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And now, an easy way to rent a boat

A licensed captain for 25 years, Chris Sweeney of Wakefield decided to dip his toe into the charter business by listing his 30-foot lobster boat on Boatbound, an online rental site.

“I think of it as a combination of Airbnb and Uber,” said Sweeney, 49, referring to the popular online home-rental and ride-hailing websites. “People go online to book it, and I take them out.”

Sweeney, who docks his boat in Winthrop, is among a few dozen boat owners in Greater Boston who have listed their vessels with Boatbound, which is based in San Francisco and launched in Massachusetts in July.

"Boston and Cape Cod are big boating markets," said Aaron Hall, the company's founder. "It's going to be one of our top 10 core markets."

Airbnb does list boats and yachts available for overnight stays. But Boatbound is focused on single-day rentals. People can rent a boat to take out on their own, or book a charter guided by a licensed captain.

According to its website, Boatbound charges renters a 10 percent service fee that includes on-the-water support by BoatUS — the AAA of watercraft — and insurance. Boat owners pay 35 percent of each rental for the same services, reduced to 5 percent if they have their own commercial or charter insurance.


Some local boat-only listings include a 14-footer with an outboard motor starting at $125 per day in Waltham, and a 19-foot Key West brand fishing boat starting at $225 per day in Norwood. Sweeney, whose boat can hold six guests, charges $600 for a six-hour cruise around Boston Harbor.

"I know the harbor pretty well," said Sweeney, director of marine operations at University of Massachusetts Boston. "I show them all the islands, and tell them about the critters and creatures who live there. I give them a tour of downtown Boston and the development along the seaport."

Boatbound follows rules set by the US Coast Guard, which licenses charter boat captains. Massachusetts does not require a license to operate a boat, but owners of motorboats must register their vessels with theMassachusetts Environmental Police.

"Our goal is to make every rental a safe experience," Hall said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.