If you've booked a bareboat (non-captained) rental, here are some tips and recommendations for making your upcoming rental safe and fun.
Purchase boat rental insurance. Many bareboat rentals require you to purchase boat rental insurance. However, you should consider purchasing insurance even if the owner doesn't mention it. You only have to pay for what you need, and coverage is conveniently priced starting at $27 per day. In case of an incident or property damage, boat rental insurance can be an incredible safeguard.
Pack your certifications and licenses. Depending on the watercraft and where you're boating, you may need a skipper's license and a license to use the VHF radio. Some areas require you to have completed a boating education course. Make sure that you bring your original paperwork and permits with you onboard, just in case.
Ask the owner ahead of time for a pre-rental and post-rental walkthrough. Message the boat owner in advance of your trip to make sure you have time prior to the rental start time to review equipment, prior damage, and ask questions. Something that you both sign off on is helpful. Think of it like renting an apartment – a walkthrough allows you to make sure you're both on the same page about the condition of the watercraft before you take it out.
Ask your point of contact for recommendations! The person meeting you to hand off the keys and instructions is likely going to be the boat owner, but occasionally it's a family member, a friend of the family, the dockmaster, or another trusted individual. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for recommendations on where to go or what to see.