Sharing the Love
An enterprising boater discovers that the perks of renting out her Sea Ray through Boatbound are manifold.
Teresa Fitzsimmons has always had an entrepreneurial streak. She was only six years old when she launched her first business endeavor, catching crabs on Chesapeake Bay and selling them to neighbors to finance the purchase of her first rowboat—which she in turn used to find and sell more crabs. These days she’s graduated from door-to-door seafood sales to owning her own paint contracting company, Pride Painting, in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Running the business keeps her plenty busy, but it also affords a nice degree of flexibility—perfect for squeezing in a few hours here and there on her 270 Sundeck Outboard. Because if her initiative to own a rowboat in the first grade is any indication, boating is practically a part of Teresa’s DNA. Living in Florida, she and her partner, Kim Pero, take every opportunity to get out and enjoy the water in its many forms, from the protected inland channels to the sandbars just offshore to the Gulf of Mexico.
The state’s nearly endless coastline (second only to Alaska’s in total miles) and vast Intracoastal Waterway provide an abundance of peaceful spots to anchor off and kick back. Sandbars and reefs invite snorkeling and swimming year-round, and help explain why Teresa has spent the majority of her life here. She and Kim and their close friends Maria Lescano and Kelly Byron head for these tranquil escapes whenever they have the chance. Summer is their favorite season, but the conditions can always throw a curveball.
“It never fails—every morning during the week you look outside and the water is flat calm. Then the weekend rolls around and here comes the big chop,” Teresa says with a laugh. “I’m fortunate, because of my work schedule, to be able to take the boat out when a lot of other people can’t. If it’s a perfect morning, I try to take advantage of it.”
Over the years Teresa has owned a series of Sea Rays, starting with an 18-footer and gradually moving up. She was enjoying a 2006 265 Sundeck last year when she first heard about a program that promised to turn her boat into a moneymaker—an enticing idea, particularly for someone enterprising by nature. “A dear friend of mine who gets the New York Times saw an article on Boatbound and the rental concept and told me about it,” she explains. “I went online then called the next day, and that’s it! It made so much sense.”
As America’s leading peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace, Boatbound works by connecting owners directly with interested renters who will pay for the privilege of borrowing someone else’s vessel for the day. These renters are prescreened and fully qualified, so your boat is in safe hands. You retain full control, and if you prefer, you can choose to stay on as captain for your renters. Plus, Boatbound also provides comprehensive insurance and liability coverage with every rental. In other words, peace of mind is included.
“Of course I had all the questions about insurance and everything you think people would want to know,” Teresa says, “and actually at first it seemed too good to be true. Boatbound covers everything if there’s any damage, and they’re very supportive if something does happen. It’s all really reassuring. Plus the Sea Rays hold up so well.”
Just like similar programs in the vacation-rental and ride-share realms—think Airbnb and Uber—renters are given the opportunity to leave reviews, so that over time a person builds a reputation for their reliability and the quality of their offering, giving Sea Ray owners a distinct edge. “The people who rent your boat can give you stars, on a one to five scale,” Teresa explains. “Every rating of mine so far is five-star, and I hope to keep it that way!”
Her 2006 Sea Ray wound up being so popular with renters from Boatbound that Teresa was able to cover a monthly mortgage payment after listing her boat with the program for just a short time. Indeed, the program was living up to its promise—so much so that Teresa began to contemplate an upgrade.
“Having done so well with Boatbound rentals in the previous year, I felt confident I could buy the boat of my dreams—which was out of my price range—and not only pay for the boat, but the storage as well.”
Confidence bolstered, she headed to nearby Sea Ray dealership MarineMax of Pompano, and the deal was sealed. “Sea Ray is a terrific product and Boatbound is the reason I’m able to afford a new one,” she says. “Boatbound has changed my life—literally. Many times when I was out on the water with my old Sea Ray, I would look at newer boats and think, ‘Aside from working a second job, how can I get a new boat?’ Well, Boatbound answered that. I’m now the proud owner of a 2015 270 Sea Ray Sundeck with a 300-hp outboard—thank you, Boatbound!”
The new outboard configuration available on the 270 was what first caught Teresa’s eye. Given her long history with the Sea Ray brand, she knew exactly what she was after and was pleased to find it all in one place. “It’s a beautiful boat. The convertible seating is great, the storage is great, the new helm design is great—it’s got everything I want,” she says. “And it’s really comfortable.”
It’s also her favorite breakfast spot. Many days, Teresa and Kim will launch the Sundeck in the pre-dawn hours and head out into the Gulf Stream extra early to watch the sunrise over coffee or tea and bagels. “It’s the best way to start the morning,” she says. “Very peaceful.”
Teresa says the Intracoastal Waterway contributes greatly to Fort Lauderdale’s appeal, opening up the region for exploring even when conditions on the ocean are less hospitable. This summer, she and Kim are planning to make a trip either down to the Florida Keys or up the ICW, staying at different marina hotels along their route.
And when work or a jam-packed schedule keeps them from the Sundeck, Teresa simply refreshes her listing on Boatbound and waits for the requests, and the income, to roll in. Too good to be true? More like too good to pass up.