For many people, convenience (or lack thereof) and cost have traditionally made sailing prohibitive, but a new peer-to-peer marketplace is bringing the glamorous world of #boatlife to all.
Book My Boat is a share-economy startup that connects boat owners with boat-hire customers and removes the costs and limitations associated with nautical pursuits.
“There are hundreds of boat owners out there who have vessels that are sitting idle for a large part of the year, and there’s huge demand from people who want to enjoy all that boating has to offer but can’t afford the commitment that comes with owning a boat,” says Book My Boat founder Matthew Lloyd.
The site lists vessel available for hire all along the east coast of Australia, from Cairns to Jervis Bay. Prices start at $200 a day for a small boat; boats that accommodate six or seven people are around $500. Larger charter yachts for up to 10 people are also available as part of the on-demand service.
“It’s very similar to Airbnb,” says Lloyd. “You type in your location on the website and up will pop all the boats in the vicinity. You sign up to create an account, select your date and boat, then we instantly connect you with the owner.”
While the larger boats generally require boat licences, there are smaller boats that don’t, meaning you could be welcomed aboard and on the water in a jiffy. “Our tinnies and pontoons don’t require licences, although the majority of our bigger ones for waterskiing and the like do,” says Lloyd.
Regardless of skipper skills, every boat is fully insured. “If something happens to the boat it’s not going to cost [the customer] thousands of dollars, and it also reduces the risk for the boat owner.”
Lloyd has worked with many boat-owners over decades. The commercial skipper has driven countless ferries and barges, managed the Fantasea Cruising and worked as the operations manager of Sydney Ferries. He then moved to Myanmar, where he set up a public-private ferry service partnership for the Yangon government, before returning to Australia and having a light-bulb moment.
“I thought, ‘Let’s have a crack at helping everyone have the same enjoyable experience I’ve had on boats’,” says Lloyd. “You’re in the outdoors on picturesque waterways and it’s also living that glamorous ocean lifestyle. Our slogan is ‘Own the experience, not the boat’ – we’re about making that lifestyle available to everyone.”