There is a thread here at Sailnet about renting boats to people and even in that thread the overwhelming response is that it isn't a good idea, so even if you were offering to pay rent you'd probably receive a cool response.
You have to understand, besides having a lot of money invested in their boats, people are also paying money, sometimes lots of money, just to tie their boats up to a dock. In a place like New York City you could be talking hundreds, maybe even a thousand a month or more just in marina fees. Then on top of that if the owner of the boat wants to live aboard the boat then they often have to pay even more over and above the fees they are already paying, a special "live aboard" fee. Then if the boat is going to be a live aboard there are the usual electrical and cable bills, etc, just like with a house. So, the obvious question is, if someone is going to pay all of those fees to make the boat capable of being lived on, why wouldn't they be living on it themselves ? You wouldn't pay a live aboard fee if you weren't going to live on the boat, right ? So at the very least you might think about offering to pay the live aboard fee and utilities.
The only time I could think of that something like what you want would work is if there is someone who comes in with a boat and wants to spend a few weeks or months exploring the United States and they would like to have someone watch their boat for them while they are wandering around the country. In that case you'd probably be called "crew", and you'd be better off finding situations like that in a place that has classifieds looking for crew. We do have a forum like that here.
The reason they're giving you a cool reception is because you've kind of asked the equivalent of "Hey, that's a great car, I love all the work you did restoring it, would you mind if I drive it around for a few months for free because I'm a great person ?"
What are you pretending not to know ?
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Last edited by wind_magic; 01-26-2010 at 01:30 PM.