13 Tips for Renting a Boat for the First Time

Boat Renting Tips for Newcomers

If you've never rented a boat before, you may not know the ins and outs of this process. But you'll likely want to rent a boat that's reliable, reasonable in price, and available now. You'll also want to do whatever you can to get the best possible experience for yourself, your family, and anyone else you’re bringing along.

So, what are the best tips for renting a boat for the first time?

Why Rent a Boat?

There are many good reasons to rent a boat. You might be in a new area, where you can't bring your existing boat. In this situation, a boat rental serves as a temporary replacement for your permanent boat. You may also be interested in renting a boat if you can't quite afford a boat of your own, or if you're not convinced that you want to be a boat owner.

And of course, boat owners sometimes rent boats so they can experience different types of vessels, and possibly do research for their next vessel purchase.

Whatever your motivation, you'll need to follow the same tips if you want to get the results you want.

Tips for Renting a Boat

These are some of the most important tips to follow when you're renting a boat for the first time.

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to plan. For starters, give yourself plenty of time to plan. It may seem like boat rental is a quick and easy job, but this isn't necessarily the case. Boat availability tends to sharply decline during busy periods, so there's a chance you may not be able to find what you're looking for if you start your search too late. Additionally, if you run into any snags, planning in advance gives you plenty of time to work out those issues before they begin to affect your vacation.
  2. Take a safety course. If you've never driven a vessel before, or if you're not highly familiar with the principles of boat safety, consider taking a safety course before you ever rent a vessel. In fact, this may be a requirement, depending on where you're renting the boat. A boat safety class will help you keep yourself and all of your guests as safe as possible throughout the rental experience.
  3. Choose the best vessel for your needs. As a newcomer, it may seem like all boats are pretty much the same; as long as you can drive them and use them to get out onto the water, don't they serve the same purpose? But as any experienced boat owner can tell you, different boats vary in significant ways. They have different levels of power, they have different sizes, they have different nuances of control; you need to do your research before you make a decision.
  4. Arrive early. Even if it seems like all your paperwork is in order and you know what to expect, there's a chance that something could go wrong the day of your rental. Try to arrive at the rental facility as early as possible to give yourself plenty of time to work with.
  5. Bring everything you need to check in. In line with this, if you want to have a smooth check in process, make sure you bring everything you need to check in. Depending on the rental shop, that could mean your photo ID, a boating license, records of your reservation, or other materials.
  6. Pack safety equipment, food, and supplies. Although some safety equipment will be available to you on the vessel, you're responsible for some of your own safety equipment, and definitely your own food and supplies. Be sure to bring plenty of lifejackets and floatation devices for everyone on the vessel (if they’re not already available), pack plenty of snacks and water, and bring along supplies for any of your planned adventures.
  7. Inspect the vessel. You don't have to be a boating expert to give your vessel and initial inspection before boarding. This is a great chance to inspect for damage, so you're not held responsible for damage you didn't do, and an opportunity to look for any possible safety issues that needs to be corrected.
  8. Watch the weather. Keep an eye on the weather in the days leading up to your boat rental. If you're an inexperienced boater, look for immaculate, calm conditions, and avoid bad weather at all costs.
  9. Review the paperwork. Before signing your boat rental agreement, make sure you thoroughly read and understand all the paperwork. Oftentimes, boat rental facilities will charge extra fees or throw in additional terms of service without your explicit knowledge. Don't be caught off guard; don't sign anything unless you understand it.
  10. Understand your legal responsibilities. Make sure you understand all your legal responsibilities, both related to the rental facility and related to your operation of the vessel. Depending on where you are, you may be responsible for having a license to operate this machine. Depending on the paperwork you signed, you may be responsible for keeping this boat in good condition or returning it by a certain time.
  11. Consider negotiating. If you're looking for a better deal on the boat rental, consider negotiating. Not all boat rental shops are open to negotiation, but sometimes you can get a better price just by asking.
  12. Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen can help you stay comfortable, and possibly save your life. It's also incredibly cheap and easy to apply, so there's no excuse not to use it while you're on the water.
  13. Prioritise safety. Make sure safety is your highest priority, especially if you're inexperienced. Emergencies on the water can strike at any time, so it pays to avoid or mitigate them however you can – and it’s even more important to know how to respond to an emergency in progress.

Renting a boat is great, but you'll have a lot more freedom and lower expenses if you own a boat of your own. If you're concerned about cost, understand that there are plenty of affordable options available to you, especially if you're willing to consider used vessels. At TheYachtMarket, we have thousands of new and used vessels for sale, so you can find exactly what you're looking for. Browse our selection of boats for sale today to get started!

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