How far in advance should you book a boat?
During the week 1-2 days is normally fine. On the weekend 7 days in advance to get the boat you want. Holiday weekends (4th July, Memorial Day, Labor Day) and Spring Break book 2-3 weeks in advance.
What do you mean by Non-Refundable Deposit?
Deposits are only refunded in the event of bad weather. All day rain, high winds or when the coast guard has issued a small craft advisory. You have the option of receiving a full refund or rescheduling your day. After all, it's not your fault if mother nature has a hissy fit!
If you CANCEL FOR ANY OTHER REASON, your deposit will not be refunded. However, if your plans change, you can reschedule (with 48 hours notice - except holiday weekends), and you can use your deposit towards anything else we do, We will hold your deposit for 6 months before you totally lose it. If you reschedule or postpone your rental LESS than 48 hours before the booking, YOU LOSE YOUR DEPOSIT, and you will be required to pay another deposit for the new date.
Do your rates include fuel?
No. We charge you for what you used at today's pump price. We must use premium Marine non-ethanol fuel, which is a bit more expensive than the gas in your car.
How does the fuel charge work?
We provide a full tank of gas, we check to see how much gas you used when you get back and charge you market value plus $0.50/gallon to cover the service of refueling. You MAY NOT gas up the boat yourself, because it takes a special type of fuel.
How much fuel can I expect to use?
If you go just to the islands and back, our boats will use between 4-6 gallons depending on your load and how heavy you are on the throttle. This is between $20 and $30. More if you do a lot of exploring exploring.
How old must I be to rent a boat from Tampa Bay Water Sports?
You must be 21 or older to rent a powered vessel. In addition to this, the driver of the pontoon boat must be born BEFORE January 1, 1988. If you were born after 1/1/1988, you must have a Florida Boater's Safety Certificate or other state equivalent. State Law requires permanent or temporary Boater Safety Card be physically carried on you with picture ID.
Do you provide life jackets?
ALL LIFE JACKETS ARE PROVIDED, including infant, toddler, youth and adult sizes.
What times can we depart?
SUMMER (MAR-SEP): HALF DAY RENTALS ARE FROM 10AM TO 2PM (Mornings), and 3PM to 7PM (Afternoons). FULL DAY RENTALS ARE FROM 11AM TO 6 PM.
WINTER (OCT-FEB): HALF DAY RENTALS ARE FROM 9AM-1PM, 10AM TO 2PM, 11AM TO 3PM and 12PM to 4PM. FULL DAY RENTALS ARE FROM 9AM TO 5 PM. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure otherwise the mandated check out speech will eat into your rental time.
What if I arrive late to pick up my boat?
Too bad, so sad! You are required to be back at the marina on time. No discount. No ifs, no ands, no buts, no nothing. Don't argue. Come back in on time.
What if I return the boat later than the agreed return time?
The late fee is $25 per 15 minutes. Our people work long hours and if you keep them away from their families even longer, expect to pay the overtime. Oh, and don't speed down the channel trying to get in on time, the speeding fine issued by Marine Patrol is more than $20 per 10 minutes! A LOT MORE! Come back in on time or pay the late fee with a smile on your face.
How many people can we load on the boat?
The boats are rated according to number of people or weight whichever comes first. Add up the estimated weight of the party including any coolers and equipment. If your party consists of LARGER people, plan accordingly!!! Like the airlines, we have a scale!!! Overweight boats WILL NOT leave the marina, and NO, you can't pay for extra baggage!!!
What happens if we don't pay attention to the tides and our rental boat gets beached?
Your checkout person will advise you of the tide swing of the day. If you don't pay attention - you are up the creek without the proverbial paddle. If we have to send another boat out to fetch your butts and one of our poor staff members has to sit on your boat until the tide comes in 10 hours later, they need to be paid for their time and gas, so there will be a $250 charge added to your credit card. Stupidity unfortunately, has its price. You can avoid this charge by keeping an eye on the boat and water AT ALL TIMES and letting the anchor lines out as the tides drop AS ADVISED PRIOR TO DEPARTURE!
What happens if we break something on the boat?
You break it, you bought it! The State of Florida does not allow us to sell boat insurance, so be careful not to break or lose anything. Ask at the office for the replacement price of items lost or broken.
If I hire a captain am I relieved of responsibility to the boat?
Yes! However, you are still responsible for any damage your party might cause, such as tears in the upholstery, cigarette burns, etc. Plus the best snorkel spots are in a NO BOATING ZONE for self drive renters as they are tricky to find with loads of underwater rocks. Hire a captain, no problem he/she is allowed to take you there.
What happens if I get lost and cannot find my way back?
Most boats are provided with a GPS so you can see where you are. If not, call us, all boats have GPS trackers so we know exactly where you are and can guide you home.
What if a storm comes while we are out on the water?
Contact us by cell phone for specific instructions. The best place to be in a storm is anchored at the island taking shelter under the shade top. Pontoon boats are generally NOT targets for lightning and our summer storms pass very quickly. If you are delayed returning to dock by a storm you WILL NOT be charged overtime fees. Your safety is our utmost concern. However, if you then use the storm as an excuse to party on at the island well past your return time, we WILL charge you overtime fees! Our office has radar, we KNOW when the storm passed the island.
May I go out on a sunset cruise?
Yes, but you will need to hire a captain. Being out in the dark can be very confusing and dangerous for a person who does not know the area thoroughly.
Can I buy bait nearby?
We sell frozen bait right at our marina.
Can I buy food nearby?
Yes, there is a Publix Supermarket only a block away.
Where can I buy beer?
Either at Publix or a gas station within walking distance. However YOU CANNOT BUY BEER ANYWHERE ON SUNDAY BEFORE 11 AM. Plan Accordingly. Oh, and the driver of the boat must stay sober - .08 it's the law!
Do I need to worry about alligators?
Nope. They don't like salt water - there are no alligators in the Gulf of Mexico.
Where are the "facilities"?
1) Hold it
2) The Gulf of Mexico is your "bowl"
3) That's it! No other options!
How deep should the water be when I anchor at the island?
Here's our guideline: If you can stand next to the boat and pee without people seeing you pee, you are anchored in the perfect depth for the boat! This means you are in about 2 1/2-3 feet of water - crotch height, basically.
The secret to a great day on the water with Tampa Bay Water Sports is COMMUNICATION! You have a cell phone, call us! We are happy to guide you and advise you.