Mylène Garot loved being on the water and wanted to start a boat rental business in Miami. Garot used his savings to buy a boat and started renting it out on Boatsetter, an Airbnb for boats. Impressed by the earning potential, Garot grew her fleet to five boats in two years. Something is loading.
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This dit-à-dire essay is based on a conversation with Mylène Garot, a 32-year-old entrepreneur, about renting her boats. She is originally from France but now lives in Miami. It has been edited for length and clarity. The insider verified the earnings of Boatsetter from Garot.
I have a master’s degree in business development from a university in France. In 2015, I immigrated to the United States and settled in Florida.
I got a job at Aquajet Miami, a water sports company. I started as an intern and worked my way up to become a marketing manager. It was a small company of five people and I helped secure a few large accounts.
I was recruited by a real estate company in Miami in 2018 and worked there for two years.
In 2020, I was looking for ways to make money. I was googling platforms similar to Airbnb and found Boatsetter, where boat owners can list their boats for rent.
My husband and I thought it might be a good source of income. I had experience in water sports and wanted to start a boat rental business. My husband was a boat captain and managed a property – it seemed pretty perfect.
In March 2020, I left my job in real estate to set up our boat rental company
I used my savings and bought a 1950 Tahoe which cost $25,000. We signed up on Boatsetter in May 2020 and got bookings within the first week.
To register on Boatsetter, you need a boat with a commercial insurance of at least $1 million, which costs $350 per month.
Boatsetter offers insurance underwritten by GEICO. Boat owners can expect to earn between 65% and 85% of the boat’s listing price, depending on their coverage plan. Boatsetter deducts the remaining income for insurance costs.
Potential hosts then fill in all the required information, upload photos, decide whether to offer a captain or let the renter drive, and create their rental schedule. We started renting our boats without a captain.
Miami was the place to be in the summer of 2020 due to more relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. Everyone wanted to use our boats.
We bought a second boat in June 2020. Since this new boat, a Monterey M205, cost $40,000, we paid it off in installments after putting down a $5,500 deposit from our savings. We immediately listed it on Boatsetter.
Boatsetter helped us pay for our boat and earn income
From June to October 2020, we had 101 reservations and made $45,000 in revenue. During this period, I worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week, managing reservations, overseeing cleaning and refueling after rentals, and marketing our business.
We rented our boats without a captain. We charged $150 to rent the boats for two hours and sanitized them after each use.
Revenues were growing, but a private lessor, renting outside of Boatsetter, damaged one of the boats in September 2020.
They drove our boat into a shallow area and damaged the hull. We only noticed the next day when it started taking on water.
It cost $5,500 to repair. We kept the customer deposit of $1000 but had to pay the rest out of pocket.
We decided to start chartering with a captain and increased our prices
Even before the incident in September, we were often stressed about what customers were doing with our boats. We also spent a lot of time explaining how to operate a boat and what to be careful of on the water.
Having captains relieved that stress and gave us back some of our time. As of October 2020, we have required tenants to use our captains.
Renters pay a starting price of $350 for two hours, which includes the captain. This price increase did not impact our bookings and we earned 30% after paying captains and gas.
In February 2021, we purchased a third boat for $79,000. We financed it through a private lender – a real estate investor I had met at work. The private lender lent us the full $79,000. I repaid the loan he gave us in one year with the profits from the boat rental.
We had three boats in the fleet listed on Boatsetter and our private booking site.
March is historically the best month for boat rentals in Miami due to spring break and the start of high season in the city, and we were fully booked.
We made $70,000 in revenue in March 2021 with 160 reservations.
We bought a fourth boat with cash from our Boatsetter reservations
For three months over the summer, our three boats brought in $188,000 in bookings. We purchased a fourth boat, a Monterey 275SY which cost $85,000, in July 2021 in cash. We then added a fifth boat, a Searay SDX 270, for $90,500 at the end of 2021. We made a down payment of $20,000 from our savings and profits from the other boats and financed the rest.
In January 2022 we decided not to purchase any more boats due to talk of a recession and how this might affect boat rentals. Our turnover with five boats is close to $20,000 per month on average.
Our team consists of five captains, two assistants, me and my husband. Three of the captains are on our payroll and two are contractors. We also use three other captains on call.
I take care of maintenance and marketing myself
I maintain boat lots for all boats, stay in touch with repairers and handle emergencies.
I market our business and respond to inquiries about Boatsetter. I try to close deals, get people to book and check boats at the end of each day. I hire all of our employees. I interact with customers and handle logistics, like putting gas in boats.
I work around 60 hours a week including weekends and often don’t have any free time. We have a nanny who lives with us and watches our daughter so my husband and I can work on the business.
You can’t please people in the yacht charter world
To be successful on Boatsetters, don’t try to please people – be direct and make sure your guests play by the rules.
We’ve had difficult clients, but we’re always polite — we try not to be confrontational. People followed our rules well, but if they didn’t they would be banned and reported to the authorities if necessary.
Boat maintenance costs about $40,000 per year for five boats, or about $600 per month. This includes bottom cleaning, bottom painting, mechanic, electrical, all fiberglass repair and seats.
Our five boats listed on Boatsetters now earn $19,800 per month on average. They help our family create financial independence.