The Case For Renting A Boat

How renting a boat can help you make better decisions when buying one.

Sailfish Center Console

So, yeah, we understand buying a boat is an ordeal sometimes. You can't always take a test drive and even so, you're not exactly sure what type of boat is the right fit for your needs. Well, if you have a quality boat rental location nearby, you've got a great opportunity to test the waters.

Yesterday, I took a ride on one of the four rental boats offered by Long Island Boat Rentals in Port Washington, NY. I chose the Sailfish center console. The company also offers rental of a 26-foot Formula bowrider, a 20-foot dual console, and a 39-foot Pursuit. They offer half-day rates and full-day rates plus discounts on certain weekdays. So here, in one location, you can experiment with four different types of boats over the course of a season to determine which type is right for you.

"A large group of our renters are in between boats," said Bill Thomas, Long Island Boat Rental's manager. "Or they're trying to figure out what to buy."

Renting will let you see and experience firsthand the differences between running an outboard or a sterndrive, a day cruiser or a dual console. You can figure out how you like the seating arrangements, whether you need a head (I say, you don't), how much fuel you burn on a typical trip, or whether your kids will like tubing.

They key is to look for a rental place that offers some variety in its fleet and that keeps its boats in good working order. Getting aboard an abused dud won't help you make any valid decision and could turn you off to boating altogether.

Another option is to join a boat club for a season while you figure out what you want to do with your boating future. Freedom Boat Clubs offers great rentals all around the country.

While it's not the same as ownership and having complete control over your vessel, I have to say it was nice to be able to just fill up the tank, drop off the keys, and let someone else worry about the maintenance for a change.

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