Airbnb for Boats: Become Your Own Charter Company

First you heard about Uber for ride-sharing and Airbnb for short-term property rentals. Now, there's a fast-growing industry for boat owners who want to rent out their vessel, or offer it for charter.

The online company and app GetMyBoat connects boat owners who want to get more bang for the cost of operating their boat, with boating enthusiasts who want to rent or charter a boat without the commitment of owning.

 Just a few of the 80+ boats available to rent or charter on GetMyBoat in the Bay region

Just a few of the 80+ boats available to rent or charter on GetMyBoat in the Bay region

Using the GetMyBoat app, potential renters can search 108,000 boats in 184 countries, to book by the hour or by the day. Owners and renters communicate directly to find a good match. Those 108,000 boats include several dozen on the Chesapeake Bay, from jet ski rentals to 50-foot-sailboat charters that include drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

GetMyBoat launched in 2013, but its co-founders, Raf Collado and Sascha Mornell, actually came up with the idea 20 years ago during a trip to the Caribbean. They noticed how many beautiful boats sat unused, and wondered if there'd be a way to connect the owners with people who'd love to use them. But it wasn't until the "share economy" took off, with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb, that Collado and Mornell felt the time was right for the public to embrace their concept.

Collado even gets in on the action directly: he is based in Norfolk, and his racing boat, Special K, a J105, is available to book for $75, including sailing lessons. The company says boats are only used for 8 percent of their "life span," so the idea should be a no-brainer.

GetMyBoat Chief Operating Officer Bryan Petro tells Bay Bulletin, they're offering boat owners the chance to become "microentrepreneurs." Says Petro, "It's not just a rental-- we're seeing owners put packages together" for renters looking for an experience, or celebrating a special occasion. The company has seen owners quit their day jobs and support themselves exclusively as a charter captain.

So what about the trust required to allow a stranger on your boat? It's up to the boat owner to determine the qualifications for a renter or charter guest. Owners must have the proper insurance for their offerings, and there is a security deposit that can be used to cover insurance premiums.

Owners and renters are able to communicate in real time on the company's app. The GetMyBoat app is available for Apple and Android, and customers can also browse and book online by clicking here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano

Megan Viviano