Updated: Sep 4, 2020
During my previous trips to Corsica, Zakynthos, Bali, South of France, Miami, Sardinia, or Crete, I have rented a boat and set sail to remote creeks. I would like to share some advices on the subject.
When you travel to touristic places, you are often forced to "enjoy" a small beach, shared with other holiday makers, whereas there are corners that are easily accessible by boat. So why not try boat hire without a licence! The idea seems tempting to me to combine discovery and independence.
The choice of the boat: sailboat, catamaran, motoryacht?
This is one of the most important elements to take into account. Which model of boat do you want to rent and which is the most adapted to your needs? To help you in this choice, the best thing to do is to first ask yourself how many people are going to take part in this excursion or cruise.
Then, the choice of the boat will depend on the planned activity. The model will be different depending on the activity (sailing, fishing, lazing around) and the place (sea, river, lake). If you are towing a buoy or a wake-board, plan a sufficiently large and powerful boat. Although in the U.S., the law restricts the rental of boats and the towing, so you won't be able to tow a wakeboard or water ski behind the boat if you don't get a skipper.
Boat hire: between private individuals or professionals?
Renting a boat between professionals ensures that you take the right steps and that the boat is safe. It is also ideal to be advised by a qualified person. Also, it is possible to make the trips with a skipper : captain. This makes it possible to sail with a professional, and to enjoy the cruise more.
The boat rental between private individuals is ideal for its simplicity. It generally allows to benefit from a better price.
The date of the trip: when to leave?
The best period in Europe is probably May/June and September. It is not too hot. And you avoid the most touristy period July/August. So you are more likely to avoid the crowds of boats and waiting times. You have more choice among the available boats and often get a better price. And as far as the time of day is concerned, ask about possible tide times, so that you can adjust the time of return to port.
In Florida, high and dry season starts after Thanksgiving (end of November) until end of April.
The equipment on board: what accessories should you bring?
The boat must be equipped with life jackets (one per person). You need to know where they are located; and ideally, put them on. As far as safety is concerned, you also need to know the location of navigational charts, fire extinguisher etc. Also note a number to contact in case of emergency (e.g. the Regional Operational Monitoring and Rescue Centre).
Rental: what should you pay attention to?
First of all, find out about the reputation of the boat rental company. If it is a private individual, ask for advice. If it's a professional, consult the reviews on the internet beforehand to give you an idea of the seriousness of the rental company.
Check the maintenance of the boat and ensure its safety before renting it.
The rental contract must be precise with regard to the payment of a deposit, and the conditions of use. For example, you need to know who is in charge of cleaning the boat and refueling it when it returns to port.
You should also find out about the insurance available. Boating insurance can be important, especially to be covered in case of hazards.
And you, have you ever rented a boat without a licence during your holidays? What is your advice on this subject?