City Desk

Airbnb for Boats Launches in D.C.

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Boating is the latest industry to join D.C.'s growing sharing economy, with Boatbound—a self described "pier-to-pier boat rental marketplace" making its debut in the District this summer. The company, which has offices in Miami and San Francisco, provides area boat owners with a platform to make some money and rent their boats to non-boat owners. Think of it like Airbnb, but for boats.

Boat owners post their boat to the website and interested renters can apply to rent the boat. Boatbound vets both the boats and the people renting the boat, with the hopes of ensuring that there are no broken and unsafe boats on the market and that the people renting the boat won't sail away with them. And yes, people wishing to rent a boat must meet their state's requirements to operate a boat. (In D.C., that means completing a boat safety course, which can be taken online.)

Boatbound has an insurance policy that includes up to $3 million of protection for each rented boat. During the rental period, Boatbound's insurance policy kicks in and becomes the primary insurance on that boat.

D.C. may not naturally seem like the most boating-enthusiastic town, but Boatbound co-founder Aaron Hall says the area is turning out to be one of the company's fastest growing markets. In one week in June it received more than 200 requests for boat rentals and is on pace to reach 1,000 requests this month. The trouble now is getting the supply of boats to meet the demand.

"The supply is building quickly, but the demand is building faster," Hall says, adding that there are thousands and thousands of boats in the area. "The D.C. market is going to be a big hub for us."

A search for boats in the District on Boatbound currently yields 58 results. (That includes boats in Annapolis, Md., Baltimore, and Colonial Beach, Va.) Prices range from $1,500 a day to $70 a day for a kayak, with most the rentals falling somewhere in the $200 to $500 range. Boatbound makes its money by taking a 35 percent cut of the rental rate.

Hall says that July 4 will be a busy weekend on Boatbound's marketplace, so if you want to request a boat, you should put that order in fast.

Photo by thisisbossi via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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