Before you Rent a Boat or PWC for a fun Day On The Water


Memorial Day is right around the corner.  With that many vacationers will be visiting the lake and rivers of Missouri.    Lake of the Ozarks averages 10 to 12 million visitors per year, and a vast majority take to the water for the first time.  Many are renting Personal Watercrafts (PWCs) and renting boats.

Before you rent a boat or a PWC, there are a few things you should know.

Missouri law requires all motorized boat and PWC operators born after January 1, 1984, to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.  You can take a on line class at  There is no minimum age requirement to take this online course. You do not have to be a resident of Missouri to take this online course.   However, to operate a vessel in Missouri you must be 14 years or older.

  Get your boating license in 3 steps.

1.       Study and pass the $29.50 course and pay a $17.00 state fee.

2.       Print your online course completion document.

3.       Get ready to go boating!

 Just because you have the boater education card, it is highly recommended to take a on the water class.    Boats operate differently than cars.  There are similarities.   But major differences and various influences affect the operation, and control of the vessel.   A short three hour on the water class can make the difference in an enjoyable safe time on the water verses horrible vacation memory.   You can take a on the water class by contacting Ozark Boat Safety Training at 573-216-8141 or by signing up at

On the water class will provide the bridge to what you learn in the online classes and real word experience.  From Navigation rules and boater courtesy, fueling, docking and wake and speed management.

So now you are ready to rent a vessel list of tips for anyone considering renting a boat or a PWC.

1. Plan in Advance

It is wise, especially if you live in a location where boating is seasonal, to make sure you make a rental reservation in advance.

Boating season usually kicks off around Memorial Day weekend and runs all the way through Labor Day weekend. Summer weekends are very busy for marinas and they may not have any boats available if you plan to just walk in and secure a rental.  It is a good idea to make your plans as early in the season as you can. This will ensure that you have a boat to ride when you want it.

2. Get There Early

In addition to making early reservations, you will want to make sure you arrive early the day of.

Getting there early will allow you to get all the paperwork and checks accomplished and you will not have to waste any of your reserved time. This can be a big deal if you are going out for a day trip and you have to be back by a certain time.  If you are paying for a certain amount of time, you definitely want to make sure you are out on the water the entire time.


3. Get a Smooth Check-In

The best way to keep check-in smooth is to read any details in the confirmation letter and to know what you need.

If you carefully read the confirmation letter and come prepared, check-in should go smoothly for you. Most companies will outline any documents you need, when you should arrive, what accessories or other equipment will be included, and any other important information.

4. Make Sure You Get the Right Boat for You

When you are renting a boat, you will want to make sure you rent the right type of boat In this regard it is important to know your limits. You likely will not want to take out a full size sailboat if you have never sailed before.  You will also want to make sure you choose a boat that will fit the needs of your party. Make sure you keep passenger count in mind when choosing a boat so that you do not overcrowd the vessel. If you plan to do watersports you will want a boat with enough power to pull your sport equipment.


5. Make Sure Your Boat is in Good Condition

Even though your rental boat is not something that you are purchasing and they are often well maintained, you will still want to make sure that the boat is in good working condition.

There is nothing worse than being stranded out in the water due to engine issues. Before you go out on the water, you will want to make sure everything is in properly working order and bring it up with the rental company if you notice any issues.

It is also a good idea to do a thorough check of the outward appearance of the boat as well. Often time you will go over the appearance of the vessel with the company that is renting it out. This will allow you and them to take note of what condition the boat is like before you leave.

Make sure if you do notice anything, you make them aware of it before you head out so that they do not try to use it against you when you get back. Unreported damage ahead of time could mean damage charges for you when you get back, even if you did not cause the damage.

6. Be Prepared for the Weather

Because you will likely have made your reservation in advance, it will be hard to predict what the weather might be doing that day.

Make sure you keep an eye on the forecast and prepare for anything that can happen, weather-wise. This includes keeping an eye on the radar to determine if it is safe to travel out on the water.  Another consideration to make in regards to weather is what to wear. Make sure you bring a backup layer of clothing in case the weather gets colder. Remember it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.







7.Make a FLOAT plan This tip is great no matter if you are going out on a rental boat or your own boat. Having a plan and letting someone know that plan is a great way to stay safe while out on the water.


The FLOAT plan should include, when you left, where are you going, when do you expect to be back and who is going with you.  If something unplan happens, people know where to start looking for you.


Safety is the number one concern any time that you are out on the water. Even with the most cautious boat operators, accidents can happen and you want to make sure there is someone on land that is keeping you in mind.


8. Pack Properly

When you go out on your rental boat, you will want to take special care when you are packing.

If you are going out on your own boat, you will likely know everything that is onboard, but this is not the case with a rental boat.

Because you do not know what will be onboard a rental boat you will want to make sure that you pack everything you will need while out on the water.

This can include:

·         Clothes for all weather

·         Sunscreen

·         Food

·         Water

·         A Cooler

·         Towels

·         Hats

·         Charger for your phone

·         First aid kit

·         Sun Glasses


You will also want to pack anything that you plan on doing while out on the water. This can include fishing supplies or watersport equipment.

9.  Know How to Operate your Vessel

If you have never been out on the water yourself, you will want to know what you are doing. Even if you are not required to take boating safety, you will want to make sure that you know what you are doing when it comes to navigating your vessel.

Like I mentioned before, you do not want to take a sailboat out if you are not comfortable sailing, but this is not the only consideration that you will need to make.


You will want to be confident that someone in your party is competent in operating whatever vessel you are taking out. If you are uncomfortable with any part of the process you should ask the company before you go out. Some rental companies will have no problem giving you quick on the spot training and instruction to help you while out on the water.

12. Consider a Captain

If you really do not feel confident operating the marine vehicle, or not familiar with the area,you could always consider hiring a captain.


This is not always an option but some places and some types of vessels will offer a charter option that will provide a list of qualified captains.  Or you can go on line and hire a captain.  One source is click on hire a captain.

This is most often offered with large power yachts, but this is not the only way to get a captain for your vessel. You might even be able to hire an independent operator to help you out on your rented vessel.

This will allow you to still have a tailor-made boating experience without the pressure of having to navigate and control the boat yourself.

13.  Know what you are signing.

More often than not, when you are renting a boat you will have to sign a waiver with the company. You will want to make sure that you are reading the document thoroughly before you sign and know what you agree to.  This should be something you do every time you sign something.


The standard waiver will make you liable for the boat and the people on board and property damage that is caused by the wake of the boat. This includes any damage to the boat, or any injuries suffered.

You will also be required to place a deposit as well as responsible for all fuel cost. In addition to the hourly rate or day rate of the vessel.

Renting a boat comes with all the fun and much less stress. Renting a boat is a great way to bring family and friends together, enjoy the summer out on the water, and make memories.

There are many things to consider before you rent a boat but with the proper preparation and by following the tips above, you can have a great rental experience out on the water.


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