The big boats at Bayfront Yacht Works & Marina await those looking to explore the area’s waterways in style
By Jane Bartnett
Ahoy! Have you always dreamed of being the captain of your own boat? If you don’t happen to have your own private yacht awaiting your arrival, the folks at Bayfront Yacht Works & Marina on Siesta Key have got you covered.
Tucked away at the far end of Midnight Pass Road, across from Turtle Beach, this full-service marina has a selection of boats available for rental. In-season, daylong and four-hour rentals are available. Off-season, there are rentals for two-, four-, six-hour blocks of time. Choose from the marina’s rental fleet of six pontoon boats, two 17-footers, four 20-footers, and one 21-foot, center-console fishing boat.
“Pontoon boats are our most popular rental,” said Jake Lasser, the general manager. “They’re family friendly, stable, and the most controllable boats.”
Measuring 22 feet in length, the Aloha 22 Tritoon is highly recommended by Lasser. A 150-horsepower engine powers the boat, and a long canopy provides protection from the sun. It holds up to 12 people.
For boaters looking for a bit more “pep” out on the water, Lasser recommends the Starcraft 17 Runabout. At 17 feet in length, the 115 horsepower engine powers this comfortably appointed vessel with seating for six as well as plenty of storage space.
Bayfront’s rental fleet also includes its Starcraft 20 deck boats. At 20 feet in length, there is space for up to eight adults to sit and move around. The 150-horsepower engine provides plenty of power for spending a day out on the water, exploring the region.
Fishermen will want to take the Bayliner 21 out for a day of trolling the waters and netting a great catch or two. With room for six, this 21-foot fishing vessel has a 115-horsepower engine.
Lasser recommends that boaters interested in renting should drop in at the marina and see the boats in person before making their decision. “Driving a boat is not like driving a car and we want people to understand the rules of the waterways,” he said.
He explained that while a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license is not required for renting, a valid credit card and photo ID is needed. Bayfront requires that boat operators to 21 or older.
Lasser also pointed out an important Florida law that renters need to be aware of:
“For anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, who will be operating a boat in Florida waters with an engine of 10 horsepower or more, they must complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Florida Boating Safety ID Card. This card is not a boating license, it is a certification that the person named on the card has successfully completed the required boating safety course. The card does not expire.”
For more details on classroom and on-line classes, and on how to obtain the card, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/id/.
Before heading out, Bayfront Marina crew brief the boat renters on the general usage of the vessel, and provide each group with a map of the waterways. “We explain the red and green marker system and how to get through the Intracoastal Waterway to the bay,” Lasser said.
“If boaters need to contact us at the marina” he added, “they can call in from their cell phones. We have perfect cell-phone reception all the way to the Venice jetty south and as far north as Bird Key. That is about an hour boat ride either way.”
All rental boats are equipped with a full tank of gas, a radio, depth-finder, vessel orientation, radio, lounge seating, storage, a fire extinguisher, life jackets, anchor and line, cup holders, and a safety guide. In addition to the boat-rental fleet, there are also jet skis, ski boats, tandem- and single-style kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards for rent.
The marina crew are also available to offer suggestions on where to go, where the dolphins are frolicking, and where the fish are biting that day.
“Once we’re in-season, we recommend booking a few days or a week in advance,” Lasser advised. “During the off-season we only need a few days of notice for a reservation.”
Children, accompanied by adults, are welcome onboard. Rental rates and availability are shown online. Book by phone at (941) 349-9449 or online at bayfrontyachtworks.com.