July 16, 2019 2:43 pm
Updated: July 16, 2019 7:53 pm

‘Uber of boats’ expands to Canada, offers short-term water sport rentals

WATCH ABOVE: If you're heading to a cabin this summer and want to use a boat without buying one, an app described as the "Airbnb for boats" might be of interest. Emily Mertz explains.

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After launching in San Francisco in 2013, Get My Boat expanded to Canadian cities last year and is hoping more water sport enthusiasts will join the sharing economy.

It started as a short-term boat rental platform but now includes many different on-the-water activities: canoes, sailboats, kayaks, even whale-watching tours and party yachts equipped with a licensed captain.

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It works in a similar way to Airbnb or Uber. People who own boats can rent them out when they’re not using them and people looking for a boat can rent one that fits their requirements.

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“If you want to use it to do water sports like kayaking [or] paddle boards, you can go on and see if they’re in your area, rent it for a few hours on a random weekend or an afternoon in the summer,” explained Valerie Streif, Get My Boat‘s head of marketing.

“We even have nature tours where you might be on a boat for a little bit and sometimes people get off and go hiking. It’s a platform for anything that’s on the water, but I would say by far our most popular and most frequently booked thing is the captain’s charter.”

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The goal is to make water activities accessible to more people and to offer more options and price comparisons.

“Instead of having to sign up for a membership or buy a boat — or sometimes you go to the marina and they’re like, ‘This is the one pontoon we have available’ — this is giving people options [and] lets them see what’s around… ‘What can I book?’ Can I comparison shop on the price?'”

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Get My Boat can be accessed by app or on its website. Users search the area they’re looking to visit and then sort boats and experiences by type, price and guest count. Then they can select the dates and pay for the rental.

“I was looking at stand-up paddle boards, to buy them, and some of them are like $1,000,” Streif said.

“If you’re just going to use it once during the summer, wouldn’t you rather rent it for $15, $20 or something like that?”

For owners, it’s another avenue through which to make money from something you already own.

“It’s up to individual captains to abide by their insurance policies,” Streif said. “It’s their responsibility to make sure that they’re insured and are abiding by all local laws and regulations. We do verify identification checks, boating licence checks when people sign up to use the platform or submit that they are a captain.”

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In Canada, Get My Boat has seen the most activity in Vancouver, Toronto and parts of Alberta.

“For landlocked places — Canada has tons of lakes. I’m from Minnesota. We have tons of lakes — there’s still a huge demand for boats of all kinds, everything from big river boats for people who want to do river cruises or renting kayaks for going camping. Anywhere there’s a body of water, there’s people that want to get out on it,” Streif said.

“There’s plenty of opportunity for growth in Alberta, with people wanting to get out on lakes on pontoons and water sports is really huge,” she said.

As of July 15, there were more than 150 rental listings in Alberta.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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