Information & FAQs
The following are some frequently asked questions we get about boat rentals. We hope this page is helpful and informative. If you have any additional questions, would like some clarification, or would simply like to speak to a live person, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
Q: Where are you located?
A: We are located about halfway between Shell Knob and Cassville, on the White River arm of Table Rock Lake. We are located at the end of State Hwy M where it terminates at the lake. By water, we are between Point Marker 24 and Point Marker 25. We are NOT in Branson.
Q: We want to go to Table Rock Dam, and have lunch at Branson Landing. Does the boat have enough gas to get us there?
A: Yes, the boat will most likely have enough gas to get you there. But no, you can't go. Big M Marina is located approximately 44 miles (by water) from the dam. Rental units must remain within the 14 miles of water between the Eagle Rock bridge (Hwy 86) and the Shell Knob bridge (Hwy 39). Rental units are not permitted to go to Branson. If you were to venture that far away and broke down, or ran out of gas, or got lost -- it would take CONSIDERABLE time for us to get to you, and we would all have a bad day. If you want to boat in the waters around the Branson area, we suggest you rent a boat in Branson.
Q: What is your rain cancellation policy?
A: If it is raining, or if rain is imminent, Lessee must be physically present at Big M Marina at the designated Check-In time to determine to pursue the risk of rain or not. We require this, because even though it may be raining where you are, it is the weather conditions at the marina (the place you will actually be using the rental) that count. If you decide to take out the rental and it begins to rain, you therefore forfeit your right to a refund. If you would like to adopt a wait-and-see approach, e.g. you have an all-day rental and it is raining at the time of check-in, but you think it will pass within an hour or two -- we will be glad to work with you and pro-rate the rental for those first two hours. While we can't control the weather, we still want everyone to be able to enjoy their day on the lake whenever possible. Should you decide to cancel your reservation that day, due to rain, we will make every effort to reschedule your reservation to a date and time which works for you. If there are no other days and times during which you will be able to rent the watercraft, you will be entitled to a full refund.
Disclaimer: We do not consider "rain" to be cloudy or unusually cool weather. These are less than ideal conditions, but are not rain. Our rain cancellation policy is extremely generous compared to most places, because we want everyone to have a good experience, but it must be viewed with common sense. If it is storming, with high winds and lightening, such conditions are unsafe for vessels to be on the water, and you will not be permitted to take out the rental. Conversely, a forecast of "40% chance of rain" does not constitute imminent rain. "Spotty showers" are common in this area during the summer months due to the high humidity. Similar to a rainforest, showers frequently "pop-up," blow through in 20 minutes, and are done. Sometimes you can literally see it raining over the lake when you look to your left, and see bright, sunny weather over the lake when you look to your right. We do not consider this type of weather to be rain either. Common sense works both ways, if it is obviously going to be a wash-out, over the whole area, with radar tracking showing it likely to continue for the majority of the day, we do not necessarily require you to drive down to the marina to invoke your right to rain cancellation. In those circumstances, and ONLY under those circumstances, we will accept call-in cancellations. For the purposes of making that determination, the online radar from the local TV station, KY3.com, will be used, and the final interpretation of whether it constitutes a "rain-out" or not will be the prerogative of the marina. For the purpose of our rain cancellation policy, smart-phone weather apps are not considered to be acceptable predictors of weather. Only the radar previously mentioned will be used.
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: Any cancellation will incur a 20% fee, cancellations less than 14 days of your reservation will incur an 80% cancellation fee. If a cancellation notice isn’t provided prior to 72 hours before your reservation, the lessee is responsible for the full cost of the boat rental for the period of time which it was reserved. The charge will be applied to the debit or credit card which the lessee has provided. No exceptions will be made to this policy. Please do not rent a boat from us if you do not agree with this policy.
Q: We had a death in the family, illness, other unexpected event which caused us to cut our vacation short, and we are unable to use the boat reservation we made. Can we get a refund?
A: We understand unexpected things happen, and we can definitely empathize with your situation, but unfortunately, if your cancellation falls within 72 hours of your reservation (as stated in our cancellation policy), we will be unable to issue you a refund. This policy actually goes hand-in-hand with our rain cancellation policy: the weather is beyond our control, but we routinely issue refunds due to rain. If we issue refunds for occurrences outside OUR control for the benefit of our customers, from a business stand-point, we cannot issue refunds for occurrences outside YOUR control. We are a small business, with a very limited season to turn a profit. By making your reservation, you've effectively prevented any other prospective customers from renting that until. Our boat rentals do not operated on a walk-in basis, so if you cancel the day before your reservation, it is very unlikely that we will be able to recoup that income. If you do not agree with this policy, please do not rent a boat from us.
Q: I want to book a boat for a particular day, but there aren't any available on the website. Do you have boats available on that day?
A: Unfortunately, no. The website IS our reservation system. We don't have another set of reservation books to look at. Both you and the marina staff are viewing the same availability in real time. Of course it never hurts to call, and we encourage you to do so if you have questions or are having difficulty booking a boat on the website.
One instance when it may be to your advantage to call is if you're looking for a same-day reservation. The website is a computer, so if there is an opening for a 1pm time-slot, and it's 1:01, the website won't let you book it. It is also possible that we had a cancellation
Q: What do you mean you charge for lifejackets?
A: We do not require you to pay for lifejackets. We offer rental ski vests as a service to our customers. Life jackets are not included in rental prices but are required by law. You are welcome to bring your own, and we also have them available for rent. Ski vests suitable for watersports are $5 per person per day.
Q: How do you handle the fuel for the boat?
A: We try to make fueling as easy as possible; we send you out with a full tank. When you check the boat back in at the end of your rental, simply park it at the gas dock. We will refuel the boat while completing our check-in procedure, and charge you for the fuel consumed when you go inside the store to pay.
Q: How much gas will my rental boat use?
A: This is a question we get a lot. It is also one which is impossible for us to answer. Boats don't have city/highway average mpg ratings like cars. Also, the amount of fuel you use is entirely dependent upon how you are using the boat. For a given boat, for a given period of time, you will use much more gas if you are doing lots of stops and hole shots (such as if you were teaching someone to ski), or going down the lake wide open, than you would for the same boat that you idled out into a cove and had a picnic lunch for 2 hours. Boats operate most efficiently once they get up on plane. If you are spending a lot of time plowing through the water, you will use more fuel than you would just getting up on plane, and then running down the lake at 3/4 throttle. The load you have on the boat will also affect its fuel consumption. A boat with 3 people aboard, will use less gas than it will with 10 people aboard when driven the same way. The only thing we can tell you for sure is this: With all things being equal, a boat with a 200 HP motor will use more fuel than a boat with a 90 HP motor, when the two are used the same way.
Q: Your gas gauge is broken. Why are you charging me $40 for gas when the gauge says full?
A: While anything mechanical can fail, in all likelihood the gauge is not broken. We have the gauges checked every year as part of our regular maintenance schedule. Several conditions exist which may explain what you're describing. Imagine you fill up your car at the gas station. The gauge says full. You then drive for about 100 miles before the gauge comes off "F." Did that mean you didn't use any gas during that 100 miles of driving? Of course not. Even more so than cars, boat gas gauges are not precision instruments. They are there to let you know as the needle gets close to "E," "Hey, I should probably think about getting some gas." They are not meant to be an accurate indicator of percent fuel consumption. Unlike a rental car place, we don't ever look at the fuel gauge when filling up a boat post-rental. Our procedure is to fill up the tank until we can no longer get any gas to go in it. That is what we consider "full." Boats are inherently less efficient than cars, so if your only frame of reference is to compare it to the amount of fuel your car uses, you're not comparing apples to apples. While your car may have a 15 or 20 gallon tank, some of our larger boat have a 60 gallon tank. Using 1/4 tank on your car would only constitute 4 or 5 gallons, while 1/4 tank on the boat might be 12 to 15 gallons. Finally, it is deceiving to look at the $40 you spent on gas the same as you would for your car. Fuel on the water in more expensive than on land. That is a universal truth no matter where you go. If you're not accustomed to that, it can be shocking. That $40 might conceivably only be 10 gallons of gasoline.
Q: I still think we couldn't possibly have used that much gas. Yes, the gauge said full, but how do I know the tank was actually full when I went out?
A: First, let us express that it is not or primary objective to make money on the rental boats by selling gas for them. Charging you for the gas you used is simply a necessary part of doing business. The logistics involved in running some kind of a gas scam would be monumental. Do we underfill and undercharge the previous customer, just so we can overfill and overcharge you later? That doesn't really make any sense. Do we fill up the last customer then siphon 5 or 10 gallons of gas before we send you out in it? What do we do with all that extra gas? And how do we accomplish that with less than an hour between rentals? That would cost more in manpower than we would gain in ill-gotten revenue.
Filling a boat is not really and exact science, you have to deal with air bubbles that can make you think it's completely full when it's really only 99.9% full. You also have to deal with thermal expansion: During most of the summer, it's in the upper 90's at the end of the day when the boats come back. The sun is beating down. It's hot. Gas can be both fluid and vapor; both will expand with heat. We top off the boat and put it away. First thing the next morning it's 65-70 degrees. The gas has cooled and contracted a little, allowing you to get a little more volume in the tank. In either of these scenarios, you MIGHT be able to squeeze 1/2 to 1 gallon more into the tank. So you're talking about less than $4.
If you want to be absolutely sure the fuel tank on the boat you're about to take out is completely full full, you can ask us fill it up in front of you before you accept the rental. Just keep in mind that that is not a part of our typical procedure, and the time it takes to accomplish this will count against your rental time on the water.
Q: On the website it says that the maximum capacity of the boat we reserved is 10 people. We actually have 12 people, but 5 of them are little kids. Is that okay?
A: The maximum capacities listed for each boat are not numbers we came up with, nor are they necessarily an indication of the available seating on the boat. Those capacity numbers are directly from the Coast Guard capacity plate on the boat. That is the maximum number of persons that can legally be aboard that boat. Where you to be stopped by the Water Patrol with 12 people in a boat rated for 10 people, you would get a ticket just the same as you would if you were pulled over with 17 people in a 15 passenger van. And yes, a child (even an infant) counts as a person. If you have rented a boat with a maximum capacity of 10 people, but there are 12 people in your party, that is perfectly okay; if just means that at least 2 people will have to remain on the dock while you return periodically to swap them out.
Disclaimer: All boats have capacity ratings based on calculations made by the manufacturer using guidelines from the Coast Guard and other bodies. Those capacity plates all say "10 persons OR xxxx lbs.". The Coast Guard reckons a person to be 140 lbs. We are certainly not going to weigh everyone before you board the boat, but just be aware that if all 10 people weigh 200 pounds, the performance of the boat will be decreased. Also, a boat may be rated for 12 people, but that doesn't necessarily mean 12 people can spend the day on it COMFORTABLY. Especially if you start adding coolers, and bags, and tubes . . . So keep that in mind also when planning a reservation.
Q: Where is the anchor?
A: None of our boats have anchors. There are several reasons for this:
- We have all sorts of customers who rent our boats. We have seasoned boaters and people who've never set foot on a boat. Not knowing the kind of clientele we'll have on a given day, the last thing we want is jumble of coiled rope attached to a heavy weight haphazardly strewn on the deck for any person or child to get their ankle tangled up in. From standpoints of both safety and liability -- we don't want that.
- Table Rock is not like the shallow mud and sand lakes in Kansas and Oklahoma. Not only is a typical depth somewhere between 40 and 100 feet, but the bottom of the lake is nothing but ledges and underwater cliffs. The bottom is strewn with trees and stumps and all manner of things which will get any type of anchor irretrieveably snagged more likely than not. The only way to get free is to cut the line, and we would not be able to keep up with the number of anchor replacements which would ensue. (Not to mention, anchors are not particularly cheap.)
- You don't actually need an anchor. You can find a "stick up" to tie up to while you're picnicking or swimming, and stay there as long as you like. Also, Table Rock is just a big river. If you find a nice, out of the way spot to swim, as long as you leave someone in the boat, the rest of you can be outside the boat because both you and the boat will drift with the current at the same rate.
Q: Where is the radio?
A: Our boats don't have radios. There are several reasons for this:
Given their operating conditions (wet) boat radios and speakers are notoriously hard to keep operational, and even when they are, they usually don't work very WELL. Very often they don't work, and nobody wants to hear that the boat they've rented for their family vacation is unavailable because it's in the shop having the radio fixed. Rather than trying to fight with the equipment, we found it easier to just remove them.
- You can't hear it while going down the lake; the wind noise drowns it out. The only way to hear it is when the boat is stopped. That presents another problem. Suppose people have rented a boat from us for all day. They take off with it, and find a secluded cove where they tie up. They spent the day using is as a floating party dock, where they have lunch, swim, and relax -- with the radio playing the whole time. When it's time to turn the rental back in, 8 1/2 hours later, they discover the boat won't start. Several hours later, after we've towed them back to the marina, we discover that there wasn't actually anything wrong with the boat -- the radio running all day has drained the battery to the point that it won't start the motor. The same thing would happen to your car if you left the radio on all day. This has happened more than once.
- Sometimes, upon check-in for the last rental of the day, the radio will be left on. Not turned up to where it can be heard, but on. We clean the boat, park it, and go home for the night. Fast forward to 8:00 the next morning. The rental customers show up for their 8AM reservation. We do all the paperwork and escort them out to their boat, only to discover that it won't start. Aside from being unprofessional, it results in those customers having to wait 20 to 30 minutes while the problem is diagnosed, a new battery is found, the old one is removed, and the new one connected. Neither us, nor those unfortunate customers deserve to be put in that position. So we find it easier to just remove the radios.
Q: I just returned our rental boat. Why are you charging us for ski flags, throw cushions, etc?
A: Before each boat goes out, our staff confirms the presence of all these items with you as part of the boat check-out process. We expect the boat to come back with all the equipment it was sent out with. If something is missing, it will need to be replaced before the next rental -- which means you have to buy us a new one.
Disclaimer: By far, the most frequently replaced item is the skier-down flag. It is our considered opinion that there is a conspiracy amongst the manufactures of those particular items to purposely make them so they don't float. In fact, they sink like a rock. The suction cups are also unreliable. The best advice we can give you is to simply hold them in your hand while people are in the water while during watersports. Put them down when the person gets up, and hold them up again when they fall. When parked and swimming around the boat, it is best to wedge it between two upright parts of the upholstery. Just remember to take it down before you begin down the lake again. -- You have been warned.
Q: We would like to rent a boat on July 4th. Can we take it to see the fireworks display over the lake?
A: We do not allow our boats out after dark. This would include the night of July 4th. In fact, we don't even maintain the navigation lights on our boats, BECAUSE they aren't allowed out after dark.
Q: We've rented a boat for a week. Would it be all right if we kept it at our resort the whole week and returned it at the end?
A: Our boats must be returned to the marina each night. If you have it for multiple days in a row, what we CAN do is check it in for the day, then check it right back out to you. It still has to remain in out dock overnight, but that will allow you to forgo all the paperwork the next day. Just pick up the key and take off whenever you arrive.
Q: Will you trailer the boat to us, or do we need to do that ourselves?
A: You are renting the boat, but the boat needs to start and end each day at our marina. We do not offer or allow trailering to other parts of the lake.
Q: Why do you require a boater's safety card? Do I really have to have one?
A: That is not our requirement; it is the law. Missouri law states:
"Beginning January 1, 2005, every person born after January 1, 1984, or as required pursuant to section 306.128, who operates a vessel on the lakes of this state shall possess, on the vessel, a boating safety identification card issued by the water patrol division or its agent."
You must either possess a safe boating card, or be born before January 1st, 1984 to leave the dock with one of our rental boats. This is no different than a rental car company requiring that you have a valid driver's license before they will rent you a car. Were you to be stopped by the Water Patrol without one . . . you would get a ticket. Equivalent type licenses issued by other states are also acceptable. You can read the full text of the law here http://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=306.127&bid=16395&hl=
Q: Can I get a safe boater's certificate when I arrive at the marina?
A: Unfortunately, no. When the new law first went into effect, there was a program where one could get certified at sites like marinas, but that program hasn't been available for many years.
Q: I was born after January 1st, 1984, and I don't have a Missouri safe boater's card, nor do I have one from another state. How do I get one so I can rent a boat from you?
A: All information about obtaining a safe boater's card can be found at the Missouri State Highway Patrol website https://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/WP02Web/app/safetyEdClasses
There is also an online course available. You can get started on it here https://www.boat-ed.com/missouri/
Please be advised, however, that this is an in depth course, and it cannot be completed in 30 minutes. You should start it at least 2 days ahead of time. Don't plan on completing it while driving to the marina to pick up you rental.
Q: Do I need to have a safe boaters card (or be born before January 1st 1984) to make a boat rental reservation on the website.
A: Absolutely not! Anyone can make (and pay for) a boat reservation on our website. The person under whose name the reservation is made does not necessarily have to be the person who is driving the boat. All we care about is that when you show up for your rental, the person(s) listed as "authorized operators" in our rental contract is either born before January 1st 1984, or has a safe boater's card.
Q: Can I bring our dog with us on our rental?
A: While leashed dogs are always welcome on the dock, pets of any kind are not allowed aboard the rental boats at any time. If you've ever tried to clean dog hair out of wet boat carpeting, you will understand why we have this policy.
Q: We have a boat rented for a half day starting at 9:00 AM, but are running late. Do we have to be there at 9:00 to keep our boat, or will you give it away?
A: No, you don't have to be here at straight-up-9 o'clock to have your rental. During whatever time slot your reservation covers (9am-1pm, 8am-noon, 2pm-6pm, 10am-7pm, etc), the boat is yours. If your reservation was from 9am-1pm, you may pick it up any time after 9am. However, should you arrive at 10am for a 9am-1pm rental, you still have to have the boat returned by 1pm; you don't get to keep it until 2pm.
Q: We had a 9am-1pm reservation, and arrived at 9am, but you didn't get us out until 9:30. That means we get to stay out until 1:30, right?
A: No, our scheduling is such that we only have an hour between rentals to get them checked in, fueled, cleaned, and set up for the next reservation. That is why it is critical that you return on time. Please be advised that when you arrive to pick up your boat, we are not just going to toss you the keys and tell you to have a good time. There is paperwork to be done, safety instructions to go over, and ski vests to fit to each member of your party (if you didn't bring your own). We are pretty practiced at this process, and with your cooperation, we can usually get you out on the water within 15-20 minutes of starting the check-out procedure. It is to your advantage to be at the dock 15-20 minutes before your scheduled reservation. Also, several tips to help us help you get out on the water quickly:
- Only those individuals who will be driving the boat need be present to fill out the paperwork. But all persons who want to drive the boat must BE present.
- Bring your identification, a credit card, and your safe boater's certificate (if applicable) with you. We will need those.
- Please keep everyone and all personal items off the boat until after our staff and the person(s) driving the boat have completed the boat check-out.
Q: Boy! I just finished reading your FAQ. You have got to be the most unfriendly, restrictive rental service ever. Why would I ever rent a boat from you?
A: As stated earlier, we are a recreation destination. As a recreation destination, we are not fulfilling our only purpose if you, our customers, are not having a good time. We are friendly people, and we like to be as accommodating as possible. Most of what you just read are the most extreme of all examples. We like to have fun too. We get to work in a place where people go on vacation. How cool is that! In the interest of good vibes and tan lines, we are just trying to provide full disclosure so there are no misunderstandings or bad feelings.