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How to Rent or List a Boat on Boatsetter, the Airbnb of Boats

Last updated: September 11, 2019
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There’s an old adage that your two best days with a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. It’s a joke about the pains of owning a boat — they’re expensive to maintain and store, they break down at inconvenient times, and you never use them as often as you’d like. But we think the fun of boating is worth the effort.

Plus, the sharing economy is here to cushion the cost of boat-owning. Boatsetter is a platform that is making boat sharing a reality. Like an Airbnb for boats, Boatsetter connects boat owners with boat renters. Owners get some cash from owning a boat and running it regularly. Renters get to spend a day or more on a boat and usually pay much less than they would from typical boat rental places. They also offer a special perk — the option to book a captain with your boat.

In this article, we’ll look into Boatsetter and how to rent a boat through the platform. Then, we’ll dive into boat ownership and how to list your boat on the site. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions.

What Is Boatsetter?

Boatsetter is an online boat rental marketplace. The company was originally called Cruzin, which was founded in 2012 by Jaclyn Baumgarten. Boatsetter was formed a year later by Andrew Sturner, and the two companies merged in 2014, with Baumgarten taking over as CEO of the newly combined company. Boatsetter got off the ground thanks to a round of Series A venture capital funding, and the company is now headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In a somewhat old-fashioned marine industry, Boatsetter has worked to bring boat rentals into the 21st century. They connect owners and renters and let users book chartered trips with a captain directly through their platform.

Boatsetter makes money from the fees both renters and owners pay. The current fee structure is:

  • Renters pay a 10% booking fee
  • Private boat owners pay a 35% commission
  • Charter Partners (professional operators) pays a 15% commission

The company also represents a true partnership between South Florida and Silicon Valley — Cruzin was founded in San Francisco while Boatsetter got its start in the greater Miami area — a perfect marriage of the two places with one website.

How to Rent a Boat

Renters who want a boat for an upcoming trip can find one easily on boatsetter.com. On the home page, you can start your search by providing the location of the voyage, whether or not you want a captain, your party size, and dates that you’ll be traveling. The page looks like this:

Boatsetter homepage

Once you’ve submitted your query, you’ll review your results. The page is divided into two main sections: the search results and options to revise your search or filter your results.

Boatsetter search results in Miami

The search results are on the left and give you a photo of the boat and facts about pricing, passenger capacity, and average reviews on a scale of zero to five stars.

On the right, you’ll notice the option to further filter your results. You can decide to include a captain, set price parameters, choose whether or not you want a larger motor, and more. You can also review a map to find a boat that’s exactly where you want to be.

Once you’ve found the listing you like, click on it for even more listing details.

Boatsetter booking page

On a captain-optional boat, you can select a captain and decide on a half-day rental or a full-day rental. You’ll also get to see specs on the boat, review the boat’s features (whether fishing is allowed, if it’s set up for water skiing, if there are speakers, etc.), and read the boat rules.

If you like what you see, you can then either request to book or, if the boat allows it, instantly book with the site. If a listing doesn’t allow instant booking, the boat owner will get back to you shortly. From there, you provide payment information and contact information. Then, you reserve your boat.

How to List Your Boat

Boat owners looking to let others enjoy the boating experience and make a little extra money can join the boat rental community by registering with Boatsetter.

To do so, first you’ll need to head to their homepage www.boatsetter.com. In the top right hand corner, you should see an option to “List Your Boat.”

List your boat

The process starts with some simple questions about your boat. They’ll ask for the make, model, and year of the boat. They’ll also ask whether it’s a sailboat or an outboard motor boat.

Enter boat details

Once you’ve provided that information, it’s time to make an account. You can do so by providing your name and contact information, or create an account directly through Facebook or Google.

Now that you’ve created your account, it’s time to make your listing. They’ll want you to provide some photos and any information a renter may want. You can set boat rules, describe amenities, offer captain services, or add whatever you think will make your listing enticing.

This is also your chance to highlight what makes your boat’s area great and describe the fun activities people can enjoy on the boat. If you offer boat captain services, you can describe day trips, island destinations, picnics, water activities, and more. At that point, you’re not just offering a boat, you’re offering an experience to potential renters. They may be willing to pay quite a bit more for access to those fun activities.

Once your listing is complete, it’s time to set availability. Owners can allow instant booking (dates are set ahead of time and people can book on free dates), or they can review each booking themselves.

After your dates are set, you post and then wait for a booking. Posting a listing is totally free — you’re only charged a commission once you book a trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered Boatsetter and how to both rent and list using the service. Let’s get to some frequently asked questions.

1. Are there different rules for renting boats in different places?

You bet. The United States allows each individual state to set their boating laws and regulations, so renting a boat in Miami might follow very different rules than renting a boat in San Francisco or Seattle. Depending on the size of the boat, some states require captains to have a boating license. Others just insist on a drivers’ license. It all depends. Luckily, Boatsetter has a state-by-state guide to boating laws and regulations that’s easy to review.

2. Does Boatsetter provide insurance?

Yes, Boatsetter has a class insurance policy through Geico that covers owners and renters throughout the duration of the rental period. You can learn more about exactly what is covered on their site.

3. How do I reach Boatsetter’s customer service?

Boatsetter is easy to reach, either by calling them at (305) 600-5435 or by their email: [email protected]

4. Are there security deposits?

Yes, Boatsetter collects either a $500 or $1000 security deposit from the renter before they access the boat, depending on the type of boat which is listed. That security deposit will then be returned upon successful completion of the voyage. This deposit can cover damages which wouldn’t be covered by the insurance policy.

Set Sail With Boatsetter

Just about everyone enjoys boats, but they are often too cumbersome to own. In that way, they’re perfect for this modern sharing economy — through Boatsetter, boat owners can earn side-income when they rent out their boat on off days, and wannabe boaters get to ride the waves without making a massive investment.

Boatsetter lets renters find the perfect boat for their next trip and decide whether to captain it. Prices are easy to compare, and with instant book, you can find and rent the perfect boat in mere minutes.

Boatsetter gives owners an easy platform to create a free listing and connect with renters who want to take your boat out for a half-day, full-day, or longer. It also lets you set parameters on when, and to whom, you rent.

Boats shouldn’t go unused. Let them free on the high seas with Boatsetter.

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