Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pier-to-peer boat sharing makes a splash

The peer-to-peer rental concept popular among travelers has gone pier-to-peer.

Like Airbnb.com, where home­owners rent out a room or the whole house to vacationers, boat-sharing websites give landlubbers who want to spend a few hours on the water an online marketplace to search for boats of various sizes and prices.

Instead of going to a boat charter company, potential renters log onto a website such as Boatbound.com and connect with boat owners directly. For the owners of the vessels, it's also a way to make some extra cash off their boats when they're idle.

"I am a captain and I like to see people on the water and Cruzin gives people a chance to get on the water," said Tom Dwyer, 73, a Florida resident who lists his two kayaks and his 20-foot and 30-foot Albury Brothers boats on Cruzin.com, which launched last year. His smaller boat, called the Risky Business, rents for $200 a day. He said it's a way to keep his boats running when he's away.

Jaclyn Baumgarten, a co-founder and chief executive of Cruzin, said that "with peer to peer rental, it's a way to take that natural community that exists offline among boaters and bring it online. It's about that social experience. I think boaters are naturally social people who love spending time with friends and family."

The San Francisco entrepreneur, who lived in Hollywood, Fla., to launch the platform, got the idea for the company after seeing her two brothers wrestle with the possibility of having to sell their boats because of the high maintenance costs associated with them.

"I knew about Airbnb and car-sharing models," recalled Baumgarten, who thought the sharing economy could "create a safe experience for the renter and the (boat) owner."

Baumgarten also wanted to make boating more accessible for everyday folks. She decided to launch the company in south Florida to see how the concept would work in a region known for boating.

"We knew that if we could build a program that would work for Florida, that it would work anywhere," she said. The company has since expanded nationally.

So how does it work?

Boat owners log onto Cruzin for free and create a profile with photos of their boat, size and rental fee. Renters use the site to browse for boat style (from kayaks to yachts) and price.

An online map features the image of a small sailboat that marks where there is a boat available. On a recent weekday, there was an 18-foot Tahoe Q3 rented for $150 a day, while elsewhere, there was a Stingray available for $200 a day.

"These boats are privately owned, well-loved and well-appointed," added Baumgarten. "They are much nicer than what one would find in a typical rental fleet."

The company prequalifies renters using Experian and fraud-prevention checks. The customer also has to have at least two years boating experience, which they explain in the screening process, or they can bring a licensed captain. The boat owners are also protected by $2 million in hull insurance and $1 million in liability insurance and towing service. Cruzin gets a 40 percent cut and covers the insurance.

"It's safe, easy and fun, just the way boating was meant to be," Baumgarten added.

Other sites, Boatbound.com and fun2boat.com among them, are taking a similar approach in matching people with vessels.

BoatSetter.com launched last February and rents boats in the 28- to 60-foot range regardless of one's experience. Recently, an eight-passenger, 28-foot boat in Boynton Beach was going for $126 an hour.

The website lists designated marinas and areas to rent from. The site also matches people with captains for hire if the renter prefers to have someone with more experience aboard.

Former boat owner Julian Lopera was looking to charter a 23-foot-power boat recently. He decided to try Cruzin.

"I wanted a powerboat just to go out with the family for the day," Lopera said. He spent about $420 including gas to rent the boat from an owner who showed him the ins and outs of the boat.

Lopera took the boat out with his wife, two young boys and other relatives.

"They loved it," he said. "It's definitely better to rent a boat than to own one."

Comments
For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School principal Erin Savage has never planned a candlelight vigil. But this week, Savage must learn how to do so as her school mourns the tragic death of one of its graduating seniors.Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, died T...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough says its teachers are well-paid; the teachers say it’s not true. Who’s right?

Hillsborough says its teachers are well-paid; the teachers say it’s not true. Who’s right?

TAMPA — Seeking to show that Hillsborough County school officials waste money that could go to teacher raises, union director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins talked about highly paid administrators. She talked about legal fees paid to outside firms when in-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
With election looming, Nelson strengthens bond with Rubio

With election looming, Nelson strengthens bond with Rubio

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have always enjoyed a close relationship but one can't avoid seeing it through a political lens as Democrat Nelson heads into a tough re-election campaign.Nelson and Rubio have been teaming up more ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Democrats mock Rick Scott’s scripted, ‘robotic’ style

The Democratic group American Bridge has a new video ridiculing 'Robotic Rick Scott' for his speaking performance on the campaign trail:From their release:American Bridge’s new video highlights how,at staged event after staged event, Rick Scott...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Senator wants to put a tighter leash on airline rules for service animals

Senator wants to put a tighter leash on airline rules for service animals

WASHINGTON — Congress will consider tightening the rules on service animals allowed to accompany passengers on airliners under legislation introduced this week.Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has introduced an airline bill that would align the definition ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
DNA brings arrest in sadistic crime spree from '70s and '80s

DNA brings arrest in sadistic crime spree from '70s and '80s

DNA match leads to arrest in sadistic California crime spree of 1970s and '80s
Updated: 1 hour ago
Facing Congress, EPA chief doesn't appear ready to apologize

Facing Congress, EPA chief doesn't appear ready to apologize

Republican senators want President Donald Trump's environmental chief to address questions about ethics and spending decisions, but Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt does not appear ready to apologize
Updated: 1 hour ago
First meeting for USF consolidation group underscores big task ahead

First meeting for USF consolidation group underscores big task ahead

The task force members who will help guide the University of South Florida System through consolidation gathered for the first time Wednesday in an orientation that nodded to the wide-ranging terrain they’ll cover. They got primers on public records ...
Updated: 1 hour ago