3 Ways to Go Boating (Without Your Own Boat)
1. Boat for a Day: Peer-to-peer Renting
You might not be thinking about boating, sprawled on the couch on your day off, with the AC cranked all the way up. Maybe you don't own a boat or know anyone who owns a boat. Maybe once from your beach towel, you jealously watched sailboats, yachts, and powerboats zipping circles on the glittery water, but you haven't realized, that you too can go boating.
Have you happened to notice all of those boats sitting in marinas day after day? Now you can rent them out directly from owners through sites like boatsetter.com or boatbound.com, whose tagline is “Own a Boat (for a day).” The process is designed to be easy and hassle-free -- to provide people with all the enjoyment of the boating lifestyle without breaking the bank.
The cost of renting is different for each boat; the owner decides which days the boat is available and what to charge. Prices can range from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand for some yachts.
Who Drives the Boat?
On Boatbound, some rentals may feature a ship’s wheel icon that says “This is a bareboat rental” which means that the renter is responsible for captaining the boat.
Don't stress if you've never driven a boat before — the owner may be willing to give you a quick lesson before you head out. Should anything go amiss, Boatbound provides on-the-water support through BoatUS which includes things like water towing, fuel delivery, and jump starts.
In the case of some rentals, near the listed price, there may be a small checkbox that says “include a captain.” Generally, including a captain will increase the rental price to cover the owner’s time captaining your day trip. If the boat is reasonably priced, chances are good that previous renters have left helpful reviews of their experience.
In Long Beach, this Catalina 36 Sailboat is available through boatbound.com. For $385, you and up to nine of your friends can sail into the Pacific for a day, with or without the owner, Richard serving as your captain.
On vacation, left the boat at home
Peer-to-peer renting also makes a ton of sense for avid boaters who might vacation far from home. If you find yourself at some stunning boating locale without your boat, just type your location into Boatbound or Boatsetter and check out opportunities to recreate family fun with a new watercraft and fresh scenery.
Even if I’m in Paint Lick, Kentucky? (that’s a real place)
Boatbound and Boatsetter aren't everywhere yet, but like other peer-to-peer renting organizations, they're expanding quickly to anywhere there’s water.
2. Boating Lifestyle = Boat Club
Ok, maybe you think about boating all the time. Maybe you grew up on the water and then moved two states away from your parents’ lake cabin and dock full of water toys, but you don't really want to buy a boat. Maybe you feel like boats are a hassle to maintain and store in the winter, plus no one believes that your little Honda can manage a tow. You can still go boating!
Freedom Boat Club is the world’s largest club of its kind, with over 80 locations. Boat clubs thrive on the concept of boating made simple. Members have an entire fleet of boats at their disposal: deck boats, fishing boats, pontoons, cruisers. They can take any boat, have a ball on the water, return it to the staff, and never have to worry about cleaning it, fueling it, transporting it, or otherwise hassling with it.
The best way to get accurate information on membership dues is to talk to an agent at your closest Freedom Boat Club. This chart from Freedom Boat Club Chicago gives a 3-year cost comparison of boat club membership vs. boat purchased, and lists a $7,500 one-time initiation fee and then approximately $400 per month after that.
As opposed to buying a boat, especially a newer boat, spreading the cost out over time can be more convenient for some would-be boaters.
What if I really want to meet people?
It's called a club for a reason! Getting a boat club membership can be a great way to fall into a community of boating-minded people. For example, our friends Dan and Jennifer from Freedom Boat of San Diego will not only show you any boat you could want for family boating fun, but they also throw monthly dock parties for members and prospective members.
3. Charter and Travel Boating
Imagine an exotic boating escape with a few buddies to a seaside village in Greece that you saw on a postcard once, or a 10th wedding anniversary adventure to the Spanish city you backpacked through on your honeymoon. Even in Europe, you can go boating!
Incrediblue's custom cruises
Winner of best startup at a 2012 Central and Eastern European tech festival, Incrediblue.com is a yacht charter company based in Greece, that connects boat owners and crew with travelers, globally. First, visit the website and choose from the countries of Greece, Croatia, Spain, or Turkey. Next pick the jaw-droppingly beautiful area you want to explore, and then peruse available dates, boat photos, price points, and reviews. Incrediblue puts all of the decisions in the hands of the vacationer.
Who Drives the Boat?
Incrediblue hires their boat captains and describe them this way on their site: "You will really enjoy the journey with an incrediblue captain at the helm. They are a key to your holiday; professional, discreet, knowledgeable characters who ensure you only need concern yourself with holiday enjoyment and absorbing the magical destinations. If you want to help chart your island-hopping route or just unwind, the captain will ensure that’s what happens, and you can have confidence to explore unspoiled islands with friendly experts who really know the ropes."
What if you have some trip money burning a hole in your wallet. You know that you A. want to go overseas B. you don’t want to worry about the details and C. you like to party. Those things mix well into one epic boating adventure called Yacht Week.
Yacht Week’s tagline is “It’s nothing like the real world” Each week of the summer, equal numbers of men and women from all over the world board yachts and set off for seven days of partying (the male/female ratio is kept strictly equal -- average age is 27). People choose one of seven countries to begin from, sometimes with friends, and sometimes with total strangers.
They spend their days tanning on the boat and their nights at dance parties thrown by Yacht Week. For $500-$1,000 you too can experience a crazy, booze-fueled week at sea.
No boat is no problem
So now you know and there are no more excuses: you don't need to own a boat to go boating. If you are laying on your couch under the air conditioner staring at your laptop or phone, choose boating instead. Boating removes you from stress, unties you from technology, allows you to truly experience the company of family and friends, and fall more in love with life.
There are so many ways to go boating. And when you're ready to buy your own dream boat, we will have it for you!