Great Britain’s “Airbnb of boats” makes landfall in America

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Lucas Scarfone

Spend time around a marina, and chances are you’ll likely overhear a prideful boat owner repeat a certain familiar platitude: “Life is better on a boat.” While hard to disagree, the “break-out-another-thousand” adage is oftentimes a blunt, upsettingly accurate summation of what it is like to own a vessel. But oh, how the tides have turned—and in favor of the chump stuck on the pier.

The splash of peer-to-peer boat rental upstarts, with tech-savvy platforms, have made the pay-to-play game easier and more reasonable than ever before. Whether it’s vacation homes via Airbnb or vehicle experiences via DriveShare. A new corner of this space that’s eager to make a real splash stateside is the boat rental business, and Borrow a Boat, a U.K.-based market leader, intends to do just that.

Michigan Wooden Boat
Carol Gould

“Our expansion into the U.S. is a key milestone in the growth of the business and brand,” remarked CEO and founder of Borrow a Boat, Matt Ovenden. “The U.S. is one of the world’s biggest boating markets but remains largely untapped in terms of peer-to-peer charter”.

“Not only does the U.S. boast fantastic coastlines, but it also has some of the most picturesque lakes in the world and a wide variety of different waterways to suit all boating needs.”

To that effect, the Borrow a Boat web-user database is working toward building up a stockpile of eclectic vessels in America, awaiting a customer’s perfect day on the water. Everything you can imagine from your simple motorboat, to sailboats, even all the way up to superyachts will be featured on the platform, coming to a port near you. Bareboat rentals (where a captain isn’t on board) are made available for experienced and certified mariners who would prefer to go it alone for a more interactive experience. Fear not novices; no further qualifications are required provided a captain comes along, making it the perfect opportunity for travelers and vacationers alike to commandeer an exciting vessel to their heart’s desire, hassle-free.

2021 Azimut S6 Yacht side
Lucas Scarfone

Exploring around Borrow a Boat reveals a very simple and intuitive interface. Search functionality allows you to browse through listings by top destinations (typically curated by the site around vacation spots), as well as pinpoint local market options. Reviews give registered users the ability to get a feel for the experience they’d be in for, fostering a community-like feel. Even easier for users, the site also features a “request an offer” button, providing tailor-made advice on what’s available with a simple inquiry.

“Marine tourism is expected to fuel demand for boat rentals which provide an easy and convenient way to use a boat without the expense of owning it outright,” remarks Ovenden. Even better, pending market demand, boat lenders may be able to capitalize on a reputable lending service to pay off a portion of yearly maintenance costs. In that case, it’s a win-win.

So if you’ve always wanted to sail something different, or feel like Jordan Belfort for a day, your chances of getting that fix just got a whole lot more attainable. Don’t be the chump stuck on the pier. Pretty soon, you’ll no longer have an excuse.

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