and spend all their precious free days cruising in the crystal-clear water and island hopping.

Special Events-Hiring a delivery captain can take all the complicated logistics out of getting your boat to a specific location at a particular time.  Whether it’s to a specialty boatyard for some upgrades, attending a boat show, or because your insurance company requires your boat to be out of certain areas during hurricane season, delivery yacht services can get you where you need to be.

Onyx offers boat deliveries nationwide and internationally, and we take care of all the details so you can focus on everything else.

Hired Boat Delivery Services Captain at Helm

Hiring Captains, Co-Captains, and Mates

Hiring the right boat delivery professionals is at the center of successful delivery. Therefore, every effort should be put into making sure you select a licensed and competent captain and crew. 

Here are some questions you should know the answers to:

  • What licenses do they have?  Are they current?
  • Has a background check been performed? What kind? When?
  • How many years of experience do they have?
  • Do they have experience with vessels like mine? (sail, size, twin-engine…)
  • Do they have experience in the locations of the delivery?
  • What have past clients said?  Can I contact the references?
  • If multiple crew members are being hired, have they worked together before?

If you are hiring private captains, ask these questions, research, and follow up. However, if you are working with a company that provides delivery crew services, this information should be presented freely.

At Onyx, we hand-pick our professionals.  Unlike large agency-style websites, we personally know our USCG licensed captains.  We work with them because they have stellar reputations and no less than 5 years of on-the-water experience. We’ve done the homework and have done exhaustive background checks that go back many years.  We also perform another background check right before the delivery for your peace of mind.  This and their complete CV will be shared with you.

How many crew are needed for a yacht delivery?

How many crew and what type of crew will depend on several factors—the size of the boat, the kind of boat, the destination, and the timeline.

In some cases, one captain is sufficient.  At Onyx, if the vessel is over 45 feet, there will be a minimum of two crew members aboard.  The same is true for all sailing vessels—we ensure there will be at least 2 hired delivery crew members on board for the safety of the boat and crew.  Both members will be fully capable of handling the boat.

Can I, as the owner, be on the boat during the delivery?

Absolutely!  At least here at Onyx, that is true

It is, however, something to discuss upfront.  Having you, the owner onboard may affect the timelines of how fast the delivery can take place.  Why?   Our captains will be considering your experiences.  While they may be very comfortable with a longer leg, or a choppier point of sail, they make itinerary adjustments for your comfort when you are aboard. 

If you are new to the boat and are learning its systems and how to handle it, our captains will want to ensure they have allotted the time and resources to fulfill your expectations.

Delivery Areas & Local Knowledge

Whether you are bringing your boat down the narrow channels of the ICW, skirting down the coast toward Mexico, or jumping across the Gulf Stream, specific knowledge of the delivery areas is advantageous.

A delivery captain familiar with navigating all the South Florida bridges and their opening time restrictions can make or break a delivery deadline.  Just as a captain familiar with the risks of specific inlets during certain weather conditions can make smarter, safer decisions for your vessel (and your comfort if you are aboard). 

By working directly with you, we can pair you with the best delivery captain and crew for you, your boat, and where you will be traveling.  Finding that perfect match for you is one of the things that we are very proud of.  Our clients tell us that personal attention to their delivery needs has made for successful and enjoyable experiences.

Boats delivered to marina

Pre-departure Planning & Prep

A lot happens between the time you hire a boat delivery service and they actually depart the dock.  Part of that will be administration duties like settling marina payments and finalizing documents with the insurance company.  Some tasks will involve provisioning food, water, and fuel.  The captain and crew will also be taking a very close look at your boat. 

To ensure their safety, your safety, and the boat’s safety, they will:

  • Inspect the boat-You can expect that all experienced and safety-oriented captains will take the time to visit the vessel before departure.  Our captains will be there at least 24-48 hours before the expected departure date.
  • Review systems and recommendations– During the pre-departure visit, you can expect the captain to go through a checklist to inspect the working order and condition of the boat and its systems.  It’s not uncommon to find small recommendations and to complete minor repairs that affect the vessel’s safety before departing.
  • Reviewing the routes- giving the vessel a once-over, the captain and crew will review the latest weather data and make final routing decisions.  At Onyx, backup routes are laid out ahead of time to account for changes that need to be made for weather, repairs, or other circumstances.

By this time, it’s time for you to rest easy. You’ve made smart, educated decisions about which boat delivery service to hire. You’ve known what questions to ask.  Your boat has been properly prepped.  And now the capable professionals you’ve hired are going to go do what they do best and deliver your boat safely and on time.

If you’d like to learn more about Onyx’s boat delivery services and our exceptional captains and crew, don’t hesitate to call.  We welcome all questions.