All boating enthusiasts have to confront this question when choosing how they can best spend their time on the water: should you take on ownership of a new boat or rent one when it’s convenient for you?
Getting the most from your time and money
While renting a boat can be more expensive for some than buying a new one, this is generally only true if you use it constantly and maintain your boat in perfect condition so that it can be resold at minimal loss. Depending on how often you use your boat, renting is actually often cheaper than buying, and the cost can be split among friends for each excursion. Boat maintenance can be expensive and time-consuming, reducing the amount of time you get to spend on the water and making it harder to find boating opportunities due to the extra time involved launching and cleaning your boat. You have to decide if the pride of boat ownership is worth the costs and the guilt many boat owners feel when they’re unable to get out on their boat. The guilt of not using your costly boat is also tempered by another kind of guilt when you are on the water: boat usage is measured in hours that the engine is running, and each hour of use depreciates the value of your boat further upon resale.
Comparing the costs of renting and buying
When looking at the price of buying a boat, many boat enthusiasts tend to underestimate costs beyond the initial purchase price. Boat ownership can run you additional thousands in maintenance and repairs, insurance costs, adding or upgrading gear like electronics, the price and insurance for a trailer and tow vehicle, etc. Many neighborhoods don’t allow boat storage in yards or driveways, which will add storage costs to your total. These costs will continue to mount up whether your boat is being used or not- even a boat in storage is depreciating in value and still requires regular upkeep. On average, boat owners use their boats about 8% of the year, only getting out on the water around 18 times, leaving an abundance of time when your boat is deteriorating in storage and still costing you money. Generally, boat ownership will run you around $5000 a year on average in additional cost. You only pay for a boat rental when you’re actually enjoying boating.
Safety and peace of mind
Another benefit of renting is the peace of mind that comes from not being on your own when it comes to questions and dilemmas. When you rent, you always have someone to call on for tips, help in the event of any issue, and local knowledge of the area including its best locations for fishing, relaxing, or socializing. You can always expect a rapid reply and help whenever you might need it. In many areas, you can expect to wait hours for assistance in the event of a potential maintenance or other issue when you own your own vessel. While most days spent on the boat are free of complications, the more a boat sits when you own it, the more likely you are to have a problem when you do finally get out on the ocean. The peace of mind and safety that comes with renting are an undeniable benefit.
Try before you buy
Renting a boat is also a great option for newer boat enthusiasts who aren’t sure yet which type of boat is best for them. You get to try out different models and sizes each time to see what suits you before you buy. You can also choose the perfect boat for your planned activities for the day: the boat you want for water sports, for example, is not likely to suit a quiet fishing expedition. You can also rent the perfect boat for your group size and never have to turn away guests because the boat you own is too small.
Another cost effective option
A third option that suits many boating enthusiasts when both renting and buying are not ideal is joining a boat club. This can be an excellent way to combine the benefits of both: it still prevents you from spending lots of time and money on maintenance and spontaneous expenses and gives you the freedom to choose your boat for each day on the water, but is much more cost effective in the long run if you plan on boating regularly.