6 Things to Know Before You Rent a Boat

There are different scenarios where you might consider renting a boat. If you live near the water, you might want to rent a boat to try it out and see if it’s worth buying one and making the investment. You might also opt to rent a boat when you’re on vacation. 

couple on a boat

However, if you’re renting a boat you may be less experienced behind the wheel of a watercraft thasomeone who owns one. Even with experience, safety is a major concern for boating enthusiasts. 

If you’re thinking about adding a boat rental to your next weekend or vacation, consider the following. 

Are You Renting a Boat for Your Entire Trip? 

If you’re planning on renting a boat on vacation, you might just want one for a day or two, but there’s another option as well. Some people will rent a boat for the duration of their vacation, and they’ll stay on it while they’re traveling. 

If you do this, whether it’s a sailboat or otherwise, you are probably going to have to either bring someone qualified to be a skipper with you or hire one for your trip. 

Most boat rental companies require that you have someone with the proper licensing or certification for sailboats and large vessels.  

Know the State Laws 

If you’re renting a boat in the United States, make sure you give yourself a brief rundown of state laws wherever you’ll be. Be aware that in some states, if you’re going to rent a boat you will need to have your boating license as well. 

If you’re aware of state requirements ahead of time, you’ll save yourself trouble when you go to pick up your rental.  

As an example, of state laws aside from the possible need for a boating license, in Florida where many people rent boats, all recreational vessels have to have life jackets on board. They have to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, in good condition and easily accessible as well as the appropriate size for the person who will be wearing it.  

Beyond that, there are even more specifics of the law in Florida. For example, if you’re renting a vessel that’s 16 feet or more, you have to have a throwable Type IV personal flotation device, and children under six have to wear an approved life jacket at all times on a boat less than 26 feet long that’s in Florida waters.   

Most boat rental companies will require a valid driver’s license and someone who’s at least 18 even if a boating license isn’t required. The company may also request a deposit.  

If you don’t have any experience, regardless of state laws you should take a basic boating course before renting or a boating safety program. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself and others at risk.  

Get In Touch with Your Insurance Company 

Before you rent a boat, it’s wise to get in touch with your insurance company or agent. You may already have a policy that will extend to a rental boat. Otherwise, you should plan to pay for coverage for your rental.  

Renting vs. Buying a Boat 

If you’re at the point where you’re deciding between renting and buying a boat, some people saying renting holds more benefits. 

First, when you’re a renter, you can enjoy all the different types of boats. If you want to go wakeboarding one day you can get a wakeboarding boat, and if you want to fish the next, you can choose a boat that’s appropriate for that. 

Statistics show that boats sit idle around 92% of the time, and buying a boat is expensive, and they do depreciate quickly. 

Get the Right Size 

Finally, when you’re considering a boat rental, you’ll need to think about what your needs are before you reserve anything. You’ll have to consider how many people will be boating with you, and what you want to do with the rental. 

You’ll need to ask the rental company what safety equipment they provide and if there’s anything you need to bring. 

If you’re going to be doing watersports, the rental company may be able to provide you with additional equipment to rent, such as ski ropes and wakeboards, or they may let you bring your own, but you’ll need to ask. 

Renting a boat can be a great travel option or something to do on the weekend near your home, but you should be prepared for the responsibilities that come along with it.  


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