More Florida Boating Stories:
Buying a new Boat!!
A few tips to narrow your search
and to make a sound decision.

Florida Marinas
Listings of Florida marinas with interactive map
Florida for Sail
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Dockside Dining
Top spots tie up and chow down
Florida's Intracoastal
Florida's famous waterway from stem to stern
Deep Sea Fishing
Where to catch a big one

<-- More Absolutely Florida



By Randy Taylor

Interested in taking a boat out for the day or the weekend without going through the hassle, not to mention financial burden, of owning a boat? You’ve come to the right place. Florida offers so many resources on the water that a stack of books couldn’t cover it all. However, it pays to know the choices between chartering and renting as well as what you should expect to pay. After all, you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about with the rentor or charter company. Trust me, you do.

Chartering: hiring a boat with a skipper. Fees may or may not include fuel, food or other expenses.

Bareboat Chartering: hiring a boat with no skipper. You are the skipper. Again, fees may or may not include fuel, food or other expenses.

Renting: The same as bareboat chartering except this term is used with smaller water craft and usually hourly or daily situations.

Always inquire about insurance. Damaging a boat, yours or another boat in the water, can be a serious financial setback. Do not try to beat the odds with insurance. The good news is that most rental and charter fees include insurance.

What should you expect to pay? Expect to pay $175/half day, $250/full day and $1,200/week for a 22’ center console powerboat with a 200 horsepower engine. Expect to pay $75/hour to rent a jet ski (don’t expect to travel out of sight’s distance from the rental location). Expect to pay $4,500/week to bareboat charter a 40’ motor trawler for 2 couples. Of course, season’s changes and so do prices. These prices serve as a reasonable standard.

Here is a list of watercraft rental companies. The places we have actually tried and who have provided good service, clean water craft and reasonable prices are indicated withan asterisk.

absolutely florida


Buying a new boat is like walking into an S&M joint: you’re just asking to get beaten up. Remember, a new boat need only mean a new boat to you. Nonetheless, there’s nothing like the smell, and the warranty, of a brand new boat. So, when you’re walking down the docks at this year’s Miami International Boat Show know your options.

Start by picking up every publication you can find regarding the water: Passage Maker, Motorboating & Sailing, Boating, Sailing, Cruising World, Trailer Boats, are just a few. Take a walk to the local marina and ask questions. Boaters love to be pros and answer questions. But, like going to the doctor, get a second opinion, and a third and a fourth. In fact, the more opinions you hear the closer to the truth you will come. Next, visit every boat dealer you can find in your vicinity. Let them talk your ears off. Once you’ve been around the dock once or twice the next step is the difficult one.

Determine the purpose of your new boat. Write down a simple sentence describing what your boat will be used for. For example, "my boat will be easily trailerable yet large enough to carry four people comfortably for day trips". Carry it with you whenever you go looking for a boat. This way, when you suddenly find your 80 foot dream yacht with a jacuzzi and wet bar you won’t get carried away for too long. Boats vary so widely that they must really be treated like a tool in your toolbox: form follows function. Don’t forget, your first boat probably won’t be your last. So don’t shop for the all inclusive "this boat does everything" deal. You won’t be happy. But now you’re getting closer.

To buy used or not to buy used, that is the question. Look, if you’re buying a boat as an investment, it might serve as a write off or as a second home (if it has plumbing), but don’t think you’re going to make money when the time comes to sell. You might appreciate your boat, but it won’t appreciate for you. A new boat depreciates once it goes into the water. A boat that is 10-15 years old, on the other hand, may be fully depreciated. In this case, you may actually break even if you buy an older boat and sell it a few years later. There are a few rules about buying used boats that first time buyers should never break.
1. Make sure the warranty on the engine is current. A boat is only as valuable as its engine (sailboats excluded).
2. Don’t look for a used boat during high season. The best time of year is to buy in the Fall or Winter (in the North) when people have had their fun for the Summer.
3. Try it on for size. Don’t just buy a used boat "off the lot". Make sure it floats too.
4. Look for cracks. Stress cracks are hair like cracks caused by the flexing of the fiberglass hull that usually run along the transom or cockpit of a "Cigarette" style boat. These cracks are usually harmless. Serious cracks to look for would be in the superstructure of the hull, that is, the stringers. This is a telltale sign of a boat you should walk away from.

But before you count out the idea of a new boat, consider the option of leasing. While leasing is not a new concept to most industries, boating included, it is a relatively new practice for the recreational boat market. There are a few manufacturers that have their own leasing programs. If you’re interested in a 26’ boat for fishing or family day boating Destego Boats, Inc. of New York custom build an aluminum boat for you and lease it (15% down and about $250/month, minus the power) for five years. The boat includes a lifetime hull warranty.

You can see that there are a lot of questions to answer before jumping into a boat. And if you’re not ready to empty your pockets into the water, don’t jump in.


Region 1
Boca Raton
Boca South Marina
501 E Camino Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Ft. Lauderdale
Ahoy Marine & Charters
Wilton Manors
FL 954/564-0199

Maritime Professional Training
1921 S Andrews Blvd
Ft Lauderdale, FL 954/525 1014

Marine Professionals Inc.,
P.O.Box 70465
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33307

Sea Brace
268 S.W. 33rd St.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315 954/467-2222

Rarin-T-Go Charter, Inc.
1755 S.E. 3rd Ct
Deerfield, FL 954/428-0013

Hollywood Jet Ski Rentals
4510 N Ocean Dr
Hlwd, FL 305/921-8343

Holiday Isle Resorts & Marina
84001 U.S. 1
Islamorada, FL 33036 800/327-7070

Tavern Stores Auto & Marine
82240 Us Highway 1
Islamorada, FL 33036 305/664-8835

Morning Star Sailing Charters
Mm 100 Us 1
Key Largo, FL 305/451 7057

Key West
Bacle Boat Co
5539 Maloney Ave
Key West, FL 33040 305/294-0613

Captain Pips Marina
1410 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, FL 33050 305/743-4403

*Island Seafari Rental Boats
and Charters

Idle Time Watercraft Boat Rentals
Mm 53 @ Capt. Hook's Marina
Marathon, FL 305/289 2188

Lagoon Resort & Marina
7200 Aviation Blvd
Marathon, FL 33050 305/743-5463

Capt. Hook's
11833 Overseas Hwy.
Marathon, FL 305/743-2444

Miami/Miami Beach
A- Sunsplash Watersports
1633 N. Bayshore Dr.
Miami, FL 33132 305/374-7611

Caribbean Marine Associates
Miami, FL 33132 305/379-2818

1717 N Bayshore Dr
FL 954/530-9700

Catamaran Company
Catamaran Sales - 954/764-4909
141 Alton Rd.
Miami Beach, FL 33139 800/262-0308

Cruzan Yacht Charters
3375 Pan American Dr

*Jet Ski Rentals
3501 Rickenbocker Causeway
Key Biscayne

*Haulover Marine Center
15000 Collins Avenue

*Sail Miami, Inc.

*Urban Trails Kayak Rentals
10800 Collins Avene

Inflatables By Cruising Gear
2751 Sw 27th Ave
Miami, FL 305/854 7600

Island Days Inc
13507 Ne 2'st Ct
Miami, FL 33181 305/940-2070

Maule Lake Marina
17201 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33160 305/945-0808

Super Steamer Of Florida
15248 Sw 164th St
Miami, FL 33187 305/559-7777

West Palm Beach Area
*Fast Break Sailing Charters
400 N. Flagler Dr.
West Palm Beach

*Palm Beach Water Sports
150 Australian Ave.
West Palm Beach

Palm Bch Gardens
Soverel Harbour Inc
2385 P G A Blvd
Palm Beach Gdns, FL 33410 407/622-9191

Giannone Marine
800 South Federal Hwy.
Pompano Beach, FL 33062 800/950-2628

Region 2
Ormond Beach
Seabo Marine
69 Lorillard Pl
Ormond Beach, FL 32174 904/672-6121

Region 3
Alachua Marine
4031 Nw 6th St
Gainesville, FL 32609 904/373-7862

Streit's Honda Kawasaki Yamaha
4820 Nw 13th St
Gainesville, FL 32609 904/376-2637

*A1A Water Sports
2325 Beach Blvd
Jacksonville Beach

*Alamacani Jet Ski Rentals
11086 Heckher Dr.

Region 4
Cape Coral Area
Lilly Pad Boat Rentals
Cape Coral 239/945-6915

Fort Myers Yacht Charters
1430 Rpse Garden Rd.
Cape Coral Fl. 33914 239/540-8050

Ft Myers
Adventures In Paradise Inc
14341 Port Comfort Rd
Ft Myers FL 239/472-8443

Pink Shell Beach Resort
275 Estero Blvd
Fort Myers Beach

Florida Sailing & Cruising School
3444 Marinatown Ln #19
Ft Myers FL 239/656-1339

Marco Island
Factory Bay Marina
1079 Bald Eagle Dr.
Marco Island FL 34145 239/642-6717

Naples Area
Back Bay Marina
4751 Bonita Beach Rd
Bonita Springs FL 239/992-2601

For the Fun of It

Gulf Wind Yachting
3012 Sandpiper Bay Circle

Get Wet Sports
203 Capri Blvd

Florida Houseboat Rentals, Inc.
G R Boating
4892 Bonita Beach Rd
Bonita Springs FL 239/947-4889

G. R. Boating
4892 Bonita Beach Rd
Bonita Springs FL 34134 239/947-4889

Port-O-Call Marina
550 Port-O-Call Way
Naples FL 239/774-0479

Region 5
Tarpon Springs
Seacoast Yacht Charters
331 Anclote Rd
Tarpon Springs FL 34689 813/934-5503

Anclote Isles Marina
331 Anclote Rd
Tarpon Springs FL 727/939-0100

Tampa/St. Pete Area
*All American Watersports
7627 West Courtney Campbell Causeway

*Davis Boat Rentals
10706 Palmetto

Mission Inn Golf & Tennis Rsrt
10400 Cr 48
Howey In Hills, FL 34737 904/324-3101

Marine Entertainment
25 Causeway Blvd Slip 16
Clearwater FL 727/446-5503

The Moorings
1110 3rd St S
St Petersburg FL 33701 727/896-7900

Vinoy Charters & Sailing School Inc
1421 STE 4 Bay St Se
St Petersburg FL 800/879-2244

Vip Boat Club
509 D N Tamiami Trail
Venice FL 941/488-2789

Region 6
Adventures Unlimited Canoe
Rr 6 Box 283
Milton, FL 32570 904/623-6197

Panama City
Tibbett's Boat Works Inc
305 E Beach Dr
Panama City, FL 32401 904/785-9262