When peer to peer boat rental is cheaper than owning a boat
Tired of paying marina fees? Renting a boat might be cheaper than owning one.
Robin and I have owned 3 boats (2 sail, 1 power) over the last 5 years and lately, with the emergence of peer to peer boating, we’ve been wondering, “Would it just have been cheaper to rent a boat?”.
Airbnb for boats
If you’re not familiar with peer to peer boat rental it’s essentially boat rental by owner or Airbnb for boats. There are several boat rental by owner sites including Boatsetter, Click&Boat, and GetMyBoat. These platforms allow you to rent sail and power boats of all sizes, makes, and models in hundreds of locations around the world.
Will it be cheaper to do peer to peer boat rental in the long run? It depends…
We spoke with Click&Boat, a France based peer to peer boat rental company, to understand how much p2p rentals cost, and then compared these costs with the costs we experienced owning a boat. What we discovered was that renting can be FAR more economical than ownership but it really depends on a few factors. So, here are the 5 factors to consider when deciding whether you to buy or rent a boat.
1) What does peer to peer boat rental cost?
According to our friends at Click&Boat, prices can start out pretty low on a day to day basis. For example, a 15ft motorboat could cost you on average 80€ ($100) per day. For a 30ft sailboat prices average out at around 150€ ($185) per day. Whereas if you are looking at something a little more luxurious you can expect to pay around 600€ ($735) per day for a 40ft catamaran, or if you want to really splash out, as much as 1500€ ($1840) for a 60 ft long catamaran. In many cases the owner will ask for a security deposit which again, depending on the type and size of the boat can start of from a couple of hundred euros (or dollars) up to 3000€ ($3700), and ensuring you return the boat in the same condition, you will get your deposit back.
Boats listed on boat rental by owner sites are insured by the boat owners themselves but often there are additional insurance policies available should you want to cover sudden cancellations, extra assistance or towing. The pricing varies greatly depending on the type of boat, the duration and the location.
This will vary depending on a variety of factors such as the age of the boat and whether you have a trailerable boat or perhaps a cheap mooring buoy and can avoid moorage costs (check out our FREE downloadable boat cost calculator). However, using a base example of a 30ft sailboat, let’s say the marina fees are on average $4,000/year and that maintenance (haulout every two years, doing your own work) equates roughly to $2,000/year. So we can say that a 30ft sailboat would cost you $6,000/year before depreciation and without paying anyone for maintenance. If you are doing your own maintenance, there’s also the cost of your time spent (usually several days per season)
3) How much will you use your boat?
This is probably the most important factor in your rent/buy decision. Boaters in the U.S. spend an average of 11 days per year on the water. So imagine you’re spending $6K a year to keep a boat which you use 11 days of the year – that means you’re spending $545 per day of use! That’s before the cost of major refits, labor costs, depreciation, insurance, not to mention the cash outlay of buying the boat in the first place. If however, you anticipate using your boat 24+ days of the year or even liveaboard, the scales begin to tip in the other direction and owning a boat is a cheaper alternative.
4) Where do you want to boat?
One major benefit of peer to peer boat rental is that you can sail in beautiful cruising grounds all around the world. For example, you could theoretically cruise Greece, Croatia, Italy, the Caribbean and San Francisco bay all in one year (although of course there are the costs associated with getting to those locations).
If you want the flexibility of waking up on a Saturday morning and spontaneously deciding to trail your boat down to a remote fishing hole, where you won’t see another living soul, owning a boat might be a better option.
5) What is your skill level and what do you want to learn?
In many cases a peer to peer boat rental includes a captain who will ensure you have a safe, relaxed, and fun experience, they may even be willing to share some expertise and teach you how to sail. If something happens (say the engine quits) you’ve got someone on board who can take care of it. You also have the freedom to take a break and relax aboard while someone else steers. According to Click&Boat, sailing with a skipper would typically cost you an extra 120 – 150€ ($150-185) per day.
On the other hand, owning a boat will teach you skills that you can’t learn anywhere else. So if learning about diesel engines, DC electrical, sail repair, self-sufficiency appeals to you or if you think you might like to go offshore cruising one day, owning a boat is the only way to get those skills.
To buy or do peer to peer boat rental – our verdict
Using our base case of a 30 ft sailboat with moorage fees + maintenance costing $6,000 a year, and assuming you spend 11 days out on the water every year. Owning a boat would cost you $545 per day on the water, vs. $185 per day to rent the same boat on a peer to peer site. This means a potential savings of $3,960 every year! So to sum up:
BUY a boat if:
- You want a trailerable boat and you have low or no moorage costs
- You want the spontaneity and flexibility of boating last-minute
- You like to boat in remote and out-of-the-way places
- You enjoy doing your own maintenance and boat projects
- You boat more than 11 days a year, liveaboard, or plan on doing a boat share
- You want to build your skills and/or prepare for offshore cruising
Thinking of buying a boat? Check out our post on the 5 best places to be searching for a great deal on a used boat.
RENT a boat if:
- You have to pay moorage costs to store a boat in your area
- You want to travel and sail in various places around the world
- You want to use a variety of boat types
- You would pay someone to do boat maintenance
- You boat 11 days a year or less
- You’re new to boating and like the idea of learning from a skipper
- You like the idea of having a hired skipper sail the boat (pass the margarita please!)
We want to know what you think of renting vs. buying. Let us know in the comments below.
Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.