CHICAGO (CBS) — Boating season has arrived in Chicago, and those who want to get out on the lake without the hassle of owning a boat seem to have embraced a boat-sharing service called Boatbound.
Like an Airbnb for boat owners, Boatbound allows owners to rent out their boats when they aren’t using them.
“What I like to tell owners is that, if you can get two rentals a month, that should cover all of the expenses associated with that boat. Boats are always seen as this negative asset, and you kind of turn the table, and now this once-negative asset is actually making you money,” said Boatbound fleet director Chris Fox.
This is Boatbound’s fourth year in Chicago, and Fox said he’s seen a noticeable rise in the number of boats sailing in the “playpen” of Lake Michigan – the area between Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier.
“It’s mind-boggling. I was there last summer, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many boats in the playpen. I’ve been to the playpen probably 100 times. So it is crazy how fast it’s growing,” he said.
Fox said Chicago is Boatbound’s number two market, behind Miami.
“Chicago is a great spot, because you go through the Chicago winters, they’re brutal, and then summer rolls around, and you’re just staring at Lake Michigan,” he said.
Boat owners can decide if potential renters have enough experience to use their vessel on their own, or with a captain. Prices are all over the map, depending on the boat, from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars a day.