How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Boat?

So, you have decided to get your toes wet and enter the world of boating. Either that or you have some experience but don't want to commit to purchasing a boat outright. Not to worry, you can rent a boat (or yacht, if you have been following our article on “What makes a boat a yacht”), just like how you would rent a car, pickup, SUV, or U-Haul. 

Of course, renting a boat comes with its advantages and disadvantages. We have presented them in this article, as well as some considerations you should take when renting. We have also included ballpark prices to expect, as boat rental prices can vary widely.

Advantages Of Renting A Boat: An Overview

Renting a boat brings relative peace of mind. You don’t need to sink a significant sum of money into an object that may spend upwards of 80% of its time parked in a shed or boathouse. Simply show up, rent a boat, and away you go! And you will never need to worry about its upkeep and regular maintenance. 

Some of the other advantages are:

  • Some neighborhoods have strict rules on what can be stored on your personal property. So in some places, parking a boat and trailer on your lawn may be a big no-no. You need to ensure your boat is safely and securely stored to keep it protected from the weather, as well as thieves and vandals. Of course, all these precautionary measures cost money. Renting frees you from these shackles and the accompanying mental woes.
  • Renting is also a great move if you or your family are teetering on the edge of taking the plunge into boating. It allows you to enjoy a trial experience of boating without investing the significant financial and staffing resources described in the previous paragraph. In addition, if you are a total novice and know zilch on how to control a boat, some rental agencies offer coaching before you sail off.
  • Furthermore, renting also allows you to experience boating in a diverse array of places. No matter how powerful a boat is or spacious its fuel tanks are, there may be places that you just can't practically take it to. You need to trailer your boat, towing it behind your vehicle. Of course, this comes with time and financial costs. It is usually cheaper and less time-intensive to simply travel to the location, which may be within the domestic flying range even, rent a boat there and head out into the waters.

Disadvantages Of Renting A Boat

The quality of maintenance can be a highly variable factor on rental boats. You are trusting the rental agency to have performed all necessary repairs. But in truth, they may have only done the bare minimum. Thus, there is a chance that you may get stuck in the middle of a lake with a lemon. Recall how a famous motoring icon called a rental car “the world's fastest car” simply because you can drive it as hard as you like and not care about mechanical sympathy? Rental boats are no different and will have led a hard-knock life, driven in various styles by a wide array of renters. Comprehensively researching potential rental agencies, particularly customer reviews of these establishments, will help determine a good agency.

Some rental agencies allow you to book a boat of your choice in advance, while others operate on the “first-come-first-serve” basis. Therefore, you run the risk of not renting your ideal boat, especially during weekends and peak times like prime fishing and vacation seasons. Even if you do show up and they have a boat, you might end up with “the runt of the litter.”.

Finally, if you have a ton of gear to transport (such as multiple fishing rods, larger boxes, or assorted cases of tackle), you would need to lug all these with you each time you head out on the waters, as opposed to being able to store some of them on board if you owned a boat.

Things To Look Out For In A Rental

There are several things you can look out for with a rental boat to ensure its safety and functionality. First, start by evaluating its overall condition.

  • Does it look old, beat-up, tired, with peeling paint, serious dings and dents, torn seat upholstery, oil leak residues, and other signs of neglect? If so, give it a wide berth. On the other hand, a rental boat that has been well looked after should appear to be in good condition - at least on the outside.
  • While it may not be apparent to a novice, anyone with a moderate knowledge of motor mechanics and machines can detect a problematic boat engine. After all, a boat engine is an internal combustion engine! If equipped, ask to fire up the engine and give it a listen.
  • Ask to see the maintenance records. Even if most of the terms are unfamiliar to you, the frequency of maintenance will give you an indication. Remember that, unlike automobiles, boat maintenance intervals, particularly for engines and mechanical parts, tend to be measured in hours rather than miles.
  • Check that everything onboard works well, particularly if there are any electronics. Also, keep an eye out for life-support equipment such as life rings and vests. It is always best to bring your own life vests if possible, rather than relying on those supplied onboard.

So How Much Does It Cost?

Renting a boat is not cheap. If someone offers to rent you a boat at a surprisingly low rate, walk away. The typical rental cost for a small fishing boat may be in the region of US$ 200 to US$ 500 per day, heading towards US$ 1,000 for larger ones that can seat six to eight people. Add overnight accommodation, and you can easily be looking at over US$ 1,500 per day. Venture into the realm of yachts, and you can expect to shell out approximately US$5,000 per day. Typically, these costs will include some form of insurance cover as well.

Summary

Renting a boat is the ideal option if you cannot justify the outright purchase in terms of costs, utilization, and other factors. Boat rentals can start as low as US$ 200 per day for the smallest craft. However, you need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages. Carefully select a rental agency and perform some independent checks on the boat before setting out to ensure it is in good condition.