Rent a Boat on Airbnb

Great for families and near everything
Sag Harbor Village agreed to allow the Ali Nash, second from right, to be rented out on a short-term basis for a trial period. Jackie Pape

Not only can renters find a house on Airbnb, they can book a stay on the water now, too.

The Sag Harbor Village Board approved a request Tuesday to allow a boat owner, renting dock space from the village on West Water Street, to periodically rent her 42-foot powerboat, which she has listed on Airbnb.

Airbnb, an online hospitality service that helps homeowners lease to short-term tenants, has become popular among homeowners on the East End. “Airbnb is a hot phenomenon,” Ed Deyermond, a village board member, said. “It’s happening with houses, on what I presume to be a good scale in Sag Harbor, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it being used with boats.”

Although Airbnb is an ongoing discussion nationwide because of code enforcement, tax, and transparency concerns to neighbors and municipalities alike, Bob Bori, the Sag Harbor Village harbormaster, put the issue before the board after finding a listing for the Ali Nash on the website. He recommended that the board allow Hilary Offenberg to rent out her boat on a short-term basis, for a trial period.

The request was granted, though Mr. Deyermond, who is stepping down from the board later this month, was opposed. “The boat is docked in a location that is mostly residential boating slips, and now we are commercializing it,” he said. “It needs to be vetted.”

Allowing the Ali Nash to remain at the municipal dock, known as the B-Dock, while being rented may have implications. “B-Dock is quiet and sleepy,” Mr. Deyermond said. “It’s very residential. I would like to hear from other boat owners.”

Not only might neighboring boaters be disturbed, but James Larocca, another board member, brought up a liability factor. “If a renter were to fall off the boat, then we would be a part of the lawsuit,” Mr. Larocca said.

Louis Grignon, the owner of a private marina at 53 Bay Street, is against rentals because of just such concerns. At his Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, a boat owner, family member, or crew member can sleep aboard overnight, but they cannot rent out the boat and allow others to sleep on it. “I do it for insurance purposes,” Mr. Grignon said, “because my contract is for the owner of the boat. That is what my insurance would cover if something happened.”

Prior to the board meeting, Ms. Offenberg took precautionary steps to ensure safety. She said her insurance for the boat also covers people getting to and from the dock, and promised to give the village board a copy of the forms.

While Ms. Offenberg does rent her boat, she reserves it for half the summer for personal use. “We didn’t realize it was considered commercial use when we thought of this,” she said. “We did it because it subsidizes a little bit of the price it is to live in Sag Harbor.”

The Ali Nash is listed at $450 per night, with a security deposit of $500, a cleaning fee of $100, and a two-night minimum stay required. Weekly and monthly discounts are available. The listing touts the boat as close to beaches, nightlife, public transportation, and  restaurants on Sag Harbor’s Main Street. “It’s great for couples, solo adventurers, business travelers, and families with kids,” it says.

A Post Marine yacht with a 16-foot beam, the Ali Nash is described as being very comfortable. It sleeps up to four, with two “bedrooms” and one bathroom. Pets under 20 pounds are allowed. Overnight trips to neighboring harbors can be arranged with a licensed captain, but parties and events aboard are prohibited.

The boat has already been rented out at least once; it was given a positive review online in May.

Although nothing was said about it at the board meeting, a search of Airbnb turned up at least five other boats for rent in Sag Harbor, with nightly fees ranging from $347 to $2,379. Mr. Bori, the harbormaster, said by phone on Tuesday that he first became aware of the phenomenon last summer, but said nothing about it because the boat, a sailboat, was moored outside village jurisdiction.

While the village code does not address renting boats at public docks, it  does prohibit people living on the water, aboard a vessel at anchor, between April 1 and Oct. 31. Mr. Bori said he had no problem with people staying on a boat for a weekend.

In East Hampton Town, “floating homes,” or houseboats, defined as not having an engine or sails, are prohibited. In Southampton Town, a permit is required for a houseboat.