If there’s one thing all sailors can agree on, it’s this: you can never get enough time on the water. While vacation rental sites like AirBnb, HomeAway and VRBO dominate on dry land, this age-old sailor’s gripe has finally pushed the vacation rental market onto the water. With the introduction of several new boat-sharing sites, boatowners can now keep their boats active by listing them online for rent, while non-owners benefit by gaining access to affordable rentals. As the number of boat-sharing websites expands, the question becomes: which site is best for you?
The Total Package: BoatSetter, Boatbound & Cruzin
BoatSetter.com, Boatbound.co and Cruzin.com all offer similar services. From a purely economic standpoint, the difference is that Boatbound takes a commission of 35 percent, Cruzin takes 40 percent, and BoatSetter takes 20 percent. Based on this alone BoatSetter would seem the best option—if you’re in Florida and looking to rent a powerboat.
For now, the majority of BoatSetter rentals (launched in spring of 2014) are powerboats in southern Florida, but the company expects to have a sail and power presence nationwide at more than 150 marinas by the end of 2014. So non-Floridian sailors, stay tuned.
BoatSetter prides itself on its captained rentals and emphasizes this as the key to its successful and safe boat-sharing model. Many, but not all, of its owners require captains aboard as a way of ensuring their boat is in safe hands. The site also allows renters to search for boats based on different activities such as sightseeing, waterskiing, snorkeling or dining.
With similar insurance coverage and fees, Boatbound and Cruzin are perhaps the most alike. They each offer bonus features, like a free photo session (Boatbound) or Experian screening for fraud prevention (Cruzin). Sailors, though, might have more luck with Cruzin, as 30 percent of its listings are sailboats compared to Boatbound’s 20 percent.
Unlike GetMyBoat, BoatSetter, Boatbound and Cruzin all include primary insurance and offer on-water support from BoatUS or SeaTow.
“The reason I’m happy with Boatbound’s commission is because I know it mostly covers insurance, and without the insurance it wouldn’t be Boatbound,” says Dan Knox, who has rented out his Islander 36, Luna Sea, for a total of 32 days since November 2013 when he first listed the boat. “The catch with these peer-to-peer rental sites is how you feel when the boat leaves the slip and you’re not on it. The first couple times I was very nervous. It was like my daughter was going off to the prom! But the insurance policies made me feel better. Without that, this just couldn’t happen.”
Pro: Insurance and on-water support included in rental fee
Pro: Insurance and on-water support included in rental fee
Con: Sailboats make up less than 20% of rental inventory
The Virtual Daybook: Nautical Monkey
NauticalMonkey.com offers a different sort of service, ideal for sailors looking for longer commitments. While Nautical Monkey has some short-term rentals, its mission is to help people set up and maintain long-term fractional boat-sharing relationships. This arrangement can take on different forms—the owner can take on time-share partners, or a group can organize to co-own a boat. Nautical Monkey both connects these sailors and helps them maintain an orderly and fair boat-sharing relationship.
This type of boat sharing is beneficial for owners because when multiple parties are invested in the upkeep of the boat, both time and expenses (maintenance, cleaning, storage and insurance) are divided, and ownership becomes more manageable. This benefits the renters, too, who can get an introduction to boat ownership without committing to a boat of their own.
Nautical Monkey’s boat listings are about 50/50 sail and power, and its services are global, with the heaviest concentration in California, Florida, Washington, Texas, Canada and Australia.
After members and owners connect, Nautical Monkey serves as a boat-sharing management system. Members can schedule timeslots, update the boat’s log, view legal agreements and manage billing. They can also upload photos so all owners are kept in the loop about their boat’s adventures.
Chris Tucker, a longtime sailor who recently partnered with a friend to purchase a Pursuit 2870 Offshore fishing boat in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, says that just a few weeks after they bought the boat, they realized they needed a tool to manage their boat-sharing more efficiently. “We were looking for a way to create a common record of expenses and to keep track of scheduling,” explains Tucker. “We chose Nautical Monkey because it allowed us to do both of those. It works great as a centralized place to track fees, and we use the calendar to plan who has the boat. It’s an easier way to manage.”
Nautical Monkey does not offer insurance. Rather, members must work out with their own insurance company how adding new boaters to existing coverage plans will affect premiums.
Nautical Monkey is free until users join a boat, at which point the account costs $4.95 per month per boat. Businesses can pay $49 per month or $199 per month for a premium membership.
For long-term fractional sailing relationships; offers extensive tools for scheduling & record keeping
Fees and responsibilities associated with boat are automatically divided between multiple members
More co-owners can mean less time on the water for each individual
The Match Maker: GetMyBoat
GetMyBoat.com, launched in the spring of 2013, sets itself apart by virtue of the sheer number of boats it offers around the globe. GetMyBoat lists around 14,000 boats in 80 countries and 1,400 cities from Miami (GetMyBoat’s most popular U.S. destination) to Split, Croatia (its top international destination). GetMyBoat’s stock has a happy 50/50 ratio of sail to power and also lists jet skis, flyboards, kayaks and paddleboards.
On GetMyBoat, owners post their boats at no cost, along with photos, videos and their boat’s features and specs. The listing includes the rental price (by hour, day, week or per person) and reviews from past renters. For owners hoping to create a professional-looking listing, GetMyBoat can provide a photographer to take and post pictures of your boat free of charge. For sailors on the go, GetMyBoat has an app for Android and iOS.
As for insurance, GetMyBoat does not include nor require it. Renters and owners instead can purchase a policy from an outside provider that covers the rental period, or from Falvey Yacht Insurance which has “created a specific type of coverage just for GetMyBoat.”
Owners determine price per rental and can offer additional services (for a fee), such as captained or crewed charters, guided tours and fishing lessons. Prices vary based on boat type—a quick search of boats in the Boston area revealed a kayak priced at $20/hour and a 116-foot 2003 Whisper priced at $9,858 per day.
GetMyBoat focuses primarily on connecting boat owners and potential renters. After that, the company is not involved. GetMyBoat does not take commissions and payment is not handled on the site. The boat-matching process, however, is quite thorough.
“I sent [GetMyBoat] an email with a sailing resume saying ‘This is what I want to do and I want to spend about this much.’ They told me what they thought I’d be able to handle, and they did all the legwork. I didn’t have to do much at all,” says David Sample, of Big Bear Lake, California, who rented a 2001 Catalina 320 from Santa Barbara Sailing Center through GetMyBoat for his brother’s three-day bachelor party to the Channel Islands off California’s southern coast.
Personalized matchmaker for renters and owners
GetMyBoat has around 7,000 sailboats listed worldwide
They use Falvey Yacht Insurance which has "created a specific type of coverage just for GetMyBoat."
The Pioneer: SailTime
This is a boat-sharing site that preceded the others. SailTime.com was founded in 2001 and has upwards of 1,000 members in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Turkey and France. It offers a small number of powerboats, but remains true to its name with an overwhelmingly sailboat-heavy stock of Marlow-Hunter sailboats ranging from the Hunter 33 to the Hunter 45 DC and CC.
Because SailTime is the oldest boat-sharing website, many of its elements can be found within others—Nautical Monkey in particular—while other elements are completely unique. For instance, you can’t list a boat on SailTime that you already own; you must buy a Hunter directly from the Sailtime fleet. After you purchase the boat, SailTime independently fills it with other members and covers all common fees. Other SailTime members cannot become part owners, so the site is ideal for owners who want to financially benefit from a long-term fractional relationship while maintaining sole proprietorship of their boat.
SailTime owners get unrestricted access to their boats, and can even book last minute, using the site’s online scheduling software. Sailtime also offers Embark, a service that allows members to log the boat’s condition.
For non-owner members, SailTime offers three levels: Classic Membership (seven uses a month), Lite membership (three uses a month) and Crew membership (for members looking to gain more experience under a skilled captain). For a fee, both SailTime members and member-owners can take advantage of SailTime Plus, in which they can sail from a SailTime base not their own. If at any time an owner chooses to back out, they can end their membership fee-free with nine months’ notice.
Long-term fractional sailing with a set fleet & bases; its decade-long growth speaks volumes
Majority of fleet are sailboats; SailTime maintains fleets
Must buy boats through SailTime to qualify for services