San Diego boat rental business booming amid coronavirus pandemic

People looking for outside recreation while avoiding crowds
Posted at 12:51 PM, Aug 18, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- If you own boat -- or even a kayak or a jet ski -- that's just sitting in a dock or on a trailer, you may be sitting on some extra income.

"Business has been ..." Karina Sanchez searches for the right words. "We can't even believe how great business has been, we're so so thankful for it."

Sanchez and her husband are owners of Waterhorse Charters in Mission Bay. Opening just last year, they offer scuba diving tours, party cruises, fishing and whale watching excursions.

When the pandemic hit, they were forced to temporarily shutdown by state mandate. But once given the green light to reopen, Sanchez says business has been booming, with people want to get out and do it safely.

"I feel like people get a little more comfortable going out in the water," says Sanchez, "Something that's outdoors; than having, for instance, a house party or just going to bars or something like that."

Sanchez connects with many of her customers through the site GetMyBoat.Com, which is kind of like Airbnb for boats.

"There's some data that suggests the average boat is only used 8 to 10% of the year," says Val Streif, who represents from their headquarters in Minneapolis. "And the other time it's just sitting in a dock or marina."

Streif says GetMyBoat has listings from private boat owners and charter services in 184 countries around the world, offering everything from kayaks and jet skis to pontoon boats and yachts.

"This is a way for people to earn some supplemental income," says Strief, "When they're not using the boat for themselves for personal purposes."

There are increased regulations during the pandemic -- stepped up cleaning, fewer passengers for social distancing and other steps depending on the boat or excursion offered.

"We require everybody to wear a mask while they're on board," says Sanchez, "When they rent a regulator -- which is the piece you put in your mouth when you're diving -- every time people rent one from us we make them buy the mouthpiece."

Sanchez says the changes aren't hurting business, as they've been sold out. And they're not the only ones, which is why looking for more boat owners to sign up and perhaps help themselves "stay afloat" during these tough times, by renting out their boat.

Sanchez says the demand is definitely there.

"Everybody is just grateful they can go out on the water. So, it's been great."