How to Rent Out Your Boat?

How to Rent Out Your Boat Featured Photo

Nothing compares to the tranquility of boating. While that sounds good, owning a boat can turn into a financial burden. The gas price, cleaning, maintenance cost, and repairs can quickly pile up.

Even when you don’t use your boat, it can keep draining your bank account—think of expenses like slip fees and insurance, among other things.

You don’t have to shoulder all that stress. Renting out your boat is an excellent way to offset part of your expense, especially if you don’t use it frequently. For many boat owners, it is possible to make owning one both fun and lucrative, and even more so if you can meet a consistent demand from renters.

While it may be challenging to compete with larger rental companies that have a fleet of ships, you can still gain profits from your boat through other businesses and platforms you can collaborate with.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through all the effective ways you can rent out your boat. I’ll also provide you with some options for where you can list your boat so you can start earning profits.

So, How Do You Rent Out Your Boat?

How Do You Rent Out Your Boat

If you plan and execute it properly, renting out your own boat may be a great solution to recoup the expenses that come with owning it. Here are a few tips you can follow to successfully pull off your first profit.

Choosing Your Rental Platform

Call boat charter companies in your location to manage your risk.

Inquire whether they are searching for additional boats. They might be interested in having your boat and you may discuss the terms with the boat rental company owner. You can meet them and sign a contract and they will do the rest of the work for you.

This approach may not earn you that much money renting your boat out, though. But, for savvy boat owners, it’s guaranteed to lessen your risk since you won’t have to worry about fees for fuel, insurance, and crew.

Choose an app to list your boat on rental platforms.

Aside from negotiating an agreement with a local business, you can also rent out your boat through a peer-to-peer (P2P) service. Airbnb’s P2P renting concept upended the hospitality sector. Anyone with an available living space can rent it out or share a home with others while earning.

And now, by leveraging apps, you can rent out your boats, too. It is similar to a ridesharing or Airbnb service but for boats.

Boatsetter, formerly Boutbound, is one of the most popular platforms in the boat rental industry. It was one of the first boat rental companies in the US to support fully-insured P2P boat rental. This platform was also the first to offer captained ships on a P2P arrangement.

The company has one of the most extensive databases of USCG-licensed captains to match with your vessel. Their website allows boat owners set their pricing, select their specific policies, and rent their boat out to prospective clients.

Another option you can go to is GetMyBoat. With 150,000 listings in 183 countries, this platform has one of the widest reaches. It is also one of the most popular apps for boat rental companies and charters, offering a variety of vessels ranging from yachts to houseboats to pontoon boats.

Going for Beds on Board is another great way to keep your boat on the dock and minimize costs. This would be a great option if you have a bed onboard and you prefer to not take your boat out on the water with persons aboard. This website lets you rent out your boat to those searching for a one-of-a-kind place to stay.

Once your boat is booked, you show up and give the key to the renter. Just make sure to change the bed sheets regularly. Beds on Board is also one of your safest options if you’re worried about risky situations that boats get into when allowing strangers on your boat.

Keep in mind: When picking an app, you must determine which tools are popular in your area. You can do so by looking at customer reviews and the number of listings. It’s also important to minimize your app to only one to avoid a duplicate booking.

In addition, you can’t simply list your vessel on these platforms and rent it out directly to the customer. It needs a business license as well as a type of insurance coverage offered solely to boat rental companies.  

Selecting Your Rental Policies

Register your boat by setting up a profile on the rental company site.

Once you’ve chosen your platform, as a boat owner, you must list your boat rentals on their website. You can do so by signing up with your email address and inputting your boat’s details. Make sure to make it as detailed as possible by including information such as the size, boat type, power, and brand.

Setting up your profile and listing your boat on the charter company’s website is usually free. However, the P2P platform earns a commission for each booking.

Recruit a captain to reduce risk and entice more clients.

Hiring a licensed captain means you need to pay them to show up and oversee your boat. This will cost you more and needs you to plan within their availability. What’s good about getting a captain is that you won’t have to worry about your boat’s safety out on the water.

This also allows you to gain more control over what goes on with the boat because you can impose your rules and regulations even if you are not physically present.

But if you have a smaller boat, your renters will be less likely to need a captain on board. But hiring one may attract more customers. If you have a larger boat, however, the law may require you to recruit an entire crew, including a first mate and a general boatswain.

You need to keep in mind that you aren’t allowed to captain your boat for insurance concerns. 

Only rent it out to a licensed boat operator.

You should only rent out the boat to those with a valid driver’s license if you don’t provide a captain. This also means that you don’t have to worry about hiring a captain to show up. This helps make everything smooth-sailing in terms of scheduling.

Certain platforms won’t require you to hire a licensed person to operate the boat. However as I’ve mentioned earlier, you may still be legally obligated to hire an entire crew depending on the size of your boat.

Take and post high-quality images of yourself and your boat.

Getting your visuals together is an effective way of attracting renters. Take high-quality pictures of your boat from various perspectives, and if possible, shoot your boat in action on the water. Don’t forget to take photos of the interior of your boat, too. Then, upload these images to the platform.

List your boat’s availability online.

Checking your captain’s availability (if you have any) should be your consideration. You can match the captain’s availability to your schedule to see when your boat will be open for rent. But if you don’t have a captain, you can simply input the days your boat is available on the platform’s scheduler.

Put a competitive rental cost for your boat and keep the price updated.

When it comes to pricing your rental boat, you can base the cost on the size, amenities, and all the other perks that come with it. Examine other comparable boats on the site and establish competitive rates. If your price fluctuates throughout the year, make sure to adjust your rates as the seasons change.

For regular tours and packages, you may include information about such excursions and prices in the listing. This will provide your clients with an idea of where they can go with your vessel and how much it will cost.

List your boat’s inclusions like amenities.

This part is important. As I’ve said earlier, you need to be as detailed with your listing as possible. You’ll want to list everything that comes with the boat, which may include fishing gears, audio systems, swim ladders, and others items.

If your boat has a bathroom, write it on the list as well. After you’ve completed your profile, post your offer, and you’ll be good to go.

And while you can draft some sentences in your listing, you may want to avoid lengthy paragraphs. You’ll want it to be easier for people to navigate your ad, so make it straightforward. Sailboats aren’t known for having a lot of luxuries, so don’t worry about having a long list of frills.

Managing Your Boat Rentals

Check Your Insurance Policy

Insurance will give you peace of mind by covering the cost in case something goes wrong with your boat. It can be expensive but it’s worth the upfront cost. After all, you’ll be able to recoup your expenses once you’re making a profit.

Typically, boat insurance policies won’t cover if your renter has your boat. It’s best to consult with your provider and check if you’re covered for rental liabilities. Such insurances will usually cover you for repair, damage to property, and medical costs for injuries caused by boat accidents.

Most platforms oversee insurance and usually include it in the fee. However, if you use your own insurance, you can include it in your price.

Be responsive to your renters’ inquiries.

Excellent customer service is one of the contributors to a successful business. If you’re responsive to the inquiries of your potential renters, it will be easier for both of you to transact. Attending your renter’s inquiries shows them that you’re delighted to share your boat with them.

Responding quickly also increases the possibility of securing that payment since you’re giving them no time to look at other options. Also if they have any questions while on the boat, they will appreciate your efforts and it will make their boating experience more fun.

Make sure to check the availability of your captain so there are no conflicts of schedule. If your captain isn’t available for that particular day or time, you may find a replacement. Do this in advance so you’ll have enough time to find another captain. Many platforms offer lists of licensed boat captains on their websites.

If a customer is seemingly raising red flags, you may do a background check on their profile feedback to verify they don’t have any history of ruining boats.

Prepare the boat and make sure it’s clean.

A clean boat can make it stand out among all the other listings on the platform. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want your renters leaving filthy feedback about your precious boat.

Make it a habit to clean the sheets, and empty trash bags, pick up any rubbish and wipe surfaces clean for a more polished look. You’ll also want to change the linens and provide hygiene supplies. And if your boat has a bed, you should change it regularly. Also, you’re required to provide life jackets to all passengers on board.

Meet with the clients on the day of the rental to go over safety precautions.

The safety of your customers should also be top of your priority. It’s always best to meet them ahead of time to discuss everything they need to know before boating. Make sure they understand all the do’s and don’ts while boating, how to wear life jackets, and where to get them.

You must also give them your contact information for easier communication while onboard. For boats without a captain, you must check whether or not the renter has a license. You’ll also need to discuss with them about operating the radio and safety equipment.

Some tourists will not be familiar with the location, so prepare a list of places they can go to in case they ask.

Have an emergency plan ready in case anything goes wrong while your clients are boating.

Aside from staying in touch with your renters, emergency preparedness is important. Make a list of phone numbers for the coast guard, the dock, the hospital, and the police. Keep your radio tuned to the same frequency as the boat to make it easy to respond to your renters.

Know that unforeseen failures could arise, so you may need to pull your vessel to the dock. If you have an on-water support towing plan offered by national towing service, it’s likely that the coverage isn’t offered to the renter. This means that you will need to make plans and pay extra for this service.

You’ll also want to have a copy of your boat’s manual ready in case your captain runs into a problem.

Get your boat maintained regularly.

Upkeeping your boat helps prevent mishaps while out on the water. During the off-seasons, get your boat inspected and checked by a mechanic. But after every rental throughout the rental periods, examine everything from the hull to its engine to even the first aid kit.

You must also inspect the safety equipment after each rental. Check if you have life jackets, emergency lights, and lifeguards. You might be held accountable for everything that goes awry on the water.

And no matter how slight the problem is, you should check with a boat mechanic to let them diagnose any issue ahead of time.

Final Thoughts

Renting out your boat is a clever way to soothe the financial burden of boat ownership while also sharing it with non-boat owners who want to experience the thrill of boating. I hope this guide helps you in getting that first booking, making that extra money, and impress new renters in the future. Good luck!

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