Guide to Renting a Boat on Vacation
There’s a reason that most great vacations involve a bit of water: a lake, a river, a waterfall, an ocean lapping against the sand. Water offers tranquility, an opportunity to cool off, and a variety of activities we may not get to experience in our day-to-day. While there’s something to be said for relaxing on the shore and reading a good book or wading in from a beach, you’ve probably felt that twinge of envy when a boat cruises by, haloed by sunlight., You may have thought . . . if only.
Don’t let the cost of owning a boat hold you back from enjoying time on the water for your next vacation. It has become easier than ever to forego high purchase prices, storage fees, and maintenance costs by renting a boat. Even if you have no boating experience, many venues will not only rent you the vessel but, for an additional fee, will provide you with a captain, so that all you have to do is enjoy. If you do want to manage a rental on your own, just be sure that you know the local regulations concerning whether you need a captain’s license, a boating safety course (a good idea anyway), or whether there are age restrictions involved. Once you know if you can rent, then there are few things that will make your rental experience smoother and more fun:
- Research: Check out the vessels available and consider what works best for your needs. Will you be fishing? Enjoying water sports such as skiing? Or just cruising and enjoying the views? Your purpose on the water will dictate the type of boat you need. You should also consider the size of your party and your level of comfort in handling a vessel. As part of your research, you should review the reputation of local rental shops and the policies they have. Be sure to review any contract before signing, and consider whether rental insurance would be a good choice for you.
- Prepare: A day on the water means you will want to take the necessities with you. Pack food, water, and beverages; bring towels, sunhats, and sunscreen to protect you from the sun, and be sure you’ve stocked all the supplies and equipment you need for your planned activities, such as skis, ropes, gloves, fishing rods, bait, etc.; and bring those contingency items, such as a warm change of clothes should the weather turn, a basic first aid kit, and activities in case of foul weather. It’s also a good idea to check the weather before you leave for your outing, to let someone know where you will be and for how long, and to be sure you have contact information for the marina.
- Arriving: It’s always a good idea to arrive 20-30 minutes early so you can complete any paperwork or checklists. Things will go more smoothly if you bring a copy of your rental confirmation with you. Be sure to review any operating instructions you are unsure of and to check the boat for damage that otherwise might cost you if you don’t let the rental agency know of its preexistence. Most important, review the location of all safety equipment and its operation.
- Have fun: Stow your boat gear, put on your sunblock (remember sun is more intense on the water), and get ready to enjoy the water. If you follow safety rules and show your fellow boaters common courtesy, you’re bound to have a grand time!
– Written by Ivan Young