You can now rent a pontoon boat by the hour on the James River | Economic news
Starting this spring, you can walk and rent a pontoon boat at The Lilly Pad in Henrico, no boating license required.
It’s the first of its kind in Richmond, said Max Walraven, owner of Lilly Pad Café, 9680 Osborne Turnpike, and adjoining Kingsland Marina.
Kingfish Boat Rentals is offering four new pontoon boats which will be available for charter from April 1 in rental increments of two, four or eight hours.
“I tried to do this for six or seven years,” Walraven said. “It always amazes me that in Richmond, even though a river runs through the city, it’s not a river-centric city. There has never been a company dedicated to renting motorboats by the hour on the James River.
“In places like Florida, you can walk and rent a boat, no strings attached. We wanted to attract people or families who want to get out there, run for a few hours on the river, with no membership or initiation fees,” he said.
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Prices hover around $225 for a two-hour rental on weekdays and around $300 for two hours on weekends or $400 for four hours. Kingfish was still finalizing pricing at the time of this writing.
The 18-foot pontoon with a 75 horsepower engine can accommodate up to six people; the 20 foot pontoon with a 90 horsepower engine can accommodate up to eight people.
Alcohol is allowed on the boats, but the driver cannot be under the influence. Pets are also allowed, as well as children, of course. Drivers must be 25 years of age or older.
Inflatable tubes and stand up paddle boards are also available to rent for $50 in tandem with the boat rental.
If you’ve never been on a pontoon boat, they’re often called “party barges.” They are easier to pilot than a motorboat and only go around 25 to 30 mph. Kingfish will provide a dockside safety course prior to each charter.
From Kingsland Marina, boaters can run to Rocketts Landing, which takes about 30 minutes, Walraven said. Or head the other way to the Benjamin Harrison Bridge in Prince George. All boaters will receive a map before leaving.
Kingfish Boat Rentals also offers captained charter on a 55ft fishing yacht on an hourly basis or for overnight stays. Day rentals are $1,000. Kingfish Boat Rentals will be managed by a team of four: Walraven, a mechanic, a dockmaster and a seaman.
Kingfish Boat Rentals isn’t the only way to rent a motorboat in Richmond.
The Carefree Boat Club also offers rentals from Kingsland Marina, but this is a more expensive option, with initiation fees between $3,500 and $5,000, in addition to monthly fees of $300 to $500. .
Walraven thinks powerboat rentals by the hour have never been done in Richmond before because Virginia’s boating season is so marginal.
“You have six to eight months of sailing per season. For someone to make a huge investment – we just bought $150,000 worth of boats – and only be open half the year is not a good business model. But when I work in the marina and waterside catering, that’s another strength of the marina. It makes perfect sense,” Walraven said.
Walraven bought a controlling interest in the 13-acre Kingsland Marina in 2018 and took over the lease of Lilly Pad Café in 2019. Since then, he has invested around $250,000 in renovating the outdoor-only restaurant and transforming it at a local hotspot.
So much so that Henrico County is requiring the Lilly Pad to obtain an interim use permit to bring the restaurant into compliance. The county reported that there had been noise complaints from the restaurant for its live music on Saturday nights.
A community meeting is scheduled at the Lilly Pad on April 4 at 6 p.m. The matter is expected to go to the County Planning Commission on May 12.