5 things to consider when renting a boat

If you’re renting a boat for the first time this sailing season, the prospect of getting out on the water is bound to be an exciting one. But before you see to your booking, there are a few other practical details you might need to attend to before you book your boat rental and take to the seas. Different nations, provinces, counties, and states might have certain requirements you must meet before you can legally operate a boat, even if you’re just renting one. Some rentals might come with insurance, or you may need to purchase some insurances separately. Here are five things to consider when renting a boat.

Do I Need a Permit?

While there’s not always an actual licensing process to go through for boat operation, some countries or states require the completion of a boating safety course – similar to driver’s education courses – before you’ll be allowed to operate a boat yourself. You may also be required to complete an international licensing process if you plan to sail in international waters – even if you don’t sail to another country.

There is usually a hefty fine for operating a boat without having completed said course or any permit or licensing procedure for your state or province, so make sure you look into fulfilling any national, county, or local boat operation requirements if you’re planning on sailing bareboat.

Do I Need Insurance?

Most, if not all, boat rentals will come with the insurance necessary to operate the craft legally. However, if you are planning to range into international waters – more than twelve nautical miles from shore, generally speaking – you may want to inquire if additional insurance is necessary to cover the craft, and you’ll want to have travel insurance for yourself depending on your health care insurance coverage.

Am I of Age to Rent a Boat?

Like renting a car, some countries, provinces, and states have age requirements for boat rental. While many municipalities allow anyone over 18 to rent a boat, make sure to look up the specifics or you may be refused the rental – even if you paid in advance. Additionally, be sure of the age requirements for operating a boat if you’re taking children or teens on board, as you can incur heavy fines if you allow anyone below the minimum age for boat operation to do so.

What Experience Do I Have?

Generally speaking, your boat rental should be for a boat that you know how to operate, but if you’ve never gone boating before, it’s worth it to take a few boating lessons at your local marina or harbor to learn how to operate the boat you’d like to rent. If you’d rather not do that, book your boat rental with a captain rather than going bareboat, and learn as you go.

Do I Know the Maritime and Local Boating Laws?

These can be a little tricky to learn if you don’t spend a lot of time reading local ordinance, but it’s worth it to investigate. For example, in the Great Lakes of the United States, boats are required to operate in a counterclockwise direction, and boaters violating this rule can be fined or even face charges. Read the ordinances regarding boating rules and laws for your area, and when you go to pick up your rental, ask for a rundown of rules of the watery road if you’re sailing bareboat.

Your first boat rental will lead the way to amazing memories this sailing season – and covering all your bases beforehand will result in smoother sailing and less stress knowing you’re equipped for your first open-sea journey.

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