Purchase or Rent?

Rent a Boat

Renting is a great way to compare boat types and models before deciding which boat to buy. Boat rentals come in a variety of forms, from hourly and daily rentals to weeks-long charters. Rental operations may not offer a wide range of boat models, but they can provide a range of boat types for you to try. Rental fleets tend toward basic models, nevertheless, they can give you and your family a sample of the boating fun waiting for you on the water, and they are a great way to get your feet wet.

Daily Rentals

Marinas in hundreds of lakes and waterways across the country offer recreational boat rentals by the hour or by the day. Typical offerings in a sizable lake or reservoir in ascending order of cost would include small, aluminum, outboard-powered fishing boats, ski boats and stern-drive runabouts, pontoon boats or deck boats and houseboats. Most are relatively simple to operate, although state regulations regarding powerboat operator licensing and certification may apply. A dock attendant will provide brief boating instructions to you before you set out. Consult your state Department of Natural Resources for listings of rental operations.


Houseboat rentals have exploded on the large lakes and reservoirs of the south and west in recent years. Companies typically offer boats suitable for anywhere from four to 12 or more people. Rentals usually come equipped as a land-based condo would, with full kitchens, barbeque grills and air-conditioning. Some have water slides and hot tubs. You can spend your week aboard cruising casually from cove to cove or you can raft up with other renters for a night or a week of partying and communal boating fun. Check out variety of renting options in your state to enhance your boating experience.


Sailing is an acquired skill, so before you sail off into the sunset in a rented sailboat, most sailboat rental operations will require you to demonstrate your sailing competence to ensure boating safety. Call ahead to find out their policies.


Few vacation experiences can top that of chartering a boat for a week or two in an exotic boating location. The Caribbean is the world's most popular yacht charter destination. Its sparkling waters and it ideal year-round climate can make for a memorable water-based vacation. A number of companies offer sailboat and powerboat charters in the Caribbean. The largest of these companies, focus on sailboats, but have divisions that offer trawlers and power catamarans. Smaller companies offer both as well. Charter boats also are available in many locales along all the U.S. coasts and abroad.

A Word on “Bareboat” Charters

If you're considering a "bareboat" charter, especially in saltwater, where you are the captain, you must meet basic standards the companies set for experience and competence on the size and type of boat you'd like to charter. Consult the company you're considering chartering from for policies.

Fractional Boating Membership and Ownership Programs

Fractional Boating Membership and Ownership programs pairs several “members” on one boat with an Owner and professionally manage the entire process from stem to stern. The fractional company typically provides brand-new well appointed boats and takes care of most of the work (such as fueling, pump-out, maintenance, insurance, etc.) which allows members to focus on learning the ropes and enjoying the boating lifestyle. Members pre-schedule use of the boat online and often get the added benefit of lessons, flotillas and additional crew if needed.

Boat Clubs

Boat Clubs are a great way to get your feet wet and decide which type of boat is best for you. Boat Clubs own the fleet of boats in the club, which members can reserve and use. Members sign on for a term of use, and during that time, they get unlimited access to a variety of boats. Reservations are typically made on-line but some clubs also have reservationists who handle requests as well. The Boat Club maintains, cleans, insures and stores the boats and provides classroom and on-the-water training. Most Boat Clubs have mainly powerboats with a few sailboats. Club members are responsible for their own fuel.

Boat Partnerships

Partnering is an easy way to share the costs of boat ownership where two or more individuals purchase, maintain, and share the use of a boat together. Typical boat partnerships range from neighbors sharing a small fishing boat to sophisticated partners forming a limited liability corporation for shared ownership purposes. Most boat partners share similar interests such as sailing, fishing, cruising, or other boating usage.

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