Money Saving Mondays: Boat Rentals

If you've never owned a boat -- or if you did and you don't anymore -- now's the time of year you can feel awfully envious of the thousands of New Englanders navigating our rivers, harbors, lakes, and bays.

While the old saw has it that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day he buys the boat, and the day he finally sells the boat, as so many New Englanders know, there really are few days quite as wonderful as a great day on the water.

What more and more people are finding is that there are more and more options for renting, not owning, a boat to make some of those magic memories – to get a boating experience for $250 or $400 or $800 a day, depending on the size and location of the boat, rather than shelling out several thousand dollars a year for maintenance, boat payments, mooring, storage, insurance, and the like.

Don Symington of Boston Harbor Boar Rentals offers a range of boats, starting with 25-footers at $250 per day, to qualified over-21 boaters. Many of his renters are in fact ex-owners. “We see these people all the time,’’ Symington said. “It’s one of our best customers. They've owned a boat before, they've got experience, they know what they're doing. They want to get back out on the water, but they don't want the hassle and responsibility and expense of owning a boat when they're only going to use it a few times a year.’’

Symington recommends this webstite. You can use it to search for boat rentals all around New England and filter your search by price range, boat size, captained or “bareboat,” and many other factors. This is another leading “sharing economy of boats” website full of New England listings.

They’re not sites amateur navigators or those without Coast Guard Auxiliary certifications should use, however. “Boating safety is paramount,’’ Symington said. “There's no substitute for safety and knowing what you're doing.’’

Nor, he advised, is it a smart idea to make this the time you try out twice as big a boat as you've ever skippered: “Don't get into a boat that's too big for you. Get in a boat that you've used before, and you have experience with.’’

And if you just want to hang out on a boat and enjoy the harborfront scene without actually going anywhere, has options there – like in Boston, the Golden Slipper, which bills itself as a “bed and breakfast afloat,” starting at $225 a night for two up to $425 a night for five or six. The 40-foot Catalina is docked footsteps away from Boston’s North End and Faneuil Hall and comes with all the service amenities of a B-and-B, including daily breakfast delivery.

Whether you party in port, or rent a refreshing ride around the harbor, Symington said one of the best attractions: “It’s a great way for you to get out on the water, not spend a lot of money, and when the day is over, the boat is someone else's problem.’’ 

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