From a kayak to a barge: The cheap way to get out on the water
‘Airbnb for the water’ app lets users rent 130,000 boats in 184 countries with a few screen taps
The Sceil Eile barge is available to rent on the Grand Canal in Dublin through GetMyBoat for six guests for $210 (€185) per day.
If you thought it was aboat time that a company tried to seas the day and become a ship-shaped Airbnb for the water then we have glad tidings which will knot leave you disappointed and may make the organisation of your future holidays plain sailing.
(Can you just stop with the terrible ship puns, please - ed).
Okay, okay but it’s hard to resist when we come across a relatively young San Francisco start-up which has only recently docked - last one - in Ireland, and is promising to meet all our boating needs with a few taps of a smart phone.
While owning a boat - even a little one - is beyond the reach of most of us, it has just become easier to hire one, thanks to the sharing economy and the app with the impressively self-explanatory - if decidedly literal - name.
GetMyBoat allows customers to use their phones to rent any one of around 130,000 boats in 184 countries - including Ireland - with the promise that people will be able to get on the water for the price of a Cabra chipper meal.
Before you start dreaming of renting a yacht for a tenner, we should warn you that the app offers boats of all sizes, with the very cheapest likely to come canoe shaped.
It is possible to rent a kayak to paddle from Portabello to Inchicore for €17, or a barge on the Grand Canal for an overnight stay for €185. Other Irish options include a guided nature boat tour in Tralee for €6, a ferry and cruise trip in Cork for €8, and a boat cruise in Westport for a tenner per person for 90 minutes.
There is whale watching and deep sea fishing off the Cork coast, and stand-up paddle boarding in Dublin on the site. All told, there are 614 boats available for hire in Ireland, each of which can cater for anything from one to 60 guests.
There are also full blown cruises off the coast of super exotic sun kissed locations, with a captain and crew to keep you safe; although you will want to budget a whole lot more than the cost of a curry chips and a burger for that, with such trips setting interested parties back a couple of grand at the very least.
The company behind the venture says it has the noble aim of democratising the water.
“For many people, just getting out in the water, either at home or when they are on holidays, has been virtually impossible, and what we have set out to do is make it easy,” Bryan Petro, the chief operating officer of GetMyBoat, tells The Irish Times.
“We also want to change the market so people can access boat listings on their phones in a completely transparent way, and be able to compare prices of competing companies.”
While the company was established six years ago, it only took its first tentative steps into the Irish market last year, and is this year looking forward to its first really busy summer season.
“I think it’s fair to say that the boating industry has been behind when it comes to technology, and I think people are looking for something new,” he said.
When asked if the Airbnb comparison was jaded, he suggested it had been helpful in explaining the concept to people. “We are a mix of Airbnb and Uber and TripAdvisor, but I think the Airbnb comparison made it easier for the general public to understand.
“What we are really doing is tapping into an industry that needed help to widen its audience, and we are also exposing a younger demographic who might be interested in the water to options out there. How many people would know how to rent a boat in Spain, or on the Amalfi Coast? People can start here. What we are doing, really, is giving more people access to something that used to be the pursuit of an elite few.”
While it styles itself and the Airbnb of the water, it is slightly trickier not least because the owners of vessels are - understandably - not so keen on giving their expensive toys to clowns, and if you want to rent a fancy yacht to cruise around Ireland, you can expect to be asked to jump through hoops and provide proof that you can handle yourself in the water.
And while the prices quote are the prices charged, credit cards are needed to secure the boats against damage at the hands of reckless sailors, and the penalties can end up being pretty eye (wait for it now...) watering.