July 25, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Rent a Boat in San Diego |13 common questions Answered by a USGC Captain!

We took the top 13 questions that customers ask when renting a boat and had a United States Coast Guard Certified Captain answer them! Captain Travis, take it away! 

Rental Details:

How much does it cost to rent the boat? 

This question can easily be answered in two words: It depends. Similar to the question of “how much does a car cost”, we can answer the price of a Ford Focus or a Mercedes Benz. Let’s break it down with the type of boat and the number of people in your party. Typically, a simple pontoon boat rental or speed boat rental for 10-12 guests will cost about $200/hr and will require someone in the party to drive the boat. Boats and Yachts for 12 or more guests typically have a USGC COI (United States Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection) which deems them safe for up to a certain amount of guests and ranges from $500-$1,500 per hour. 

Pontoon Boat Rental
Speed Boat Rental

Are there additional fees (fuel, cleaning, etc.)?

As fuel costs and employee costs rise, many rental operators must charge for fuel and cleaning. Reasonable fuel costs are typically from 5%-10% of the total boat rental cost. 

What is the minimum and maximum rental duration?

The average rental time for boats ranges from 2-4 hours. When renting a boat, you’ll likely be given hourly or daily rates. 

Are there options for half-day or full-day rentals?

Usually, operators offer a 4-hour (half day) and an 8-hour (full day) rental. 

Boat Information:

What type and size of boats are available for rent?

There are three main types of Boat Rentals in San Diego: Motor Boat Rental, Sailboat Rental, and Catamaran Rental. If you’re looking for more speed, choose a Motor Boat, if you’re looking to sail, choose a Sailboat, and if you’re looking for a very stable and chill day on the water, choose a luxury catamaran rental. As far as sizing goes, the larger the rental, the more capacity, and the bigger the price tag. 

Boat Rental San Diego

How many people can the boat accommodate?

Here is a summary of the typical type of boat and size and their corresponding capacities. These are broad numbers that truly depend on the rental company. Choose between a yacht rental San Diego or a simple pontoon boat! 

  • 32’ – 40’ 12-40 passengers Examples: Large Pontoon, Large Sailboat, Large Power Boat
  • 45’ – 60’ 12-50 passengers. Examples, Commercial Pontoons, Catamarans
Yacht Rental San Diego
Power Boat Rental

Reservation Process:

How can I make a reservation?

Most boat rental operators use booking software such as Fareharbor, Peek Pro, Rezdy, Xola, etc that make your booking experience easy! Check their online availability and book your date and time online! I highly suggest booking your rental with a company that merely requires a deposit instead of full payment upfront.

Is there a deposit required, and what is the cancellation policy?

Either full payment or partial payment via deposit is required for most boat rentals in San Diego. Make sure to pay attention to the cancellation policy and make sure there is a proper weather cancellation stipulation in case of rain/lightning. If the rental is “rain or shine” make sure you’re prepared to get wet! 

Safety and Operation:

Are there safety instructions or a brief orientation before using the boat?

If you are renting a small vessel that you are self-captaining, make sure you are comfortable with not only driving the vessel, but also leaving the dock, and returning the boat to the dock without damaging it. 

What safety equipment is provided on the boat?

One of the included features of boat rental companies is that by law, they must provide all USGC Regulation safety equipment. 

Do I need a boating license to rent the boat?

San Diego does not require a boating license to rent a boat although it does increase your chances for a safe day on the water when you hold a boating license. 

Is there a minimum age requirement for operating the boat?

You must be at least 18 years old to rent a boat in San Diego, CA, and at least 21 years old to rent a jet ski

Navigation and Restrictions:

Are there specific areas where I can or cannot navigate?

When you rent a boat in San Diego, make sure you pay attention to the pre-boarding checklist which will go over a map of the body of water you will be operating in. Make sure you are well-versed with maritime navigation buoys, speed zones, and swim zones. For an in-depth guide to Mission Bay, San Diego here is The Ultimate Boat Rental Guide

Fuel and Insurance:

How is fuel handled? Is it included in the rental cost, or do I need to refuel?

In almost all cases, fuel is handled by the boat rental operation. Before your rental, you will be informed of what the fuel level is to make sure you have enough fuel for your adventure. 

Is insurance included in the rental, or do I need to purchase additional coverage?

If the insurance coverage is not provided by the Boat Rental facility, it will be available for purchase. It is a requirement that either the boat rental facility either carries it, or makes it readily available for purchase. 

Weather and Rescheduling:

What happens if the weather is bad on the rental day?

Most rental companies operate in light rain and poor weather. Just because there’s a cloudy day, doesn’t mean you can’t have just as much fun! Luckily for you, San Diego has some of the best weather in the entire country, so luck is on your side! That being said, make sure to check the weather before your rental! 

Is there a policy for rescheduling due to weather?

If the rental business does not have a weather rescheduling policy, steer clear! 

Additional Policies:

Can I bring food and drinks on board?

Almost all boat rental businesses allow you to bring some sort of food – keep in mind that foods that can stain floors and tabletops are frowned upon, such as – grape juices, food colored foods, and red wine. As far as alcohol goes, if the boat rental business has an ABC license, they are not allowed to have you bring your own alcohol. 

Are pets allowed on the boat?

While many boat rental companies allow pets on board – I would not recommend it. Not only do boats make many dogs anxious, they are also a risk for anyone on board if they are to go overboard. There’s nothing worse than an animal or person going overboard and people start jumping in the water to save them and become a liability as well.

Emergency and Assistance:

What should I do in case of an emergency or breakdown?

If your rental experiences any issue that is a non-emergency call them directly. For any emergency please dial 9-11 immediately and they will inform lifeguards, Coast Guard, or local boating authorities. 

Return Process:

What is the procedure for returning the boat?

Timing is everything! The further you get from the 

Are there any specific instructions for cleaning or securing the boat upon return?

As the old saying goes, “Leave it how you got it”. The person who signed the waiver and paid for the boat rental is ultimately responsible for the vessel, so do them a favor and clean up and respect the vessel!

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