Hiring a boat: What you need to know
24th August 2021 Jack O'Rourke
Renting a boat can be a great option for those who want to have a great time out on the water without the hassle of the maintenance and money headaches that come with owning a boat.
Hiring a boat can also be a great way to explore the environment around you and try out many different vessel types before jumping headfirst into buying one.
When deciding to hire a boat, don’t get caught out wondering what is the best option for your next trip, read our handy guide to make sure you know what to look for.
Plan in advance
Making a reservation in advance makes it hard to predict the conditions on the day you are planning to head out, so devise a plan with some options built-in.
Pick what waterways you are planning to explore, map out your route and consider external factors such as boat traffic. What day and the time of year you go boating can help make a plan that suits your experience level and capabilities.
Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast so you can and prepare for the type of weather you are expecting to encounter, and keep an eye on the radar to determine if it is safe to travel out on the water. If you feel it is not safe, don’t go.
Bring appropriate clothing for the weather with you. If it's sunny, wear a hat, breathable layers and a long sleeve top for sun protection. If it's a cold day, wear warm layers and rain jackets should the weather turn for the worst.
Consider the costs of chartering a boat
The costs of renting a boat can depend on the make, model and age of the vessel, and the professionalism of the place you are renting from. It tends to cost more to hire a motor boat than a sailboat, and of course, hiring a superyacht will set you back more than a regular boat.
If you are planning to cruise in a popular destination spot, boat rentals will cost significantly more due to demand, and may have to be booked far in advance.
Try renting the boat for a longer period of time, as full-day rates are usually cheaper than renting by the hour if you are prepared to use the boat all day. If you are planning to hire a boat on a regular basis, it might be worthwhile to look into becoming a syndicate owner. It enables you to own your own boat at a fraction of the cost of buying it outright and the ongoing maintenance costs are shared.
Choose the right boat for your trip
Make sure you rent the right type of boat based on the experience you want out on the water and your level of competency.
In particular when chartering a sailboat, consider if you have the skills to skipper the vessel yourself, and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Many hire places are more than happy to provide a captain and crew, depending on the size and type of vessel.
If you are looking to just have a nice day on the water exploring different waterways, then a motor boat should suffice, or if you want to party then a larger yacht with catering and a bar is a fun option. If you are looking to go on a fishing trip, then look for boats with rod holders, benches and fishing chairs, and if you want to do watersports then hire a boat that is set up to do so.
Choose a boat that is appropriate for the size of your party so that you do not overcrowd the vessel. Usually, the boat will be equipped with enough life jackets for the recommended capacity, so it is advisable not to go beyond that.
Inspect the boat
Just like hiring a car, you should perform a thorough inspection of the boat you are planning to hire in order to check that it is well maintained and everything on the boat is in good working condition.
If you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to raise them with the rental company before getting on board. If anything does go wrong, you could be sitting out in the water for a while.
Look for any dents, cracks or damage to the exterior of the boat. Test navigational equipment and lights, as well as the condition of the motor and anchoring chains. If you are unsure, ask the hire company to take you through the boat.
Know how to operate your vessel
It is important to know your limits. If you are planning to operate the boat yourself, perhaps the most important part of chartering a boat is to be confident you are able to handle whatever vessel you are taking out.
Many countries do not require you to have a boat licence or safety training to operate certain vessels, but that is not an excuse for poor reckless behaviour. The designated skipper is responsible for everyone’s safety on board, so it is important to at least know the rules of navigation.
Some boat rental companies can provide training and assistance to help you while out on the water.
If you are inexperienced with operating a vessel, then it might be a good idea to take a boater education course to familiarise yourself with the rules before hiring a vessel.
Chartering a boat is a great way to get out on the water and explore. You are the one spending hard-earned money so enjoy your time with family and friends.
There is so much to do on a boat. Jump off the boat for a swim, have a picnic on board, or drop a line over the side and chance your hand at catching a fish. How you choose to spend the day is up to you, and with our guide you should have the peace of mind to enjoy it.
Download the Deckee app from the App Store or Google Play for free to stay safe on the water. Check the marine weather forecast, track your boat trips, inspect Aids to Navigation, and more. Join our community of passionate boaters to find and share your favourite anchorages, marinas, or fishing spots.