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Florida Keys boat rental (DIY dive operation)

Discussion in 'Florida Diving' started by superheavydeathmetal, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. superheavydeathmetal

    superheavydeathmetal Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cincinnati
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    Hi! My dad and I are looking to go to the Keys this summer, and we are looking into the possibility of renting our own boat to go out whenever and wherever we want.

    Does anybody have any advice about how to do this? Internet searching turns up very few (and very expensive) results.

    Also, the place we would rent would have to have a place to dock the boat, of course.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Wookie

    Wookie Orange Man Bad Staff Member ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    17,572
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    Anyone in the lower keys who rents boats specifically prohibits scuba diving from them.
     
  3. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    3,444
    2,343
    113
    But, Key Largo and Tavenier will rent you boats for diving. I do it often. You better listen good to the advice by the operation or you're certain to run aground.
     
    kelemvor likes this.
  4. arew+4

    arew+4 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pa
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    For what you will spend on boat rentals for 3 or 4 days, you could fly to Bonaire or Curacao, and dive 3-5 times a day for less than $40/day each.
     
    pconsidine likes this.
  5. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    5,376
    2,682
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    That's a very expensive option. You might save money by just doing full day private charters and having the captain run you back and forth a few times.

    If you use google, there's a plethora of rental operations.

    If you're not an experienced boater, do research first. There are free classes a plenty. I'd be apprehensive about driving a boat out in the keys myself. I've been on board a professionally captained boat in KL that has run aground (Rainbow Reef). I've also run aground myself here in my home town. Driving a boat is more complicated than it looks.

    One other thing. Don't assume the rental companies will give you everything you need to be safe. The last time I rented a boat, I found that the fuel gauge didn't work and neither did the darned radio. The speedometer worked intermittently. You do actually need to know your speed, to deal with slow speed "zones" and such on your way in/out. Luckily I didn't have any fuel problems and didn't actually need the radio since I stayed within cell range of land that day as planned. I wouldn't do that in the ocean, no way. Find out what the safety items are and verify they all work yourself. Don't skip over seemingly obvious things like guages - although it's really hard to tell if they work until you get underway in some cases.

    Get yourself a nautical gps map app. Download the map files for it in advance. This can help with a broken speedometer, too!
    Here's how to perform a radio check. Sea Tow services the keys, so you can use their service to check the radio for free: Automated VHF Radio Check | Sea Tow

    Hidden Costs can be huge: When you rent, find out how much they charge for fuel and how much the boat uses. The first time I rented a boat I was blown away at how much fuel it used. Just couldn't believe it. I think I paid around $400 for a day's rental and another $450 for gas! There's a few other fees they usually tack on (insurance and whatnot, you DO want the insurance.. did I mention it's easy to run aground?)

    Here's the biggest hurdle in my mind:
    Unless you and your father are taking turns solo diving, you'll be anchoring with nobody to watch the boat. One big wave and it could be gone. It happens. Also, it's easy to get into currents in the keys. Without anyone on the boat there's nobody to come get you or call for help if you "lose" the boat. Luckily it's busy enough that you stand a chance of getting aid from another boat. Do you have a third person who can bubble watch while you dive? That's immeasurably safer.
     
  6. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
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    You may have some trouble finding mooring buoy during peak operator hours, additionally you don't have the resources to "read" the water and weather conditions.. HD has a 10 dive card for I believe 600 bucks. Enjoy
     
    superheavydeathmetal likes this.
  7. arew+4

    arew+4 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pa
    306
    211
    43
    FWIW,
    I own a 23 foot boat, that i could trailer down to the keys. There are 5 divers in the family, but i still would not consider dragging it down to keys to dive from. Maybe to snorkel and putz around/island hop. It's not set up for diving i have very little knowledge of the sub surface terrain. Who's going to drive the boat if i get hurt or if i need to help some one else who is hurt.

    Im on vacation to relax, i save on the boat fees by shore diving as much as possible.
     
    superheavydeathmetal likes this.
  8. Steve_C

    Steve_C Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh, NC USA
    3,878
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    Who ever is staying on the boat needs to know how to run the boat, they need to know how to use your radio, they need to know how to call and they should also be able to stay calm in an emergency and know first aid. Note that just driving a boat is not the same as picking up a diver. Need to watch out for props etc.
     
    superheavydeathmetal likes this.
  9. superheavydeathmetal

    superheavydeathmetal Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cincinnati
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    Thanks for the heads-up. We would be sticking to the upper Keys, I would think. That is where all of the best diving is, from what I have gathered. We won't be doing any wreck diving.
    Great! Is there a specific place you recommend?
    Yeah, that is what I have found. But, he likes the idea of having his own boat. He "doesn't want to be told when and where he is going to dive."
    Excellent points! Thanks! And I agree about the cost.
    Ha! Yep! We lost a prop once many years ago with my grandparents on my grandfather's boat on the Gulf side.
     
    kelemvor likes this.
  10. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    3,444
    2,343
    113
    It'll cost you $350/day (including fuel) to run to the Key Largo sites.

    If 4 people were to charter morning and afternoon at a dive charter it would cost $170/person per day. Renting the boat is cheaper if you know what you're doing.
     

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