The Sharing Economy Comes to a Marina Near You

Matt and Jessie sat on the bow of a 26-foot Crosby Pleasure Tug as it glided across the calm, turquoise waters off Fort Lauderdale. The sun was just beginning to dip towards the horizon and Jessie was wondering if there was something wrong with Matt; he seemed to be acting a little strange.


By Joel Williams

Published: May, 2015

Matt and Jessie sat on the bow of a 26-foot Crosby Pleasure Tug as it glided across the calm, turquoise waters off Fort Lauderdale. The sun was just beginning to dip towards the horizon and Jessie was wondering if there was something wrong with Matt; he seemed to be acting a little strange.

Matt looked back at Stephen, who was captaining the tug behind the glass window of the pilothouse. He took the hint and steered the boat toward a mooring field, then brought it to a stop. Matt reached into his bag and pulled out a Wisconsin cheesehead and a small box. He placed the homage to Jessie’s birthplace securely on his head and opened the small box. As the sky turned into a canvas of bright pastel colors, Matt asked his girlfriend of three years if she’d be his wife. After a moment of tearful jubilation, Stephen emerged from the pilothouse with a bottle of Prosecco, two matching stainless steel glasses and fresh coconuts. As they raised a glass, Matt breathed a sigh of joyful relief—what had seemed like a wild card of a day had ended on a high note.

The emergence of the sharing economy has given way to new possibilities for hosts like Stephen to make money off their assets, while guests like Matt and Jessie have access to an experience they might never otherwise be able to. Matt and Jessie live in Wisconsin, they had no boating experience and certainly didn’t know anyone who owned a boat in Florida. But Matt knew he wanted to propose to Jessie on a boat off the beautiful coast of Fort Lauderdale—the place where, three years before, they fell in love. Stephen, the owner of the Crosby Pleasure Tug, has been a boater for decades, but the costs of ownership were mounting. Stephen was a natural host and loved sharing the excitement of boating with new people.

A common sight, especially in the Bay Area, is a marina filled with boats, slips packed with a forest of masts, but no one ever seems to be using them. They sit idle, collecting algae and leaking money. But, in the new days of the peer-to-peer economy, this may become a thing of the past.

The company Boatbound lets people like Stephen put their assets to work, employing the same affordable marketplace platform as Airbnb, and makes boating more accessible to the public. Renting a boat is nothing new, but what is new is the “pier-to-pier” community Boatbound creates. By putting owners at the helm of the process, they choose whom they want to rent to, when, and for what price—much like Airbnb. On average, most boat owners only use their boats 14 times per year. Even in the Northeastern United States, where winters can prevent boating more than half the year, that’s far fewer days than boats are in the water.

There’s an old adage that “the best two days in a boat owner’s life are the day she buys the boat and the day she sells it.” But if by sharing their boats, owners could make them a sustainable asset, owning a boat becomes far less of a financial burden.

Knowing that a person’s two most precious assets are usually their home and their boat (if they have one), insurance is an important part of the equation for boat owners. Often the first question out of a boat owner’s mouth is, “what if something happens to my boat?” Boatbound’s insurance policy, through Lloyds of London, covers owners with up to $3 million in protection. Although these safeguards give peace of mind to owners—because incidents can happen—what should allay fears is that they are a rarity. Less than half of one percent of rentals result in a claim being filed.

For some, the sharing economy may seem scary at first. But the sharing economy also powerfully rewards quality and creativity and rapidly weeds out the badly rated and overpriced. Owners must make their boat attractive, both in price and quality. Renters at the same time prove their trustworthiness—first through a verification process they go through upon registering as a renter, second through their communication with the owner, and again through their treatment of the boats. Often, relationships develop and owners get to know certain renters, building trust and repeat business.

Boatbound appeals to a new generation of boaters who are tech savvy but often cash poor. They might not be able to afford the high purchase price and fees associated with ownership, but the costs of renting are frequently split by groups, making renting a boat for a day or weekend seem so affordable that boating becomes an option for almost anyone. As Uber and Airbnb have paved the way for other peer-to-peer companies, the emergence of Boatbound is no surprise. This innovative rental platform means you can live the proverbial boating lifestyle without the upkeep costs.

Through Boatbound, an older generation of boat owners is meeting a newer generation of enthusiasts and the result is economically advantageous to both parties. But beyond the economics, it’s bringing people together with common interests, creating a community and sometimes unlikely friendships.

What makes boat sharing ever more appealing is that boating skills are not a requirement. Most people have never driven a boat or sailed in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get on the water this weekend. “Captained rentals” are increasingly popular, allowing first timers and people who just don’t want to worry about boat handling to get out on the water. It opens the possibility of corporate gatherings, bachelorette parties, birthdays and holiday celebrations being spent on a yacht. As the boat sharing economy grows, we may be seeing an influx of nautical profile pictures, weathered top-siders and sun-kissed coworkers making the rest of us rethink our weekend plans. Maybe it’s time for all of us to own a boat, for a day.

For more information regarding Boatbound or to rent a boat near you, visit

In the new days of the peer-to-peer boat sharing economy, even a small group of friends can now have access to a brand new inventory of boats that previously sat idle.

“Captained rentals” like this 26-foot Crosby Pleasure Tug allow people with no boating experience at all enjoy the aquatic life, even if it is just for a day.