About crating: I imported a kayak from Australia and Expedition Kayaks wrapped the boat in multiple layers of plastic tube bags, bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard (and "Fragile" signage
). The bundle was strapped to a pallet (about 4 feet square?- I left that at the warehouse in Vancouver when I picked up the boat) so that it could be moved by forklift in warehouses. It arrived in perfect condition. So that might be an option.
Here's a pic of the wrapping materials:
There was some dicsussion - I can't recall all the details - that a hard crate would be more likely to have items stacked on top of it, and that an obvious 'soft package' would get more careful treatment and be put in the top of a container. Also, we (seller/shipper and me, the buyer) decided not to arrange extra insurance against damage. I recall that there was some standard coverage against loss.