A BOATING LIFESTYLE WHEN YOU WANT IT
STEPHEN BOOTH sheds some light on available boat hire options…
The dream of owning your own boat is as Australian as meat pies and kangaroos, however not everyone is in a position to be a boat owner.
Many things can restrict owning a boat – no garage/storage space, money, location, family concerns. However, this doesn’t mean you need to miss out on a boating lifestyle.
These days there are many options for the boatless, from the humble hire tinnie right up to share-type arrangements on million-dollar pleasure cruisers. In fact, there is a boating option for just about any situation, any finance level and any level of skill and familiarity.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of hiring a boat and what options are out there for those who want the flexibility a boat offers on their next holiday.
Most people have seen or may have even hired a small tinnie with a small outboard motor. They are simple boats, deliberately under-powered (in most cases alleviating the requirement of a boat licence), and a great way to get on the water in the most cost-effective and minimalistic way.
Hire tinnies are not necessarily tinnies these days either, with polyethylene boats becoming more popular with hire companies due to their ruggedness and durability in all environments.
The advantages of this style of hire boat include a stop-and-go arrangement where users stop their cars, jump into a boat with food and fishing gear and head out on the water. Almost all of these operations don’t require hirers to have boat licences or have any previous experience. These are the true beginner, or introductory-level hire boats.
The big pluses of hire tinnies for those new to boating include low speeds, allowing new boaters to adjust easily for errors; most hire tinnies are small and lightweight, allowing users to get out and push if need be; and they are almost indestructible. This last point is important, as it allows new boaters to make judgement errors and not end up with a massive damage bill – or worse.
Costs for hire tinnies start from around $20 an hour. Most operators offer hourly or half day hires, allowing you to get on the water for around $100.
This is the next step up in boat hire. These vessels are appropriately powered for the size and weight of the craft and, in most states, the skipper is required to have a current boat operator licence.
While every effort is made to ensure these boats are as easy to operate as the small hire tinnies, the simple presence of more power demands operators have at least a basic knowledge of safe boating operations.
The advantages of these bigger rigs include the ability to go further afield, the chance to carry more passengers and the safety and comfort offered by a bigger platform. They provide a brilliant test bed for your preparedness for a boat of your own and, if you are only an occasional boater, this style of hire boat provides that all-important water access when you want it without the on-going costs of owning a boat.
Costs start from around $200 day and move up from there. Most hires are for a minimum of four hours, while some hire operators demand a half-day or full-day hire.
Do the sums and you’ll realise you can hire a great boat four or five times a year for what it would cost in insurance, repayments and fuel if you owned a boat yourself.
This style of hire boat is becoming increasingly popular as it allows the hirer to tow the boat to a chosen destination – a brilliant concept that is catching on fast.
Tow-and-go style hire boats come in all shapes and sizes, from small 4.20m craft, right up to serious offshore vessels around the 7.00m mark. The great advantage of a tow-and-go style hire boat is that you can go to your favourite waterway without worrying whether there is a hire boat company nearby.
This type of hire boat also gives hirers the most realistic understanding of what it is like to own a boat and go away for a few days with the family or some mates.
Other advantages include the fact these boats are well set-up with reputable gear – that works. If you think about it, all the gear onboard has to work faultlessly as these boats are not in and out on half-day charters, they are generally hired for a minimum of a day or, more commonly, a weekend.
Hire companies want your boating experience to be an enjoyable one – and they don’t want to come out and fix problems that can be avoided by good maintenance and top-notch gear. This all leads to these boats being among the most seaworthy and user-friendly available for hire.
Cost for tow-and-go hire boats start at around $250 per day and move up from there – depending on boat size, intended use and the number of people being carried. At the top end you can expect to pay around $750 per day for a boat capable of travelling offshore in safety and comfort.
LARGER HIRE BOAT OPTIONS
There are bigger options, however, most of these businesses class themselves as bare boat charters or liveaboard charters. If you have the money you can even go so far as to hire a million dollar luxury cruiser, but let’s face it… if we had that kind of money we would probably own a million dollar cruiser of our own. Well, I would anyway!
GET OUT THERE
Hire boats come in all shapes and sizes. They provide access to areas you cannot access without a boat and deliver experiences you otherwise simply would not enjoy. The range and diversity of hire boat options is staggering and the associated costs are similarly broad.
Choose your hire carefully and never hire a boat you are not skilled enough to skipper, or that you believe is not safe enough for the intended purpose. Boating is meant to be an enjoyable experience!
Hire boats provide a great entry to the boating lifestyle, so get out on the water and learn all the things about boating that boat owners already know and love. Whether in a hire boat, your friend’s boat or your own boat, it’s just awesome being on the water.