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Can I Rent a Ski Boat

Have you ever dreamed of sailing on long stretches of open water with your closest family and friends? Or perhaps taking some time out of the day job to relax on your own boat, with nothing but a beautiful blue sky and open sea ahead of you?

As great as it sounds to own a boat, many of us simply don’t have the money or time to invest in watercraft ownership. In fact, it might not make a lot of sense to purchase a ski boat for an occasional getaway. Luckily, renting a ski boat can be a cost-effective and viable alternative.

However, many people mistake the process as either complicated, tedious – or both. In reality, the process is really straightforward, even for first-time renters.

The pros of renting a ski boat are extensive. You can pull your pals around in the water, whether they are on skis or in a tube. You can also explore the beautiful area around you, just like you would in any other type of boat. Renting a ski boat and spending time on the water is a great way to share time with your family and friends, whether you are a novice or a well-seasoned boater.

While the rental process is really simple, there may be a few things that you may be confused or concerned about prior to your voyage.

Luckily, we’ve put together comprehensive answers to all your burning questions.

Do I Sail the Boat Myself or do they Provide a Captain

Believe it or not, there are some emerging boat rental companies that provide an experienced captain on board. This is great for those of you who may be a little nervous about your first time out. Plus, it’s a great way to get used to the water. However, ski boats are really easy to operate, and if you get the opportunity to, driving the boat yourself can be a lot of fun.

Do I Need a Captain’s License to Pilot a Boat

Although every state has specific laws about completing boating safety courses and taking education classes, you are only required to have a captain’s license if you have paying passengers aboard. The only exception is Alabama, where all boaters are required to have a license. In South Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho, Arkansas, and Alaska, the safety certification isn’t required, and many states only require the course to be taken by boaters that are under a certain age.

Some marinas offer state safety courses. Some can be taken online, but most can be done on-site prior to boarding the vessel.

Will they Train Me to Drive a BoatRenting a Ski Boat

You don’t need to know how to drive a boat, though most marina operators recommend that the person that captains the vessel have at least a little bit of experience – just to be on the safe side. However, most marina operators will teach you the basics of powering the boat, so you don’t have to worry about that too much.

Whether you drove a vessel in the past or not, every type of boat is different. If you’ve never powered a ski boat, the marina guides will usually be more than happy to instruct you. Even if you have a lot of experience, each particular boat is unique, so expect to be schooled on how to pilot with their specific vessel’s qualities in mind.

They will also ensure you understand the “ways of the water”, such as the impact of wind, water current, weather patterns, and other boaters, and how each factor can be significant to the task of operating a vessel safely.

But fear not – experts assure us that ski boats are really easy to maneuver, even for first-time boaters. Hailed as an easy starter boat for novice captains, ski boats can help you get used to the water and determine if boating is something you may be interested in. They are simple to control, and far from intimidating.


Do I Need Insurance to Captain a Rental Boat

Most marinas require renters to be present for checkout and check-in. They also require you to sign a waiver acknowledging you’re responsible for the boat as well as the passengers. This means you are personally liable for any damage to the boat as well as passenger injuries. The marina does this to minimize their liability for things you are responsible for.. However, things like a blown motor or other mechanical issues are the marina’s responsibility.

This is why it is crucial for the boater to be covered by insurance. You can discuss the matter with your insurance agent to see if your current automobile or home policy extends to boat rentals. If not, you should purchase such a policy prior to the rental. Some marinas may even offer coverage for an extra fee through their own provider.

Many marinas may require an additional deposit prior to the rental. This way, if any damage is done to the boat, the rental company can keep all or part of the deposit, but only if they determine that the damage was sustained due to negligence. These deposits differ greatly, with companies charging anywhere from $50 to $500.

Usually, prior to the rental, a representative of the marina will walk through the boat with the renter and acknowledge any existing damage on a paper which they will both sign.

Are There Age Requirements for Renting a Boat

The age requirements are according to each individual state, as well as the marina that you rent from. Depending on where you are boating, reaching 18 years of age may be sufficient – although some companies prefer that the captain is at least 21, or even 25. However, no matter where you go, you need to be at least 18 to sign a contract and take legal responsibility.

Will the Marina Provide Safety Equipment

All competent marinas know the importance of basic safety equipment such as lifejackets and flotation devices. All ski boats should have them readily available, and the instructor will give you thorough instructions on how to use them before you set out onto the water.

Related Article: Life Jackets for Kids

What Does it Cost to Rent a Ski Boat

Rental costs across the country average around $350 per day. Remember, there are pricing options for rental by the hour, the week, or the month, depending on where you rent from.

When is the Best Time to Plan a Boating Trip

The peak season for boat rental usually starts around Memorial Day, lasting up until Labor Day. Of course, in warmer areas of the country such as Southern California, the Southwest, Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida, the boating season is essentially year-round.

Having said this, you should probably make reservations prior to the day that you plan to go boating. In the summertime, especially on weekends, marinas can run out of rental boats during peak times for business.

Check out our article on the best spots for boating in South Florida.

What Should We Bring with us on the Boat

Marina experts advise boaters to be aware of current and future weather conditions, as well as the fact that they may be on the water for several hours. You need to be well prepared.

For example, you may become overheated in the sun, so it is always best to bring a cooler of beverages and ice for both comfort and health reasons. You wouldn’t want to suffer from dehydration so far from shore that you couldn’t get immediate assistance or medical attention.

It can also get really chilly, so be sure to bring another layer of clothing, such as a sweater or a light jacket, as well as a pair of long pants and closed shoes.

For equipment like skis, wakeboards, and ski ropes, you may be able to bring your own, but some marinas suggest you rent the accessories from them. Be sure to call far in advance of your trip to see what the rules are.

Are there Ways to Rent Boats Online

Some marinas allow you to complete the entire rental process online, but not all do, so be sure to check the website or call the company first.

Unsurprisingly, popular platforms like Airbnb and Uber are now getting into the boat rental business. Airbnb offers the opportunity to use personal boats that would otherwise be in storage, and Uber, not unlike their car service, offers boat rides charged by the mile.

If you are serious about renting a ski boat, it’s best to do your homework and look into the best marina options for you based on the above criteria. It’s certainly not as intimidating as it seems – especially if you’re keen to enjoy a fun day out on the water.



John Allen

With more than a decade of experience cruising the lakes in my Crestliner Grand Cayman pontoon boat and my Boston Whaler, I now want to share everything I've learned with my community here at Boating Hub.