Conveniently Rent a Boat Using Boatsetter

Conveniently Rent a Boat Using Boatsetter
Rental boat on the water
Frank and Mylene Garot started putting their boats up for rental on Boatsetter and soon made enough money to buy a fleet of six boats to rent.
Forest Johnson

Flying into Miami International Airport on a winter morning, I looked out the window to the waters of Biscayne Bay shimmering and light-blue like the Caribbean, and it’s not a stretch to say that the water was calling me. I had just left a snowstorm in the Northeast that had delayed my outbound flight, and all I could think about was feeling the warm breeze on my face as I cruised through downtown Miami, taking in the sights and sounds of the city by boat. The only issue? My family’s boats were all sitting winterized in our boat garage, trapped inside by over a foot of snow blocking the access road. To get even one to this point would have involved a lot of plowing and shoveling and a three-day drive through inclement weather—not an ideal scenario for spending one day of subtropical boating. 

Fortunately, there’s another way to boat, one that works the same as the Airbnb app I used to book lodging for my warm-weather excursion. I had used the boat-sharing platform Boatsetter to book a Sea Ray 270 Sundeck for a day on the water, and in a short time I’d be sitting at the helm, taking in the beauty of South Florida.

Boatsetter is one of the peer-to-peer apps that allows boat owners to rent out their boat to other people when they’re not using it, and because most boaters get on the water only about 40 hours per year, it’s a way to keep your boat in the water—and even make money when you’re not using it. For users, it’s a way to go boating anywhere you want to try, without worrying about your own boat. I decided to give it a go to see how it could work for everyone.

Boatsetter boat rental app
Booking a boat through the app proved as easy as an Airbnb booking, with dozens of boats to choose from for a day.
Forest Johnson

Shared Experience

I arrived at the dock in Miami Beach, ready to get out on the Sea Ray 270 and experience my day in Biscayne Bay. While I was waiting under swaying palm trees for the day to start, the actual experience started weeks beforehand when I opened the Boatsetter app and put in the type of boat I was looking to use. I had my choice of center-consoles for fishing, cruisers, and others put forth by a variety of people, but I settled on this Sea Ray, offered on the app by a boat owner named Capt. M. The Sea Ray is the perfect choice for a day of cruising, exploring and even beaching the boat. With one touch on my screen, I started the entire process of having the boat ready to go when I arrived.

Boat-sharing apps such as Boatsetter and GetMyBoat are not new; both arose out of the sharing culture that came on the heels of peer-to-peer businesses such as Uber, Airbnb and VRBO.  Boatsetter opened for business in 2012 and now lists more than 50,000 boats in more than 700 locations as available to book for its users. The key to making this all possible is the insurance put in place through Geico that covers both the boat owner and the boat renter while the boat is on the water. (A full breakdown of the app’s Geico policy is available to read on

“Insurance is a big part of our offering,” says Boatsetter CEO Michael Farb. “It’s something we’re really proud of.” 

Without the insurance coverage, no sane boat owner would offer up their pride and joy to the general public and take the risk that everything would go smoothly every time. And who would want to rent a boat from someone knowing that they might be on the hook should something unfortunate happen? This is why Boatsetter’s founder, Jaclyn Baumgarten, made working with insurance companies to create peer-to-peer coverage a priority before the first boat was ever booked through the Boatsetter app.

When I worked through booking my Sea Ray with Capt. M, I was led to a page where I had to sign a series of documents to ensure that the coverage was in place. Then I could book the boat and get out and enjoy my day.

Frank & Mylene Garot of Boatsetter
Frank & Mylene Garot
Forest Johnson

Sharing Your Boat

Capt. M, who owns the Sea Ray 270 I’d be taking, is actually Mylene Garot, who uses Boatsetter to run a small fleet of rental boats in Miami with her husband, Frank. She originally posted two boats on Boatsetter to see what would happen.

“It did so well that I started buying more boats,” she says. 

The Garots now rent six boats in total through their rental business and get almost half their bookings in Miami through the Boatsetter app.

“What I love about them, as an owner, is that there’s no pressure,” Garot says. “If your boat is unavailable, Boatsetter works to find a replacement for the user. They also make it very easy to be compliant with the Coast Guard and the insurance companies.”

Rental boat at the dock
Boatsetter makes it easy to rent boats for both boaters and boat owners.
Forest Johnson

When I stepped on board from the dock, the Sea Ray was clean, well-maintained and full of fuel. The first thing the Garots did was go over all of the safety equipment and the procedures for calling for help if needed. They also gave a rundown of the local rules of the road and where some of the best places were to sightsee by water. Were I to need assistance, Boatsetter has an agreement with BoatUS for towing services on the water.

The Garots are unique in that they were able to use boat-sharing to create a bona fide rental business, but what about the typical boat owner?

“Our biggest growth is in boat owners wanting to rent their boat,” Farb says.

“Owning a boat is expensive, and this is a great way to make money from an asset that they don’t use as much as they’d like.”

Boat running on the river
Being able to try a variety of boat types is perfect for first-time buyers as well as those looking to upgrade.
Forest Johnson

As any boat owner knows, boat engines run better if they’re used more frequently, and long stretches sitting in a slip or on a trailer can lead to as many problems as overuse. Most people don’t think in those terms though, but rather in covering the expenses it takes to own and maintain a boat. Storage, docking, insurance, fuel, maintenance—it all adds up.

Just like ski-condo or vacation-home owners, people put their boats on Boatsetter with few expectations other than to defray some of those costs. Some people, such as the Garots, actually turn it into a profitable business. For a single-boat owner who rents their boat through the app on a regular basis, Boatsetter estimates that they could make up to around $20,000 per year. 

But I didn’t care about that. I just wanted to get on the water and go boating.

Read Next: Essential Boat Insurance Coverage

Boating in Miami
In booking through Boatsetter, I was able to go boating in the Miami area without having to worry about the logistics of trailering my own boat.
Forest Johnson

Taking the Ride

I’ve been boating pretty much my entire life, and feel comfortable at the helm of almost any boat in all kinds of conditions, but in booking this trip, I decided to try an option that Boatsetter now offers its users—the chance to go with a professional captain. It’s an option available for app users and boat owners alike, as a way to add another level of safety during the day’s experience.

“We now have a huge network of USCG-approved captains,” Farb says. “It’s not for everybody, but it’s great for new boaters and for people not as experienced or to boat on unfamiliar waters.”

Capt. M works with six licensed captains, and for my trip, I chose Thibault Cazals, a captain with several years’ experience in running local boat tours, at a rate of $40 per hour. I had originally planned to take the boat out through Government Cut and cruise along the local beaches, but a steady offshore wind and a small-craft advisory necessitated that we have a Plan B. For this reason alone, Capt. Cazals proved indispensable.

He asked what type of experience I’d like to have, and I mentioned seeing the city of Miami’s skyline by boat, gawking at all of the ridiculously large houses on the water, finding a place to beach the boat and go for a dip, and stopping at a local dockside restaurant. Within minutes, he had a plan in place to meet my requests in the time we had aboard the Sea Ray 270 Sundeck. 

Beaching a boat
Booking a professional captain with your Boatsetter rental is a great way to see the sights in unfamiliar waters.
Forest Johnson

“There’s DJ Khaled’s house,” he noted as we idled through the local waterways on our way out to Biscayne Bay. It’s something I never would have noticed on my own. Khaled is known for hanging out on his docks or running his Sea-Doos all over Miami, but, alas, on this day, he was nowhere to be seen.

We motored past several other eye-popping houses of both public and private figures and made our way into Biscayne Bay. With the wind picking up steam, Cazals knew the perfect route to take along the Miami Beach shoreline so that we were always in the calm waters of the lee. We cruised past Lido Bayside, the waterside restaurant we’d planned to stop by on our way home, and through the Venetian Islands, then made our way to Flagler Memorial Island. It’s a public park with walking trails that lead to the Flagler Memorial Monument—a 110-foot-tall obelisk in the island’s center dedicated to Henry Flagler, the man responsible for developing Miami and much of South Florida. Cazals idled us to the western side of the island that featured white-sand beaches and shallow, protected water for a dip. We beached the boat and did some exploring, noting the gigantic cruise ship docked behind us in Government Cut. After a short stint there, we idled around the area, taking in the sights on Star, Memorial and Hibiscus islands. From there, it’s a short run to Fisher Island, Virginia Key and Key Biscayne, and beyond that, the famous Stiltsville: a collection of houses built on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. We had hours of exploration in front of us, only to be curbed by my desire to swing by Lido Bayside. While I truly enjoyed my day on the water in the Sea Ray 270 Sundeck, the experience made me think of another benefit. If you’re looking to buy a boat, you can book through a sharing app and try out several different types of boats before deciding which is the best fit for you. I had the option to book everything from a center-console to a walkaround, a performance boat to a pontoon, or even a watersports boat to give wakesurfing a go. 

For boaters, using a sharing app such as Boatsetter is a way to explore waters beyond where you keep your boat. It’s also a way to “try before you buy” if you’re looking to upgrade or get started in the sport. For boat owners, it’s a way to keep your boat in use and offset some of the costs inherent in boating. When it works the way it did on my trip to Biscayne Bay, everybody wins.

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