Boat owners, I know you like to travel and I know you like to spend life aboard gently rocking vessels. But from my experience it’s the rusting trailers and the staggering fuel bills that come with towing cross-country which eliminate the fun of traveling with a boat.
(Anyone who has ever been stuck on the side of the interstate with a worn-out trailer bearing knows exactly what I’m talking about. Spend a couple hours sweating in a steamy Florida parking lot trying to rig a sailboat or attempting to figure out why your outboard won’t start and you’ll know that the romantic and oh-so-glamorous life of a boat owner is total fiction.)
Enter Boatbound. It’s a new service created by founders Aaron Hall and Matt Johnston that connects boat renters with boat owners, sort of like VRBO.com for vacation rentals or Airbnb for empty New York City apartment bedrooms. To understand Boatbound, take one part San Francisco tech geek start-up culture, and blend it with one part Florida boat culture. Make sure to put an umbrella in the resulting drink, and enjoy it someplace sunny.
The Boatbound proposition is simple: Boat owners who aren’t using their boats (ranging from dinghies to yachts) lease them by the day or the week to people who want to go boating. The boat owners provides the vessel, and you bring the cooler, the food, the drinks and the smiling people who want a tan and the feel of wind in their face.
To keep everyone smiling during these transactions, Boatbound prescreens and keeps insurance on the vessels during those rentals. An automatic deal with BoatUS provides on-the-water service and towing if the motor cuts out. Owners and renters get a chance to communicate in advance of the rental, and some owners will even offer quick skills training refreshers before you take over the helm.
The site just launched this week and is already closing in on 1,000 boat listings, focusing on Florida, California and New York first.
"Our goal is not to create a rental platform; our goal is to create an 'experience' platform," says co-founder Aaron Hall, who adds that Boatbound has the possibility of introducing a whole new audience of potential enthusiasts to boating. And even if they don't go home and buy a boat, at the very least they'll have had a nice boat trip while on vacation.