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Yacht transport from Conn. to Fla.

Yacht Path International will carry a shipload of small yachts from New Haven, Conn., to Fort Lauderdale this fall. The inaugural voyage is set for Oct. 5 to 15, with return legs planned for April 10 to 20 and May 10 to 20.

“On the average we’re used to carrying 50- to 150-foot yachts, but on this one we anticipate 25- to 65-[footers],” Yacht Path’s Colleen Cummings says of the new seasonal service.

The company plans to use a barge capable of holding about 20 yachts, she says. The barge will offer lift-on/lift-off loading and unloading, as opposed to the float-on/float-off technique used by Yacht Path’s new semi-submersible service to the Mediterranean.

There is limited space on the trip, but Cummings says the company could turn around and go again if there is sufficient interest.

One-way or roundtrip transportation is available, and Cummings suggests interested parties call (866) 744-7974 for rates and information.

“It’s actually going to be comparable to, if not less expensive than running it down on your own bottom,” says Cummings, adding that owners who ship their yachts to Florida for the winter can save wear and tear, engine hours and, of course, time.

Adjustable cradles will be provided at no additional cost, Cummings says. The company is focused on providing a hassle-free service to its customers, she says.

For example, if an owner cannot come down or will not be around when the yachts are unloaded, Yacht Path will check the bilge, the electrical system, the fenders and so forth to make sure the boat is in working order — and washed.

Plus, Cummings says, the company will recommend captains who deliver the yacht right to the customer’s slip.

“The same applies for loading,” she says. “We can have somebody get the yacht, wherever it may be, and bring it to the barge.”

Yacht Path International has been in business for 3-1/2 years, Cummings says. “We’ve probably shipped over 500 boats in the past three years,” she says.

The company started with one route — from Fort Lauderdale to Ensenada, Mexico — and has since expanded to serve Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the Mediterranean and Vancouver, B.C.

Transport season here

Dockwise Yacht Transport is gearing up for a busy fall season shipping yachts from the East Coast to winter cruising destinations in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Dockwise, a subsidiary of Dutch-based Dockwise Shipping B.V., uses 300- to 400-foot-long semi-submersible ships to carry yachts that might range from 30 feet to 150 feet. The fleet travels seasonally to a variety of locations around the globe.

It also does a brisk business.

In 2002, for example, the company shipped 650 yachts, says Jeff Last, director of Dockwise’s Fort Lauderdale office.

The semi-submersibles are oceangoing drydocks with hulls. In port, the big carriers submerge their open cargo bays so yachts can motor in while divers maneuver the keels onto blocks welded to the deck, and steady the yachts with chine supports. When the ship de-ballasts and the bay is high and dry again, they weld the supports to the deck and tie the yachts down. Crews can travel with a yacht, if they wish, live on it while under way, and hook up to the ship’s water and power.

Ships will depart from Dockwise USA’s base in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as well as Newport, R.I., for destinations in the Mediterranean and Caribbean this fall. Mediterranean ports of call include Gibraltar; Barcelona, Spain; Palma de Mallorca; Toulon, France; and Livorno, Italy, according to Dockwise’s schedule. Yacht carriers will travel likewise to Martinique and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Also coming up on the schedule are voyages to Costa Rica, the west coast of Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti and Northwestern Europe.

The Dockwise fleet also calls on Norfolk, Va., Vancouver, B.C., and Sardinia, Greece and Turkey.