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What to Know Before Renting a Boat

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Boat marinas can be a great place to live, vacation and visit. Marinas contain docks for small boats and yachts. Finding the right boat and location can be a challenge with all of the options available at marinas.

What you'll find at a marina

The amenities available at marinas are one of the first things you should consider when determining where your boat will reside. Many marinas have stores stocked with boating supplies, equipment, life vests, clothing, fishing gear, bait, ice and gift items.

Many docks also have skilled technicians available to work on your boat, including routine maintenance, electronics installation, fiberglass repairs, winterization, washing and waxing, upholstery or carpet replacement, engine repairs, and drive repairs.

Other amenities available depend on the dock but can include the following: 

• Boat rentals

• Restaurants

• Snack bars

• Convenience stores

• Public launch ramps

• Day use areas

• Dump stations

• Valet launching

• Lighted docks

• Slip rentals

• Lodging

• Housekeeping units

• Gift shops

• Campgrounds

• Showers

• Laundry

• Refueling

• Docking

• Boat storage

Options for houseboats

If you are considering vacationing on a houseboat, you have two options to consider:

Purchase a houseboat timeshare. Timeshares can be a good option if you are looking for a vacation home and have always wanted to live on a houseboat. Prior to signing a timeshare contract, review it fully to understand all the requirements. All timeshares have rules regarding your use of the houseboat that are important to know upfront.

Lease a houseboat. If you don't have the money to purchase a houseboat or a timeshare, consider renting or leasing a houseboat. Depending on the time of year, the rental company and the houseboat's location, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 a week.

If you decide that you would rather live on a houseboat permanently, just like Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice, purchasing a houseboat may be more in your price range than renting a houseboat for an extended period. You can purchase a used houseboat for $8,000 to $10,000 plus maintenance and the costs for the boat dock. Starting costs for a new houseboat begin at $275,000 for a 40-foot boat.

Keep in mind that the purchase price of the houseboat is only the first expense. The cost of living on a houseboat is determined by factors including the location of the boat dock, the size of your houseboat and the amenities at the boat dock. You will also need to provide for maintenance fees and any fees required for surveys of your houseboat that the state may require. Check with state regulations and your boat dock's manager or owner prior to moving into your boat.

Choosing a boat dock

Selecting the right boat dock for you can prove a challenge with the many options available. Before selecting a boat dock, consider these questions:

• Are you considering the marinas for temporary or permanent use?

• Will you live on your boat or visit on weekends?

• Do marinas in the area allow residence on a houseboat?

• Do you plan to use the boat to explore or simply reside in the houseboat? You will need to make sure that the boat dock allows full-time residence.

• What amenities are available? Make sure that you know what amenities are available to you and what costs are involved.

• What docking fees does the marina charge? Docking fees can range from $1,000 to $10,000.

• How will you transfer your boat to water once you've selected a dock? Does the marina have boat ramps or will you be required to use cranes? Many marinas have private boat ramps or boat launches available for your use.

Before making a decision, check Angie's List to read through members' experiences with area marinas, including satisfaction and quality of service.