Pontoon boats are great for taking friends and family out on the water for a day of fun in the sun and recreation. If you’re not ready to buy one yet, renting is a great option. There are quite a few agencies that specialize in pontoon boat rentals, but before you do so, there are a few things that you need to know first. Not all of the rental deals are that great. To make sure that you get the best deal on suitable craft for your enjoyment, here are 10 tips that can help you avoid some common pitfalls that renters experience.
1. Have your credentials in order
Most states and localities observe strict enforcement of boating laws. These usually include the completion of a boating education course before driving a boat. If you’ve taken a course, take your certificate with you along with your picture identification.
2. Call your insurance agent
Most boat rental agencies require renters to sign a waiver. This waiver acknowledges that the renter assumes full responsibility for the condition of the boat and for the safety of all persons aboard the rental during the period of the agreement. If your name is on the line you are legally responsible for any harm that might be caused to the boat if there is an accident while it is in your possession. This includes injury to any passengers aboard. In most cases, you’re not responsible if there is a defect in the vessel and if a malfunction results from engine or mechanical issues. Ask your insurance agent if there is a policy available that covers you for boat rental excursions. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Consider the deposit and the condition of the boat
Most boat rental agencies require renters to put down a deposit when renting a boat. It’s important that you are aware that if the agency determines that the boat was damaged due to your negligence, they can keep all or part of the deposit. This is one reason why you must check out the condition of the boat before you make the agreement and take it out into the water. If there are any damages such as scuffs or scratches, torn upholstery or other signs of wear or damage, it should be noted in writing somewhere on the agreement that you sign. This is for your safety so you don’t get dinged for something that you didn’t do. Every renter is entitled to a walkthrough of the boat before completing the agreement.
4. Consider the weather conditions
It’s important to check on the weather forecasts before you take a rental boat out into the water. If you are planning to travel any distance from the shore, and the weather predictions call for strong winds or stormy conditions, it is best that a seasoned captain is in charge of the controls. The person who drives the boat should be the one who signs for responsibility of the boat.
5. Choose the right size
There are several different sizes of pontoon boats available for rent. It’s important to choose a boat that is large enough to accommodate the size of the boating party you’re planning to take with you. Some boats are large enough to seat 12 to 15 persons and others are smaller and made for fewer guests.
6. Consider the features and amenities
Pontoon boat rental is a booming business. Some agencies offer boats with a load of different amenities while others are more plain. Check out the special features to make your experience even more fun and exciting. Some come with slides, others are equipped with water skiing brackets and swimming platforms. If you’re planning to spend the day fishing ,ask if there are boats available with pole holders and other fishing related amenities.
7. Choose the rental agency carefully
Unless you’re familiar with a reputable rental agency, it’s best to follow up with a check of the reviews for the ones you’re considering. Not all agencies have a good reputation. Some are notorious for keeping deposits based on bogus made up claims of damage. Take a look online to find one in the area you plan to visit, then find out what other renters have to say about them before you make your choice. You can also consult the Better Business Bureau to find out if any claims of dissatisfaction have been made about the services they provide.
8. Check out the life preservers
Life preservers must be standard equipment and they should be provided with the boat rental. Make sure that there is a life jacket for every person who will come aboard the boat before you leave. The life preservers should be in good condition and should fit the persons that they are intended for.
9. You must have a tour of the boat
The rental agent should give you a complete tour of the boat. This includes a walk through the boat and also he or she should point out the safety equipment and where it is located. There should be a fire extinguisher on board. In addition to this, the agent should point out the controls and give the captain an overview of the operation.
10. Book in advance and arrive early
During peak boating season you cannot depend on being able to just walk into a boat rental agency and getting a boat. Some boaters reserve their rentals weeks in advance. It’s important to plan ahead and to book your rental in advance to make sure that a pontoon boat is reserved for you. On the day of the rental, you also need to arrive early. Get there in time to complete all of the necessary paperwork and to get your tour of the boat before you and your party are scheduled to leave. If you arrive too late, you may discover that the rental agency has a policy that allows them to give the rental to another renter if the party doesn’t show up within a specific time frame.