Bareboat Agreement Application and Explanation

Many Bluesail guests question what a bareboat rental is, and why such a strange agreement is required, especially those guests booking a boat through online vacation rental sites such as AirBnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. If this is you, you're at the right place!


Section 27 of The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is where you can find the root of the bareboat agreement requirement. Section 27, also known as The Jones Act, was written in large part to protect and promote the U.S. ship building and associated maritime industries following the end of World War I. Unfortunately while our type of business was not materially contemplated at the time the law was written and passed, we nonetheless must comply.


Essentially the law does not permit foreign-built vessels to participate in commercial activity, also known as coastwise trade. Amongst several requirements the agreement must limit the owner or operator from providing crew, food, and/or fuel. Essentially anything that shows operational control of the vessel by the owner or the owner's exclusive operator, would be a contradiction that a valid and legal bareboat exists, thus deeming it an illegal charter. You can learn more about bareboat regulations by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions:


Question: I'm only using the boat for dockside lodging and don't plan to sail. Do I still need to sign a bareboat agreement?

Answer: Unfortunately the law requires a bareboat agreement to be in place anytime consideration is made for people renting the boat, even if the boat never leaves the dock.


Question: I booked through an online listing service and agreed to their terms as part of my booking. Do I still need to sign this agreement and are they aware this agreement is required?

Answer: Yes, this agreement is required for all bookings on foreign-built vessels, despite the channel by which is was booked. Listing sites such as AirBnb, VRBO, and HomeAway to name a few, are aware that we require this additional agreement.


Question: I'm not comfortable with the terms of the bareboat rental agreement, but I already paid for my booking through an online listing service. Can I cancel without penalty?

Answer: Generally speaking you should be able to cancel through the listing service if the agreement terms are not something you're comfortable with accepting. If the listing service does not issue you a refund please contact us and we will contact the listing service for resolution.


For more information on bareboat rules please check out our article entitled U.S. Coast Guard Regulations for Bareboat Charter, or call us at (813) 601-5243.

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7005 Shrimp Road

Key West, FL  33040

(813) 601-5243