Uber For Boaters?

Published in the August 2019 Issue January 2020 Feature Brady L. Kay

I recall the first time I heard about Uber, the peer-to-peer ridesharing program that started in San Francisco in 2013 where people offer rides in their own cars to anyone who knows how to use an app. Okay, so it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea. At first I thought this concept was crazy and that it would never take off. Not to mention I was positive that under no circumstance would I ever get into a stranger’s car just to save a couple of bucks. Well, you’ve probably guessed where this story is going and yes, over time I broke down and gave it try. Today I exclusively use either Uber or Lyft when I travel and I can’t recall the last time I called for a taxi. For the record, not only is it less expensive then taking a taxi, it’s usually quicker to snag a ride, more convenient since actual money is never exchanged, and typically the cars are cleaner than most taxi cabs I’ve ever been in.

I’ve used Uber in the U.S. as well as in Canada and I love the set pricing and the ease of getting around different cities. I’m sure the taxi industry loves it as much as timeshare companies love Airbnb, but that’s just the world we live in these days.

Uber has expanded to food delivery and bicycle sharing and you figured it was just a matter of time until the boating industry got behind the whole craze. Although it’s not through Uber, what GetMyBoat is offering boaters is a very similar app and this summer the company is targeting the Great Lakes region. For those who have always wanted to spend the day on Lake Erie but don’t have a boat, GetMyBoat is like having a friend with a boat.

Where it’s similar to Uber is you use the app to connect you with a boat owner and you agree on terms like location, length of time and cost. Your trip can be cruising, partying or fishing charters.

“Captained charters are great for renters who do not have a boating license or experience,” says Val Streif from GetMyBoat. “A captain will take you out cruising for a desired length of time, and can show you a tour of a local area, bring you to beaches, and operate the boat safely if you’re group is hoping to enjoy drinks on board.”

GetMyBoat is also looking for boat owners who are looking to make some money. It’s basically what you do anyway when you invite your own friends on board; the main difference is they’re going to actually chip in for gas.

This makes sense since I’ve made small talk with a lot of Uber drivers over the years and there seems to be one thing in common: they all love the flexibility and the extra money. Some drivers I’ve met are full-time with a set schedule. Others just drove when they had extra time between other jobs, while some just drove when they were bored and need a couple of extra dollars. 

“Boat owners earn money off each booking, making it a great summer side hustle,” adds Streif. “They set their own prices, and we have a very simple fee structure. We take a seven percent booking fee only when a booking is made; there’s no fee to list your boats on the site.”

Because the price is determined by the owner the cost of course does vary, although Streif has found on average that a boat for 8 to 10 people for the day will run around $1,000 while a boat for say, 3 to 5 people for the day is more in the $400 to $600 range. And the app also lists kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for rent for as little as $10, so GetMyBoat really does have the full spectrum covered. Curious? Might be worth giving it a try.

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