Ask the guy renting his boat out through AirBnB

This spring, after my boat was recommissioned for the season, I decided to look into renting it out for overnight accommodations. I had no idea what I was in for… and I love it.

I have rented my boat eight times since the end of May, I have 4 bookings for the next two weeks, and people on wait lists, believe it or not. It’s crazy.

Because of the bookings and inquiries I am getting, I am sure I could charge much more than I have. In fact, I have raised my rates twice since the season started. For the Independence Day weekend, I made a very pleasing amount of cash.

Not only do I rent for the overnight accommodations, invariably the renter will want to go for a cruise, for which I charge X per hour. Altogether, in the six weeks since the since the season began, I have made nearly $10,000, which is very much more than I expected; actually, I wasn’t sure I’d get any bites at all, but since 2 days after posting my listing, I have been inundated with requests and inquiries.

My next two guests, one booked for July 16, and other other for July 23, are both videographers, one of whom is filming a documentary about inland waterways so I am lucky enough to host some pretty interesting people. I even have an inquiry from a photographer who wants to shoot 6 models while out on the river. I mean, could life get any more difficult? :slight_smile:

Of course I am far from the only one renting their boat via AirBnB. I just wish I’d thought of doing this last year, or the year before, when my boat sat languishing, unused, in its slip most of the Summer.

My wife and I did rent out a room in our house through AirBnB earlier this year, just to check it out. It went well, but we quickly realized it was not for us. Neither of us could sleep through the night knowing a complete stranger was in our house, in a room right down the hallway, even though the guest was the nicest, cleanest, most considerate guy you’d ever hope to meet.

With our boat, on the other hand, guests are not on-premises in our home, and the icing on the cake is we can charge much more for accommodations on our boat than we can for a room in our house.

The downside, of course, is that it is much more work to clean the boat after guests leave than a room in our house, but we charge a cleaning fee through AirBnB that no one has complained about yet.

As we have now been hosting via AirBnB for a couple of months now, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Do you book it for three hour tours?

Is your boat in a slip at a marina?

Curious about how you’d work around the rules of the marina.

That’s awesome. How fancy is your boat that you can rent it for that much? Do people not want to drive it around?

Do you let renter pilot the boat or do you provide a captain and crew?

Yes, it is.

There are no violations. It is my boat. I can have guests any time I want.

My boat is a 36 foot express cruiser, with 2 dedicated sleeping berths in the cabin that accommodate two people each. The dinette also converts to a bed in a pinch if there are 6 guests, although the 2 guests sleeping in the dinette area would not have much privacy. There’s a galley with a fridge, sink, microwave, two-burner cooktop, coffee maker, cabinets for storing dry foods, utensils, cookware, and plates. The cabin also has a bathroom (or head) with a standard flush toilet, sink, and shower. On the upper level, there is seating for 10 people, a table for eating or playing games, a sink, and a freezer / ice maker. The boat has a large swim platform and deck pads on the bow so guest can sit out there as well.

Some may want to but piloting a boat like mine is nothing like driving a car and requires quite a bit of experience. I would not let anyone at the helm of my boat without a captain’s license.

No, I do not let renters pilot the boat. I’d have to change my insurance is order to allow this, which would cause me to have to more than quadruple my rates.

I am the captain, and my wife is crew. We do take guests cruising who request it, for an additional fee, although some guests simply want to use the boat as a floating hotel, just for the experience.

For three hour touuuuurs. :slight_smile:

Cool. The marina where I have my pontoon boat has some very specific rules that would make what you are doing impossible. While guests are permitted on marina property, the member has to be present. There is also a rule against commercial business use (for instance I couldn’t do fishing charters).

I know this because we talked to a friend about renting her houseboat for a week. She was eager to do it, but when I asked at the marina the idea was shot down. (She then said we could have it for the week at no charge, but after the discussion I had with the marina, it would look fishy)

There are rules for guests at my marina as well, for which the slip owner is responsible for compliance, but the rules mostly revolve around respecting other slip owners, their privacy, and property. I give each overnight guest a small lecture about the marina rules before leaving them on the boat.

Were you surprised at how much “X” was? I assume you figured out hourly costs to price this. I have a much smaller boat (30’ Sea Ray) in a nearby marina. After scheduling a bottom job and other periodic maintenance, I idled away some time computing the actual hourly costs of my hobby. Even for my smaller boat and excluding depreciation, it’s over $200/hour. Kind of an eye-opener, isn’t it?

I’ve been defraying some of my costs by cleaning boats. It’s surprising what an owner will pay, especially when a group or party is scheduled soon and they discover their craft is covered in duck and spider crap.

Finally, I’m considering another idea and am curious what you think. The idea came to me after considerable effort with another boater to get “cruising” video. I’m wondering about buying a drone for filming boaters from above while at cruising speed. It seems like they’d willingly pay for video and stills of their boat (with them at the helm) cruising across the water. Still trying to figure how to price it though.

We spent yesterday on the Allegheny River pontooning. When we returned to the marina, there was a bus with bride, groom, and wedding party there for a photo shoot. The photographer had a drone in the air.

I unintentionally photobombed the group, walking three wet dogs, rolling a cooler, and doing a bit of a drunk stagger.:smiley:

Oh yeah, and X changes depending on the client. Your $200/hr is a good average. I am impressed your number is as close as mine.

I think it is a good idea. There are issues with permissions, and I am sure there are boaters who would not care for the idea of a drone flying above them even if they are not your target.

There is a similar service called BoatPix [], but they use manned helicopters instead of drones. Basically, they fly around rivers and bays taking photos of pleasure craft. You can contact them via their website, type your boat’s information and, if they took photos of your boat, they will sell them to you. I don’t know how successful they are. I haven’t seen one of their helicopters in a few years.

How scenic is it in the marina? Is it suitable for swimming? fishing?
Is this a river, lake, or ocean?

Having a boat big enough to sleep on is a dream of mine, but not a big enough a dream to actually spend the money. (I know I would probably not use it enough to make it worthwhile). I live near the Mississippi and there are suitable used boats for sale, but I never even looked at the price.


Older houseboats can be amazingly affordable. The yearly maintenance can be a killer, though.

There is a woman who lives on a nice houseboat at our marina (seasonally); she also owns a home. Her husband died recently and she hasn’t taken her boat out since. We offered to crew for her if she wanted to blow out the cobwebs, and she accepted. Talk about a win/win!

It is quite scenic. My boat is on one of the outer docks, so I have unobstructed views of the water and a backdrop of trees about 1000 feet away.

There’s not a lot of fishing that I have noticed, but then my neighbors are more pleasure craft owners than fisher people. There’s probably fish in there, but no one cares.

It is a river, the Delaware River precisely, which feeds into the Atlantic ocean.

As I am sure you are aware, it is an expensive hobby. I made the common mistake that many others have by insisting I’d use the boat at least every weekend and probably more often. The reality is I use it probably once a month, twice if I am lucky. I simply don’t have the time.

It sounds like you might have talked with an insurance professional but I have to ask. Are you covered if one of your renters is injured while on your boat? (Keeping in mind that they’re paying customers, not just visitors, which can change lots of things with an insurance policy.) What if a renter damages your boat while it’s sitting still? What if they somehow get it running and take it on a joyride and collide with something and injure or kill themselves or someone else? Or just cut whatever attaches it to the dock/pier and drift away? What if *you’re *piloting it (for an additional fee) and something bad happens?

Yes, my insurance covers renters as long as they remain at the dock.

AirBnB covers damage from renters up to $1000

No chance of that. Piloting a boat like mine is not the same as driving a car, at all. You don’t just turn the key in the ignition and go. There are systems that have to be enabled, and a process to follow. It is actually closer to flying a plane than driving a car. And anyway, guests are not given keys to the helm, but even if they had them, again, they’d have to know the systems and how to enable them.

I have finger piers on both the port and starboard side of my boat. I have had the boat in the slip a number of times without the dock lines when I was testing current resistance and wind effects. I suppose it could drift out but, typically, the current pushes the boat into the dock, it doesn’t pull it away. However, if someone really went out of their way to release all the dock lines, and was able to get the boat to drift out of its slip without power, to answer your question, I guess I would be in a bit of trouble with the marina and with the owner of any boat that happened to collide with mine.

I have a rider on my policy that covers very specific commercial uses. Someone couldn’t charter my boat for fishing, for example, unless of course I added a specific rider to allow it.

I looked into insurance coverage to allow others to pilot my boat and the premium would be astronomical. That’s okay, I don’t really want anyone else at the helm of my boat anyway.

Good. Sounds like you’ve got it all covered then.