It's Labor Day weekend, and though people in most American cities plan to enjoy the last beach days before the cold weather kicks in, Miami still confounds with otherworldly temperatures and humidity.
Miami is a coastal town, and though an afternoon on the water is a cooling treat, most of us don't have access to a boat. There are, of course, tour boats that depart from various points, but they're usually jam-packed. You could go the way of rentals, but they're costly, you can't enjoy a few beers if you're the captain, and you have to worry about navigating.
In the end, that old saying "The only thing better than having a boat is having a friend with a boat" rings true. But what if you don't even have a friend with a boat?
Boatsetter is a new program that allows you to rent a boat and captain for the day. Reserved through Airbnb, Boatsetter offers several "experiences," ranging from a fishing expedition to a day of watersports to learning about Miami's diverse ecosystem. The experiences range from $110 to $150 per person and last about a half-day each. All equipment is provided, as are refreshments — as in beer!
Pro tip: Uber to the marina and spend a day on the water drinking in the sights and the suds with Captain Mark during his experience "the Good Life" ($135 per person).
The boat captain met me and five new-found friends at a marina in downtown Miami for a day on the water. I shared the ride with a spoken-word poet from Chicago and three young men from Spain. After some initial introductions, Captain Mark offered us some Coronas, and we set off.
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As soon as we were moving in Mark's 30-foot MV, the air cooled off considerably, making the money spent instantly worth every penny. As we munched on cheese and fruit, Mark showed us the sights of Miami from a pelican's view. On the way to Star Island for some celebrity house sightings, he gunned the throttle. Wind in your face and a beer in your hand always makes for a good afternoon.
The excursion also included time to swim, chat, and drink on Flagler Monument Island. I broke out a bottle of wine Mark had chilling for me. The only note was the lack of cups; I had to borrow some from a group that had camped out for the day. Mark also ran out of beer — likely not anticipating the thirst of this particular group, which scarfed down beer after beer after beer.
Mark was extremely accommodating, promising to plan in advance with more brewskis. He asked if we wanted to spend more time on the water than the allotted four hours. In all, it made for a chill afternoon.
The Good Life, via Boatsetter. 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, September 2, and other times. Various pickup locations. $110 to $150, including drinks, snacks, sports and/or fishing equipment, and life jackets. Visit airbnb.com/experiences.