Boatbound Lets the Everyday Man Rent the Boat Life — Even You

Categories: Around Town

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Rent a skiff from Boatbound and this could be your view.
Everyone knows Airbnb is the best thing since, well, smartphones. But because boats win over everything, Boatbound might be even better.

This peer-to-peer boat rental platform means you can live the proverbial Miami lifestyle without the upkeep costs. This relatively new startup allows you to rent a seaworthy craft anytime you want, no strings attached.

See also: Gloria Estefan on Miami Marine Stadium's Future: "I Envision a Drive-In Movie Theater for Boats"

The business got its start in tech-heavy San Fran, but they have an office in our own Rickenbacker Marina on Key Biscayne. Founded by entrepreneur Aaron Hall and designer/developer Matt Johnston, the company is on a roll.

We met up with Hall, Director of Business Development Chris Oetting, and "intern" (aka rescue dog) Lucy at their marina headquarters. We also met Investor and Marina President Aabad Melwani who took us for a spin on his craft. You could ride it, too, if you use Boatbound.

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Melwani steering his ship.
"We enable boat owners to list their boats and offset the cost by renting to-pre screened qualified renters," explained CEO Aaron Hall.

The screening process means, if you've got five DUIs, you're probably out, but it's the boat owners that have the final say on who can or can't captain their craft.

Renters can also leave reviews, a la Airbnb, and insurance is part of the deal. That, as you might imagine, was the hardest part about getting the biz off the ground.

"Everyone [boat owners] has an insurance policy that has something in it that doesn't allow them to take money for a rental. Even though people would like to do it, there hasn't been a way for people to do it before Boatbound," Hall said.

With them, owners are covered. The service takes 35 percent of the rental fee, which is determined by the boat owner, and fees vary widely.

They're also offering a boat concierge service (so owners don't have to be present to meet renters), and in the future, they plan to roll out a captain-for-hire component. So far, they have approximately 1,500 boats for rent in a whole host of markets.

Considering how many boats sit unused 364 days a year in this vacation home of a city, this is maybe the best idea ever.

After all, we live in a boating paradise. Year-round sunshine and tropical temps? Northeasterners, currently faced with de-icing their watercraft, should be so lucky.

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The concept is also appealing to some of the major boating companies, Hall said. They see Boatbound as a way to get younger people on board -- "bringing a new generation of boaters into the mix." 'Cause let's be real, your average millennial can't afford to drop $150K on a boat -- plus dockage, fuel and everything else. But $600 for an afternoon at the sandbar with five friends chipping in is pretty doable.

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2 comments
jspeterson
jspeterson

Personally I would not rent a boat unless it was captained by a professional. But I do appreciate what they are doing. This industry has not been doing so well over the past 6+ years. Maybe sites like boat bound and http://nxtboat.co can turn it around.

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